Monday, July 16, 2018

Casket Table

Prior to 1957/58, when NC Highway 12 was paved from the edge of Ocracoke village to Hatteras Inlet, everything having to do with death and dying on the island was handled by family, friends, and neighbors, without professional assistance. All of that changed when the paved highway, and state-operated ferries, made it possible to bring a hearse to the island.

Changes had already begun in about 1948 when Mr. Mace Fulcher started selling commercially made caskets at the Community Store. Before that time all island caskets were built by local carpenters. Typically, islanders kept pre-cut casket boards stored under their houses or in out buildings. At the time of death family members contacted the carpenter who retrieved the boards and nailed the casket together.

I have been told that when Alice Wahab Williams died (she was the wife of Capt. David Williams; their house is now the Ocracoke Preservation Society museum) in 1953 she was buried in a casket purchased at the Community Store. Some years later her daughter, Nina, located the unused casket boards in their shed, and decided to use them as a table top. To the best of my knowledge, that table now rests upstairs in the research library at the OPS museum.

Few people are aware that the original plan was that the wood for the table would be used as a casket.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.  

Friday, July 13, 2018

Grape Vines

Sometimes it's difficult to comprehend the changes that have occurred on Ocracoke Island over the 250 years since the earliest inlet pilots settled here.

Cousin Blanche (1919-2018) told me her grandmother remembered when grapevines "hung over the sea." Blanche also recalled that her Uncle Ike O'Neal (1865-1954) said when he was a boy briars and grape vines created a mat so thick in the trees that he was able to climb the oak tree (on the corner of Howard Street and present-day School Road) and then scramble across the mat of vines "all the way to the sea."

Other accounts mention "the time of the blowing sand" in the late 1800s, after livestock had eaten most of the vegetation near the village. Could the de-nuding of the beach have happened within a quarter of a century (from the time Ike O'Neal was a boy until the turn of the 20th century)? Or could Blanche's informants have remembered climbing to Nigh Inlet, a former channel of water on the northeast edge of the village (what they may have called the "sea"), and not to the Atlantic Ocean?

We may never know for sure exactly what changes have transpired on this sandy barrier island. What I do know is that grapevines were thick along Howard Street as late as the 1970s.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.  

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Home Remedies

Charlotte O'Neal (1851-1947) assumed the duties of island midwife sometime after 1888 when her last child, a fraternal twin, died. Known to islanders as “Aunt Lot,” she delivered more than 100 island babies (one account lists 523 babies!). According to her daughter, Miss Sara Ellen Gaskill, her mother “never lost a case.”

In addition to her duties as midwife, Aunt Lot also tended to the sick and injured with various folk remedies. Below is one account:

"Charlotte O’Neal’s grandson remembered her as 'a little short woman all drawed up.' He described her method of removing carbuncles. First, she would apply thin slices of salt pork to, say, the back of the neck where the infection was. A rag was tied to secure the pork, and the patient left it there for several hours. 'The salt pork draws it to a head, pulls it up,' he explained. Then she settled on the porch with the patient and her tin of snuff, preparing for the procedure. While dipping snuff, she’d remove a thread from the inner seam of her skirt, and make a lasso for the carbuncle. The puss was raised little by little by the tightening string, coming out 'like toothpaste.'"*

A carbuncle (a cluster of boils) is caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Modern health care professionals warn against squeezing or irritating carbuncles since they are contagious. Hand-washing and good sanitation are important to keep from spreading the disease.  

*https://www.nps.gov/ethnography/research/docs/caha_ethno_v2.pdf, p. 374-375

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Telephone Connection

The first telephones were installed in Ocracoke homes in 1956. A representative for the phone company visited islanders to sign them up for service. One older resident wasn't too keen on having one of those new-fangled devices. She couldn't see any point to it. The rep told her it would be good to have a telephone so she could call neighbors if she fell or had another emergency.

The elderly woman thought for a moment, then called out several of her neighbors' names. The nearest one was "getting old," she said. The next one was "failing," and another was "up in years." Finally she averred that she "would take one" if the salesman could guarantee that it would "connect her to glory!"

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.  



Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Blackbeard's Toilet


Many of our readers know that Blackbeard was killed at Ocracoke Inlet in 1718. In his final battle, against Lt. Robert Maynard of the British Royal Navy, Blackbeard's head was cut off and tied to the bowsprit of Maynard's sloop. It was carried to Edenton, NC, then to Williamsburg, VA, and finally impaled at the mouth of the Hampton River as a message to any would-be pirates.

A recent article from the Queen Anne's Revenge Project is titled "A Look Inside Blackbeard’s Head."The article is not about dissecting Blackbeard's noggin, nor is it about "Blackbeard’s thought process or piratical tactics," as the first paragraph of the article explains. It is about the pirate captain's on-board toilet (in nautical parlance, the "head").

As the article explains, by the 16th century sailors relieved themselves at the bow (that's the "pointy end" of the ship), or head. To this day, sailors refer to the bathroom aboard a ship as the "head."

Captain Teach and his crew, of course, did not have the convenience of a modern marine toilet. To learn what they did have, click on this link: https://www.qaronline.org/blog/2018-03-01/artifact-month-seat-of-ease.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/

Monday, July 09, 2018

Ocracoke Photography

In the past I have posted Ocracoke photographs by Eakin Howard. This is one of his most striking images of the island's lighthouse:



















Several of our readers have asked if Eakin has prints for sale. I just learned that he now has many of his photos for sale on his website. You can view his gallery of Ocracoke photographs here

You can view other galleries and read more about Eakin and his photography here.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Stores

The following information is from Ethnohistorical Description of the Eight Villages adjoining Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Interpretive Themes of History and Heritage, November 2005 (images added):

Hatteras Village is home to the oldest grocery store still operating on the island; the Burrus Store, later to become the Burrus Red and White. The store was founded in 1866 by W.Z. Burrus’ grandfather, a blockade runner and Union sympathizer who spent the Civil War in prison.












After the war, he returned to Hatteras Island where his father operated a grist mill, and established the store. “Instead of just staples like molasses, sugar, salt, flour, lard and so forth we started getting some canned goods in and bottled drinks from Washington, New Bern, and Elizabeth City by freight boat,” W.Z. Burrus recalled. The Burrus family rode the wave of economic activity that followed the Civil War in Hatteras Village, as did Homer Styron's store and A.J. Stowe, the three of whom were in business by 1872. By 1884, R.W. Midgett and Uriah O’Neal had stores as well.

Customers from Ocracoke to Avon bought items on credit, and the pages from the ledger were apparently cut by razor and given to the debtor as a receipt when the account was paid. “They had to come in by boat. They would bring fish in to sell to the fish houses, and stop and buy groceries,” Burrus reflected. Once the road and bridge were built, it changed the nature of doing business on the island. “It brought a lot more people in and made it easier for us to come and go and changed our way of life right much,” Burrus said. “We have less time on our hands than we did then. It seemed like we had more time to ourselves.”














This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.