Thursday, September 09, 2004

Creekers & Pointers

Our sixth reader question is:

"Why was the name of Ammunition Dump Road changed? Names such as this reflect the history of the island......Also, where exactly is "down point" vs "the point"? And where exactly did (do) the "creekers'" live vs the "pointers"?"

Place names & street names often naturally change over time like so many other things. In the late 1950's a man named Harcum (I believe his first name was Lloyd, but everyone just called him Harcum) came to Ocracoke from Norfolk, Virginia. He purchased from Ocraacoke native Maurice Ballance the building that is now the Variety Store. Maurice had put the building up several years before as a dance hall. Harcum turned it into a furniture store.

Whether or not he also sold groceries and general merchandise I can't recall, but Harcum eventually sold the building to Henry Rogers who made it into a grocery store. Harcum had also purchased & developed property along the old one-lane concrete WWII Navy Ammunition Dump Road (a portion of Ocracoke's first paved road, & directly across from the Fire Hall). At that time he renamed the road Sunset Drive. Although locals still refer to the road as Ammunition Dump Road, the official street name is now Sunset Drive.

Of course, the name Ammunition Dump Road dates only to the mid-1940's. Prior to that time this road was actually an extension of the Point Road (now renamed Lighthouse Road). This seems to have been the very first thoroughfare on the island, running from Springer's Point (formerly Howard's Point), past the lighthouse, along the right hand side of the schoolhouse, up Ammunition Dump Road, past the O'Neal family cemetery, along a high ridge near the Sound, and thence all the way to Hatteras Inlet.

Creekers live "'round creek" or on the north side of Cockle Creek (renamed Silver Lake in the late 1930's, but still referred to as "The Creek" by Ocracokers). Pointers live "down point" or on the south side of Silver Lake. The Point is Springer's Point, near where Blackbeard was killed, and where some of the very first dwellings in the village were located. The Point is currently uninhabited and is a wooded area now mostly owned by the NC Coastal Land Trust.

To really understand the difference between Creekers and Pointers (to say nothing of Trenters, Cat Ridgers, or Nubbins Ridgers) you need to understand about the two guts. You can read about them here: I hope this helps (and is not too confusing!).


  1. Anonymous4:13 PM

    Philip -

    I read your piece that said "the point" is Springers Point. All my life I have thought that "the point" was Doxie's Point and that Miss Ruth, and Maltby and Kathleen, Mr. Charlie Mac and Mr. Sid, and Pamlico Inn and John Thomas and my family were pointers because we lived on the way to Doxie's Point. Where did I get this? I'm sure my folks thought this too. I can't doubt what you say but had never heard it until I read your piece. I would surely appreciate having some documentation.

  2. Bobby,

    It's nice to know who reads my web site.

    Springer's Point was at other times called Howard's Point or Tolson's Point, depending on who owned it -- Daniel Tolson, who is buried on the point, and one of the owners, was the forebear of my great-uncle Dan (he and Aunt Sabra owned the house you now own) and was a slaveholder who, I'm told, was a particularly cruel master. (Not all of Ocracoke's history is laudable.)

    Apparently the Point was the section of the village first developed sufficiently to include a true road -- the Point Road (now usually called Lighthouse Road) went from the Point past the present day schoolhouse, up past Charlie Morris and Lorena's house, then north all the way to the inlet. "Howard Street," (originally just a footpath & not given that name until the other half was paved after WWII), was the second road cut through the village (in 1835). It went from the Bragg property (Deepwater Pottery), all the way to John Pike's store (in the vicinity of the present-day NPS Visitors' Center).

    I called Blanche Jolliff a few minutes ago and asked her where "down Point" got its name, and she said without hesitation that it's Springer's Point. In fact she had never heard anyone use the term "Doxie's Point." We both agreed that we'd heard that area called "Windmill Point" however.

    Blanche knows more Ocracoke history than anyone I know, so I feel pretty confident that she's right. I'll ask pointers what they think, as I see folks around the village, and let you know if I get any different answers.