Monday, February 23, 2009


A couple of days ago Amy and I decided to take our afternoon walk around the village. We made a point of visiting a number of older cemeteries located down small footpaths and behind people's houses. We saw the graves of Abner Bennett Howard (early island businessman, and postmaster) and his brother, Enoch Ellis Howard (keeper of the Ocracoke lighthouse from 1862 until his death in 1897). Enoch Ellis' son William Ellis (Mr. Billy) Howard is buried nearby along with his wife Fanny Wahab Howard (she's the woman who kept her casket in her parlor for seven years). They had eight children. Four of them died between 1885 and 1899; the youngest 3 days old, the oldest 2 1/2 years old. The epitaphs speak to their parents' heartbreak:

Cordelia (12/2/1883-7/31/1885)

A bud from Heaven to earth was sent.
We thought twas given, twas only lent.
That these dear cold death has risen,
That bud on earth now blooms in heaven.

Irene (1/7/1889-9/26/1889)

Lone is the house and sad the hour,
Since thy sweet smile is gone.
But unto brighter home than ours,
In heaven is now thine own.

William Jasper (9/26/1895-9/30/1895)

This little rose so young, so fair,
Called hence by yearly doom,
Just came to show how sweet a flower
In Paradise could bloom.

Inez (10/24/1898-9/10/1899)

Ere sin could blight or sorrow fade,
Death timely came with Holy care.
The opening bud to heaven conveyed,
And bade it bloom forever there.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter provides more information about the majestic live oaks on Ocracoke Island. You can read it here.

To read about Philip's new book, Digging up Uncle Evans, History, Ghost Tales, & Stories from Ocracoke Island, please click here.


  1. Philip,
    Do you know of any periods of illness that took a lot of lives on the Outer Banks?
    Also is there a Ocracoke history book some where, heavy on long ago local people.
    You have so much knowledge about the people, this would be a good project for you.

  2. I think that child mortality on Ocracoke was similar to most other rural areas of the country in the late 19th century (maybe a bit higher because of our extreme isolation). My understanding is that whooping cough, measles, mumps, diphtheria, TB, and the like killed many, especially children. My great-grandparents lost eight of their twelve children!

    Various books document a number of Ocracokers from long ago. Alton Ballance's Ocracokers; David Stick's The Outer Banks of NC; The Story of Ocracoke Island; & my new book, Digging up Uncle Evans come to mind. Each one of these has some information about various historical people from Ocracoke Island.