Friday, March 20, 2009

Portsmouth, Horses, & Ocracoke

I was glancing through Dot Willis & Ben Salter's book, Portsmouth Island, Short Stories, History, and came across a chapter on Outer Banks ponies. Ben (born 1899) mentions bringing a horse over to Ocracoke by tying it alongside a boat. The horse would swim where necessary, or walk where the water was shallow. The Ocracoke boys, he says, wanted to race, and they had some fast ponies. Ben didn't think his horse would want to run after crossing the sound, but he says he "just let her go. [W]e left those boys far behind."

Ben rode all the way to Hatteras Inlet. By the time he got to the "great swash" (an area about half way up the island) the wind began to blow, and the tide was rising. When he got to the Coast Guard Station at the inlet he ended up staying for three days.

When he was ready to leave, he says, Willie Gaskins offered the prayer at breakfast. This is how Ben relates the story: "He said, 'Dear Lord, thanks for all of the food we have.' Then he named it all by name. At the close, he said, 'Lord, bless Ben and never let him come here again. Amen.' He made it all rhyme."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Lou Ann's story of participating in the 2008 Christmas Bird Count on Portsmouth 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. Anonymous10:48 AM

    Happy Spring, Philip!!

  2. My Granddaddy Ben was a very special man and when we'd visit he'd always say..."MY LAND, come over here and hug my neck!!" (with his wonderful Carolina brogue) I wish I had a recording of his voice but the book is a great way to recall some of my memories. The PBS special "Talking NC", airing on April 2nd, has a clip of my Grandmother (Dot Willis)