Thursday, October 21, 2010


Recently readers asked a couple of questions re. the posts I pre-wrote and scheduled for publication while I was off-island sailing aboard the Windfall II. Please read below for my replies.

First off, I think I may have intended to include a comentary on the map, but neglected to do so. "Ocracoke" is clearly a native American name (early maps list the island as "Wococon," and over the years the name changed frequently until it eventually became "Ocracoke"). There is evidence that members of the Wocon Indians frequented the island to feast on fish and other seafood, but to date no evidence of a permanent settlement has ever been discovered on Ocracoke. In contrast, a number of Indian villages have been found on Hatteras Island, including one near Buxton in an area that in the 1500s and 1600s was a separate island (Croatoan) between Hatteras and Ocracoke (see There is some evidence that native Americans interbred and intermarried with the earliest Europeans on both Hatteras and Ocracoke. According to oral tradition, David O'Neal, the cook aboard the John Evangelist which wrecked on Hatteras Island in 1586, married an Indian woman, Morning Dew, from the village of Kinnakeet (now, Avon). The ship's captain, Caleb Williams, and another sailor, Elijah Scarborough, also married Indian women. O'Neal, Williams, and Scarborough are all long time island surnames.

Two excellent books about the US Life Saving Service are Ship Ashore: The U.S. Lifesavers of Coastal North Carolina by Joe A. Mobley, and U.S. Life-Saving Service: Heroes, Rescues and Architecture of the Early Coast Guard by Ralph Shanks and Wick York.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke native Major General Ira Thomas Wyche. You can read the complete story here:


  1. Anonymous9:50 AM

    Goood morning Philip, Re: lst post I thought JOHN WILLIAMS (pilot & part owner l759) was the ancestor of all the Williams of Ocracoke. Was CALEB WILLIAMS (I586) ancestor of JOHN-or were there 2 separate & unrelated families?

  2. John Williams (abt 1727-1787) purchased one half of Ocracoke Island from William Howard in 1759.
    He was the progenitor of all of the Ocracoke Island Williamses.

    As I mentioned, the story of the wreck of the John Evangelist in 1586, some say 1590, (captained by Caleb Williams) is oral tradition. It has never been verified. If accurate, Caleb Williams is probably the ancestor (maybe the gr-gr-gr-gr-gr-grandfather) of John Williams.

    I doubt we will ever know for sure.

  3. I'm sure the correct date for the wreck of the John Evangelist is 1590. The John Evangelist was a pinnace, a light sailing ship with two or three masts, that was part of Governor John White's second attempt to relieve the Roanoke colonists. Reliable sources list William Lane as captain. It could well be that the oral tradition about Caleb Williams, David O'Neal, and Elijah Scarborough are all fiction. Further research is definitely called for.

    The other ships in the 1590 expedition were:

    Conclude, a pinnace of 20-30 tuns, Joseph Harris, captain

    Hopewell (also known as the Harry and John), 140-160 tuns; Abraham Cocke, captain

    Little John (120 tuns), Christopher Newport, captain

    Moonlight (formerly Mary Terlayne), 80 tuns, commanded by Captain Edward Spicer.

    Two shallops lost under tow in the waters just off Plymouth.

  4. Anonymous11:21 AM

    From DISCO... Thanks so much! While you were asea I read DIGGING UP UNCLE EVANS. WORST PART- Not enough pages BEST PART- Your promise of a sequel ONE QUESTION- When?

  5. Thank you for the kind words. Glad you enjoyed the book. I am finally collecting the last of the photos to go with the sequel. I am hoping to have time to work on putting it all together this winter. We'll see!

  6. Just found your blog and I am so excited! I am from the John O'Neal and Morning Dew line. I am eager to find out more information about their life. Any pointers on resources?

    1. Are you descended from John Long, Jerry Long, or Troy Long? If not, what is your O'Neal line?

    2. Natalie,
      I also think I my line is also from John O'Neal. Would love to share information.

  7. I am from Irven O'Neal, my married name is Long.

    David>John>Christopher>John>William>Frederick> Beloved>Wiley>Irven>IrvenJr.

  8. I am a descendant of Wes Williams of Ocracoke Island do you have any info