Friday, November 26, 2010

Old Diver

Almost one hundred years ago Augustus Abner McGuire, a diver, died while attempting to make a repair in the hull of a vessel offshore of Ocracoke. His body was brought to the island and buried near the Howard family and Williams family cemeteries along what is now known as British Cemetery Road.

For many years a cedar post marked the head of the grave, and McGuire's diving boots were placed at the foot of the grave. Almost immediately islanders began feeling that the ghost of "Old Diver," as he came to be known, haunted the narrow lane and wooded area near where he was buried. For many years folks have been wary of walking there after dark.

Eventually the cedar post rotten away, and the boots were removed.

Just last week a wooden marker was placed in the vicinity of Old Diver's grave. Made by island craftsman, Len Skinner, and paid for by the Ocracoke Preservation Society, the marker is a fitting tribute to an island legend.

(Click on photos to view larger images.)

Look for a more comprehensive article about Augustus Abner McGuire in an upcoming Ocracoke Newsletter to be published in spring or summer of 2011.

Click on the photo below to view a selection of puzzle boxes from Village Craftsmen's online catalog.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of the early twentieth century Doxsee Clam Factory on Ocracoke island. Click on the following link to go directly there:


  1. Anonymous7:40 AM

    Very interesting story you shared about the old diver named McGuire. Glad the man now has an appropriate wooden marker located near his grave. I look forward to reading more about this fellow in an upcoming newsletter next year.

    Which brings me to this point, my late husband and I always enjoyed reading the headstones/markers on the graves in the small family cemeteries along Howard street. When I took my 79 year old mother with me to Ocracoke this past October, she and I enjoyed taking a leisurely stroll along Howard Street (that is what one should do) looking at the interesting epitaphs carved on the grave head stones.

    Philip, one in particular which brought a smile to my face and I know must have been a lively relative of yours, is a man named: EDGAR H. HOWARD. Born 11/19/04 and died 7/6/90, the message on his stone marker reads: "You ain't heard nothing yet!" A banjo is carved just below.

    Perhaps you have already written a story about the unique and charming messages which are carved on the grave markers on Ocracoke Island; but if not, I am asking you now to consider sharing this piece of fascinating Ocracoke history with your faithful bloggers.

  2. Edgar Howard was quite the banjo player (and vocalist). You can sample some of his works at this website:

  3. In March of 2009 I published an Ocracoke Newsletter on our island cemeteries and epitaphs. Unfortunately, as I just noticed, many of the photographs are not displaying completely. However, you can read a number of epitaphs there. This is the web address:

  4. I see Old Diver hailed from a "far from the madding crowd" part of my home state, Maine. Cutler Harbor is somewhat famous due to one of the lobstermen stories on one of Marshall Dodd's Bert and I albums.
    "Cutlah,Cutlah Habah you say? Born and Rased all my days in Cutlah..."
    Way downeast,it is not far from the Canadian border and has a population similar to Ocracoke. One big difference between the two, the tides there can range up to 20 feet! Docks have ladders.

    /Peter Vankevich

  5. whoops, that's Marshall Dodge. Not Dodd noted above.