Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ocracoke & Valley Forge

Below is the reverse side of the 1950s era tourist map of Ocracoke village which I published yesterday.

I think the most interesting section is entitled "Ocracoke and Valley Forge." This is a snippet of history mostly overlooked in present-day promotions about Ocracoke.

The brochure reads: "It is a fancy -- one that history does not leave without support -- that Ocracoke helped George Washington win the Revolutionary War. This is because Ocracoke pilots helped make Ocracoke Inlet one of the few against which the British blockade was weak. Powder, shot, salt, and clothing slipped in through Ocracoke, was shipped by wagon north to Washington at Valley forge, thus helping materially to turn the tide of war against the British."

(Click on photo to view a larger image.)

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a modern day ghost story, "Ode to Mrs. Godfrey," by guest columnist Tom McDonald. You can read it here:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Step Back in Time

About a year ago Tommy Drake brought by a notebook of Ocracoke photos, newspaper articles, and other documents that he thought I would be interested in seeing. Tommy is a direct descendant of Gary Bragg, prominent island citizen of years gone by.

Among the items in the notebook was an early tourist map of Ocracoke village. I thought our readers would enjoy seeing how different Ocracoke was in the mid-1950s. Click on the photo below to see a larger image.Notice that the present-day NC Hwy 12 is not paved past where the Pirate's Chest Gift Shop is located today.

The British Cemetery Road and Loop Road were not paved either...and the area of the Oyster Creek development was simply marshland. There were only three hotels on the island, and all of the small stores sold groceries and general merchandise for the local trade. Not a single business catered primarily to tourists.

Ocracoke will never be like this again...but the map brings back fond memories of a magical place more than a half century ago.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is "Ode to Mrs. Godfrey," a modern day ghost tale told by guest columnist Tom McDonald. You can read it here:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Green Beans

Bill stopped by late yesterday afternoon just as Lou Ann and I were ready to snap fresh green beans that Al had brought us from his garden. There we were, sitting in our rockers and porch swing, snapping the ends off the beans, when two island visitors strolled down the lane.

We were pure Americana, and I just couldn't resist. "Would you like to take our photo?" I called out.

The couple stopped and chuckled. "I'm guessing you want to charge us a fee!" the man teased.

"Actually, that's a great idea," we countered. "Quick," I said to Lou Ann, "put on Aunt Tressie's slat bonnet. They won't be able to resist."

Unfortunately, our visitors didn't have a camera. What were they thinking...walking down our sandy lane without a camera?

Oh well. It was a missed opportunity. Too bad for them!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a story, "Ode to Mrs. Godfrey," an island ghost story by guest columnist Tom McDonald. You can read it here:

Monday, June 27, 2011


Lou Ann enjoys sitting on the front porch early in the morning with a cup of coffee. Sometimes I join her, even though I don't drink coffee. Yesterday morning a small squirrel entertained us for about fifteen minutes. He had climbed the pine tree across the lane, and was scampering from limb to limb, often hanging from his hind legs eating something among the pine needles (sap??).

Janet, who is visiting next door, stopped by for a visit. In the course of our conversation she mentioned that she and her husband practice daily meditation. Lou Ann and I don't do any formal meditation, but it is not unusual for us to take time during a day to enjoy the simple pleasures of island life. I believe that might qualify as meditation. At any rate, it's good for the "soul."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an island ghost story, "Ode of Mrs. Godfrey," by guest columnist Tom McDonand. You can read it here:

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Thursday evening I fixed three dozen clams casino for appetizers. Lou Ann made dinner. Amy, David, Lachlan, Julie, and "Banjo Brian" (he is spending the summer on the island) came over. We sat on the screened porch, chatted, laughed, and shared stories.

Suddenly, Amy grimaced and let out a groan. She had bitten down on something hard. I was sure I'd left a tiny piece of shell in with the clam. It only took her a moment to extract the culprit. It was not shell. It was a pearl! It was tiny (about 3 mm in diameter)...but it was a pearl.

Amy's Pearl:

Luckily, Amy did not break a tooth!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is "Ode to Mrs. Godfrey," a story about the ghost that frequents the Island Inn. You can read it here:

Friday, June 24, 2011

June Newsletter

Well, we've done it again. We have published our latest Ocracoke Newsletter. This month we bring you "Ode to Mrs. Godfrey," a story about the ghost in the Island Inn, contributed by guest columnist and frequent island visitor Tom ("Bear") McDonald. You can read it here:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Blackbeard and the QAR

For several years North Carolina's top marine archaeologists have been diving on a sunken vessel believed to be Blackbeard's flagship, the Queen Anne's Revenge. I recently learned of an article in the Los Angeles Times about this discovery. I thought this well written article would be of interest to many of our readers:,0,957843.story.

North Carolina historian, Kevin Duffus has also recently written an article about the Queen Anne's Revenge, Blackbeard, and his cargo, that I thought our readers would find enlightening. You can read it here:

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the autobiography of Frank Treat Fulcher. You can read it here:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Wow! Ocracoke's first ever Little League baseball team, the Raptors, has won their division's championship game. Consider this: not only is this the island's first ever Little League team, but most of these boys (maybe all of them) had never played on an organized team before. And...they didn't even have a regulation size field to practice on. Island property owners Keith & Isabel McDermott graciously offered their spacious front lawn for practice (the pitcher and outfielders had a spectacular view of the Ocracoke lighthouse!).

The Raptors (15 boys aged 10-12) are part of the Cal Ripkin Division of the Hatteras island Babe Ruth Little League. The Division includes three Hatteras Island teams and the Ocracoke team. The Raptors finished in second place for the season, then defeated the other teams in a double elimination playoff to secure the season's championship.

Now the community is exploring options for securing a permanent multipurpose playing field for baseball and other sporting events. Donations and requests for information can be sent to Vince O'Neal, PO Box 74, Ocracoke, NC 27960. Please make checks payable to Ocracoke Youth Center. For more information please call 252-921-0112.

Many thanks to Karen Lovejoy who started the baseball program at the Youth Center, Vince O'Neal, team manager, and coaches Brian Samick, Bill Cole, Adam Carter, and John Kattenburg.

Team members are Dylan Sutton, Carson O'Neal, Robbie Sampson, Spencer Gaskins, William Caswell, Adam Sitterson, Eldon Robinson, Matteus Gilbert, Juan Morales, Jeyson Resendiz, Darvin Contreras, Matt Kalna, Kalai Samick, Kyle Tillet, & Jordi Perez.

Congratulations to all of the boys, and their manager and coaches!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the autobiography of Frank Treat Fulcher. You can read it here:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Vacation Gallery

I promised I'd post a few photos of Lou Ann's family vacation on Ocracoke. I would have had them on line early this morning, but I didn't have Internet access until several minutes ago (the cable going into my router had a faulty connection). So here are a few pictures from Lou Ann's camera (click on any photo to see a larger image):

A Group Photo:

Jonah with His Bluefish:

Matthew & His Flounder:

Aaron Displaying Two Flounders:

Matthew Catching a Wave:

Mighty Anglers on My Porch:

Getting Ready to Sail on Windfall II:

Hoisting the Mainsail:

Watching Blue Crabs:

A Stroll Down Howard Street:

Building Sand Castles:

Playing in the Tree House:

Heading Home:

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the autobiography of Frank Treat Fulcher. You can read it here:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Catching Up

It was a whirlwind week! Lou Ann's family had a wonderful vacation on Ocracoke. Her three sons, their wives, and their four children didn't miss much. They went clamming and fishing (I know we have photos....I'll post them later in the week), took my boat to Portsmouth Island (they only had to get out and pull the boat over one shoal), spent several afternoons body surfing and playing in the ocean, hosted dinners of fried fish and clam chowder, went to Amy's & my Monday evening show, joined us on a Ghost & History Walk, enjoyed music & storytelling at the Wednesday evening Ocracoke Opry, played ball in their yard, visited Village Craftsmen and several other shops, and generally had a super family vacation.

There is more news from Ocracoke, of course. Our new island Little League team, the Raptors, won the championship. I'll post more about that soon. Our local radio station hosted their third annual women's arm wrestling championship, and Ocracoke Preservation Society has been busy with several projects.

Internet access has been spotty the last several days...that's the reason for no post yesterday, and one of the reasons this post is later than usual. I think I'll publish this one right now while I have Internet access. Look for more news and updates this coming week.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Civil War in Coastal North Carolina

Hatteras was the site of many significant Civil War events.

The "Civil War on the Outer Banks Committee" of the Friends of the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum has planned an extravaganza of exhibits and events in August to commemorate these historic battles. If you plan to be on the Outer Banks in August be sure to take advantage of these offerings:

• Major exhibits – Aug. 22-28 – Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum
• Blue-Gray Descendants Reunion – Aug. 22-24 – Hatteras Village Civic Center
• Flags over Hatteras Conference – Aug. 25-27 – Hatteras Village Civic Center
• Exhibits and demonstrations – Aug. 27-28 – Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Space is limited, and registration is required for some of the events. For more information about the events, registration, and costs, please go to

Following are highlights of the battles at Hatteras which began in August 1861 when two Federal expeditions were sent to Hatteras Inlet. The Union attack signified many firsts in the war: the first combined Army and Navy operation, the first amphibious assault, and the first African American gun crew to fire on Confederates.

“This first victory was extremely important for the Union,” National Park Service Chief Historian, Ed Bearss, said. “It stopped privateering and blockade runners from gaining access to the sea. It gave the Union direct access to the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, allowing the Union to penetrate deep into North Carolina.”

“The capture of Confederate forts Hatteras and Clark opened a back door to the Confederacy for Federal troops,” said Flags Over Hatteras Committee Chairman Drew Pullen. “Since it was the first Union victory of the war it was a tremendous morale booster in the North. Until these captures every engagement between Union and Confederate forces produced a victory for the South.”

During the event, Aug. 22 – 28, the Flags Over Hatteras committee plans to unveil a large black granite monument in honor of the first safe haven for runaway slaves in the state, and also in honor of some of the first African Americans to fire against Confederate forces.

“News that Hatteras was controlled by Federal forces prompted many slaves to escape from the mainland and seek safe haven on Hatteras Island," said Committee Chairman Drew Pullen. "Federal forces arranged for construction of 'Hotel De Afrique' to shelter the runaway slaves.”

Mark your calendars for this once-in-a-lifetime event!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the autobiography of Frank Treat Fulcher. You can read it here:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tom Benn and Black Beard the Pirate

The North Carolina Marionette Theater will be performing "Tom Benn and Black Beard the Pirate" every Tuesday this summer, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon at Deepwater Theater. David, Amy, Lachlan, Lou Ann, Lou Ann's granddaughter Holly, and I attended the premier performance this week. "Tom Benn" is a puppet adaptation of a 1954 children's book about Ocracoke -- "Tom Benn and Blackbeard the Pirate" by Le Grand Henderson.

The puppet show was delightful, with elaborate sets, finely crafted marionettes, an engaging story, and talented puppeteers. For more information click on the link above. You can also see a promotional video here: YouTube Video.

I am frequently amazed by the talent and creative energies that Ocracoke attracts! Be sure to bring your families to this wonderful show if you are on the island this summer.

Lou Ann took the following photos of the outdoor performance at Deepwater Theater (you can click on any photo to view a larger image):

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the autobiography of Frank Treat Fulcher. You can read it here:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Native Americans

People frequently ask me if there was ever a Native American village on Ocracoke Island. I explain that we occasionally find artifacts (pipe bowls and arrowheads) along the ocean or soundside shoreline, but no evidence of a permanent settlement has ever been discovered. On the other hand, a number of Indian villages have been identified on Hatteras Island. I have always anticipated the discovery of a pre-European settlement on Ocracoke.

Yesterday, for the first time, I began reading a transcript of the account of the 1584 voyage of Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe to "Virginia" [North Carolina] that was compiled by Richard Hakluyt, Elizabethan historian, in 1589. It records the first voyage to find a place for the English to settle a colony on American soil.

I was fascinated by the following paragraph (from "Grenville & The Lost Colony of Roanoke" by Andrew Thomas Powell, copyright 2011, p. 45):

"Towards the sunset, some days journey, is situated a town called Sequotan, which is the westernmost town of Wingandacoa, near unto which, five and twenty years past, there was ship cast away, whereof some of the people were saved, and those were white people [most likely Spanish mariners] whom the country preserved. And after ten days, remaining in an out island unhabited, called Wocacan [Ocracoke], they with help of some of the dwellers of Sequotan, fastened two boats of the country together, and made mats unto them, and sails of their shirts, and having taken into them such victuals as the country yielded, they departed after they had remained in this out island three weeks but shortly after, it seemed they were cast away, for the boats were found upon the coast, cast aland in another island adjoining [most likely Portsmouth Island]."

So, there you have it...if Hakluyt is to be trusted, Ocracoke had no permanent Native American settlements.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the autobiography of Frank Treat Fulcher. You can read it here:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Civil War Sesquicentennial

Most people are unaware of the important roles played by Union and Confederate soldiers on the Outer Banks of North Carolina in 1861. Hatteras was the site of many significant Civil War events, beginning with battles on August 27.

The following illustration, courtesy of the Outer Banks History Center, depicts the Federal bombardment of Confederate forts at Hatteras Inlet.

(Click on photo to view a larger image.)

"Stay tuned" for more information about Civil War Sesquicentennial events planned for Hatteras Island this coming August.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the autobiography of Frank Treat Fulcher. You can read it here:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Day in the Sound

I couldn't imagine how three Indiana boys who grew up surrounded by corn and soy beans would do raking clams in Pamlico Sound. Read below, and click on the photos, to find out!

Lou Ann's sons, Aaron, Adam, & Abe, with me leaving the dock in my newly launched skiff:

In an hour and a half we had gathered 187 clams (our legal limit was 200!). They did great. Here we are back at my house opening their dinner (Jonah & Matthew are watching):

Abe opened the clams and laid them on the table:

Adam & Aaron loosened the meat, and put it in a bowl, and piled the empty shells in a bucket:

Adam carried the clam meat and juice into the house to fix clam chowder:

Congratulations to Aaron, Adam, & Abe. As we say on Ocracoke, "You done good!" I think they're having a great vacation.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the autobiography of Frank Treat Fulcher. You can read it here:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Three Boys & the Ocean

Lou Ann arrived late Friday night, with her son, daughter-in-law, and two grandsons. Saturday morning we made our first excursion to the beach (the boys had been to the Gulf of Mexico, but had never seen the Atlantic Ocean). Lachlan, of course, went along. The three boys frolicked in the surf, riding their minature boogie boards over and over again. After we adults had had enough the boys busied themselves at the tide line constructing sand castles and moats. Their eyes lit up whenever they discovered tiny crabs or coquinas.

On Saturday the other two sons and their families arrived just in time to explore the NOAA research vessel tied up at the Park Service docks. The captain and crew graciously hosted an "open house" from 5 pm - 7 pm. After touring the boat and learning about the shipwrecks they were documenting, we enjoyed an outdoor showing of the Disney movie "Oceans."

Yesterday I took Lou Ann's three sons out into Pamlico Sound to gather clams (more about that in a future post) while the women and children spent a morning at the beach.

It feels like I'm on vacation on Ocracoke Island!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the autobiography of Frank Treat Fulcher. You can read it here:

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wreck Report

In April of 1895 the 31 year old schooner, Addie Henry, carrying lumber from New Bern to Ocracoke, wrecked on Howard's Reef during "flud" tide and rough seas. I thought our readers would enjoy seeing my great grandfather's official wreck report. It is a glimpse into history, when coastal schooners were a regular and important part of Ocracoke island life.

Click on any photo to see a larger image.

Following is a transcription of Keeper Howard's explanation of the wreck:

"April 14 Lookout cited sch Look like that she was anchord Pamlico sound But taking Rainge found that she did not move No signal Hoisted near ocracoke island on inside No 1 tuck crew spply Boat started to the scene to assertain the trubble Reaching the scene about one 30 Pm found sch sunk full of water with laden with Lumber and crew Had left sch in there Boat went ashore at Ocracoke vilage all right could not Do eney thing for her Not untill sch could get Lighter so Returned to station 4 Pm the wind Blew Hard Before the capt of sch could get Lighter the sch went all to Peaces sch totle Lost cargo part saved But Bad order N[o] assistance Renderd"

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the autobiography of Ocracoke sailor, Frank Treat Fulcher. You can read it here:

Friday, June 10, 2011


A reader made this comment recently: "The Our State article quoted someone regarding change-- words to the effect don't come to OI and change things.... Why would someone say don't change this or that. Did OI have any resistance to change from whale oil lamps to electricity?"

The issue of change and Ocracoke surfaces regularly. This morning I re-publish comments I made about change almost four years ago.

Friday, September 28, 2007
Comments from Philip

Heraclitus declared that we can’t step into the same river twice. Others have noted that the only constant in life is change.

Time and time again I have heard visitors to Ocracoke express the same sentiment we read in the comments to a recent post: “Don’t let Ocracoke change!” I have often remarked that most people who voice this thought are actually advocating for an Ocracoke like the one they first encountered (30 years ago? 20 years ago? 5 years ago?). Everyone, it seems, wants to close the gate behind them. And yet no one I’ve spoken with wants to return to an Ocracoke before their own time.

Although I fully agree that we must work to preserve the best qualities of our unique, beautiful, and often threatened island and community (more on that below), it is na├»ve to believe that Ocracoke can ever persist in some artificial time warp. Furthermore, whose “first encounter” will we use as the benchmark?

When confronted by good-intentioned folks who yearn for the idyllic Ocracoke that never changes, I sometimes point out to them what it might be like if things had not changed in the last fifty – sixty years.

When I was a young boy,

· Ocracoke had no ferries. What few visitors came to the island arrived by mailboat. Later on, we had a three-car private ferry (with no railings, no ramp, and no dock). Although this was a wonderful period of island history, be honest with yourself: most of our readers would never have even heard of Ocracoke; and most of the rest would never have considered traveling to this remote outpost.
· We had only one paved road (a short section of one-lane concrete used by the Navy). What few vehicles were on the island were frequently stuck in the soft sand; and virtually no one had any reason to venture as far as Hatteras Inlet.
· A day at the beach (an infrequent outing) meant a long, hot walk across the sand flats -- unless someone had access to a surplus Army jeep.
· Water (rainwater caught in wooden cisterns) was rationed carefully, especially in hot, dry summer months. Baths were infrequent, and drinking water was strained through cheesecloth to filter out (most of) the wigglers (mosquito larvae).
· Fires were extinguished (or not) by neighbors manning a bucket brigade.
· Medical emergencies were handled by family, friends, and maybe a resident nurse. There were no ambulances, helicopters, or clinics.
· Electricity was basic, minimal, and often unreliable.
· Telephone service was spotty and irregular.
· Indoor bathrooms were almost unheard of.
· Air conditioning was non-existent.
· Most homes were heated by kerosene space heaters.
· Cable TV, the Internet, and mobile phones were un-dreamed of.

It is not that I sing the praises of all modern “conveniences.” I do not have a television, and I was even one of the few islanders who voted against the installation of a municipal water system in the 1970s. I knew it would spur growth; and it has. I loved the Ocracoke of my youth – a magical place unlike any other.

However my home and business have air conditioning and central heat. I am connected to the Internet, and use a mobile phone. I even enjoy the convenience of the water that flows through my tap from our sophisticated reverse-osmosis water system.

At the same time, I am committed to preserving the best of what Ocracoke has to offer. Instead of longing for an island that will never change, I hope for an island that can somehow manage to balance a rich, colorful, and vibrant history with the demands of a modern society.

There are many things that are beyond our direct control. Federal, state, and county regulations determine property values, taxes, highway decisions, school particulars, Park Service decisions, and many other issues. Property is bought and sold; and again, federal, state, and county laws intervene, often to protect property owners’ individual rights.

As I’ve said so many times, Ocracoke is no artificial attraction, like Disney World. This is a year around community of about 750 people, and we all have a voice in Ocracoke’s present and future. And we don’t always agree. Compromise is necessary.

Every person who moves to Ocracoke brings a slightly different voice. Every baby born here is a unique individual. Every adult from the island sees the world through a slightly different lens.

Those of us who want to preserve what we see as the best of island life can do so in a number of ways. Elected office is one way. Voting is another. But there are others. Some in our community serve tirelessly as volunteers in the school, the churches, the fire department, the civic & business association, on various boards and committees, and in many other ways.

Many islanders have spent countless hours preserving stories, history, and genealogies; as well as trees, plants, open spaces, buildings, and traditional culture.

One of the reasons I personally collect island stories, and share them whenever the opportunity arises, or call a traditional Ocracoke square dance, or host a wintertime pot luck dinner, or restore a typical island home, or even brew an occasional batch of meal wine, is not only to hold on to a bit of the sense of shared history and culture that binds us together as a community, but also to encourage others to do the same.

To call for our island to never change is to call for our island to die. We have no better example of that than Portsmouth, the ghost town across Ocracoke Inlet. So instead I challenge us all to accept with good graces the inevitable changes, the new neighbors who move onto our island, the new technologies that can enhance our lives, and the innovations & creative activities that bring excitement and joy into our lives.

At the same time, I challenge us all to do a few simple things to help preserve our precious island home. Turn off your TV and walk to a neighbor’s home for a visit. Invite friends over to play cards, quilt, play music, or just to talk. Plant a garden. Take your family or friends out fishing. Let it be known that your neighbors can borrow your tools, or ask for your help with a project. Walk more, or bike. Stop along the way just to chat.

Of course, more needs to be done. There are real challenges and threats to a simpler, more relaxed way of life. We need to support our elected officials who work to preserve our unique and wonderful island community with far-sighted legislation that celebrates our heritage and prevents the destruction and degradation of our community.

We also need a practical and realistic view of our island that can balance all that is good and rich and beautiful from the past with whatever good we can extract from the outside. Change is inevitable. Without being passive, I hope we can glean from the changes what we choose, and combine it with the best of the past and present to create a living community that residents and visitors can all embrace.

PS: To all those good folks who have called for Ocracoke never to change (both in this journal, and in person), I do understand your sentiments. I no more want Ocracoke to end up like so many other coastal resort communities than you do. We must work to prevent those changes that threaten our very special community and way of life. I thank you for your heartfelt concern.


Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the autobiography of Frank Treat Fulcher. You can read it here:

Thursday, June 09, 2011

More Photos

These last several days have been busy, busy, busy...and it's been a great busy -- OcraFolk Festival, "You Ain't Heard Nothing Yet" (Amy's & my Monday evening storytelling show), Ghost & History Walks, the OcraFolk Opry, and much more (including...after many hours repairing carburetors...getting my outboard motor running). I haven't found time to write much for the blog, so again I am posting some of Amy's photos of the wonderful Sunday evening musical jam session at my house. I hope you can see from the pictures how much fun it was!

Click on any photo to view a larger image.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the autobiography of Frank Treat Fulcher. You can read it here:

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Music in My Parlor

I don't have much time to write a blog today, but thought our readers would enjoy seeing one photo of some of the Festival musicians jamming at my house Sunday evening. What a great evening we had! I'll post more pictures soon.

(Click on the photo to view a larger image.)

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Thank You to Rep. Tim Spear

According to a recent report in the Raleigh News and Observer, the Hatteras Inlet ferries will remain toll free. This is what the paper said:

"...[North Carolina legislator, Tim] Spear, who lives in Washington County,...[was] able to exemption from tolls for the Hatteras-Ocracoke and Currituck-Knotts Island ferries."

You can read more here:

Many thanks to everyone who worked to make this happen.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the autobiography of Frank Treat Fulcher. You can read it here:

Monday, June 06, 2011


Among the most compelling and dramatic stories from the Outer Banks of North Carolina are accounts of shipwrecks...and the rescues performed by the men of the US Life Saving Service.

Tales of bravery and courage include stories of the "Mighty Midgettes" of Hatteras Island, the accounts of the wrecks of the George W. Wells and the Ariosto on Ocracoke, the rescue of more than 400 people from the Vera Cruz at Portsmouth, and the awarding of gold life saving medals to the surfmen at Cape Lookout for the rescue of the six crewmen from the Sarah D. J. Rawson.

The history of the US Life Saving Service has for too long been neglected. For more information visit your local library, or search the Internet for any of the stories above. You might want to begin your search here: The Chicamacomico Life Saving Station on Hatteras Island -- Be sure to check out the photo gallery of pictures and videos.

A list of books about the USLSS is available here: If you have a local independent book store in your area, ask them to order one or more of these books for you. Books to be Red, on Ocracoke (252-928-3936), and Manteo Booksellers on Roanoke Island ( can also help you. I especially recommend "U.S. Life Saving Service: Heroes, Rescues, and Architecture of the Early Coast Guard" & "Fire on the Beach: Recovering the Lost Story of Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesavers."

Philip standing beside the Surf Boat at Portsmouth:

The Interior of the 26' long Rowing Surf Boat:

(Click on either photo, by Jim Fineman, to view a larger image.)

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the autobiography of Frank Treat Fulcher. You can read it here:

Sunday, June 05, 2011


The National Park Service at Cape Lookout has done a marvelous job presenting the history of Portsmouth Island. Among their recent projects has been furnishing the one-room schoolhouse with student desks, a teacher's desk, blackboard, period maps, and reproductions of textbooks from the 37 year period when Miss Mary Dixon taught all of the island's children.

A View of the Interior of the Schoolhouse:

(Click on the photo, by Jim Fineman, to view a larger image.)

A visit to Portsmouth will carry you back in time to the 1950s for a glimpse into Outer Banks life before paved roads, ferries, bridges, electricity, municipal water, and the Internet. Highly recommended!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the autobiography of Frank Treat Fulcher. You can read it here:

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Photo of Blanche

One of our faithful readers, island resident Leonard Conover, has been following our recent posts about Blanche, and the requests for me to post a photo. Blanche, as I mentioned, is not especially fond of having her picture taken, although she does consent now and then.

Leonard made the following picture at the 2007 OcraFolk Festival, and emailed it to me. I carried my laptop over to Blanche's yesterday morning to show it to her, and pleaded with her to agree to have it published. She is so sweet; it didn't take long to convince her...especially after I told her about all of her fans, and calls for her to be mayor of Ocracoke (she doesn't want that job, and I'm sure I couldn't change her mind!).

(Click on photo to view a larger image.)

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the autobiography of Frank Treat Fulcher. You can read it here:

Friday, June 03, 2011

OcraFolk Festival & Firemen's Ball Update

Ocracoke is gearing up for the 12th annual OcraFolk Festival which begins this evening at 6 o'clock with a pot luck dinner on the grounds at Deepwater Pottery on School Road. The live auction follows dinner, with music afterwards.

Saturday will be filled with music, storytelling, and kid's programs on the Live Oak Stage, the Howard Street Stage, and Deepwater Theater. Artists and Crafters will have their wares for sale on Howard Street and School Road. Food will also be available.

More music is scheduled Saturday night at the Community Square...along with the traditional Ocracoke Island square dance.

Sunday will bring us a morning Gospel Sing, followed later in the day with yet more music...and an all-star jam session at the Live Oak Stage.

If you are on the island, be sure to take advantage of this fun-filled, exciting, and creative weekend.

In other news, the recent Firemen's Ball silent auction brought in $3,285.00. The live auction netted $19,380.00, for a total of $22,665.00 (last year's total was $22,174). The final figure for the event is not yet available, but is estimated at over $60,000. Many thanks to all who participated, contributed, and attended this great fundraiser!

If you could not attend the Firemen's Ball, and would like to contribute, donations can be mailed to OFPA (Ocracoke Fire Protection Association), P. O. Box 332, Ocracoke, NC 27960.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the autobiography of Frank Treat Fulcher. You can read it here:

Thursday, June 02, 2011


I hope I am as spry as Blanche when I am 91 years old. I stopped to see her a few days ago...and found her out in the yard, raking leaves. "Would you believe it?" she asked me, "I've gathered up 54 bags of leaves so far."

I tried to convince her that she didn't need to rake and bag leaves in this hot weather, but she insisted that once she got something in her mind she was determined to see it through! "It's what keeps me going," she said. I just shook my head, and thought, maybe she's right; maybe that's why she's made it into her 92nd year.

The next day I found her re-potting plants. But that time she was willing to stop for a few minutes to sit on her pizer and chat. She's doing as a tack, stubborn as a mule, sweet as honey, and as active as a 40 year old.

If you see her messing about in the graveyard this summer, introduce yourself and stop to chat for a few minutes.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the autobiography of Frank Treat Fulcher. You can read it here:

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Latest Word from NC Coastal Land Trust

The Vote for the Land Contest is getting down to the wire! We're in a tight race with the Piedmont Land Conservancy, so every vote counts!

Vote for the Coastal Land Trust on Facebook.

The contest ends June 2nd at 11pm, so if you haven't cast your vote, go to facebook - and get all your facebook friends - to vote for the NC Coastal Land Trust. Your vote will help us secure a $500 grant to support work at Springer's Point!

Homer Howard

As a child I remember my father telling me that he had lived on Portsmouth Island when he was a young boy. My grandfather, Homer Howard, was a surfman in the US Life Saving Service/Coast Guard at Portsmouth from 1913 to 1917.

During the recent installation of new displays in public buildings in Portsmouth village, registers listing all of the men who served in the USLSS were put on display.

Below are photos of the pages documenting the years 1913-1917. Click on a photo to view a larger image and you will be able to read my grandfather's name.

(Photos courtesy of Jim Fineman.)

Although we are not descended from any of the historic Porstmouth Island families (Dixon, Roberts, Gilgo, etc.) this connection with Portsmouth still feels good.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the autobiography of Frank Treat Fulcher. You can read it here: