Wednesday, June 01, 2011

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:


  1. Anonymous7:38 AM

    Well, another interesting ancestry tidbit about the Howards, which I didn't know. Yes, I would say having that connection to Portsmouth Island is a very good thing! Little Lachlan probably knows more about his "roots" than most mainland adults!

    Another observation....I've noticed when enjoying my daily viewing of the various web-cams (Captain's Landing and Ocracoke Harbor Inn) that there appears to be more boats docked in Silver Lake Harbor. Looks like the businesses should have benefited from the influx of folks coming either by boat or plane over the Memorial Day weekend. The Summer traveling season has begun!

    Hope it will be a strong economic year for everyone there and one without the worry of hurricanes. Today, as I learned this morning, marks the opening day of the official "hurricane season".

  2. debbie s.8:01 AM

    Oh very cool!

    the only interesting thing (and then, its only interesting to OUR family) is that when my grandparents got married... grandma was pregnant. which, they deny, but when you look at the dates and do a little math.... LOL

  3. Anonymous10:42 AM

    Every family has at least one "interesting thing", wouldn't you agree???????

  4. Anonymous10:47 AM

    New displays in public buildings -- is any access ADA? Has anyone posted a You-tube video of the exhibit? or posted other pictures. It boggles my mind that tee shirts,, key chains,, artist images'' be it photo or water color ;; not have been integrated in a campaign to raise money

  5. Here is one YouTube video of Portsmouth village. There are a few interior views of a few of the buildings.

  6. Anonymous12:09 PM

    Being a descendant of a brave surfman of the life saving service is indeed an honor.

  7. Anonymous5:40 PM

    There are interesting Ocracoke names in those lists, in addition to Homer Howard, such as Gary Bragg and Charles S. McWilliams, Keeper. What relation was he to Charlie Mac, who drove the mail truck through the sand down the beach from the old Hatteras ferry to Ocracoke before the paved road was built?

  8. Charles S[mall]. McWilliams (b. 1871), keeper of the Portsmouth Life Saving Station, was the son of John Small McWilliams (1823-1889), an early school teacher on Ocracoke. Charles Caswell McWilliams ("Charlie Mac" 1892-1972), son of John Wilson McWilliams (b. 1869), Ocracoke shopkeeper, drove the mail truck in the 1950s.

    I am guessing that John Wilson McWilliams and Charles Small McWilliams were brothers. That would make Charlie Mac the nephew of Charles S. McWilliams.

    I'll ask Blanche and let you know for sure. Look for my next comment in a few days.

  9. Blanche confirmed that I am correct. John Small McWilliams (1823-1889), Ocracoke school teacher, had a number of children. Among them were Charles Small (Charlie) McWilliams (b. 1871), USLSS keeper at Portsmouth, and John Wilson McWilliams (b. 1869), Ocracoke storekeeper. Charles Caswell McWilliams (Charlie Mac,1892-1972) was John Wilson's son.

  10. Was this Charles McWilliams a carver of decoys, specifically from pieces of the Carroll Deering shipwreck?

    1. "Charlie Mac" (Charles Caswell McWilliams, 1892-1972) was an excellent decoy carver, but I don't know if he ever used wood from the schooner, Carroll A. Deering.

  11. Anonymous9:54 PM

    My great grandfather is Charles S. McWilliams...I've visited Ocracoke Island several times...