Sunday, March 04, 2012

Place Names of the Outer Banks...

...that is the name of a 1985 book by Roger L. Payne. Unfortunately, the book is currently out of print. At nearly 200 pages the book lists hundreds (probably several thousand) names of islands, inlets, marshes, hammocks, creeks, villages, dunes, shoals, swamps, etc. in Carteret, Currituck, Dare, and Hyde Counties.

On page 23 Payne includes a table of the "Grouping of Names on the Outer Banks According to Type of Name" (based on eight categories established by H.L. Mencken in his book "The American Language").

Below are the categories (examples in parentheses are all on Ocracoke), total number on the Outer Banks, and their percentages:

Personal Names (e.g. "Dick's Camp"): 274 total names, 25.3%
Transferred from England (e.g. "Up Trent" an historic area of Ocracoke village): 25 total names, 2.3%
Indian (e.g. "Ocracoke"): 72 total names, 6.6%
Other Languages: 0 total names, 0%
Biblical & Mythological: (none that I know of on Ocracoke): 7 total names, 0.7%
Descriptive (e.g. "Try Yard Creek"): 376 total names, 34.7%
Flora, Fauna, & Geology (e.g. "Billy Goat Hill"): 197 total names, 18.2%
Fanciful (maybe "Old Quawk's Creek" falls in this category): 73 total names, 6.7%
Unknown (e.g. "Guesses Reef"): 60 total names, 5.5%

If you come across Payne's book in a used book store, consider purchasing a copy for yourself, or to donate to the Ocracoke Preservation Society or to the Ocracoke Library (I am not sure if they have a copy or not).

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Civil War on the Outer Banks, Josephus Daniels, Jr, Secretary of the Navy during WWI, and his connection to Ocracoke. You can read it here:


  1. I will keep my eyes open at the thrifts shops with old boks.

  2. Philip, there were several used paperback copies on Amazon, so I ordered 2. Let me know if one of those copies might be useful on the island, and if so, I will send one of them your way.

  3. Kevin, I am pretty sure the Ocracoke Library does not have a copy of the book. You can send a book to them at this address: Ocracoke Library, 225 Back Road, PO Box 130, Ocracoke, NC 27960.

    Thank you for your thoughtfulness.

  4. Anonymous12:55 AM has a few copies and also