Sunday, September 02, 2012


John Crowe recently gave me an article from the July 31, 2012 issue of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, reprinted from the Virginian-Pilot.  It was about the 1852 storm and the Currituck lighthouse. As a side note in the eleventh paragraph, the author, Jeff Hampton, notes that "during one 1806 hurricane, at least 31 ships apparently ran aground on Ocracoke Island to escape [foundering or capsizing]."

Sony Williamson, in his comprehensive book, Shipwrecks of Ocracoke Island, reproduces contemporary accounts of the September, 1806 storm from the Wilmington Gazette. A few select passages follow:

"About 12 o'clock last evening a gale...blew the most tremendous storm, ever I believe, witnessed by a human being...."

"The cutter belonging to this station [Shell Castle]...upset and sunk at her anchors."

"Nearly all the lighters of the navigation sunk, ashore, or dismasted."

Numerous schooners, lighters, and sloops are reported as "sunk, "dismasted," "upset," "ashore," and "adrift."

Supporting the account from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the 1806 Gazette reports from an eyewitness that "such was the scene of distress when I arrived that we lay on our oars & counted thirty one wrecked in one single view around us." As I read the 1806 articles I am convinced that the majority of the vessels were driven ashore by the storm, not intentionally to prevent foundering or capsizing. Such is the power of Nature's fury.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of midwifery on Ocracoke. You can read it here:

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