Cattle, sheep, goats, and horses grazed on Ocracoke Island in the late 1800s. Their constant foraging led to "the time of the blowing sand." Not only were houses and outbuildings threatened by the blowing sand (sand would sometimes pile up around windows and doors, making it impossible to open them), but a number of graves were uncovered at the edge of the village.
I have heard stories of boys looking for coins (large pennies) in the vicinity of old cemeteries. The coins had been placed over the eyes of corpses. After the wooden casket deteriorated, and the sand blew away from the graves, the coins were sometimes left exposed.
Almost all of the island's livestock was removed to the mainland in the 1950s, leaving only a remnant herd of Outer Banks ponies. Vegetation has reclaimed most of the denuded areas of the island. The dead can once again rest in peace...and old coins are left buried with them.
Our current Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of Infant & Childhood Mortality on Ocracoke. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072113.htm.