Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Leonard Bryant, 1960

The following notice was published in the Raleigh News & Observer, November 22, 1960:

White Friends Hold Last Rites for Negro Man

Ocracoke -- Leonard Bryant, 82, a member of the only Negro family on Ocracoke, died last week.

Funeral services were conducted Nov. 16 in the Methodist Church, of which he had been a member and sexton for many years. Since there is no segregation in the church, he had taken communion with the white members during that time. All pallbearers at the funeral were white.

He was buried in the unsegregated community cemetery.

Bryant came to Ocracoke at the age of 19 to help the late George Credle run the old Ponder Hotel. He lived alone in a home adjacent to that of other members of his family; his wife, who has been ill, has been living with a daughter in Winston-Salem.

Survivors include a son, Julius, and two daughters, Mildred and Muse Bryant, all of Ocracoke, and other children, in addition to his wife.


Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a reprint of a 1948 article about the Mail Boat Aleta, "Boat Hauls Mail, More." You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032114.htm.


  1. Anonymous7:56 AM

    Where was the Ponder Hotel on OI? PH, do you have any memories of the hotel and Mr. Bryant, in those 62 years did you ever meet him? Was the Ponder Hotel a venue for weddings? Are there many weddings held on OI?

  2. Anonymous7:59 AM

    Ooops maybe the math in my head did not account for your date of birth, haha my bad. anon. 7:56

    1. Actually, it was the Ponzer Hotel. It was a large Victorian hotel that sat were the current US Coast Guard/NCCAT building is today. The hotel burned down in 1900. I am currently working on an article about the hotel and steamships. Look for it in a future Ocracoke Newsletter.

      I have only vague memories of Leonard. I remember his wife Jane much better.

      For information about weddings on Ocracoke, follow this link: http://www.ocracokeguide.com/weddings/

  3. Anonymous1:20 PM

    Newsworthy in 1960 (pre-civil rights)...
    Today it would most likely not even be mentioned.
    How far we've come...thank God.

    1. One noteworthy aspect of this story is that Leonard Bryant had been a member of the Ocracoke Methodist Church for many years, regularly received communion there...and was buried alongside his island friends. Although Ocracoke was not as "enlightened" then as it is today, it was way ahead of most of the rest of the segregated South.

  4. Anonymous2:06 PM

    Share the same sentiment as Anon 1:20.

    This article is remarkable--in its historical context--for what I "hope" would be an unremarkable event today.

    Thanks for sharing, as always, especially this important lesson.

  5. http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news040604.htm