Monday, May 26, 2014

Don't Believe...

...everything you read!

Many readers of this blog may be familiar with Ben Dixon MacNeill's 1958 book, The Hatterasman. One on-line reviewer described it as "a history of the Outer Banks" written in a "journalistic style."

MacNeill does include much Hatteras and Ocracoke history, but be wary of his facts and details. This is what he wrote about Edward Teach and the Ocracoke Island Howards:

"Howard was quartermaster aboard Captain Edward Teach's Queene Anne's Revenge when she had her misfortuned duel with Lieutenant Maynard [actually former quartermaster William Howard was in jail in Williamsburg, Virginia at that time] in what has become Teach's Hole at the western end of the second Island, just beyond Ocracoke village. Howard went over the side when his captain fell, traditionally with a silver goblet containing grog [a fanciful tale if there ever was one]. He swam ashore and lost himself among the native population [as far as we can tell, no one was living on Ocracoke when Blackbeard's final battle took place, in 1718].

"Henry [?] Howard lost himself but not his silver cup, which is preserved, after 238 years, by his descendant who owns also the High Point of the Hills [this is a dune 4.5 miles south of Buxton, on Hatteras Island, not Ocracoke], and there is nowhere a more satisfying vessel [unfortunately, I've never heard of it] than this when its outside is fretted with cold sweat and inside it is a compounding of ice, fresh leaves of mint, and some ancestral rum that has lived its long and respected life in a wooden keg [a mighty elaborate beverage for islanders who traditionally indulged in nothing more sophisticated than homemade meal wine]."

Oh well, MacNeill does preface his book with these honest words: "This is not a history. I am not a historian...."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the curious story of Vera/Charlie Williams. You can read it here:


  1. Ben Dixon MacNeill apparently missed his true calling. He would have made a great politician!
    Happy Memorial Day and thanks for all the wonderful stories.

  2. Key West where I live is loaded with pirate stories and none of them are true. But there again who wants true pirate tales out of New Providence in the Bahamas when you are visiting Key West?