Monday, June 09, 2014

Miss Euphemia's Boarding House

In 1974, when Julia Howard wrote her musical, A Tale of Blackbeard, she took some liberties with the history of that infamous seafaring brigand. She invented an island boarding house (or was it a bawdy house?).

Miss Euphemia's Girls
 Well, actually, the boarding house was only partially invented. A century and a half after Blackbeard's demise there really was an Ocracoke boarding house run by Miss Euphemia Curtis. Miss Euphemia (1819-1882) was the great-great-granddaughter of William Howard, Sr., colonial owner of Ocracoke Island. Her boarding house sat between the Village Craftsmen and the School Road. Miss Euphemia is buried behind the Village Craftsmen.

I recently discovered this notice in the New Berne Times, dated June 14, 1873: "Mr. Editor: For the benefit of your patrons who desire to attend the Camp Meeting at Ocracoke, commencing the 10th of July, I will state that they can obtain good accommodation, at a reasonable rate, by applying in time to Mrs. Euphemia Curtis at that place. Very Respectfully, A.W. Simpson, Jr."

Euphemia Curtis' tombstone reads:

Religion filled her soul with peace
Upon a dying bed.
Let faith look up,
Let striving cease.
She lives with Christ our head.

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


  1. Anonymous6:45 AM


    Today's comment re. researching old newspapers, as well as several similar comments you've recently made, suggest that maybe you're pecking away at a specific or broader project, like another book perhaps? Or is this just business as usual as you seek to keep yourself (and us) apprised of island life and lore?

    In any case, we appreciate the effort and the insight--as always.

    1. It is just business as usual. After I was given that notebook full of vintage newspaper articles about Ocracoke (in digital form) I've been looking for interesting articles...and sharing them in this blog.

  2. Anonymous8:34 AM

    How many cousins removed are you from Miss Euphemia? How many great grandsons away are you from William Howard, Sr?

    1. Euphemia Curtis would be my 2nd cousin three times removed. (She was my great grandfather's 2nd cousin.) I am William Howard, Sr.'s gr-gr-gr-gr-gr-grandson.