Sunday, September 14, 2014

Drying Racks or ?

I recently came across this picture of the home of Rev. George Leffers (Leff) Fulcher (1838-1898) and his wife Cynthia Stowe Fulcher (1848-1913). They lived in Frisco, on Hatteras Island. The photo was reproduced in the book Fulcher Family by Ruth Fulcher Rickert.

In addition to being a wonderful vintage photo of a typical Hatteras Island home before the outbreak of the Civil War, the picture includes two interesting objects in the front yard. If you look closely you will notice two posts about 6' high (a man is standing next to each one). You might want to enlarge the photo to get a better view (instructions on the right). 

Each post has about ten rows of sticks attached horizontally to the post at intervals of perhaps six or eight inches. It looks to me as if each row includes four sticks (two side by side, one on each side of the post; with two more directly on top of them at right angles).

I have shown the photo to several Ocracoke islanders, but no one has ever seen anything like this before. My guess is that these objects were used for  cultivating pole beans...or perhaps for drying fish. Any other guesses?

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Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of late 19th century steamship traffic to Ocracoke, and the large Victorian hotel that accommodated the guests. You can read the article here:


  1. Anonymous10:48 AM

    Do you suppose location to the front door had anything to do with it? My first thought was a drying rack for tanned hides. (How did Hyde county get its name?) Nowadays stuff in your front yard , well there are other reasons I suppose but if one were tanning hides I suppose the orientation to the Sun may play a role. I shall look to see if my Foxfire Books contain any info on Tanning hides. I don't Suppose a Rev. spent the entire week writing a sermon, he no doubt had to engage in everyday activities. As I was composing this comment I left the computer and was able to locate my copy Of Foxfire 3 which includes a section on hide tanning and still more affairs of plain living. From the pictures it seems the process would involve a horizontal method until one has completed the job for display one would tack the furs on the side of the house . I cannot say with any certainty as there was not a similar rack pictured in F3 but these were simple folk in the late 20th century the book was published in 1975. I don't suppose too many of your readers have ever heard of Elliot Wigginton actually the Foxfire magazine turned ten years old in 1976. I treasure my copies of Foxfire , a library of books dedicated to documenting the fact that you to can do just about anything living off the land.

  2. Anonymous1:31 PM

    That structure seems far too elaborate for a mere bean pole. I thought "fish-drying rack" even before I saw it, just from your description, but even THAT seems a bit "structurally overbuilt" for just drying fish.

    It will be interesting to see what some of your more learned readers may have to say on the subject.

    You know my thoughts--as always.


    Perhaps it was the park-and-ride station of its day--a communal hitching post where individual commuters could tie up multiple banker ponies for the day before ferrying down to their office jobs on Ocracoke.

    Or not.

    But as creative whoppers go, I'm partial to this explanation (in line with my misguided thoughts on "a story and a jump").


  3. Anonymous11:01 AM

    Looks like a post for chargeing multiple golf carts.