...in 1889 the steamship "Pioneer" wrecked on Ocracoke beach.
an interesting wreck because, unlike most commercial vessels of the time
which hauled lumber, molasses, rum, or some other single commodity, the
"Pioneer" was carrying general cargo. The following (unattributed)
article was written some years later:
"It was like manna from
heaven when the vessel 'Pioneer,' a heavily loaded wooden freight
steamer, was wrecked off Ocracoke in a violent storm back in August,
1920 [actually it was October 14, 1889, as I know for certain from my
great-grandfather's shipwreck report, and from other reliable sources].
"Everything from Bibles to cabbages floated ashore. Hams, bananas,
barrels of flour, casks of alcohol, bladders filled with snuff and a
great deal of canned food came into the Island, which was flooded by the
tide, and everywhere folks were knee-deep in water sweeping up valuable
debris as things washed by them.
"One old fellow threw away his
old shoes when he spied a new pair drifting toward him, only to find the
new ones were both for the same foot. One woman gathered up enough
bladders of snuff to fill a barrel which she proudly kept upstairs in
her house for all to marvel at. She happily contemplated a future with a
plenteous supply of snuff.
"The entire crew of the 'Pioneer' was
saved, and they joined the islanders in rescuing the cargo. 'Come on
over to my house--there's plenty to eat' was the cry of the generous
native to any stranger around, for the wrecked cargo had yielded more
than enough to supply the island with a day's rations.
Theodore S. Meekins, prominent Manteo real estate and insurance man, saw
the wreck of the 'Pioneer' and remembered these incidents concerning
it. He believed the 'Pioneer' was the last wooden steam vessel seen in
these parts, and when it hit it went into pieces and sank almost
immediately. The ship struck during the daytime and was plainly visible
from the shore. The observers on shore could see the boat break into
pieces and disappear into a raging sea.
"Mr. Meekins recalled the
auction held in connection with that part of the cargo not taken by the
natives during the storm. There were only two magistrates on Ocracoke
and both were fighting each other for the privilege of selling the
cargo. A 50-gallon container of alcohol to be auctioned off had been
considerably decreased by the frequent visits of natives down to take a
little drink or two.
"Finally, a few days before the auction,
Captain Jim Howard stopped them by planting himself firmly on top of the
barrel and guarding it with his life. When the barrel was brought up
for sale at the auction Captain Jim was astride it, and he was sold with
the barrel. He bought it himself for five dollars.
"So keen was
the auction that one barrel of flour brought six dollars. And after the
sale the strangers who had come down to Ocracoke for the auction were
treated grandly by the natives before time to depart."
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter
is about the Unionist North Carolina State Government established at
Hatteras in 1861. You can read all about it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092114.htm.