Friday, January 23, 2015


Eliza Ella ("Miss Lizerella") Styron O'Neal (1890-1953) was the daughter of Elijah Styron, Sr. and Elizabeth Gaskins Styron. The Styrons are an old island family (I mentioned them last year because they were one of the last Ocracoke families to continue celebrating Old Christmas). Two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren live on the island to this day.
Photo Courtesy of Johnny O'Neal

Miss Eliza Ella's great-grand-nephew told me she had never driven in an automobile. In fact, she never left the island in her entire life (except to venture a mile or so out into Pamlico Sound in a small boat). Carl Goerch relates his visit and conversation with Miss Eliza Ella ("Never Been Off the Island") in his 1956 book, Ocracoke. Goerch describes Miss Eliza Ella as "friendly and vivacious."

Cousin Blanche agreed, and recently shared a story that illustrates Miss Styron's wonderful sense of humor. In the 1920s, when airplanes were still a novelty, and barnstorming pilots occasionally flew out to Ocracoke, local talk turned to speculation about this new and exotic mode of transportation.

Some folks were ready to hop into the cockpit of a plane to see the island from the air. Others were dead set against such foolhardy behavior, and vowed to never, ever, get into an airplane.

Miss Eliza Ella had her own unique perspective, and addressed the assembled neighbors. "I don't care high up I go," she said, "as long as I can keep one foot on the ground!"

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about the almost forgotten 1890 "Oyster Wars" that pitted islanders against outside business interests. You can read the article here:

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