Friday, May 08, 2015

Portsmouth Trivia

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about Crystal Canterbury's first visit to Portsmouth Village (see the link at the bottom of this post).

Photo by Crystal Canterbury

Here are a few tidbits of information about Portsmouth (from David Stick's book, The Outer Banks of North Carolina:
  • Portsmouth, unlike Ocracoke and other Outer Banks communities, was a planned town.
  • Portsmouth town was laid out in half-acre lots, with designated streets.
  • Town lots were sold for 20 shillings in the mid-1700s.
  • John Tolson purchased the first lot on February 12, 1756 (members of the Tolson family live on Ocracoke to this day).
  • Fort Granville was built on Portsmouth. It was garrisoned in 1758.
  • On a 1775 map showing the Outer Banks, only one road is depicted. It extended from Portsmouth to Core Banks.
  • Population of Portsmouth in 1800 was 246.
  • An academy was established on Portsmouth by 1806.
  • Population in 1810 was 387.
  • In 1836-1837 more than 1,400 vessels passed through Ocracoke Inlet.
  • In 1846 the federal government established a marine hospital on Portsmouth.
  • In 1866 The Excelsior Oil and Guano Company established a menhaden processing plant on Portsmouth.
  • Between 1876 & 1885 a US Weather Bureau Station was located on Portsmouth.
  • Portsmouth also had a US Life-Saving/Coast Guard Station from the late 1800s to WWII.
  • Population in 1850 was 505.
  • Population today is 0. 
 Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an article by island resident, Crystal Canterbury, about her very first visit to Portsmouth Village, on the last day of 2014. You can read Part I here:


  1. Anonymous9:27 AM

    What is the source of the bloodsucking green head horse fly? I suppose it is horses. If the green head horse fly is attracted to live stock and the OI has the wild ponies and a few other OBX islands are known for wild horses --this begs the question as to why a populated area is not troubled by the GHHF? From what I have read PI has the issue but the vacation areas don't. What methods are employed on OI to rid Ocracoke of the greenhead horse fly?

    1. True, we are not usually bothered by green head flies (but there are exceptions!). I don't know why. Ocracoke has no program to eliminate this pest.

    2. I was bitten by a green head when I was a vendor at the music festival a few years ago. If I remember correctly, I asked Philip for advice when he and Lachlan stopped in my booth--my knuckle had a chunk out of it and the entire back of my hand had swelled! Those flies are nasty little creatures.

  2. Anonymous11:38 AM

    PH : I hope your readers participate in the food drive Stamp Out Hunger. USPS Letter Carriers are collecting items donated by those filling the shopping bag left in the mail box. This Saturday May 9th let's Stamp Out Hunger together.

  3. Anonymous5:31 PM

    20 shillings = 1pound in todays money that 1750 pound would be worth approx. $64.00 today. (I researched this on the internet so you know it's RIGHT)