Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Prominent Ocracoke Citizen

From The Tar Heel (Elizabeth City), Friday, March 26, 1909, pg. 3:

"Mr. J[ohn] W[ilson] McWILLIAMS of Ocracoke, was elected to serve Hyde County in the House in 1909 by a majority of 625. He was born in Hyde County on March 10, 1869 and was educated in the public schools of his native county. He is a member of the Methodist church. On May 20, 1889 he was married to Miss Elizabeth WILLIAMS. He is a leading merchant of Ocracoke* and a leading citizen of his district. He served two terms as commissioner of wrecks for Hyde County. Mr. McWILLIAMS was a members of the following committees: Fish & Fisheries, Oyster Interests, Game Laws and Insurance and Institution for the Blind. He was mostly interested in the legislation affecting drainage, game laws and the fish and oyster industries and was prominent in shaping this legislation. Hyde has just cause to be proud of its representative."

*" One of the largest general stores on Ocracoke was that established by John W. McWilliams in the late 1800s. Located down point, on the shore of Cockle Creek, with a view of the harbor from one side, and the lighthouse from the other, the "Department Store," as it came to be called, included several structures joined together. McWilliams traded in groceries, boating supplies, hardware, clothing, and other general merchandise. He even carried a line of furniture. A barber shop sat across the lane. The fierce storm of 1933 did considerable damage to the store, and sometime after John McWilliams’ death the store was abandoned." (from our September, 2006, "Ocracoke Newsletter,"

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner Paragon. You can read the story here:


  1. Dave K.12:44 PM

    When the quoted article says " on the shores of Cockle Creek, with a view of the harbor" is it referring to Cockle creek itself or was there a portion of Silver lake already in existence that could accommodate ships? Wasn't Silver Lake dredged or dug in the 30's?

    1. The McWilliams store sat not too far from the location of today's Harbor View Inn. Cockle Creek (now called Silver Lake) was about the same size then as it is today, but much shallower. It was dredged in the late 1930s and then during WWII. Nowadays it is dredged periodically.