Friday, November 27, 2015

Henry Pigott

Henry Pigott (1896-1971) was one of seven children born on Portsmouth Island to descendants of slaves. His grandmother was a midwife who also fished and tonged for oysters. Henry's sister Lizzie became the village barber; Henry was the "mailman." Henry poled out into Pamlico Sound daily to meet the mailboat Aleta.

Henry Pigott meeting the Mailboat

Henry retrieved the mail for Portsmouth, then passed letters and packages to the captain. He also gave the captain a list of items Portsmouth islanders requested from the store on Ocracoke.

Henry was the last male resident of Portsmouth Island. When he died in 1971 Elma Dixon and Marion Babb, the remaining two residents, reluctantly left their island home. It was the end of an era.

You can read more about Henry Pigott here:

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


  1. Anonymous7:27 AM

    We hope you had a good Thanksgiving.
    I wanted to ask you about visiting Porthmouth around Christmas. We went there years ago, in the summer. Never again.Sorry but we try to avoid bugs and we should have know better. The people that make bug sprays need to set up a lab on Portsmouth to do their testing.
    Anyway, by any chance does anyone have tours off season? We don't know who to ask except right here.
    Any help will be appreciated. Thanks Jerry

    1. According to my experience, December is one of the very best months to visit Portsmouth, especially if it is not brutally cold (I remember walking through Portsmouth village in December many years ago in shorts and a t-shirt...and no bugs). With that said, it is possible to have mosquitoes any time of the year if conditions are right. Check first before you go. The Austins (Rudy & Donald) should be available to take you over there around Christmas. Give them a call at (252) 928-4361 or (252) 928-5431.

  2. Anonymous2:46 PM

    I was in NC a couple of years ago when these birds caused million$ to be lost by cancelled reservations or lost equiptment or other sales to visitors. I know people who will never schedule a vacation on the 'iffy' outer banks again.


    "The number of fledged piping plover chicks has plummeted to two for the 2015 nesting season in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

    16 pairs of piping plovers nested on the seashore this year. The plovers produced 17 nests -- one on Bodie Island, five at Cape Point, two on South Beach in Frisco, three on north Ocracoke and six on Ocracoke's South Point.

    Only two of the chicks that hatched from the nests survived to fledge. That's the lowest number since 2004 when there were no chicks that survived. It's far below the seashore's record number of 15 in 2010!

    The number of fledged chicks has dwindled each year since 2010 -- only five fledged last year.

    WAS IT ALL WORTH IT? Have we learned anything fro the past to apply to 2016?

  3. Anonymous9:46 AM

    Just finished reading the brochure from the National Park service. It raised more questions than it answered. A) If Henry decided the house should be Pink why did they change the color back to yellow? Did they ask him if it was okay?? The siblings sought fortunes elsewhere... has Anyone been in contact with the other Pigott family for early oral histories or journals?? Mr. Pigott was buried in the cemetery Near the Church was this the Church cemetery-- the phrasing is puzzling. A NYC reporter I love that one , a staff writer, a freelance was the story ever published was Henry sent a copy ? unless these bits and bobs are coroberated why on Earth does the NPS publish Fairy tales. Now today the Postal service has contract stations or did at one time--non-union folk conducting clerk work. There was a time a USPS worker was paid near poverty level wages at best and now Henry was he paid for his efforts ? If he went on strike and said I ain't doing it no more unless you pay me ... then either they would pay him or they would find someone to "cross the picket line" Now the topic of living estate I guess it was how much was Henry paid for his house? Had the winds of change regarding the NPS absorbing the Island--did this cause a disconcerning mood-- Henry lived only four more years after agreeing to the transaction. Now PH surly these thoughts crossed your mind INquiring minds want to know and no I am not a fussbudget, at least I don't think so.

    1. Anonymous9:49 AM

      oops my slep er spel ah spell check is on the fritz

  4. Anonymous10:05 AM

    It was an end of an era. Does that include ending the prohibition that prevented Mr. Pigott from enrolling as a child in a NC public school?

    1. After the Civil War, North Carolina (and other southern states) mandated separate schools for whites and blacks. But the state would not establish black schools on Ocracoke or Portsmouth because the black population was so small. At least on Ocracoke (and probably on Portsmouth also) teachers and students volunteered to teach the black children after school hours. Public schools were desegregated (at least in law) in the United States in 1954 by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown vs Board of Education.

  5. Anonymous2:40 PM

    to anon 9:46
    These are some of the best comments and questions that I have read on here I in a long time. You are truly a thinking person. Thank you. You have just made this subject really interesting.

    1. Anonymous8:45 AM

      Honestly, I think the National park service has a mission, several books have been written on the subject ie natural resources, land management,opening up areas of natural beauty to visited by the public --early on ala the rail roads and big hotels ala Lodges, I digress. But if they, the NPS, chooses to publish educational brochures, colorful, on glossy paper and paid for by the taxpayer perhaps, and there are often videos to be seen at visitor centers, my point If a student has to write a bibliography for a paper in school why is that not used when generating fodder for the public to read. Sources of information would be helpful. And updating a brochure with newly discovered source material is that asking too much, This is a gauntlet I have thrown down, to history majors in the state of North Carolina become history detectives. On a topic that interests you or me such as PI. Thank you

  6. Anonymous7:32 PM

    Back in 1978 when the application was submitted to the dept of Interior for historical designation there were TWO pink houses on the Island Mr. Pigott's residence and the Willis house. Two pink houses. I guess historic accuracy only goes as far as those in charge see fit. Is the NPS on Portsmouth Island so concerned with WDW perfection, that a pink house is not acceptable. Or during that seven year period since the passing of Mr. Pigott. perhaps his house was leased as a vacation home and the lease holders failed to appreciate a pink house and requested to repaint in yellow?? If the house was pink since the 1930's what part of history is history? Many buildings were moved off the island according to the application. The inventory of buildings numbered more that 100 , in the 1970s it was merely 25. It is amazing what pieces to the puzzle are found on the internet. Now , where are the buildings that were moved and how would that have been accomplished?

  7. The answers to many of the questions above are beyond my ken. I am not an expert on Portsmouth Island history.

    1. Anonymous6:09 PM

      Not a problem PH. just thinking out loud. With all the hub bub these days regarding paint er historic paint colors and historic realism one questions the choices. Hey the Brontosauras just saying..... is now called the apatasauras

  8. Anonymous9:09 AM

    my range of ken does not understand why you use the word ken.?? Ha (kidding)

    1. Anonymous9:48 AM

      Perhaps this explains Superman's name Clark


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