Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Oyster War

In January I published an Ocracoke Newsletter about the 1890 Ocracoke Oyster War. It seems the appearance of "oyster pirates" in Pamlico Sound, and the strife over oysters extended to the mainland as well. The following report was published in The Economist (Elizabeth City, NC), Tuesday, May 6, 1890:

"As peaceful as they look to be there is something about oysters that engender strife. A case, originating in oysters, occurred in New Bern on Wednesday in which an oyster patrolman named J.C. THOMAS whose headquarters were at Coinjock, Currituck County, was shot, but not mortally wounded, by Jones SPENCER of Hyde County who recently published an article in the Washington Gazette reflecting upon the character of THOMAS and charging that he was bribed while at his official business at Coinjock..., when SPENCER pulled out a pistol and told THOMAS he would shoot him if he came nearer. THOMAS continued to advance when SPENCER fired and a ball struck his abdomen and lodged in his hip. THOMAS was badly wounded and SPENCER was arrested, bought before Mayor WILLIAMS, waived examination and was placed under a bond of $400 .... THOMAS was a patrolman at the oyster grounds, SPENCER was also a patrolman appointed by Hyde County and was ordered to Coinjock. SPENCER published the results of his investigations and charged corruption upon THOMAS and bribery by non-resident oyster pirates. This led to the difficulty between the two."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner Paragon. You can read the story here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm.

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