Wednesday, January 06, 2016


Visitors to the island often wonder where we do much of our off-island shopping. Many islanders drive to the mainland (Norfolk, VA, or Greenville, NC, for example) or to Nags Head to make major purchases. Of course, in the age of the Internet, it is now possible to order almost anything on line.

In years past, Ocracoke residents often relied on mail-order firms (Sears & Roebuck, Montgomery Ward, and Charles Williams) for clothes and household items. Sometimes, island boat captains and merchants made regular trips across the sound. This excerpt from the Morning New Bernian [New Bern, NC], February 10, 1932 offers a glimpse into island commerce in the early part of the twentieth century:

"Capt. W[illiam] D[aniel] Gaskill, one of Ocracoke’s most progressive citizens, has just returned to the island with a cargo of foodstuffs and building materials after having spent two days here disposing of a large quantity of sea food. Capt. Gaskill is now a regular visitor to New Bern, coming here every ten days to make purchases for the families on the island…. “[T]he variety of foodstuffs is what appeals to me so much,” [said Capt. Gaskill]. Capt. Gaskill conducts the hotel on the island and is now making plans to build a dance hall over the water which will be open by the time the summer season rolls around, every piece of lumber for this work to be hauled from the mainland.”

Capt. Bill's Pamlico Inn

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

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