Monday, October 31, 2016

Wesley Austin

Wesley Austin (1864-1941) was the keeper of the Ocracoke lighthouse from 1912 -1929.

Keeper Austin kept a daily logbook which Ellen Marie Fulcher Cloud copied from microfilm stored at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. In her book Ocracoke Lighthouse Cloud includes Capt. Austin's entry for Aug. 23, 1925 --"Four masted schooner Victoria S. stranded on Ocracoke Roads about 1 am -- in part from Georgetown SC to New York loaded -- Pine lumber."

According to my father, he was on beach patrol Aug. 22-23 with his father, a Coast Guardsman, when they saw a schooner making peculiar maneuvers offshore. My grandfather speculated that the captain was just waiting until nightfall to "run her aground" for the insurance money. Sure enough the "Victoria S" wrecked that night.

A "Roads" or "Roadstead" is a partly sheltered body of water near the shore where ships may safely ride at anchor.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is about earthquakes that have affected Ocracoke and the Outer Banks. You can read the newsletter here:


  1. Anonymous8:44 AM

    Is here any record of who salvaged the heart pine lumber from the wreck? Was it a common practice for OI residents to profit from such adversity? Certainly some effort was involved to rescue the crew and cargo are sunken ships littering the off shore regions of OI.

    1. I do not know who salvaged the pine lumber from the Victoria S. Many older island homes were built from lumber salvaged after shipwrecks. When possible "wreck masters" helped agents for the owners of the lumber conduct "vendues" (auctions) to sell the lumber. Saving lives was always a priority, but a manned Life-Saving Station was not established on Ocracoke until 1883. Before then little could be done to aid mariners stranded on a wrecked vessel. Almost 2000 ships have wrecked off the coast of North Carolina.