Monday, January 16, 2017

Ocracoke Post Offices

Last week a reader asked about the Ocracoke post office. In April, 2013, I published a Newsletter about Ocracoke Island post offices. Below is a summary of that article, with photos:

On August 21, 1840 the first post office on the Outer Banks of North Carolina was established on Ocracoke Island. For the next sixty years the post office was located in successive postmasters’ homes or in one of the village’s general stores. This is a photo of Abner Bennett Howard's general store and post office. It was located where Captain's Landing Motel is today.

On October 21, 1902 postmaster Thomas Wallace (“Mr. Tommy”) Howard  built the first of Ocracoke’s four dedicated post office buildings. It was situated across the road from Abner Bennett's store, between the entrance to Howard Street and the Silver Lake Motel.

When Mr. Tommy retired in 1941 his future daughter-in-law, Elizabeth O’Neal, was appointed Ocracoke’s postmaster. Elizabeth moved her operation across the sandy footpath from Mr. Tommy’s small post office building to the old store which her father had purchased. The original post office boxes had never been removed.

In 1952, after the old store and post office had been severely damaged in the 1944 hurricane, postmaster Elizabeth O’Neal Howard (Mr. Tommy's daughter-in-law), and her husband Wahab Howard, had a new, 18’ X 24’, 432 square foot post office built on their property near the old store. The new post office had 150 lock boxes. The building has since been moved. Down Point Decoys is located on that property today, just a few feet south of where the post office stood.

In 1964 a new brick post office with 1000 square feet of interior space and 464 lock boxes was constructed. Today it houses Captain's Cargo gift shop.

Ocracoke's current post office was relocated to NC Hwy 12 in 2000. Today, the 3,000 square foot Ocracoke post office building, with 1256 lock boxes, serves nearly 1000 year around residents and businesses as well as numerous summer visitors.

You can view more photos, and read more about Ocracoke's post office at or

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Capt. Rob Temple's poem, "A Pirate's Christmas." You can read it hear:


  1. Anonymous5:51 AM


    In the 1964 photo of the PO the is a view that can not be seen very well anymore fro the road. THE WATER. I remember walking all around the 'lake' from the Coast Guard station to where the clam factory use to be and being able to see water during the whole walk. That was a long time ago but I can still remember it. Today there is building after building and kayaks and stands, even a pool! to block the beautiful view of the Ocracoke harbor.
    I have pictures of guys working on their nets and kids with clam rakes on the waters edge playing, and others trying to pull a small boat onto the shore....these things don't happen anymore because the shore line is mostly blocked. sad. If you only had those views again it would be wonderful. I am glad that I have those pictures. It will never be like that again. Now it's almost impossible to take a picture without getting a sign in the shot, or a dumpster or a car. I guess I just live in the past.
    I can tell that you like it the way it was to by your blog subjects, and pictures and the research that I know you do. Thank you for all of that.

    1. "After-comers cannot guess the beauty been." From Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem, "Binsey Poplars."

  2. Anonymous11:56 AM

    thank you for they very good reply to anon indeed do your homework-like this tidbit:
    In 1730 former Virginia Governor Alexander Spotswood, became Deputy Postmaster General of America. He served until 1739. It was Governor Spotswood who, in 1718, sent Lt. Robert Maynard of the British Royal Navy to Ocracoke where he and his sailors confronted and killed Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard the pirate.

    In 1737 Spotswood appointed thirty-one year old Benjamin Franklin Postmaster of Philadelphia.
    When the Second Continental Congress convened in 1775 it appointed Franklin as the first Postmaster General of the de- facto national government which soon became the United States. GREAT STUFF PHILIP! I AM GLAD YOU LIKE TO DIG! Very interesting.

  3. Anonymous7:49 AM

    Anon 5:51 do you not understand that the "beauty been" has been Improved. The Land Improvement Commission approved the permit. A Land Developer improved the land and and created jobs. Yes Jobs were created. The property value was increased generating revenue to pave the roads and install sewers and a water filtration system. More taxes were assessed by the School Board to educate the children and the library district to buy books for the library and the electric services taxed the land etc. The beauty been has been replaced by Modern day conveniences all the things people were escaping from when they first stepped foot on OI as a Retreat. If there are code violations that need to be reported Make it so Report the Violations.