Thursday, February 16, 2017


James (1839-1904) and Zilphia Williams (1841-1919) Howard had twelve children, eight of whom (Annie, Cordelia, Elsie, Florence, William, Edith, Stacy, & Thomas) died very young. The eight unfortunate children are buried along Howard Street. Each of the four headstones has one child's name on one side, and another child's name on the other side. Eight footstones, with initials, lie between the dual graves.

Lorena (1866-1897), Homer (1868-1947), Sabra (1870-1951), and Wheeler (1874-1940) survived to maturity. In 1940 Homer sent a postcard to his son, Lawton (who was living off the island), explaining that his brother Wheeler had just died.

The postcard reads, "Dear Son With a Sad heart I Pen you this note. Brother Wheeler died Saturday eve, Father Homer Nov. 2, 1940"

Before Ocracoke had a modern Health Clinic with a resident doctor, and before islanders had easy access to professional undertakers, death was a frequent companion that Ocracoke residents dealt with regularly. They coped as best they could.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Ellen Marie Cloud's first-person account of the Great Ocracoke Lighthouse Window Heist. You can read it here:  


  1. Thank you Philip. Would it be acceptable for visitors to respectfully look at this site? Is it located near your business on Howard Street?

    1. Respectful visitors are always welcome. The James & Zilphia Howard cemetery is across the street from the Village Craftsmen bike rack. The inscriptions on most of the markers face away from the graves. This is common on Ocracoke; as a result many are hard to read because vegetation makes it difficult to step back for a clear view.

    2. Lorena Howard Wyche & her husband Rev. L.O. Wyche are buried in the same cemetery with James, Zilphia, and the 8 children. Homer, Wheeler, and other family members are buried nearby on Howard Street. Sabra is buried elsewhere on the island.