Thursday, April 27, 2017

Capt. Denis Daly & Augustin Daly

Few people today know the story of John Augustin Daly (1838-1899), but in his day he dominated American theater. In addition to being a playwright and critic, he was a prominent theater manager who founded Daly's Theatre in New York City in 1879.

Augustin Daly

Daly's father, Captain Denis Daly, was born near Limerick, Ireland, in 1797. He was well educated, and as a young man obtained a position in the British navy. In 1838 Capt. Daly emigrated to America and established a lumber business in Plymouth, North Carolina. Augustin was born soon thereafter.In September, 1841, Captain Daly set sail in the Union, a vessel loaded with lumber. Augustin Daly's brother, Joseph Francis Daly, in his 1917 book, The Life of Augustin Daly, recounts what next transpired:

"Three weeks later a letter arrived telling of [Captain Daly's] death. It came from Captain Pike of Ocracoke, a small settlement at the inlet of the same name south of Cape Hatteras and situated upon the long sandy breastwork which forms the Atlantic coast of North Carolina and separates the waste of ocean from the inner waters known as Pamlico and Albemarle sounds. When detained by adverse winds or calms quite a fleet of outward bound vessels collects at the inlet, The coast had an evil reputation for wreckers and many stories were told of vessels lured on the breakers by false lights fastened to horses which were led up and down the sands. Upon receipt of the distressing communication our mother hastily left for Ocracoke taking with her a captain and two seamen for the Union as she was advised would be necessary. She set out with her infant son and a nurse by coach at four in the morning for Little Washington on Pamlico Sound, found a sloop ready to sail to Ocracoke, and reached it the same day. Captain Pike and his wife showed her every attention and gave her full particulars of all that had taken place. It was owing to light winds and calms that Captain Daly was three weeks in reaching Ocracoke from Plymouth. When his vessel arrived at the inlet he was found prostrated with fever and was taken ashore. Doctor Dudley of Portsmouth, twelve miles distant, was sent for but could not save him. He was interred in a plot set apart for burials in Captain Pike's garden. The ravages of wind and wave have devoured the shore line and buried the little cemetery beneath the waters of the Sound."

Captain John Pike's home, store, and garden were located somewhere along the soundside shore in the vicinity of the present-day NPS Visitors Center and parking lot.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the entertaining story of Calvin Wilkerson and his Condomed Nautilus. You can read it here:  

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