Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Mr. Tommie

In 2013 I published an article about the history of the Ocracoke Post Office. The island's 19th postmaster was Thomas Wallace (Mr. Tommie) Howard (1878-1972). He was appointed October 21, 1902, and held the position for nearly 40 years, until he retired in 1941.

Following are portions of Mr. Tommie's obituary:

"Last rites were held on Friday, November 10, [1972], 2 p.m. at the United Methodist Church, Ocracoke, for Thomas Wallace Howard, the island's oldest resident, age 94, who died on November 6....

" 'Mr. Tommie' as he was affectionately called, was born at Ocracoke in 1878.... His father died when Tom Wallace was six months old. He was the only boy, with four sisters....The young lad worked in a store for many years as a clerk. At one time he carried the mail in a 22-ft. sailboat from Ocracoke to Avon, and sometimes with no wind blowing, he had to row the entire distance.

"He was appointed postmaster in 1900 [should be 1902] and served until retirement in 1941.

Mr. Tommie at his Post Office

"In 1911 he was married to Nancy Elizabeth Williams of Fairfield, who predeceased him. She, too, was a staunch and Christian citizen of Ocracoke and was familiarly known as 'Miss Bessie.' They had three children, Lafayette, who predeceased them, Robert Wahab Howard, of Ocracoke and Eleanor Nell Nelson of Tucson Arizona; six grand-children, and twelve great-grandchildren....

"Both 'Mr. Tommie and 'Miss Bessie' were members of the Methodist Church. He served as a Sunday School teacher, choir leader, and member of the Official board. Since he carried in his memory a great deal of the history of the island and its people, visitors from elsewhere turned to him for interesting stories of the past...."

Mr. Tommie's granddaughter, Betty Helen Howard Chamberlin, and her husband, George, own and operate Captain's Landing Motel, on the site of the old Ocracoke Store (and early Post Office).

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the entertaining story of Calvin Wilkerson and his Condomed Nautilus. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news042117.htm    

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