Friday, November 17, 2017

The Stevensons

Robert Louis Stevenson is best known as the author of Treasure Island. Fewer people know that he was the grandson of Robert Stevenson (1772-1850), a Scottish civil engineer who was instrumental in designing the Bell Rock Lighthouse, a beacon constructed on a barely exposed reef off the coast of Angus, Scotland, and sometimes described as one of the Seven Wonders of the Industrial World.

Robert Stevenson is credited with designing a total of fifteen lighthouses. His sons Alan, Thomas (Robert Louis Stevenson's father), and David designed forty-one lighthouses; and his grandsons, David Alan and Charles Alexander, twenty-six lighthouses.

Lighthouse construction in the United States was strongly influenced by the design and engineering skills of the three generations of the Stevenson family.

Ocracoke Lighthouse
photo by Eakin Howard

Robert Louis, however, was more interested in writing. Interestingly, one of the main characters in Treasure Island is Israel Hands. In real life Israel Hands was put in command of Blackbeard's sloop, Adventure, although, having been shot in the knee by Teach, he was not on board during the fateful battle at Ocracoke in November, 1718.

According to Captain Charles Johnson, author of A General History of the Pyrates, Israel Hands spent his final days begging in the streets of London.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a transcription of a letter describing the September, 1944, hurricane, its aftermath and cleanup. You can read the letter, with vintage photographs added, here:   


  1. Anonymous7:55 AM

    What a fascinating read. Thank you for sharing. Your ability to tie Ocracoke to world events, people and places is incredible. It reminds me of the "six steps of separation" theory. It indeed seems that Ocracoke is related to everyone and everything somehow! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Anonymous4:06 PM

    Some people believe anything if it sounds good.