Friday, December 15, 2017

Oyster War

In 2015 I wrote about the 1890 Oyster War on Ocracoke Island.

Ocracoke December Oyster Roast, 2014

I recently discovered a Newspaper Abstract from The Economist - Tuesday, May 6, 1890; pg. 3, chronicling the Oyster War on the mainland of Hyde County:

"As peaceful as they look to be there is something about oysters that engender strife. A case, originating in oysters, occurred in New Bern on Wednesday in which an oyster patrolman named J.C. THOMAS whose headquarters were at Coinjock, Currituck County, was shot, but not mortally wounded, by Jones SPENCER of Hyde County who recently published an article in the Washington Gazette reflecting upon the character of THOMAS and charging that he was bribed while at his official business at Coinjock [portion torn] used harsh terms about him, when SPENCER pulled out a pistol and told THOMAS he would shoot him if he came nearer. THOMAS continued to advance when SPENCER fired and a ball struck his abdomen and lodged in his hip. THOMAS was badly wounded and SPENCER was arrested, bought before Mayor WILLIAMS, waived examination and was placed under a bond of $400 with Messrs. SIMMONS and MOORE as sureties. THOMAS was a patrolman at the oyster grounds, SPENCER was also a patrolman appointed by Hyde County and was ordered to Coinjock. SPENCER published the results of his investigations and charged corruption upon THOMAS and bribery by non-resident oyster pirates. This led to the difficulty between the two."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is my analysis of a sentence penned by surveyor Jonathan Price in 1795. The sentence reads, "Occacock was heretofore, and still retains the name of, an island. It is now a peninsula; a heap of sand having gradually filled up the space which divided it from the bank."  You can read my analysis here:  


  1. Anonymous8:11 AM

    My goodness. Such a sense of entitlement. It seems to be a flaw in humane nature. On both parts, the Bankers felt they owned the beds and the Winslow party felt entitled to help themselves. I am still confused, it seems it was decided as if it was a football game, offsetting penalties- infractions by both parties??
    Flash forward to 2017-- oyster beds in Pamlico sound are properly managed to the degree oysters will continue to flourish for generations to come?? Seems to me, the Pirate theme celebrated on OI could incorporate a re-enactment of the Oyster Wars and a trial with all the colorful characters involved. Now that would be something to see --Way better then a view of the island from the coast guard tower--that's what a drone if for. Okay run with the idea, a virtual reality experience of a birds- eye -view of OI with a video filmed with a drone. Somebody out there can Make it So.

  2. Anonymous4:26 PM

    those look like some healthy oysters,mmmm

  3. Anonymous4:31 PM

    there already is a drones eye view of the blackbreard pirates day shot last year. I think someone launched their drone from the parking lot near the water tower then flew it over the pirate re enactment. From the looks of it it looks like it was a 100' or maybe more above the boats. anyway nice shooting whoever took it. looks like a fairly large crowd there.