Friday, November 16, 2018

Tavern on Portsmouth

What may have been the very first tavern on the Outer Banks was established by Valentine Wade in 1757. In 1753 the North Carolina Colonial Assembly had passed a bill "appointing and laying out a Town on Core Banks, near Ocacock [Ocracoke] Inlet, in Carteret County." In 1756 Wade purchased lot number 21 in Portsmouth village. He was soon named Justice of the Peace, but in 1759 a number of citizens of Portsmouth and Ocracoke were disturbed by the influence of the tavern. John Bragg, an inlet pilot operating from Ocracoke, and Joseph Ryall, a soldier stationed at Fort Granville on Portsmouth (see yesterday's blog post) filed a formal complaint against Wade.

The complaint charged that "Valentine Wade, one of his Majestys Justices of the Peace for the county of Carteret, and who keeps a Tavern in the Town of Porstmouth in said county, Permits, suffers and encourages disorderly persons to dance and play at cards and dice in his house upon the Lords Day."

1700s Tavern Scene
















Wade was ordered to appear before the Council and explain his conduct in view of his official position, but he failed to show up to defend himself, and was "struck out of the Commission of the Peace."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Fort Granville

In 1755 North Carolina Governor Arthur Dobbs visited Ocracoke Inlet, and ordered that Fort Granville, which had been authorized for Portsmouth Island but never constructed, be finally built. Portsmouth was designated as the site of the fort because it was "a Maratime Town, far distant from the bulk of the Inhabitants of this Province, and liable to the Depredations of an Enemy in Time of War, and Insults from Pirates and other rude People in Time of Peace."

The fort was designed as "a fascine* Battery secured by piles, with 2 faces; one to Secure the passage in coming down a Narrow Channel to this Harbour, and the other to play across the Channel where it is not above 300 yards wide."

Fascines













By 1757 Fort Granville was finally manned with a small company. The next year 53 officers and men were stationed at the the fort. By 1762 less that half that number served at Fort Granville. The next year only five soldiers were stationed at Portsmouth, and the garrison was decommissioned with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1764, which ended the French and Indian War.

*fascine: a bundle of rods or sticks bound together, often used in military operations.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Remembering Lt. Maynard

As anyone familiar with Ocracoke knows, the legend of Blackbeard the pirate has been a dominant and persistent theme on Ocracoke, even today, 300 years after his defeat by Lt. Robert Maynard and the British Royal Navy.

Lt. Robert Maynard












Several years ago Ruth Toth, vice president of the Ocracoke Preservation Society, decided that Lt. Maynard and his crew should be recognized and celebrated on the 300th anniversary of the final battle. The Executive Committee of OPS agreed, so Ruth and a small committee have been working to make it happen. OPS will host a three day event at Ocracoke (November 21, 22, and 23) to commemorate the historic battle.

Invitations have been extended to officers and midshipmen from the Royal Navy officer training unit who train aboard the HMS Ranger, named for Maynard’s ship. This unit typically holds their most formal dinner of the year on November 22nd, to celebrate Maynard’s defeat of Blackbeard.

The event begins with an Oyster Roast on Wednesday, November 21 (this is a ticketed event with limited seating). At 10 am the next morning (November 22...Thanksgiving Day) the public is invited to a memorial ceremony at Springer’s Point Nature Preserve, the closest land to the site of the battle. Immediately following the ceremony, all are invited to an English Tea in the Barn at the Berkley Manor (served in fine china tea cups).

For more information go to the OPS web site: https://ocracokepreservation.org/300th-anniversary-of-the-battle-at-ocracoke/.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Spanish Invasion

The coast of North Carolina was periodically invaded by Spaniards beginning in April, 1741, when two privateers with about 100 sailors arrived at the Outer Banks. The Spaniards erected a tent camp on Ocracoke with the goal of controlling shipping through Ocracoke Inlet. In August North Carolina merchants and residents in two ships drove the Spaniards from Ocracoke. The Spaniards returned again in 1747, landing on Ocracoke and capturing the port of Beaufort before abandoning the town a few days later. The final invasion occurred in 1748 when the Spaniards attacked the town of Brunswick. A prisoner exchange ended the seven year cycle of Spanish invasions. 

However, the threat of  Spanish invasions returned 150 years later during the Spanish-American War (April, 1898-August, 1898). In July, 1898, the Daily Journal of New Bern, NC printed this brief article:

"An official of the Government, high in authority, whose business it is to organize the people of the coast into a battalion auxiliary to the navy for home protection, passed through this section [Dare County] last week on his way south. In a general conversation he informed the writer that the auxiliary gunboat "Kemp" is now being fitted out for coast patrol duty. She will be stationed at Teach's Hole, at Ocracoke, and will make frequent cruises between Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout. Commodore S. Barsey Casey, Retired, will be in command of the Kemp, and after enlisting a sufficient number of the patriotic young men of Ocracoke to man his ship he will organize and arm those who are left to patrol and guard the coast. It is now to be hoped that the good people of Ocracoke may 'Worship under their own vine and fig tree' where no Spaniard comes to molest or 'Don' makes them afraid...."

Spanish Vessel, Alfonso XIII















This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Rev. Fitts

Rev. Robert Nicholson Fitts (1881-1971) served as preacher at the Ocracoke Methodist Church, South, from 1929 to 1932.


















His granddaughter shared this story of Rev. Fitts' time on Ocracoke:

"It was on Ocracoke that my grandfather got his sailing lesson. He was on his way home, wearing his only suit, when Wahab Howard convinced him to go sailing. Robert was reluctant, but gave in. They were out in Silver Lake and over went the boat. The story changed, depending on who told it. Wahab swore he didn't tip it on purpose but knows the preacher tried to climb up the mast as they were going over. Robert, however, was positive Wahab had dumped them on purpose. At age 91, Mr. Tommy Howard (Wahab's father) would still split his side laughing as he described the preacher walking up the road dripping wet."

The Ladies Aid Society organized a fund-raiser. They showed a movie one night and collected enough money to buy Preacher Fitts a second suit!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Herman & Flossie Spencer

Yesterday I shared this OPS picture of the Island Inn & JoKo Gallery. The photo was made about 1973 or 1974.














One of the OPS staff asked me about the white house in the left background, where Spencer's Market is today. That was the home of Herman and Flossie Spencer. Some of our long-time visitors will remember that Herman and Flossie were the parents of Gaynelle Tillett (d. 2018, https://ocracokeobserver.com/2018/05/06/gaynelle-spencer-tillett-an-ocracoke-brand/), and grandparents of Ricky Tillett. When the property was sold, the house was moved to make room for the present development. The house is now located just a short distance away. It is painted red, and has been converted to Sorella's Pizza & Pasta restaurant.

In the early 1970s Ocracoke had no municipal water system. Residents and businesses were collecting rain water from their roofs and storing it in cisterns next to their houses for drinking and cooking. We built our home/business (Village Craftsmen) on Howard Street at that time, knowing that "city water" would soon be coming to the village. So we did not build a cistern. We simply put a large galvanized tub on the back porch and periodically filled it with a garden hose from my parents' house.

We had just started filling the tub when our neighbor, Herman Spencer, stopped by to show us some small birds he had carved. He was in his late '60s at the time, and had been supplying us with a few of his carvings. We invited Herman into the store, and took a look at his birds. We couldn't afford to buy them all, so we sorted through them, asked how much he wanted for them, and chose several. He was in no hurry, so we chatted and shared a few stories. Finally we wrote him a check, put the rest of his birds back in his box, and walked him to the back door..

As he was getting ready to open the door he turned to us with that typical Ocracoke Island nonchalance and dry wit, and said, "I reckon that tub is about filled up by now."

Of course, the tub had been running over for quite some time! Herman just casually walked back home.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

The Island Inn

Recently the staff of the Ocracoke Preservation Museum discovered this undated photo on a thumb drive.














The building on the right is the Island Inn. The photo was taken about 1973 or 1974. Sometime around 1960 entrepreneur Doward Brugh had purchased the old Odd Fellows Lodge/Silver Lake Inn/Wahab Coffee Shop and re-named it the Island Inn. He owned the inn for only a few years. Pennsylvania natives, George and Emilie Wilkes were the next owners. They operated the inn from about 1965 to 1970, then sold the inn to Bill and Helen Styron.

JoKo, a popular artist who owned property on the island, decorated the dining room in a piratical-nautical theme. Walls were stained to look like the inside of a sailing ship, fishing nets and buoys were hung from the ceiling, and two large paintings (one of Blackbeard holding his severed head in his hands, and a beach scene) adorned the end walls. A small gallery selling JoKo's prints was established in the Inn.

I am wondering if any of our readers remember when Bill & Helen Styron owned the Island Inn.

Earlier this year I wrote a history of the Island Inn. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

John Pike

John Pike's name surfaces on Ocracoke in the early 19th century. The first mention of him is in the 1830 census. He is listed as Head of Household with two other males and two females living with him. He owned fifteen slaves. In 1840 one more female is listed in the household. the number of slaves is not given.

Not until the 1850 census are names and occupations listed. In that year John Pike (born in Connecticut), age 64, is listed with Emma W. Pike (50 years old, and presumably his wife), George W. Pike (28 years old, probably a son), and Hester K. Pike (21 years old, probably either John & Emma's daughter or George's wife). John is identified as a merchant; and George, a clerk. We know that John Pike owned and operated a general store that was located somewhere along the soundside shore in the vicinity of the present-day National Park Service Visitors Center and parking lot. Nearby was his home and garden.

Captain John Pike was also the owner and master of several schooners. Following is a list of his vessels:

SPARTON -- Schooner, built in Plymouth, Mass, in 1825. 1 deck, 2 masts, 62 ft. long, 19 f t, - wide, 6 f t deep. 508 tons. Owner: John Pike and William Howard. Master: John Pike.

MARY -- Schooner, built in New Bern, NC, 1837. l deck, 2 masts, 69 FT. long, 21 ft. wide, 7 ft. deep 96 tons. Owner & Master: John Pike.

MANUNECK -- Enrolled at Ocracoke, 1849. 49 ft,. long. Owner: John Pike. Master: Josephus Fulcher.

MANUMIT -- Schooner, Enrolled at Ocracoke, 1855/1856. 58 ft long. Owner: George Pike (3/4) and John Pike (1/4). Master: A. B. Howard.

THOMAS COX - Enrolled at Ocracoke, 1825. Master: John Pike 

MARY - 1840. Enrolled at Ocracoke. Owner & Master: John Pike

UNION - 1840. Enrolled at Ocracoke. Owner: John Pike

Two other vessels are connected with Ocracoke as well as with a Robert Pike. Robert Pike is not listed in any Ocracoke census.

COLLECTOR - Enrolled New Bern 24 Jan 1822, 74 ton, surrendered Plymouth 28 Oct.1823. Owner & Master: Robert Pike.

OLIVIA COX - 1827. 99 ton. Original Owner: Thomas Cox. Master: Robert Pike. 1828. New Owner & Master: Robert P.ike. 


In 1835 Ocracoke resident, Wilson Tilmon Farrow, Sr., wrote a lengthy letter to an attorney in Boston, requesting his help regarding a "rascality" on Ocracoke that had something to do with the "robbing" of a vessel. Islanders somehow involved in this affair included William Howard (grandson of Ocracoke's first William Howard), his son-in-law Captain Elijah Chase, Captain John Pike, and Jacob Gaskill (Ocracoke's Justice of the Peace). A transcript of a portion of Farrow's letter follows:

"Swanquarter
"March the 16, 1835

"Mr. W. D. Sohier

"Dear Sir, I received a commission from you some time ago but have not received any notes from the opposite party. I have some doubt they mean to keep it back as long as they can to prevent our procuring such evidence as we may need. I therefore wish you to proceed to get the evidence from New York as I before instructed you. The deposition of New York are strong against Howard, Pike & Gaskins. We must be sure to have them....

"Yours respectfully, — Tilmon Farrow"

In 1837 John Pike was the Notary at the Port of Ocracoke, Justice of the Peace and Wreck Master. In a dispute with William Howard over their respective actions during rescue and salvage operations after the wreck of the steamboat Home, William Howard accused John Pike, “through his influence and money” of rescuing “a murderer from the gallows merely for the sake of gain.” Presumably this refers to John Pike’s involvement in the murder trial of Jacob Gaskill (see https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/murder-on-ocracoke/).

There appear to have been other accusations against John Pike. Soon after the wreck of the Home, on November 2, 1837, he penned a letter to James Bergen, Esq., which was published in the New Y.ork Express:

"Dear Sir: -- Some of the New York papers have published a statement purporting to have been made by Mr. Hiram Force, as to the loss of the Home, and to the conduct of the inhabitants of Ocracoke, and myself particularly. On reading the annexed article you will perceive how utterly false the charges are, and learn, if you do not know it already, the baseness of the person from whom they emanated. From what I have seen and heard, I have reason to believe many of the charges made against other persons, are unfounded, and will prove so. A long personal acquaintance with you, induces me to avail himself of your aid in placing my statement before the pubblic [sic], and I am confident that the knowledge you have had of me in relation to wrecked property, and to Insurance business, will enable you to vouch for my character, and I hope many of your merchants can do the same."

John Pike and his wife are mentioned in a comment by Joseph Francis Daly in his 1917 book, The Life of Augustin Daly. He relates that in September, 1841, his father, Captain Denis Daly, set sail from Plymouth, NC, in the Union, a vessel loaded with lumber. Captain Daly succumbed to a fever, and died on Ocracoke. According to Joseph Daly, "Captain Pike and his wife showed [Daly's widow] every attention and gave her full particulars of all that had taken place.... [Capt. Daly] 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."

On December 31, 1846 John Pike was appointed Postmaster at Ocracoke. He served until August 16, 1848.

The last mention of John Pike in the Ocracoke census records is in 1850. In fact, no Pikes are listed in any local records after that date, and there is no record of any Pikes that are buried on Ocracoke Island. John Pike was a prominent citizen (Justice of the Peace, Notary, and Wreck Master), and of considerable means (He was a slave owner as well as owner and master of several schooners). In spite of several web sites with extensive information about the Pike family (in New England, North Carolina, and elsewhere) I have been unable to discover any further information about John Pike's birth family, why he settled on Ocracoke, or what happened to him or his family after 1850. He simply appeared here sometime before 1830, became a well-known member of the community, and disappeared after 1850. It is all very curious!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Waterfowl Hunting

Waterfowl hunting has been a popular winter sport on Ocracoke for more than a century. In 1910 the "Book of the Royal Blue," a magazine published monthly by the Passenger Department of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, ran an article titled “Winter Sport in Virginia and North Carolina.” It was an excerpt from an article in “Field and Stream,” by H.C. Herring, M.D., an avid hunter.

“What about geese and ducks? You always bring back a lot. Where do you go?” was a question put to Dr. Herring by an acquaintance.

Dr. Herring's answer: "I told him there was only one section which would completely answer all demands of the amateur and professional sportsman, and that was on the Island of Ocracoke. To supply the necessary information  I turned to a map of North Carolina and placed my finger on a little island, midway between Capes Lookout and Hatteras, where could be found more fowl from November until March than at any other point in America."



















You can read the entire article here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/hunting-ducks-geese-1910/.

If you are interested in modern-day waterfowl hunting on Ocracoke do an internet search for "Waterfowl Hunting Ocracoke." There you can find web sites for a number of Ocracoke hunting guides.

Setting Decoys in Pamlico Sound















And if you are a successful hunter, you might want to use this recipe from the 1950s and 1960s Ocracoke Cook Book:

Stewed Wild Goose

1/4 lb. salt pork
1/4 cup flour
8 potatoes, halved
Corn dumplings or drop pastry dumplings
Cut-up goose
Salt & pepper
Pod of red pepper

In large pot fry out salt pork until light brown, add flour slightly browned, add cut up fowl. Add salt, pepper, pod red pepper, and enough water to cover. Cook until tender then add potatoes and corn dumplings. Lay dumplings in top or add drop dumplings when nearly done.

-- Mrs. Eva Williams (1892-1972)

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/

Monday, November 05, 2018

Ocracoke Ponies

Although more than 300 Banker Ponies (actually small horses) once roamed wild over Ocracoke Island, today only a small remnant herd remains, cared for by volunteers and staff of the National Park Service.

Former Park Ranger Jim Henning was one of the first people to investigate the origin of the ponies. According to Jean Day in her 1997 book, Banker Ponies, an endangered species, Henning "identified several physical characteristics of the Spanish mustangs in the horses. They have fewer lumber vertebrae than the average horse, have five to ten times greater bone density than most horses and are able to carry heavy weights. Their wide foreheads and short, strong necks and beautiful flowing manes and tails are also characteristic of the Spanish mustang."


















This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Lamb in His Bosom

Earlier this fall a friend suggested I read Caroline Miller's 1933 novel, Lamb in His Bosom. The novel chronicles the lives of a pre-Civil War, non-slaveholding rural Georgia family.

I was struck by several words in the rural Georgia antebellum dialect that were similar or identical to words still in use on Ocracoke today (although mostly by older native islanders). Here are four of them:
  • Give-y -- "Vince would come in with his cowhide boots caked in mud, and give-y with wet...." (Clothes hung out on a clothesline can get stiff when dry; they are described as "give-y" when still damp.)
  • Lightsome -- "...it was...red as the sky's coloring, lightsome as the wanton burst of down from a thistle's bloom...." (Ocracokers use "some" as a post-positional adverb in place of the adverb "very." E.g. "It's cold some today!" or "She is pretty some!")
  • Cunning --  "...the creek...flowed into the river's cunning serpent way that would in time seek out the sea." (Older Ocracokers use "cunning," not as "deceitful," but meaning "attractive," "quaint," or "clever.")
  • Doset -- "[She] took a doset morning, noon and night." (On the island a doset [rhymes with "toast"] is not only a quantity of medicine, but also an infection or other illness. Islanders also use the word as a verb. E.g. "He was doasted right!" 
  • Zilphey -- "She named Zilfey Trent for her mother's dead mother in Carolina." (Zilphia was an Ocracoke Howard family name in the mid-19th century.  Although never a very common name, it was more popular 150-200 years ago. Today only one in every 185,000 babies is named Zilphia.
This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Augustus S. Merrimon

There is something about Ocracoke, on the coast of North Carolina, and the Asheville area, about 500 miles west, in the mountains of North Carolina, that attracts kindred spirits. Maybe it's the uniqueness of the places, the isolation (an island served by ferries, and small settlements in the hollers), or the natural beauty of sea and mountains. Whatever it is, many island residents enjoy sojourns to the mountains, and vice versa.

If you frequent Asheville, you've probably noticed Merrimon Avenue, one of the primary roads in the city. It was named for Augustus Summerfield Merrimon (1830-1892), an attorney who was a public servant in Asheville prior to the Civil War, and then served as a U.S. Senator from 1873 to 1879 and as Chief Justice of North Carolina’s Supreme Court from 1889 until his death.

August S. Merrimon













Although Merrimon was opposed to secession, he joined the Confederate Army in 1861. During his time in the army he served in eastern North Carolina where he made a name for himself. 

Augustus Merrimon was the inspiration for the name of a small unincorporated community in coastal Carteret County. Merrimon (population ca. 650), originally called Adams Creek, was named for Augustus S. Merrimon in 1881 by an admirer, Edward F. Carroway, the community’s first postmaster.

During the Civil War Merrimon also served at Confederate forts at Hatteras and Ocracoke. As it turned out, Fort Ocracoke was never completed or fully manned, and was abandoned when Union forces advanced on Ocracoke and Portsmouth islands in the fall of 1861. Little is known about Meerrimon's duties while at Ocracoke, although we can speculate that he might have been as impressed with the natural beauty as are modern residents and visitors.

You can read more about Augustus Sumerfield Merrimon here: https://northcarolinahistory.org/encyclopedia/augustus-s-merrimon-1830-1892/.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Richard Sanderson

William Howard (ca. 1700-ca. 1795) was the fourth colonial owner of Ocracoke Island, and the first European owner to make his home on the island. I am sometimes asked, “Who did William Howard buy the island from?”

My answer is, “William Howard purchased the island from Richard Sanderson who inherited the island from his father, also named Richard Sanderson. That Richard Sanderson bought the island from English Quaker, John Lovick, who was granted  Ocracoke by the Lords Proprietors. In 1663 & 1665, eight Lords Proprietors were granted the territory of Carolina (at that time, all of the land between 31° and 36° north latitude, and extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific) by Charles II, King of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and newly restored to the English throne.

"Of course," I always point out, “King Charles stole the island from the Native Americans!”

In 2015 Dale Sanderson, a direct descendant of the Sandersons visited Ocracoke on a journey tracing his family roots. You can read about that visit here: http://www.ocracokecurrent.com/107262.

Dale Sanderson















The elder of the two Richard Sandersons (c. 1665-1733) was a sea captain, and probably born in Currituck County, NC. He served as justice of the Currituck Precinct Court, was later a justice of the General Court, and at various times held seats in both the lower and upper houses of the Colonial Assembly. He was active in the militia, and was a vestryman in his Anglican parish.
 
Richard Sanderson. Sr. was also owner and master of several sloops and brigantines, and had extensive land holdings in coastal North Carolina, including, as we know, Ocracoke Island. He regularly sailed along the coast as far as the West Indies transporting trade goods. Sanderson, as well as the previous owners of Ocracoke, never lived on the island. He used the island merely to raise horses, cattle, sheep, and hogs.

At Sanderson’s death the ownership of Ocracoke Island passed to his son, also named Richard. In 1759 the younger Sanderson sold the island to William Howard for 105 British pounds. William Howard, who may have been one of the early pilots at Ocracoke Inlet (as well as Blackbeard’s quartermaster), was the first European owner to make his home on the island.
 

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Primrose

Carl Goerch's 1956 book, Ocracoke, is a classic description of this most isolated island on the Outer Banks. To my knowledge, it is the first book published specifically about Ocracoke, and well worth reading in order to get a sense of island life just as increasing numbers of visitors were starting to discover Ocracoke.

The cover of Goerch's book includes these three words, "Drawings by Primrose." Every chapter includes one or more delightful line drawings. Here are two:



















But who was Primrose? The artist is not acknowledged anywhere else in the book or on the jacket.

This is what I have discovered.  The today little-known Primrose McPherson Paschal was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1915.

Primrose McPherson Paschal



















Primrose McPherson's ancestral family of Scottish and Welsh heritage was prominent in North Carolina from the time of the American Revolution into the twentieth century.  At an early age Primrose was interested in art, and started formal training when she was nine years old. As a student at Peace Institute (Primrose matriculated in 1929) she excelled in art, acting and writing. After graduating from Peace College in 1933 she continued her training at Parsons School of Fine and Applied Arts in New York City where she was a member of the Art Students League of New York.

After returning to Raleigh Primrose continued her pursuit of art. In 1935 she was elected as a member of the North Carolina Professional Artists Society.  From 1937 until 1948 Primrose was married to Malcolm Robertson. While awaiting a divorce she lived in Key West, Florida, where she was befriended by Ernest Hemingway. After returning to Raleigh she married Joel Francis Paschal, a Raleigh attorney and law professor at Duke University School of Law. She became a prominent participant in the cultural and artistic scene in Raleigh and Durham.

Primrose Paschal illustrated a number of children's books as well as Goerch's Ocracoke, and created many beautiful paintings that can be found on the walls of courtrooms, museums, and private homes throughout North Carolina. She was particularly adept at portraits. In 1948 she painted "Beulah’s Baby," a moving portrait of a black woman and her child. This painting won the annual purchase award at the North Carolina State Art Society's exhibition. It is now part of the North Carolina Museum of Art's permanent collection.



















Prints of this painting are available in nearly every African American Gallery selling Black Art.

Primrose was active in the art world from the 1930s into the early 1980s. She died in 1998 in Cary, North Carolina.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Portsmouth Village & Lightering

Until Hatteras Inlet opened (in 1846) Ocracoke Inlet was a busy passage for ships sailing to and from mainland North Carolina ports. However, many ships were too large and drew too much water to safely navigate shallow portions of Pamlico Sound. In 1753 Portsmouth, on the south side of the inlet, was established as a "lightering" village. Cargo was transferred from larger ships to smaller, lighter boats for transport to the mainland.

Lightering, NPS Illustration



















 By the 1770s Portsmouth was one of the busiest and largest communities on the North Carolina coast. In 1840 more than 1,400 sailing vessels passed through Ocracoke Inlet. But the opening of the more navigable Hatteras Inlet in 1846 was the beginning of steady decline for Portsmouth. Subsequent storms as well as the disruption from the Civil War and the growing importance of railroads (which led to the decline of coastal shipping) eventually led to the total abandonment of Portsmouth village. The last residents left the island in 1971.

You can read more about Portsmouth here: https://www.nps.gov/calo/learn/historyculture/portsmouth.htm.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Hatteras Inlet

Outer Banks historian and author, David Stick, put together an anthology of selected and edited writings which were published in 1998. His An Outer Banks Reader includes a fascinating section titled "Man versus Nature" in which he shares portions of 1884 letters by Hatteras Island native and pilot, Redding R. Quidley, regarding Hatteras Inlet, which was created by a hurricane on September 7-8, 1846.

Quidley, who lived at Hatteras, was a licensed pilot at Ocracoke Inlet in 1831. He writes that he would pilot vessels across Ocracoke Inlet 2 - 4 times a week...and then to walk (!) home to Hatteras which was then connected to Ocracoke. There was nothing to suggest that a new inlet would form. In fact, he says, several families lived where Hatteras Inlet is today. Live oaks, yaupons, fig & peach trees, and vegetable gardens were growing there.  When Quidlety was writing, 38 years after the inlet formed, Quidley says there was three or four fathoms (18 - 24 feet) of water where homes and gardens once stood. 

Today Hatteras Inlet is a major waterway allowing commercial and sports fishing vessels passage between Pamlico Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. Ocracoke Inlet, which has been continuously open since Europeans first explored this area, and was the primary passage into Pamlico Sound, soon yielded to Hatteras Inlet after the 1846 hurricane. Quidley writes that "there has been very little passing through Ocracoke Inlet since 1855; there is no vessel pass [sic] through there now except perchance, that a vessel goes in case of distress of weather...."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Figments of Ocracoke

Just a few months ago the Humanities Extension/Publications Division of the North Carolina State University published a short book by Ocracoke native, Chester Lynn. Many visitors to the island know Chester as the Proprietor of Annabelle's Florest and Antique Shop on the Back Road. Chester is also the island's resident expert on figs and fig trees. His book is titled, Figments of Ocracoke, An O'cocker Says a Word.


















Figments has chapters on Ocracoake Island history & stories, types of fig trees, tending fig trees, and cooking with figs. As collaborator on the text, Walt Wolfram, the William C. Friday Distinguished University Professor and Director of the NC State Language and Life Project, writes in the Preface, "to know Chester to recognize that he can 'say a word' -- and can recount history, lore, and wisdom on everything from figs to the Lost Colony."

Wolfram explains that, "in this collection, Chester tells his story -- from his childhood obsession with figs to his assortment of antiques that includes treasures from Blackbeard found at Springerr's Point to plates from South America dug up in his backyard."

On your next stroll down Back Road stop in at Annabelle's Florest and chat with Chester...and purchase one of his books. You'll be glad you did!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Unusual Debris

Beachcombing continues to fascinate islanders as well as visitors to Ocracoke Island. An abundance of seashells can usually be found after a storm or hurricane. Other items occasionally wash up. I discovered the following account in a mid-twentieth century newspaper article, "Outer Banks: Explorers' Anchorage" by Kenneth Bates, Jr.: 

"On a recent stroll down the beach, I saw, among other things, a Florida coconut, a piece of wood painted with Chinese or Japanese characters, several full cans of emergency drinking water used on Coast Guard life rafts, a bottle inscribed with the words “Republica Dominicana, Rentas Internas,” two unopened gallon tins of sauerkraut and lima beans, an abundance of shells and driftwood, a large hunk of coral and a transparent glass net float, about the size of a cantaloupe, the kind Florida fishermen use. Like the coconut, it probably traveled north via the Gulf Stream since glass floats of this type are not used in fishing off the Carolinas."

Glass Net Float Found at Ocracoke












Modern-day beachcombers are unlikely to find glass net floats, but other treasures often wash ashore. Even if you don't find a net float, a scotch bonnet or a hunk of coral, a stroll along Ocracoke's beach is always a good way to calm the soul.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Fresnel Lens

I have written in the past about  Augustin-Jean Fresnel (1788-1827) whose remarkable invention, the Fresnel Lens, revolutionized lighthouse illumination (see https://villagecraftsmen.blogspot.com/2017/09/ocracokes-fresnel-lens.html).

Last month my 14-year-old grandson, Lachlan Howard, wrote a short essay about the Fresnel Lens and its wider use in the theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry. I had never thought about these alternate uses for Fresnel lenses.

We have published Lachlan's essay as our October Newsletter. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Pirate Jamboree

Ocracoke Island's annual Pirate Jamboree begins later this week, and continues for four days.










From Thursday, October 25, through Sunday, October 28, Ocracoke will host pirate reenactment crews as they invade by land and sea. 














But that's just the beginning. Throughout the four days residents and visitors can enjoy musical entertainment, magic shows, history, period encampments, vendors and a live battle with cannons on Silver Lake.

Along with all of the swashbuckling events will be a Brigand’s Bazaar, a vendor fair, held in the heart of the festival on the Historic Wahab Estate Lawn, adjacent to the Pirate Encampment. Brigand’s Bazaar will feature local artists in every medium – fine crafts, metal smiths, pottery, jewelry, wood, painting, textiles and more!





































For more information click here:  https://www.visitocracokenc.com/event/2018-blackbeards-pirate-jamboree/.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Rob Hanks

Ocracoke Island has been home to many a colorful character. "Rob Hanks" (Robert Dosier Tolson, 1895-1961) was one of the most memorable. In the 1950s Rob offered to tell visitors "the story of Ocracoke and Blackbeard" for a dime. He was short and slight of build. He often wore a white sailor's cap, a jacket, and long pants, even in the middle of the summer. Rob Hanks could usually be found at Springer's Point, near where Blackbeard met his end in November, 1718.

Rob Hanks



















 In a 1960 magazine article by John Bird ("The Wondrous Outer Banks"), the author recounts meeting Rob Hanks as the author "wandered around the village taking photographs." He writes, "We met a pleasant, weathered old rascal, who spoke in broadest dialect of the Banks and claimed – without authority other than his own, I’m afraid – that “Oy manages this stretch o’ beach.” He guided us to the alleged hide-out of Blackbeard the Pirate. Here he gave a highly colored account of the battle in which Blackbeard was slain, winding up, “And ‘tis said that arter Maynard chopped off the poirate’s ‘ead, the ‘eadless body swum three times ‘round the ship afore it went out to sea and sunk.”

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Life at Ocracoke, 1956/1957

I discovered the following paragraph in a newspaper clipping preserved in a scrapbook at the Ocracoke Library, and digitized by digitalnc.org. It was originally published in 1956 or 1957.

"Charley Mack (C. C. McWilliams to the U. S. Post office Department) drives the Ocracoke bus and mail truck, a battered-looking vehicle with a splintery super-structure like an oversize doghouse on the back. Charley Mack hauls freight and passengers with no discrimination between the two. I once made the trip sitting on a wet burlap bag full of clams. But sometimes the freight takes priority, as the time Charley hauled a horse. Charley trussed the horse up, gently but firmly, and a bunch of villagers inserted the animal, head-first, into the back of the truck, the horse rode quite comfortably all the way, its head in the lap of a lady shell collector from Quincy, Illinois."

Charlie Mack (Mac) disembarking from the ferry, ca. 1956:

OPS Photo













This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Blackbeard's Trial

Yesterday I received this press release announcing Blackbeard’s Trial—Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. It will be interesting to hear how the judge rules!

In conjunction with the Town of Bath’s Tricentennial Celebration of Blackbeard, the Greater Bath Foundation announces “Blackbeard’s Trial—A Mock Hearing to Reconsider the Guilt or Innocence of the Pirate Blackbeard and His Shipmates From Bath, North Carolina.” The hearing will be held on Friday, October 19, 2018, at 2 p.m. in the Superior Courtroom at the Beaufort County Courthouse in Washington, North Carolina.














The Honorable J. Carlton Cole, Superior Court Judge for the 1st District Superior Court will preside. Seth Edwards, Esq., District Attorney for Judicial District 2, will represent the government of Virginia, Lt. Gov. Spotswood, and Royal Navy Lieutenant Robert Maynard. J. Erik Groves, Esq., an attorney practicing in Waxhaw, North Carolina, will represent Capt. Edward Thatch and his shipmates from North Carolina. Actors will play the roles of Virginia Lt. Gov. Alexander Spotswood, North Carolina Governor Charles Eden, North Carolina Executive Council Secretary and Collector of Customs Tobias Knight, Royal Navy Lt. Robert Maynard, the pirate/slave Caesar, mariner Humphrey Johnston, and Blackbeard. Historian Kevin Duffus will present a summary of historical facts relevant to the objectives of the hearing.

In November 1718 and the early winter of 1719 at Williamsburg, Virginia, four trials were held by a Court of Vice-Admiralty to consider the guilt or innocence of the surviving members of the pirate crew of Edward Thatch, aka Blackbeard. That crew, jailed under suspicions of piracy, included men who, according to deeds, wills, and estate inventories held in the Beaufort County Courthouse, were known to have been the sons and slaves of Bath and Pamlico region plantation owners. All of the records from those trials at Williamsburg nearly 300 years ago have been lost. However, by reassembling the facts of the case found in primary source documents, it is possible to fairly retry the case, and reconsider the guilt or innocence of the pirate Blackbeard and his shipmates from the Pamlico River and whether it was lawful for the colony of Virginia to dispatch armed forces into their neighboring colony of North Carolina. Seating will be limited. A portion of the courtroom is being reserved for selected students from Beaufort County Schools. Reservations for admittance will be required and can be made by emailing or calling Paula Weathington, Trial Court Coordinator, at 252-940-4076. All media requests for seating or camera positions should be emailed to Kevin Duffus at kevin_duffus@earthlink.net

Few places in America have a legitimate reason to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the life and death of the world’s best-known pirate-privateer but Bath, North Carolina, is the home of Blackbeard! Bath’s Blackbeard Tricentennial will be held on October 20, 2018 at Bath. 

For more information visit www.blackbeard300.com or https://www.facebook.com/Blackbeard300/ 

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Surfmen

Surfmen, employees of the United States Life-Saving Service (there were 279 stations on the east coast, gulf coast, west coast and the Great Lakes), responded to more than 28,000 ships in distress, and saved the lives of more than 177,000 sailors and passengers during the 44-year history of the USLSS (1871-1915). Ocracoke had two Life-Saving Stations, one at Hatteras Inlet (established in 1893) and another in Ocracoke village (established in 1903). Who were these surfmen?

Sonny Williams, in his book, Unsung Heroes of the Surf, writes this:

"The requirements for appointment were these: Be between the ages of 24 and 45; be able to read and write; know basic arithmetic; be familiar with the conditions of the surrounding waters and be a skilled boatman with the ability to command men under extremely stressful conditions.

"The keepers were required to hire and train their own crew, who were to be selected from local men familiar with the handling of boats in the adjacent waters. They had to be in good health and under 45 years of age when hired...."


















Jack Spencer Goodwin, in his foreword to Williamson's book, writes, "The bravery of the men of the Lifesaving Service is astounding. These men routinely risked their lives (and many lost their lives) attempting to rescue those in peril at sea. That they did not always succeed -- raging nature can mock the strongest efforts of man -- does not lessen their magnificent accomplishments."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Clams

One of the most satisfying activities is harvesting seafood for dinner. In September we had friends from Berlin, Germany, visiting us. Jule and Christian had never been clamming, so I loaded the clam rakes and baskets into my pickup truck and we headed to an isolated soundside beach. In short order we had gathered almost 150 clams.





























Clams



















Back home I opened the clams, added a small strip of bacon and some Parmesan cheese, then broiled them for about 10-15 minutes. Clams Casino!















The next day I made traditional Ocracoke Clam Chowder (chopped clams, cubed potatoes, fine cut onion, bacon [or salt pork], and water). Two days in a row we feasted on the bounty, fresh from Pamlico Sound. What better way is there to celebrate life on Ocracoke?!?


















This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Coupe is a Poor Submarine

The July, 2018, issue of The Ocracoke Observer included this small excerpt from a 1930 issue of the Daily Review (Hayward, California):

Coupe Poor Submarine Carolina Man Learns

Ocracoke, N.C. – A coupe does not make a good submarine, and there is a lot to be learned about driving along the beach. Aycock Brown drove along the sound side of the island at low tide. His car struck in the mud while tide was flowing. In less than three hours what had been a dry beach was 100 feet or more from land and only the hood of the coupe was visible. Capt. James Henry Garrish, using the regulation life-saving tackle, rescured the car and its driver. Islanders and coast guardsmen assisted in the rescue.

---------------------------------------------------

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Temperatures, 1900 & 2018

I recently came across a book published in 1900, Plant Covering of Ocracoke Island; a study in the Ecology of the North Carolina Strand Vegetation, by Thomas H. Kearney. In it the author lists the "normal monthly temperatures" at Hatteras as well as the "normal daily range of [monthly] temperatures." I have used these figures to calculate the "weather averages" as listed in the second column below.  The first column below lists weather averages from NOAA for 2018. 

As you can see, the 2018 average high temperature (compared to 1900) varies from 1° higher (January) to 5° higher (April), and the 2018 average low temperature varies from 0° (January) to 4° higher (April).

Ocracoke, NC
Weather averages 
from NOAA* (2018)                                               from PCOI** (1900)

January      53° / 39°                                                         52°/39°

February    55° / 41°                                                          53°/40°

March        61° / 46°                                                         57°/44°

April           68° / 55°                                                         63°/51°

May           75° / 63°                                                         72°/61°

June           82° / 71°                                                         79°/69°

July            85° / 74°                                                         83°/73°

August        85° / 74°                                                       82°/73°

September  82° / 70°                                                       79°/69°

October      73° / 62°                                                       70°/59°

November  65° / 52°                                                      61°/50°

December  58° / 45°                                                      55°/42°

* National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2018
** Plant covering of Ocracoke Island; a study in the ecology of the North Carolina Strand Vegegation, Kearney, Thomas H, 1900 

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Pelagic Birds

Every now and then a pelagic bird (a bird that spends most of its time on the open ocean) will visit Ocracoke. This sometimes happens when an albatross or other exotic pelagic bird is blown here during a gale or hurricane.

I recently learned about Brian Patteson's Hatteras Island based Seabirding Pelagic Trips. Trips to the Gulf Stream aboard the Stormy Petrol II take place year around. As their web site explains,  "the Gulf Stream off Cape Hatteras is probably the most consistent (and convenient) place in the western North Atlantic for finding a variety of pelagic seabirds on any given day. Getting there usually only takes between 2 to 2.5 hours of traveling each direction, so most of our day is spent in or along the Gulf Stream."

Northern Gannet, Photo by Peter Vankevich














As I write, Patteson's enterprise still has space on several more trips to the Gulf Stream in October. If this fall is not a convenient time for you, or you would like more information about seabirding, check out Brian's web site at http://www.patteson.com/ .

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Landing Mats

Marsden Mats were originally developed by the US military during WWII for use as temporary runways and landing strips. Approximately 2 million tons of this material was produced, at a cost of about $200 million.

After the war these landing mats were laid down on Ocracoke Island soft sand to serve as roads. In 1957 a three mile section of landing mats at the north end of the island joined the nearly completed hard surface road (NC12) that, for the first time, connected Ocracoke village to Hatteras Inlet.



















The caption that accompanied this photograph in the June 1957 monthly report for the seashore read: “Three miles of steel matting and eleven of black-top paving now make it possible to drive a conventional car from Hatteras Inlet to Ocracoke village.” (NPS photograph by Verde Watson, Superintendent’s Monthly Narrative Report, June 1957, CAHA archives). “Cape Hatteras National Seashore Administrative History,” Aug 2007, page 136.

On March 24, 1959, the Pittsburgh Press ran an article by Gilbert Love describing coming to Ocracoke. Below is an excerpt:

Your “port” on Ocracoke is composed of several clusters of pilings. The ferry lets its ramp down on a piece of mesh landing strip laid across the beach. You drive off onto this – then discover that it’s your road. For three miles, across the low sandy northeastern end of the island, you drive on metal mesh little wider than your car. At frequent intervals another width is laid beside the “road” to make passing possible. Finally you reach higher ground – low dunes with scrub palmettos and evergreen yaupon on them – and the black top road that was completed last year [sic]. In marshes bordering the sea or Pamlico Sound you begin to see some of the wild ponies for which Ocracoke is famous.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Driving to Hatteras, 1932

From MotorBoating Magazine, Jan, 1932"

"At two o’clock the next day we left for Hatteras Inlet at the northernmost end of Ocracoke. As the tide was up, we could not drive the beach, but took the inland road through the sand dunes. Our chauffeur drove his hard pressed Ford with calloused bare feet. Much of the road was loose sand which must be traveled at a fairly high speed to prevent stalling. This made it necessary to charge through these bad places, which resulted in some terrible shocks and jolts to the car, as it jerked through the crooked ruts. The thousands of sand crabs seemed to have selected the wheel tracks for doorways to their underground homes and this did not improve riding conditions. As the state spends nothing on these roads, no license plates are required.

One of just a few Island Beach Vehicles, 1940s












 
"Before we discharged our jitneyman at Hatteras Inlet Coast Guard Station, we asked the Commander there if he would take us across to Hatteras, a distance of five miles. He told us he would take us over right away if we wished to go then, or at 4:30 when he went for his mail. We had no reason to go over sooner so we prowled the beach for an hour or so. After having a cup of coast guard coffee, we were taken across Hatteras inlet in a motor whaleboat. The coast guardsmen down there would delight the eye of a college football coach. They are all fine physical specimens. Most of them weigh two hundred pounds each and average six feet tall. The older men seem as fit and as active as the younger men. The channel from the ocean into the sound is similar to that at Ocracoke Inlet, in that it divides, and deep water follows close to the two islands. About 12 feet can be carried into both Ocraocke and Hatteras inlets, and from 4 to 6 feet into Origon inlet, which is south of Bodie Island light, but the channels are shifting and local knowledge is necessary to safely navigate them."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Mermaid's Purse....

.....or Devil's Pocketbook?














Or Skate Egg Case!

These small (about 2" long, not counting the "horns") organic pouches found on our beaches can be somewhat pliable or rather rigid, but they are quite durable. I learned to call them Devil's Pocketbooks, but more romantic beachcombers call them Mermaid's Purses. These fascinating objects are actually skate egg cases.

Island resident Crystal Caterbury has written an informative article (with photos) about these egg cases in the Ocracoke Current. You can read it here:  http://www.ocracokecurrent.com/126604.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.