Thursday, May 24, 2018

Lighthouse Shadow -- Answer

Two days ago I published this photo of the Ocracoke Lighthouse by my grandson, Eakin Howard.


















I asked if any of our readers could explain how he got this unusual photo with a shadow of a lighthouse on the lighthouse itself.

Mike left the following comment: "There must not only be another light source to make the shadow but also a reflective source to project it to the side of the lighthouse." Mike is correct...and the full answer to the puzzle is quite prosaic. This photo, taken on the same evening, should solve the mystery:


















The shadow on the side of the lighthouse is of the small metal lighthouse-shaped donation box mounted on the boardwalk! At first I thought the moon was the light source, but Eakin told me the light came from his headlamp.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of the Ocracoke Lighthouse, with information (and an artist's sketch) about the earliest lantern room. You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/ocracoke-lighthouse/.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Freight And Express Service To the Outer Banks

Today UPS, FedEx, and the United States Postal Service provide regular package delivery to Ocracoke Island. Estes Express Lines, based in Richmond Virginia, also periodically delivers larger items to the island via tractor-trailer trucks.

Before ferry service was established it was difficult to get large items to Ocracoke.

In 1941 the following proposal was being discussed in Beaufort, NC:

"There as been some talk recently by those who could make it possible, to establish a daily freight and express boat line from Beaufort to Ocracoke Island where it could very easily connect with the over-beach bus to Hatteras Island. The Beaufort Chamber of Commerce which under its present leadership has never operated on a strictly local basis, but for the Central Coast at large, is ready to help make this possible through any promotional means. The Beaufort – Morehead City Railroad Company under its present management is also considering the various angles which would make this possible – a through freight service connecting with the daily trains into Beaufort from Morehead City, eastern terminus of the A.& E. C. Railway Company and thence through Core Sound connecting with the various communities of East Carteret and terminating at Ocracoke Island. Such a plan may not operate profitably at the beginning but in the long run it would be a most worth-while investment for the firm that undertakes it. That is because the Outer Banks and Ocracoke in particular are just beginning to develop. A through freight and express service would be of great benefit to every community east of Beaufort where there are no express or freight agencies at present. It is a matter well worth considering and Beaufort stands ready, we believe, to support any such proposition undertaken by any firm or organization."

It is interesting to note that the freight service was conceived as connecting first to Ocracoke, and from there to more remote areas via an "over-beach bus to Hatteras Island," since "Ocracoke in particular" was "just beginning to develop."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of the Ocracoke Lighthouse, with information (and an artist's sketch) about the earliest lantern room. You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/ocracoke-lighthouse/.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Lighthouse Shadow

My grandson, Eakin Howard, made this unusual photo of the Ocracoke lighthouse a few days ago.


















The photo has not been manipulated in any way, nor did Eakin bring any props or make any alterations to his camera lens. If you think you know how my grandson got this striking image of the lighthouse with the shadow, please leave a comment. I will reveal this answer in a few days.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of the Ocracoke Lighthouse, with information (and an artist's sketch) about the earliest lantern room. You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/ocracoke-lighthouse/

Monday, May 21, 2018

Ocracoke Lighthouse Newsletter

Most visitors to Ocracoke fall in love with our plain white lighthouse that casts a steady beam. Few people know that the Ocracoke light was a revolving light until 1854. Also, from the time of its construction in 1823 until 1854, when a Fresnel lens replaced the old reflecting/illuminating apparatus, the lantern room was a taller octagonal structure with a "birdcage" design.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of the Ocracoke Lighthouse, with information about the earliest lantern room. You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/ocracoke-lighthouse/.

Artist's Rendition of Ocracoke Light, 1823-1854
Drawing by Philip Howard




















Friday, May 18, 2018

Conch or Whelk

When I was a young boy nearly everyone on Ocracoke called the following seashell a "conch":














Nowadays, we're told, this is a whelk, not a conch. In fact, in 2015 Terri Hathaway wrote an informative article in Coastwatch Currents explaining the difference (and bemoaning the confusion). You can read it here: https://ncseagrant.ncsu.edu/currents/2015/03/whats-in-a-name-conch-vs-whelk/.

Wikipedia includes this photo of a conch:

Photo by cheesy42














Wikipedia explains that a conch "is a common name that is applied to a number of different medium to large-sized shells. The term generally applies to large snails whose shell has a high spire and a noticeable siphonal canal.... The group of conchs that are sometimes referred to as "true conchs" are marine gastropod molluscs in the family Strombidae, specifically in the genus Strombus and other closely related genera."

A whelk, on the other hand, "is a common name that is applied to various kinds of sea snail [that] are relatively large and are in the family Buccinidae (the true whelks)...."

It's all a little bit confusing to me. But since I am a big fan of Humpty Dumpty, I will let him speak for me. “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.” (From Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll.)

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Gossip

"There is no human society without gossip," according to anthropologist, Pascal Boyer, in his 2001 book, Religion Explained. "Gossip is practiced everywhere, enjoyed everywhere, despised everywhere," he explains. Ocracoke, like many other small towns, has its fair share of gossip.

Gossip can be defined as casual conversation or reports about other people. Although gossip is sometimes despised for being mean-spirited, especially when the shared information turns out to be false, Boyer reminds us that "gossip is perhaps among the most fundamental human activities as important to survival and reproduction as most other cognitive capacities and emotional dispositions."

Gossip, information about other people, Boyer reminds us, "is a resource...not to be squandered." It helps us recognize members of our tribe who are trustworthy and cooperative (and who are not), and without such knowledge we would not have stable social interactions.

One native islander summed up Ocracoke's usually non-judgemental gossip in what has become an unofficial island motto: "We don't care what you do, we just want to know about it!"

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Buck & Puck

I have written about this before (in 2010), but I think it is worth repeating:

"Buck" is a common island word meaning pal or friend, and is used as a form of greeting, typically between men, as in the expression, "Hey Buck, how's it going?" (Buck is undoubtedly of ancient origin, from the word"bucca" (male goat) and "buc" (male deer), that in 18th century England came to mean "dashing fellow.") To my knowledge, Buck is a term unique to Ocracoke Island.

"Puck" is used locally as a diminutive of Buck, and is generally used to address women, and children, or by women to address men...and sometimes implies a degree of impishness. In Shakespeare Puck is a jovial, but pranksterish wanderer of the night. I think it's a good guess that the early British settlers on Ocracoke brought with them both terms, Buck & Puck.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Died Before He Was Born?

In the right front row of the old George Howard Cemetery on British Cemetery Road are the graves of Eliza Howard Wahab and Job Wahab. Next to them are the graves of several of  their 15 children.

A few graves in particular are of special interest.  In his 1956 book, Ocracoke, Carl Goerch includes a chapter entitled “Died Before He Was Born.”  He refers to the gravestone of Warren Wahab, son of Eliza and Job Wahab.  According to Goerch, the inscription states that Warren was born in 1855 and died in 1842.

Sure enough, if you walk up to the fence and peer into the cemetery, you will see Warren’s marker, seemingly stating that he died thirteen years before he was born.  This is how Goerch surmises what happened:

“Relatives of Warren Wahab placed an order for the tombstone and had it made in Washington, New Bern or some other town along the coast.  The man who cut the stone either was careless with his figures or else they hadn’t been written very distinctly.  When the stone arrived at Ocracoke, the probabilities are that the error was discovered immediately.  But it would have taken such a long time to get another stone that the family decided to put up this one and have it altered at a later and more convenient date……Weeks passed into months, months passed into years and eventually—-well what’s the use of bothering about it at this late date?”

If you look along the front row you will notice that Warren was one of three of Eliza and Job’s children who all died within seven days in September of 1842. Job died on September 4.  He was seven years old, having been born in 1835.  Jonathan and Warren died on September 11.  A glance at the tombstones will show that both Job and Warren appear to have been born in 1855.  Careful inspection reveals, however, that Job was actually born in 1835, and Warren was born in 1833.


















Over time the 3s have weathered to look like 5s.  The difference is most noticeable on Job’s marker.

No stonecutter made any mistake.  Several years ago I had the opportunity to peruse the Wahab family Bible.  Sure enough Warren’s birth date was listed as 1833, and Job’s was 1835.  But Goerch’s story is still bandied about by folks even today.  I suppose it does make an entertaining story.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mariners in the American Revolution

A 1998 edition of Ocracoke Preservation Society's Fall Newsletter, The Mullet Wrapper, included a page of information by Ellen F. Cloud (1940-2016) titled "Mariners of the American Revolution." Ellen Cloud listed 44 sailing vessels that "were captured by the British, and the crews taken and held as prisoners" between 1771 and 1782.


















The Newsletter's editor noted that "[several vessels] were known to have been local to our area. ...Ocracokers were among those listed as crew members.... Notice also, that some of the prisoners such as William Howard [and three others] escaped and eventually made it back home. What a story that must have been!" 

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/

Friday, May 11, 2018

Row Galley

Yesterday I mentioned that a large row galley was stationed at Ocracoke Inlet during the Revolutionary War to guard American shipping from attacks by the British. The name of the vessel is not recorded. Some of our readers might wonder what a row galley is. 

A row galley was an armed United States Navy vessel employed during the age of sail. As the name suggests, row galleys used oars rather than sails as their primary means of propulsion . While sailing ships might be slowed down (or even halted) because of lack of wind, row galleys were able to continue to move as long as the crew could endure. Some row galleys also employed sails, making them even more versatile.

Model of the Row Galley, USS Washington
Photo by Sturmvogel 66>


















Above is a model of the Revolutionary-era row galley, USS Washington. This row galley had a complement of 60 oarsmen. 

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Ocracoke & George Washington

Much has been written about the role Ocracoke and Ocracoke Inlet played in the Civil War and World War II. Ocracoke Inlet was also a vital supply link for American patriots during the Revolutionary War. This is one comment David Stick wrote in his 1958 book, The Outer Banks of North Carolina, page 304: 

"During the Revolutionary War, British vessels frequently raided shipping in [Ocracoke] inlet. Before regular defending forces were sent there the Ocracoke pilots captured several of these armed vessels; later a militia company and a large row galley were stationed at the inlet to guard American shipping, and supplies destined for Washington’s army at Valley Forge were brought in through Ocracoke Inlet at that time."

Washington Crossing the Delaware, December 25, 1776
by Emanuel Leutze, 1851













This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

"Our Creations"

A 1986 CAMA Land Use Plan lists eleven "specialty shops" on Ocracoke. One of them is "Our Creations." A local newspaper article described the business as located on a narrow lane "shaded by live oaks and fragrant mimosas." The shop "offers items handcrafted with love and care by more than 40 island residents" and is housed in a "weathered clapboard cottage, once a private residence." The cottage "features three showrooms displaying pottery, woodcrafts, quilts, stenciling, jewelry and paintings."

Do any of our readers remember Our Creations? And do you remember where it was located?

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here:https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/.   

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Ocracoke Burial Association

From time to time I quote from Carl Goerch's 1957 book, Ocracoke. Below is another excerpt:

"Down on Ocracoke there's a burial association which ... is not operated by any undertaker or funeral home because there are no undertakers or funeral homes. There are no monthly dues. It's a community proposition entirely.














"...The annual dues are ten cents a year.... Practically everybody on the island belongs to the association.... When a member dies it means that all the other member have to pay a quarter..."

To this day there is still no undertaker on the island. However, Twiford's Funeral Home on Hatteras now serves Ocracoke. Also, the Ocracoke Burial Association continues to serve about 350 islanders, although the annual dues and payments at the death of members are now 50 cents.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here:https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/ .  

Monday, May 07, 2018

Coast Chart No. 45

The following detail from Coast Chart No. 45, Cape Hatteras to Ocracoke Inlet, 1885, clearly shows a large area of tidal flats called "The Plains." Today that area (from the eastern edge of the village to the NPS campground) is covered with sea oats, yaupons, cedars and other vegetation.















For much of Ocracoke's history, and as late as the mid-1950s, the Plains were almost totally devoid of vegetation, and subject to frequent tidal overwash. Only with the construction of a continuous row of man-made barrier dunes did growth take hold in this area.

Visitors to the island sometimes ask why our lighthouse is so far from the ocean. Click on the image to see a larger version of the chart. Notice how close to the lighthouse the Plains area extends in 1885. When the lighthouse was built in 1823 it was situated on the very edge of the "bald beach." 

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Spring and Shed Leaves

My daughter, Amy Howard, wrote the following short piece for the Ocracoke Preservation Society when she was the Society's Administrator. I thought it was appropriate now since our lawns are covered with live oak leaves.

Live Oak on Howard Street



















In most other towns in North Carolina, people realize when fall is coming without even looking at a calendar. The deciduous trees start changing colors, gradually at first and then in huge bursts, spreading from the mountains down through the foothills and coming to a complete and abrupt stop at the Outer Banks. All we have here on Ocracoke are evergreens, pines, cedars, bay, etc. The only hint of color is the bright red of poison ivy or Virginia creeper winding through the bushes. No one on Ocracoke ever has to worry about raking leaves in the fall. The only time we have to rake up leaves is in the spring, because the one tree that completely sheds its leaves is the contrary but beautiful live oak tree. It doesn’t shed in the fall like normal trees, it waits until spring. As the strings of pollen mature, last year’s leaves turn brown and drop off to make way for the new buds. So, when you visit Ocracoke in the spring, don’t be surprised to see people out raking leaves. The brown leaves scattered on the ground are offset by the delicate fresh green of the new leaves popping out of all the gnarled fingers of our majestic live oaks. Fiddler David Tweedie (my husband) of Molasses Creek poetically refers to this in his oft requested song, “Howard Street” with these lyrics: “We know the spring by turning leaves, the oaks they shed for joy and not for grieving.”

You can listen to the song here (scroll down to Howard Street once you are on the page): http://www.molassescreek.com/bestof.cfm

To learn more about Ocracoke’s beautiful live oaks, visit this site: https://www.ocracokenavigator.com/live-oak-trees/

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Lawton's Phone Call

My father, Lawton Howard, moved from Ocracoke to Philadelphia in 1927. He was just sixteen years old. Like so many other young island men, he moved north to work on dredges and tugboats with the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Although Lawton married and raised his family in Pennsylvania, he always maintained a strong connection with Ocracoke. Every summer he returned with his family to the island, and he kept in touch throughout the year.

Lawton & Philip, ca. 1950


















Soon after telephones were installed on the island (in the mid-1950s) Lawton placed a call to one of his cousins, but he was connected to a wrong number. In those days with real, live operators, Lawton called to report the mistake and to have the charge removed from his bill. After he explained the mistake to the operator she pointed out that the call to the "wrong number" had lasted fifteen minutes. Lawton immediately explained that it was a wrong number, but, as it turned out, he knew the person who had answered (of course he did; it was Ocracoke) so he couldn't just hang up!

I don't remember if the operator removed the charge or not.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/ .

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Muray Fulcher, Graduate

For the past several years Amy and I have been sharing stories in April with eighth graders from Monroe, NC. Like most schools these days, the senior class has t-shirts printed with all the names of the year's graduates. That could be 300 or more students, they tell me. Then I hold up a similar t-shirt from the Ocracoke School. Printed on the shirt, front and back, are the names of everyone who ever graduated from the school, from 1931 to the present!

I like to hand the shirt to one of the eighth graders and ask him or her to read off all the graduates in 1957. "Murray Fulcher," they say. "Go on," I prompt. "There aren't any other names," they reply.

That's correct. In 1957 Ocracoke School had only one graduating senior, Murray Fulcher. Here is a newspaper article from The Coastland Times - Friday, May 10, 1957; pg. 2:
















This year Ocracoke School will have 5 graduates.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Brian Aherne & Joan Fontaine

Brian Aherne (1902 – 1986) was an English actor of stage and screen who made his debut on Broadway in 1931, playing opposite Katharine Cornell. Two years later he went to Hollywood and secured a role in Song of Songs with Marlene Dietrich. In the course of his career he played or starred in 45 films, 14 television shows, and several radio programs. In 1940 he was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor in Juarez.
















From 1939 to 1945 Aherne was married to Joan Fontaine (1917 – 2013), a British-American actress best known for her starring roles in Hollywood films. Fontaine appeared in more than 45 feature films in a career that spanned five decades. In 1941 she won an Academy Award for Best Actress in the film Suspicion. It was one of several awards.
















An August 21, 1941, newspaper article from Beaufort, NC, notes that "among the guests who registered at [Ocracoke Island's] Wahab Village Hotel last week were...Mr. and Mrs. Brian Aherne of Beverly Hills, Calif., the famous movie stars."

Brian Aherne and Joan Fontaine are not the only celebrities to have found their way to Ocracoke. I know, or have heard, that the following famous people have visited Ocracoke: John Dos Passos, Charles Lindbergh, George Hamilton IV, Nicole Kidman, Ellen DeGeneres, Robert Plant, Tom Cruise, Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp, Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, and Jimmy Buffett. 

One islander, when asked if any of the men at the Life Saving Station were aware that well known author, John dos Passos, had visited them, replied, "Probably not, and even if they did know they wouldn't have been much impressed. O'cockers never treated anyone any different just because they were famous."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Laura Blanche Howard Jolliff (1919-2018)

Regular readers of this blog will remember many posts about Cousin Blanche.

Blanche on her porch, 2015
Photo by Peter Vankevich


















The Ocracoke community was saddened to learn that Blanche died this past Thursday. She was 98 years old.

Blanche had a prodigious memory and a generous spirit. Many an afternoon and evening I walked across the lane to sit on her pizer or in her living room, listening to her sharing stories about days gone by. She told me stories about island churches, schoolhouses, general stores, post offices, and prominent islanders. Among so many other subjects, she recalled tales of shipwrecks, schooners, and the iron men who sailed them. She remembered walking to the beach to view the 1925 wreck of the four-masted schooner, Victoria S.

In 2015 Blanche received the Ocracoke Cultural Heritage Award from the Ocracoke Preservation Society for her many contributions toward preserving the history, culture and traditions of Ocracoke Island.

Several posts about Blanche that I published on this blog are available here.

As a tribute to Blanche and her lasting contributions to her island home I am printing the words to one of many poems and hymns that embodied Blanche's spirit, and that she committed to memory and often recited for me:

"A Psalm of Life"
 by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou are, to dust thou returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, - act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sand of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Farewell Blanche! We miss you.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Turtle Release

On Wednesday about 200 people gathered on Ocracoke's beach for a National Park Service -sponsored release of several sea turtles that had been rescued some time ago and restored to health. The largest turtle weighed 275 pounds. It took six people to carry it to the water's edge. All of the turtles made it successfully into the surf, to the applause of bystanders. Here are a few photos:

















This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Island Cemeteries

Ocracoke Village comprises little more than 600 acres of buildable land, and about 950 residents. In spite of the small and circumscribed land mass and the tiny population, Ocracoke is home to more than eighty cemeteries. With only a few exceptions, the cemeteries are small and mostly serve individual families. Scattered throughout the village, most are located near historic home sites, and are generally enclosed by simple wooden fences. Many are clearly visible from village roads. One of the largest, the George Howard cemetery, contains about four dozen marked graves.













The George Howard cemetery is not far from the British Cemetery, the final resting place of four sailors whose armed trawler was torpedoed offshore during World War II. The oldest grave in the Howard cemetery is that of George Howard, son of William Howard, Sr., the island’s last colonial owner. George Howard died in 1806, and virtually everyone buried there is a descendant of his. More recent graves date into the twenty-first century.


















This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Frank Treat Fulcher, Seafarer & Preacher

According to the unpublished autobiography of native Ocracoke islander, Frank Treat Fulcher (1878-1971), he was “born January 25, 1878, on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina.” His father was in the Life-Saving Service; his maternal grandfather was a merchant sea captain. He writes, “At ten years of age my mother let me sail with a friend of hers, a Mrs. Rose, who was captain and cook, her husband was mate, of the schooner Emiline and I was seaman third class.” Frank Treat “sailed to the various ports of Eastern Carolina” and quickly rose to the rank of seaman first class. He recounts rescuing the first mate, who seems to have had a habit of falling overboard, more than once. From the Emiline he moved on to the schooner Bessie where he learned both to cook and to “cuss a blue streak.” He was not yet eleven years old.

By the time Frank Treat turned thirteen-years-old he had sailed aboard the schooner Robert F. Bratton which almost sank in the Atlantic Ocean on a trip from Charleston, South Carolina, to New Bern, North Carolina. In his own words, “Frank Treat is now twelve years old and is a salty old seaman.” He met a Captain John Day and sailed on the Carrie Farson, and then Captain John Beverage who enticed him on board the “Unity R. Dyer, a two topmaster.” Frank Treat reported, “We were in several storms. Once we were blown off the coast in a hurricane. It took us fourteen days to sail back. We lost our deck load and we came near sinking from open seams in the deck. That was really the worst time I had ever seen.” In October of 1893 Frank Treat’s ship, the Davidson, “went ashore about three miles south of Cape Henry and was a total loss….I was pulled ashore through the breakers on a line,” he recounts.

Frank Treat Fulcher
After chronicling several more shipwrecks Frank Treat tells of his time aboard the Barkentine Henry Norwell, “the hardest ship of all. The Captain was the toughest and the most ungodly man I had ever seen.” Frank “fared much better than the rest of the crew,” he reports, because he “was a better wheel man and…could steer the ship better, by the wind.” He continues, “we could not endure this hardship any longer, so we all jumped ship [in Brunswick, Georgia].”

After this adventure, Frank Treat signed up as mate on the Russian ship Pauline bound for Hamburg, Germany. He was seventeen years old, “in the possession of two good fists” and “could take care of myself.” As he relates the story, “I helped shanghai the crew and when they discovered where they were, there was trouble in the air, but by this time I had become quite a man, so I talked them out of mutiny. Fifty-seven days crossing the Atlantic.” Others would recall that he ruled his crew with “fist, marlin spike, and boot toes.”

From Hamburg, Frank Treat made a voyage on the “full-rigged ship Achilles” to Sydney, Australia. It took them 120 days via the Cape of Good Hope, and 143 days to return, by way of Cape Horn, to Rotterdam, Holland. Off the coast of New Zealand “a storm....carried us sixty-nine degrees south of the Equator, down in the Antarctic ice drifts. Man Alive! It was below zero.”

In 1896, when Frank was eighteen years old, he was quartermaster on the steamer, Neptune, which left Rotterdam for Baltimore, Maryland. He later became a Methodist preacher.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Ocracoke The Place To Train Parachutists

 Below is an interesting proposal, as printed in The Beaufort News, August 21, 1941:

"Perhaps we are the first to ever give the idea a thought and probably what helped was the announcement that a few more millions would be spent in creating certain facilities down in Onslow County for the training of 'parachute troops.' Our idea is this and we pass it on to Representative Herbert Bonner of the First District, who in turn, we hope, will lay the plan before the authorities that have to do with providing facilities for training modern day parachute troops. Our opinion is – that of all the places in America, there is no better place to train fledgling parachute jumpers than on the mile wide, five-mile long open stretch of beach land adjacent to Ocracoke village. The first and last parachutist we have ever seen in action was bailing out of a plane flying over that beach. His name was 'Tommy,' ...[and he] told the editor that it was easier and more comfortable to bail out of a plane over Ocracoke Beach than any other place he had ever tried. The landing, so he told the editor, was just like landing on a feather bed. That is because the beach, while solid enough to land any type of plane, has a two or three inch crust of soft sand on top. Unless there was a gale blowing, a rank amateur could bail out over Ocracoke Beach and make a perfect landing with a parachute. We wonder if the Government would not investigate this idea, with the thought in view that they have, if they want it, a first rate training center for fledgling parachutists on Ocracoke --- already developed."

US Air Force Image













Although we don't see many parachutists at Ocracoke nowadays, we do see Ospreys now and then.

Photo by FOX 52













These amazing vehicles, tiltrotor military aircraft with both vertical takeoff and landing, and short takeoff and landing capabilities, sometimes practice at the Ocracoke airstrip.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/

Monday, April 23, 2018

Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, I.O.O.F.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. After dissolution of the Lodge in 1924, the building (built in 1901) was converted to a private residence, then a coffee shop, and eventually became the center section of the Island Inn and Restaurant.

Ocracoke Odd Fellows Lodge No. 194















You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/

Friday, April 20, 2018

Ocracoke Harbor

I was recently reading a short article from 1968 that refers to commerce in North Carolina in the nineteenth century. The author writes, "the Ocracoke Harbor was a busy one, with ships constantly plying between northern cities and New Bern."



Early records of sailing ships along the Outer Banks frequently mention putting in to "harbor" at Ocracoke. Modern day readers usually envision large sailing vessels lying at anchor in Silver Lake. This is a mistake, as the above mentioned author explains in a footnote: "Above, where it talks about all the ships coming and going through Ocraacoke harbor, it does not mean in the present day Silver Lake. The larger freight boats, schooners and steam boats stayed out in the Pamlico Sound, Teach's channel or Teach's hole. Silver Lake in those years was called Cockle Creek and only four feet deep in the center until the 1930s."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of Village Craftsmen (1970 - the Present). You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/history-village-craftsmen-ocracoke-island/.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Yawl

A yawl is a two-masted fore-and-aft-rigged sailboat with the mizzenmast stepped far aft so that the mizzen boom overhangs the stern. Here is a drawing of two 18th century yawl-rigged fishing vessels.

1700 Drawing by Sir Oswald Walter Brierly
 












In 1939 Isaac (Big Ike) O"Neal (1865-1954) had this to say about his childhood and growing up on Ocracoke Island and Pamlico Sound: "I declare, I don't know why a lot of us weren't drowned in those days. About the only boats we had were yawls, the small boats we picked up from ships that were wrecked on the island. We'd beat around the sounds in these little boats in all kinds of weather. Nothing unusual to be away from home for a week or two weeks at a time."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of Village Craftsmen (1970 - the Present). You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/history-village-craftsmen-ocracoke-island/.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Rev. Urmstone

I published the following four paragraphs several years ago, and think they are worth sharing again!

I discovered the following interesting account of colonial era Ocracoke & Hatteras islanders on several Internet sites. I have not located any reference to a primary source. However, Rev. John Urmstone's presence in Bath in 1710 is well documented.

So, I hope you enjoy this short assessment of the character of some of the first Europeans on the Outer Banks.

"In 1710, the Reverend John Irmstone [John Urmstone, a missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, which was established in 1701 by the Church of England] of Bath wrote in a letter to his superior about people from Hatteras and Ocracoke who came to get baptized.  He gives no surnames, but says, 'these persons, half indian [sic] and half English, are an offense to my own and I gravely doubt the Kingdom of Heaven was designed to accomodate [sic] such.  They stunk and their condition was not improved by the amounts of sacramental wine they lapped up nor by sprinkling with baptismal waters.'"

So much for the "propagation of the gospel!"

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of Village Craftsmen (1970 - the Present). You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/history-village-craftsmen-ocracoke-island/.

 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Sound Advice

Some of our readers may remember the red gypsy wagon that was parked beside the Village Craftsmen for a number of years. I built it in the mid-1980s on the chassis of a Ford pickup truck. About five years ago it had deteriorated so much that I had it dismantled. 















About twenty years ago three "hippy" college students (a young man and two young ladies) knocked on the front door of the Village Craftsmen, and shyly asked if they could pitch their tent in our yard for one night. I offered them the gypsy wagon. They were delighted with the accommodations, and invited me to share their dinner of local fish and fresh vegetables, so we spent an enjoyable evening together.

During the course of our conversation one of the young ladies shared this wisdom from her grandfather: "Remember to always live your life so you have stories to tell your grandchildren," she admonished. After a brief pause she added, "And always live your life so you live long enough to have grandchildren!"

I hope those three college kids who spent one night in a gypsy wagon on Ocracoke Island will share their stories with their grandchildren.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of Village Craftsmen (1970 - the Present). You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/history-village-craftsmen-ocracoke-island/.  

Monday, April 16, 2018

1776

In The Story of Ocracoke Island, the authors write that "It is difficult today for those who know the peaceful somnolence of Ocracoke to picture the events of [the] Revolutionary days.... The part played by Occacock Inlet in the Revolutionary War was vital indeed to the armies of General Washington."

They go on to recount the events of April 14-17, 1776, when "the vessel Polly, which, when bound on a voyage from Edenton to Madiera, was captured...by one John Goodrich, commanding his Majesty's Ship Lilly...."

John Goodrich and his son, William, had earlier conspired to aid the Virginia Committee of Safety by procuring gunpowder from the West Indies for the patriots. After capture and "re-education" the Goodriches were convinced to affirm loyalty to the Crown. Captain Goodrich subsequently acquired command of the armed sloop Lilly and, on April 14 captured, and claimed as his prize, the patriots' merchant schooner Polly as it was sailing through Ocracoke Inlet. On the same day her Majesty's armed sloop, Fincastle, under command of the privateer, Lt. Wright, captured and plundered the Lilly.

Three days later, on April 17, five whaleboats full of armed Ocracoke Inlet pilots boarded the Lilly's tender. They captured the Lilly along with Capt. Goodrich and his crew. Goodrich was taken as prisoner to Charlottesville, Virginia, where he remained for at least eighteen months. The recaptured vessels were sent to New Bern and used by the revolutionaries as tenders for two North Carolina Navy brigantines.

You can read more here:  http://www.carolana.com/NC/Revolution/revolution_ocracoke_inlet_1.html.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of Village Craftsmen (1970 - the Present). You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/history-village-craftsmen-ocracoke-island/.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Rondthalers

In March, 2012, we published an Ocracoke Newsletter about the Rondthalers of Ocracoke Island.

Theodore and Alice Rondthaler were teachers at the Ocracoke School for fourteen years, beginning in the late 1940s. Theodore, (1899-1966) was the son of Rev. Howard Edward Rondthaler (1871-1956), a distinguished Moravian pastor who later served as president of Salem College, and still later was consecrated bishop of the Southern Moravian Province. Rev. Rondthaler was married to Katherine Boring, a Philadelphia Quaker.

In 2016 Molly Grogan Rawls wrote an article, "Four Generations of Rondthaler Men," for the Winston-Salem Time Traveler.

Rawls notes that Theodore was born in Forsyth County, and after considering several possible career choices, decided to become a teacher. In 1927 he married his father’s secretary, Alice Keeney. Before moving to Ocracoke, Theodore was a school principal in Forsyth County and Alice worked as a teacher. Theodore was also a musician and an outdoorsman.

You can read more here:
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of Village Craftsmen (1970 - the Present). You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/history-village-craftsmen-ocracoke-island/.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Bryant Family

Muzel Bryant (1904-2008) was the last member of Ocracoke's historic black family to live on the island. Muzel's grandmother Winnie Blount was born into slavery. She came from near Washington, NC, with her husband Harkus to live on Ocracoke after the slaves were freed. Harkus was a carpenter and boat builder, and the couple managed to acquire land along the lighthouse road. They had two daughters, Jane and Annie Laura. Jane eventually met and married Leonard Bryant from Engelhard while she and Winnie were working at the old Doxsee Clam Factory, which was located near the entrance to the harbor. Annie Laura also lived on the island with her husband, but they moved to the mainland soon after their little boy fell off the back porch into the water barrel and drowned.

Aunt Winnie



















Muzel was one of Jane and Leonard's nine children.

Muzel Bryant, photo: OPS














You can read multiple articles about Muzel and her family by clicking here

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of Village Craftsmen (1970 - the Present). You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/history-village-craftsmen-ocracoke-island/.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Life Car

Below is a reprint of a blog post from 2012:

Shipwrecks and life saving have been part of Ocracoke's history since the sixteenth century. The United States Life Saving Service was established in 1871. The first station to be built on Ocracoke was near Hatteras Inlet (it was sometimes known as the Cedar Hammock Station). It was put in operation in 1883.

Rescues were effected by means of the surf boat (a heavy wooden boat that was rowed out to a wreck; normally used when a wreck was more than 700 yards off shore), the breeches buoy (the most common method, in which a line was fired to the vessel, and by means of ropes, pulleys and other equipment, a pair of canvas pants attached to a life ring was sent out to the ship; passengers and crew were hauled ashore one at a time), and the life car.

The life car occasionally replaced the breeches buoy.


USLSS Life Car














However, the life car had limited use. It was made of metal, and much heavier and more cumbersome than the breeches buoy.

Although several people could be brought ashore at one time, they were required to lie down in this coffin-like container. Several shipwreck victims refused to get in the life car because of fear of enclosed spaces.

For many years, back in the late 1960s and 1970s, a life car was sitting on a platform at the side of a building on the corner of Creek Road and Silver Lake Drive. It was used as a water cistern. The life car was eventually donated to the Ocracoke Preservation Society and sent away for restoration. Unfortunately, the metal was so badly compromised that it was never restored.

If you remember (or have a photograph of) the life car cistern, please leave a comment.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of Village Craftsmen (1970 - the Present). You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/history-village-craftsmen-ocracoke-island/.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

An O'cocker in NYC

In 1934 Ocracoke native Lloyd Fulcher was working in New York City as captain of the Binghamton, a steam-powered double-ended ferryboat serving New York Harbor. Built in 1904/1905 the Binghamton operated from the Hoboken Terminal to Barclay Street, a twelve-minute trip of approximately 1 and 3/4 miles.

According to Wikipedia, the Binghamton was initially built for the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad’s Hoboken Ferry Company to transport 986 passengers along with their vehicles, and she was perhaps the last surviving steam ferry built to serve New York Harbor. 

Binghamton Ferry by Hisland7















On May 28, 1934 there was a mishap. It made page 11 in the Courier-News, Bridgewater, New Jersey:

"Four persons were injured and 600 commuters were shaken up today when the crowded Lackawanna ferryboat Binghamton crashed into its slip in the lower Hudson today. Capt. Lloyd Fulcher gave the usual orders to reverse the engines as the ferryboat entered the slip, but there was no response. It is believed there was an accident to the vessel's crankshaft. Those injured were: Margaret Fitzgibbons, 20, of Jersey City; H. A. Harter, 25, of West Orange; James Johnson, 31, of Summit; Anna Lee 20, of Newark."

Lloyd Fulcher's nephew, Chester Lynn, loaned me his uncle's diary from 1934.


















The diary entry for May 28, 1934, reads:

"7:07 EST from Hoboken. Crank shaft Broke going into slip at Barclay St NY. Boat could not be Backed so it Drifted into Bridge causing injuries to 7 Passengers. Margaret Fitzgibbons, 119 Hancock Ave, Jersey City got Broken leg. Taken to Broad St Hospital.

"Engineer called up and told me there was something Wrong with Engine. Said he reported it to the Chief and was told to run the Boat. That's all, so we did. Binghamton towed to St. Island. A cuppole [couple] of Cops wanted to arresst [sic] me because I would not give them a statement but they got none & was shoad [showed] off the Boat.

"Was at Compton's office about 4 hrs for a lot of Hot air.

"Made a ferry trip on Ithaca."

In 2017 the Binghamton, which sank at the dock years after being converted to a restaurant, was demolished. You can read more here and here.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of Village Craftsmen (1970 - the Present). You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/history-village-craftsmen-ocracoke-island/.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Many Proud Old Ships

The Beaufort News, Beaufort, N. C. on Thursday, Aug. 21, 1941, published an article by Aycock Brown titled "Many Proud Old Ships Lie Buried Beneath The Sands Of Ocracoke Island."

Brown wrote, "To the visitor going to Ocracoke for the first time, the island is a very strange place. It is a land of dead live oaks, tame wild geese and fresh salt mullet. It is also a place where the finest people in the world make their homes. On the beach are the remnants of proud old ships which were lost in the graveyard of the Atlantic and came ashore in the backwash of tides swirling through Hatteras Bight. Ocracoke, like Hatteras Island, the "Cape Stormy" of the Atlantic Coast, is wind swept and storm swept, but so far there is no record of anyone ever losing their lives there during a hurricane, and no house has ever been blown down by the winds. It is true that a few houses have been undermined and washed down during severe gales which brought sea tides across the village but these cases have been very few indeed. The people of Ocracoke are proud of their ancestry. They know that they are descendants, perhaps, of ship wrecked mariners but they are proud of this whether their ancestor was of Anglo Saxon or Arabian stock. Ocracoke probably had its founding as a result of a ship wreck, and this is a story about some of the ships."

You can read the entire article here: http://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/sn91068210/1941-08-21/ed-1/seq-14/.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of Village Craftsmen (1970 - the Present). You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/history-village-craftsmen-ocracoke-island/.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Yachts & Sailboats

As the spring and summer seasons approach it is common to see pleasure yachts and sailboats in Silver Lake harbor. This was not always the case. Although commercial schooners and other sail boats used Ocracoke Inlet for several hundred years (in 1840 alone, at least 1400 sailing vessels passed through the inlet), it was unusual for pleasure craft to visit the island. In fact, Silver Lake (originally called Cockle Creek) was just a wide, shallow tidal creek until it was dredged in the 1930s, and again during WWII.

By the late 1940s and early 1950s private pleasure boaters were beginning to discover Ocracoke. They were remarkable enough that the Outer Banks newspaper, The Coastland Times, ran this short blurb on June 5, 1953:

"OCRACOKE GROWING PORT FOR YACHTS

"Dr. and Mrs. W.H. Willis, Jr. and daughter, Nancy, were here recently on their yacht with guests, Dr. and Mrs. James and Belle Parker, also of New Bern. They fished with Capt. J.N. Midgett, coming in with fifty trout, and four channel bass."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of Village Craftsmen (1970 - the Present). You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/history-village-craftsmen-ocracoke-island/.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Mary Varney

On this date in 1856 the bark* Mary Varney wrecked and broke apart off shore of Hatteras Island. Although one sailor lost his life in the disaster, legend has it that another crew member made it to shore in an unusual fashion, and never left.

According to one version of the story, the people of Hatteras Island had been suffering that winter from a prolonged period of bitter cold and lack of supplies from the mainland. Shipwrecks, as tragic as they were, often brought much needed supplies (lumber, food, and more) to the bleak shores of the Outer Banks. In April, 1856, one local preacher even prayed, were a shipwreck to happen (and God forbid it would) that a barrel of pork would wash up on the beach to help feed his hungry flock.


















As it happened, when the Mary Varney broke apart the people on shore saw a large pork barrel washing in from the stricken vessel, tossed about by the heavy seas. It looked like the preacher's prayer had been answered! A crowd gathered around as the barrel rolled in on a breaker, and crashed against the sandy beach. Almost immediately the top popped off.

To their amazement, Herbert Oden, one of the sailors on board the Mary Varney, climbed out of the barrel. As the ship began to break apart, Oden had emptied the barrel, and climbed in, using it as a makeshift lifeboat. Some claim Herbert Oden was the first of his family to arrive on the Outer Banks. He never left, and the Oden clan continues to call Hatteras Island home!

* A bark is a sailing ship of three or more masts with the aftmost mast fore-and-aft rigged and the others square-rigged.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of Village Craftsmen (1970 - the Present). You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/history-village-craftsmen-ocracoke-island/.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Pilot Town

First-time visitors to Ocracoke may notice this road sign near the National Park Service Visitors Center, and wonder what it means:











Island historian, Earl O'Neal (), explained in 1998 that "[s]everal maps between 1826 and 1830 show the Village of Ocracoke with the name Pilot Town. As early as 1743 there was a settlement on Ocracoke called Pilot Town, which was named that because the only settlers were pilots, who were squatters, not owning the land they lived on."

Pilot Town is believed to have been located at Springer's Point. Ship pilots guided vessels safely through the inlet, and into the deeper waters of Pamlico Sound. They were an important factor in the commercial vitality of the colony (and later, state) of North Carolina. 

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of Village Craftsmen (1970 - the Present). You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/history-village-craftsmen-ocracoke-island/.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Dueling

Yesterday I wrote about Richard Dobbs Spaight (1758-1802), a prominent North Carolina public figure who advocated for the construction of a fort on Beacon Island in Ocracoke Inlet. In 1802, after a bitter public feud with attorney and political rival John Stanly (1774-1834), Spaight agreed to meet Stanly for a duel to settle their disagreements.

On September 5, 1802, on the fourth round of the duel, Spaight was shot in the side, and died the next day.

According to NCpedia, "[O]n November 5, 1802, the General Assembly (1802) passed an act 'to Prevent the Vile Practice of Dueling within this state.' The death of a high-profile politician pushed many to consider the drawbacks of dueling, and the new law prohibited duel participants from holding public office and required them to pay a heavy fine. It also stated that the survivor of a duel to the death would be executed without benefit of clergy. Though as historian Bertram Wyatt-Brown writes (2007, 303), 'it would be a mistake…to argue that duels were as much deplored as southern hand-wringing would lead an observer to believe.' Many prominent North Carolinians simply took their duels to Virginia or South Carolina in following years. Ultimately, since those politicians who passed anti-dueling laws were from the social class that most often engaged in dueling, such legislation was rarely enforced....

"... Not until the massive social and cultural changes of the Civil War era did dueling truly die in the South."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of Village Craftsmen (1970 - the Present). You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/history-village-craftsmen-ocracoke-island/.

Monday, April 02, 2018

1801 Letter

In 1801 Richard Dobbs Spaight (1758–1802) of New Bern, NC, wrote a letter to President Thomas Jefferson which highlighted the importance of Ocracoke Inlet. Spaight was a member of the Continental Congress from 1783 to 1785, a delegate to the federal Constitutional Convention in 1787, and governor of North Carolina from 1792 to 1795. In 1798 he won a special election to fill the congressional seat vacated by the death of his predecessor, Nathan Bryan.

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Washington City 4 March 1801.

SIR,

When Congress first began to fortify the ports & Harbours of the United States in 1794, among others a fort was directed to be erected on Beacon Island near Ocracock bar, to defend that Inlet. An Engineer was sent forward, who laid off the fort and the works were commenced, & carried on untill November following.

From the neglect of the then Secretary of War … nothing was done. In 1796 … the works were discontinued & remained so untill I took my seat in Congress in Decr. 1798….

All the trade of No. Carolina except what is carried on at Wilmington, and a little at Beaufort & Swannsborough, passes over Ocracock bar: and the fort at Beacon Island command both Harbours, or, roads, where the shipping bound either in, or out come too in order to lighten, to enable them to pass the swash. It likewise commands both the passages that lead from the harbours or roads, up into the Country.

I could venture to say to a Certainty that the revenue saved to the United States, in consequence of a fort being built, and a surveyor established there will fully eaqual the Annual expenditure, occasioned by the Establishment, and in my Opinion, will in the course of ten or a Dozen years repay the United States the monies which the works will cost.

I have thus agreeably to your desire thrown my Ideas on this subject in a hasty manner on paper, and I make no doubt but that an Object of such magnitude, will receive due attention from The administration.

With Sentiments of Consideration & Respect I am Sir, Your most Obt. Sevt.

RICHD. DOBBS SPAIGHT

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Construction of a fort at Beacon Island was not resumed during Thomas Jefferson’s administration. In 1806 Henry Dearborn (builder of the first lighthouse at Cape Hatteras and the first lighthouse on Shell Castle in Ocracoke Inlet) reported that gunboats would more effectively protect Ocracoke Inlet than a fixed fortification.

You can read the entire letter from Rihard Spaight here: http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/01-33-02-0130

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Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of Village Craftsmen (1970 - the Present). You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/history-village-craftsmen-ocracoke-island/.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Happy Easter!

Since we will not be publishing posts over the weekend, allow us to wish all of our readers a very Happy Easter! If you will be on the island this coming week be sure to stop by and say hello. We love seeing old friends and making new ones.

Below is a humorous Easter story from some time ago.

A number of years past (if I recollect correctly it was the late 1970s) a young man (I will call him Ron) found his way to Ocracoke. He owned an old two-wheel drive van, and enjoyed fishing. He had learned to slacken his tires so he could drive on the beach. One Saturday evening he and his girlfriend decided to drive out to the South Point for a picnic, and to do some fishing. It was springtime, the weather had turned warm, and the island was still quiet. They were alone on the beach. After nightfall they decided to go skinny dipping.

After getting out of the water, instead of dressing, they simply got in the van and proceeded to drive back home. Just as they were approaching the ramp at the airport the van got bogged down in the soft sand and stopped. They were stuck. By then it was late so they decided to sleep in the van, and find someone to pull them out in the morning.

At daybreak Nature called, and Ron opened the back doors of the van and jumped out, still in his birthday suit. He was shocked to see several hundred people, including the local preachers, standing around his van. Ron had inadvertently joined the annual Easter sunrise service! As he explained to me later, that was first time he'd been to church in several years.


Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of Village Craftsmen (1970 - the Present). You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/history-village-craftsmen-ocracoke-island/.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

South Dock

On Tuesday I asked if any of our readers know what is meant when we talk of Ocracoke's South Dock.

It may be counter-intuitive, but the South Ferry Dock is on Ocracoke's north end. You might wonder why this would be, but after a moment's reflection you will see the logic. Hatteras Inlet has two NCDOT ferry docks: one on the north side of the inlet (on the south end of Hatteras Island); the other on the south side of the inlet (on the north end of Ocracoke Island). When ferry personnel are talking about the ferry operation across Hatteras Inlet they will refer to the North Dock (on Hatteras) or the South Dock (on Ocracoke).

The ferry docks in Silver Lake are simply called the Cedar Island/Swan Quarter docks.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of Village Craftsmen (1970 - the Present). You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/history-village-craftsmen-ocracoke-island/.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Victrola

Over the years our family has owned a couple of vintage Victrolas. This one is too large to fit comfortably in any of our homes, so Amy had it brought over to Village Craftsmen.


















Manufactured by the Victor Talking Machine Company (Camden, N.J.) in 1916, the Victrola works well. On your next visit to Village Craftsmen, take a look at this vintage machine. You can even choose a record (we have dozens), place it on the turntable, rotate the crank, and lower the needle. Many of the records are a bit scratchy, but they will give you an idea of what your grandparents and great grandparents listened to more than a century ago.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of Village Craftsmen (1970 - the Present). You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/history-village-craftsmen-ocracoke-island/.