Friday, July 20, 2018

A Close Call

A brief account of the last days of Blackbeard's crew:

Blackbeard was defeated near Ocracoke Island, November 22, 1718 (old calendar), by Lt. Maynard and sailors of the Royal Navy. After his death (he was wounded 25 times with sword and pistol), Blackbeard's head was cut off and his body thrown overboard. At least eight pirates were killed in that final battle. Fourteen others were captured and taken to Williamsburg, Virginia, where they were tried for piracy. Samuel Odell, it was learned, had been captured by Blackbeard the day before the battle. Although Odell participated in the battle, it became clear that he was an unwilling participant, and he was acquitted. The other thirteen pirates were hanged.

Two of Captain Teach's officers, Israel Hands and William Howard, are not on the list of pirates killed or executed in Williamsburg. Why is that?

Israel Hands, one of Blackbeard's most loyal sailors, had left Blackbeard after the captain wounded him in the knee with a pistol shot (!). After Teach's death Hands was captured in Bath, North Carolina. He was tried for piracy in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1718. He was convicted, but later pardoned. When last heard of he was begging on the streets of London.

William Howard, Blackbeard's Quartermaster, also was not with his captain in the battle at Ocracoke Inlet. In the summer of 1718 Howard was apprehended in Virginia, and taken to the jail in Williamsburg as a vagrant pirate. In November he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to be hanged. In December, the day before his scheduled execution, a pardon arrived in Williamsburg. The pardon was executed by a commission in London, and offered amnesty for any piratical acts committed before July 23, 1718. As expected, William Howard was quick to accept the pardon! He was not heard from for many years. Forty-one years later a William Howard purchased Ocracoke Island. Most historians believe William Howard the pirate and William Howard of Ocracoke were the same person.  

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/

Thursday, July 19, 2018

William Howard

William Howard

Born March 15, 1776
Died August 30, 1851


















"As for man, his days are as grass,
As a flower of the field so he flourisheth
For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone,
And the place thereof shall know it no more."

William Howard was the son of George Howard, and grandson of William Howard, Sr., colonial owner of Ocracoke Island and presumably quartermaster for Blackbeard the pirate. His grave is in the first row in the old George Howard cemetery on British Cemetery Road.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.   

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Elisha Ballance


Blanche Howard Jolliff (1919-2018) told me the following story on August 15, 2005:

In August of 1899 Blanche’s uncle, Elisha Ballance (1880-1977), along with George M. Gaskins (1887-1967), Zora Babel Gaskins (1855-1918), and several other men, were net fishing in Pamlico Sound, about eight miles northeast of Ocracoke village. It was the custom in those days to pitch a primitive camp “down below” (the area on Ocracoke Island northeast of the village) for a week or more while fishing in the sound. 

On August 16 one of the most powerful hurricanes to ever strike Ocracoke hit with a vengeance. Winds exceeded 100 miles per hour, and tide water from Pamlico Sound poured across the sand flats. The fishermen’s fragile sail skiffs were battered and sunk. The hapless fishermen, at the mercy of the storm, dug a hole in a sand dune, and covered it with their sails in an attempt to keep dry. For three days the storm raged, terrifying the fishermen who could do nothing but wait for an end to the fury.
When the hurricane finally abated, Elisha, George, and Zora Babel decided to walk back to the village. The tidal creeks were still swollen, and waist-high water, muddy bottoms, and saturated marsh made for an exhausting trek.

Back in the village after many hours, nineteen-year-old Elisha returned home, weary and hungry, to discover his family home empty. Unbeknownst to Elisha, his parents and sisters had fled the house when the storm commenced. They had taken refuge with a neighbor whose house stood on higher ground. The storm tide had flooded Elisha’s family house. Doors had been blown open, furniture was upended, and the floors were covered in a thick layer of mud. On entering the kitchen, and surveying the scene, Elisha fainted and fell onto the muddy floor. 

Elisha recovered, eventually married, and raised his family on Ocracoke. Many of his descendants live on the island to this day.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.   

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Sense of Humor

O'cockers are known for their sense of humor. Every island family has their share of stories of a relative's or neighbor's humorous, pithy comments. Oscar Burrus (1901-1971) was the origin of several.

Rev. W.R. Hale was assigned to the Ocracoke United Methodist Church in the mid-1950s. Preacher Hale loved to fish. Nearly every day when the weather suited Rev. Hale could be seen standing in the water along the sound, with his fishing pole in his hand.

In those days island men often sat on the benches at the Community Store or Willis' store (where the Working Watermen's Exhibit is today), trading stories. Talk turned to Preacher Hale. "Boys," remarked Oscar, "we're going to have to paint that preacher's feet with copper paint or the ship worms are going to bore into his feet."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.   


Monday, July 16, 2018

Casket Table

Prior to 1957/58, when NC Highway 12 was paved from the edge of Ocracoke village to Hatteras Inlet, everything having to do with death and dying on the island was handled by family, friends, and neighbors, without professional assistance. All of that changed when the paved highway, and state-operated ferries, made it possible to bring a hearse to the island.

Changes had already begun in about 1948 when Mr. Mace Fulcher started selling commercially made caskets at the Community Store. Before that time all island caskets were built by local carpenters. Typically, islanders kept pre-cut casket boards stored under their houses or in out buildings. At the time of death family members contacted the carpenter who retrieved the boards and nailed the casket together.

I have been told that when Alice Wahab Williams died (she was the wife of Capt. David Williams; their house is now the Ocracoke Preservation Society museum) in 1953 she was buried in a casket purchased at the Community Store. Some years later her daughter, Nina, located the unused casket boards in their shed, and decided to use them as a table top. To the best of my knowledge, that table now rests upstairs in the research library at the OPS museum.

Few people are aware that the original plan was that the wood for the table would be used as a casket.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.  

Friday, July 13, 2018

Grape Vines

Sometimes it's difficult to comprehend the changes that have occurred on Ocracoke Island over the 250 years since the earliest inlet pilots settled here.

Cousin Blanche (1919-2018) told me her grandmother remembered when grapevines "hung over the sea." Blanche also recalled that her Uncle Ike O'Neal (1865-1954) said when he was a boy briars and grape vines created a mat so thick in the trees that he was able to climb the oak tree (on the corner of Howard Street and present-day School Road) and then scramble across the mat of vines "all the way to the sea."

Other accounts mention "the time of the blowing sand" in the late 1800s, after livestock had eaten most of the vegetation near the village. Could the de-nuding of the beach have happened within a quarter of a century (from the time Ike O'Neal was a boy until the turn of the 20th century)? Or could Blanche's informants have remembered climbing to Nigh Inlet, a former channel of water on the northeast edge of the village (what they may have called the "sea"), and not to the Atlantic Ocean?

We may never know for sure exactly what changes have transpired on this sandy barrier island. What I do know is that grapevines were thick along Howard Street as late as the 1970s.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.  

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Home Remedies

Charlotte O'Neal (1851-1947) assumed the duties of island midwife sometime after 1888 when her last child, a fraternal twin, died. Known to islanders as “Aunt Lot,” she delivered more than 100 island babies (one account lists 523 babies!). According to her daughter, Miss Sara Ellen Gaskill, her mother “never lost a case.”

In addition to her duties as midwife, Aunt Lot also tended to the sick and injured with various folk remedies. Below is one account:

"Charlotte O’Neal’s grandson remembered her as 'a little short woman all drawed up.' He described her method of removing carbuncles. First, she would apply thin slices of salt pork to, say, the back of the neck where the infection was. A rag was tied to secure the pork, and the patient left it there for several hours. 'The salt pork draws it to a head, pulls it up,' he explained. Then she settled on the porch with the patient and her tin of snuff, preparing for the procedure. While dipping snuff, she’d remove a thread from the inner seam of her skirt, and make a lasso for the carbuncle. The puss was raised little by little by the tightening string, coming out 'like toothpaste.'"*

A carbuncle (a cluster of boils) is caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Modern health care professionals warn against squeezing or irritating carbuncles since they are contagious. Hand-washing and good sanitation are important to keep from spreading the disease.  

*https://www.nps.gov/ethnography/research/docs/caha_ethno_v2.pdf, p. 374-375

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Telephone Connection

The first telephones were installed in Ocracoke homes in 1956. A representative for the phone company visited islanders to sign them up for service. One older resident wasn't too keen on having one of those new-fangled devices. She couldn't see any point to it. The rep told her it would be good to have a telephone so she could call neighbors if she fell or had another emergency.

The elderly woman thought for a moment, then called out several of her neighbors' names. The nearest one was "getting old," she said. The next one was "failing," and another was "up in years." Finally she averred that she "would take one" if the salesman could guarantee that it would "connect her to glory!"

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.  



Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Blackbeard's Toilet


Many of our readers know that Blackbeard was killed at Ocracoke Inlet in 1718. In his final battle, against Lt. Robert Maynard of the British Royal Navy, Blackbeard's head was cut off and tied to the bowsprit of Maynard's sloop. It was carried to Edenton, NC, then to Williamsburg, VA, and finally impaled at the mouth of the Hampton River as a message to any would-be pirates.

A recent article from the Queen Anne's Revenge Project is titled "A Look Inside Blackbeard’s Head."The article is not about dissecting Blackbeard's noggin, nor is it about "Blackbeard’s thought process or piratical tactics," as the first paragraph of the article explains. It is about the pirate captain's on-board toilet (in nautical parlance, the "head").

As the article explains, by the 16th century sailors relieved themselves at the bow (that's the "pointy end" of the ship), or head. To this day, sailors refer to the bathroom aboard a ship as the "head."

Captain Teach and his crew, of course, did not have the convenience of a modern marine toilet. To learn what they did have, click on this link: https://www.qaronline.org/blog/2018-03-01/artifact-month-seat-of-ease.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/

Monday, July 09, 2018

Ocracoke Photography

In the past I have posted Ocracoke photographs by Eakin Howard. This is one of his most striking images of the island's lighthouse:



















Several of our readers have asked if Eakin has prints for sale. I just learned that he now has many of his photos for sale on his website. You can view his gallery of Ocracoke photographs here

You can view other galleries and read more about Eakin and his photography here.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Stores

The following information is from Ethnohistorical Description of the Eight Villages adjoining Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Interpretive Themes of History and Heritage, November 2005 (images added):

Hatteras Village is home to the oldest grocery store still operating on the island; the Burrus Store, later to become the Burrus Red and White. The store was founded in 1866 by W.Z. Burrus’ grandfather, a blockade runner and Union sympathizer who spent the Civil War in prison.












After the war, he returned to Hatteras Island where his father operated a grist mill, and established the store. “Instead of just staples like molasses, sugar, salt, flour, lard and so forth we started getting some canned goods in and bottled drinks from Washington, New Bern, and Elizabeth City by freight boat,” W.Z. Burrus recalled. The Burrus family rode the wave of economic activity that followed the Civil War in Hatteras Village, as did Homer Styron's store and A.J. Stowe, the three of whom were in business by 1872. By 1884, R.W. Midgett and Uriah O’Neal had stores as well.

Customers from Ocracoke to Avon bought items on credit, and the pages from the ledger were apparently cut by razor and given to the debtor as a receipt when the account was paid. “They had to come in by boat. They would bring fish in to sell to the fish houses, and stop and buy groceries,” Burrus reflected. Once the road and bridge were built, it changed the nature of doing business on the island. “It brought a lot more people in and made it easier for us to come and go and changed our way of life right much,” Burrus said. “We have less time on our hands than we did then. It seemed like we had more time to ourselves.”














This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Bluff Shoal Lighthouse

The Bluff Shoal Motel is located right in the center of the village of Ocracoke, on the waterfront of Silver Lake Harbor. The motel takes its name from a shoal in Pamlico Sound about 7 1/2 miles from Ocracoke.

In 1904, a lighthouse was built on Bluff Shoal. 

Bluff Shoal Light



















According to the United States Lighthouse Society, Bluff Shoal Light Station was equipped with a fog signal and a bell, in addition to a 4th order lantern. The fog signal was produced by a Gamewell bell machine manufactured by the Gamewell Fire Alarm Telegraph Co., Boston, Mass., and emitted a single blow every 15 seconds. The 1200 lbs., 36" diameter metal bell (see photo) was struck every 30 minutes.

The Bluff Shoal Lighthouse is no longer in existence.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

July 4, 1956

Newspaper reports from 1956 indicate that “the parade feature of the [July 4] program will be omitted this year as a committee of the Civic club wisely decide that with all the construction work going on in the village – the old navy dock, the Park area around the Coast Guard station and the state road building activities, -- all this work will make it impossible for people to participate in a parade feature.”

Nine days after July 4, 1956, the newspaper “... reported that Ocracoke saw the biggest crowd yet for their July 4 celebration, with visitors crowding in from all directions, and many asking for rooms in homes because all vacancies were filled. The ferry ran all day on July 3 and many of the people coming in by car and not knowing the terrain [there was no paved highway (NC12) in 1956, so motorists drove from Hatteras Inlet to Ocracoke village on the beach] found themselves having to be towed out of the sandy beach and helped on their way. Many planes brought visitors from Raleigh and places nearby and all joined with the visitors a number of Hatteras folks and the residents in enjoying the day’s program.

Wahab Hotel (Blackbeard's Lodge) & Airplane













"At the pony penning held at the Berkley Manor Ranch in the morning, only three or four colts were sold as the residents were loath to part with their stock. Sam Jones, owner of the Berkley Manor Ranch, held a square dance at 3 p. m. and gave many prizes to the best dancers, besides serving refreshments to all comers.

"The evening closed with the big square dance, leaving everyone with the memory of a great day."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Independence Day Celebration

Ocracoke's Independence Day Celebration begins this evening at 6 pm with a traditional Ocracoke Island square dance. There will be more music after the dance, and then fireworks at 9:15 pm.

http://www.ace-clipart.com/american-flag-photos-01.html














A flag raising ceremony will kick off tomorrow's festivities, followed by the annual sand sculpture contest. Other activities and events include a classic car display, an interpretive program at the lighthouse (the ground floor of the beacon will be open to the public), parade, storytelling, and more.

This year there is even a community beach fire scheduled for Thursday evening, July 5. 

For more information please visit: https://business.visitocracokenc.com/events/details/ocracoke-island-independence-day-celebration-1526.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/

Monday, July 02, 2018

Lighthouse Stairway

Periodically in the summer months the National Park Service will open the Ocracoke Lighthouse so visitors can step inside. Visitors are not permitted to climb the spiral stairs because access to the lantern room is narrow and precarious, and for fear of damage to the historic structure.

The original stairway was wooden, and attached to the inner wall of the tower.

Dare Wright on Stairs, Photo Compliments of Brook Ashley



















In 1952 the wooden stairs were removed and replaced with a metal spiral stairway. Evidence of where the original wooden stairs were attached is still visible.













Shortly after the renovation Alice Rondthaler wrote this about the new stairway:

"Historic Ocracoke Island lighthouse has just undergone a major operation. The old wooden stairs which circled the inside walls to the lens room 80 feet above its base has been torn out and replaced by a steel spiral stairway. The wooden stairs had badly rotted because of dampness and were declared unsafe following the hurricane of 1944, at which time ladders were put in for the use of the keepers, and the visiting public was no longer permitted to climb to the lens room. Cost of the new installation was approximately $3,000. The work of putting in the stairway was done by a Coast guard field force."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Advice for Surf Fishermen

Anglers enjoy our beach just about anytime but especially in the fall when the fishing is superb. At that time of year their 4WD vehicles are often lined up close to the water's edge. In 1981 one fishermen decided to take a nap in his SUV. When he woke up the waves were lapping under his vehicle, and all four tires had sunk into the wet sand. 














Over the next several tidal changes the SUV was completely inundated, then rolled back and forth by the breakers. During one low tide I noticed that the tires looked brand new...and were the exact size as the ones on my Chevy Blazer. Only the right side two tires were exposed, but they were still partially buried in the sand. With help from family, and a lot of effort, we dug the tires free and removed them. They served well until the Blazer was junked years later.

I don't believe the SUV was ever extricated. I think it just gradually settled into the quicksand and was covered by more sand. I guess it's still buried out there.

So, if you are planning to park near the water's edge, don't fall asleep as the tide is coming in!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

North Carolina Lighthouses

How many lighthouses are there in North Carolina?

Well, there are five major lighthouses on the Outer Banks:
  • Currituck Beach
  • Bodie Island
  • Cape Hatteras
  • Ocracoke
  • Cape Lookout
Here is my favorite (of course!):


















But there are more! Some readers will know about Old Baldy and Oak Island Lights. In addition, I have written about the Diamond Shoals Light and Hatteras Beacon. According to one article I discovered (https://www.ranker.com/list/lighthouses-in-north-carolina/jennifer-lee) there are (or were) twenty-one different lighthouses in North Carolina. Maybe some of our readers know of another one or two. If so, please leave a comment.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Patent Medicines, Part III

Barbara Garrity-Blake and Karen Willis Amspacher have compiled a Heritage Guide to the Outer Banks Byway titled Living at the Water's Edge. In their section, "Love, Sickness, and Death," they write, "The lack of doctors [on the Outer Banks and coastal North Carolina] made home remedies a necessity.... Tuberculosis, pneumonia, typhoid fever, colitis, and the flu were just some of the afflictions [residents dealt with]." L.P. O'Neal of Avon contributed this comment: "Back in the old days they used to say these old women were floating around the road on Laudanum."

Yesterday I mentioned paregoric, a camphorated tincture of opium. Laudanum is another product that also contains opium, but whereas paregoric contains 4% opium, Laundanum contains 10% (in powdered form).


















According to Wikipedia, "By the 19th century, laudanum was used in many patent medicines to 'relieve pain ... to produce sleep ... to allay irritation ... to check excessive secretions ... to support the system ... [and] as a soporific. The limited pharmacopoeia of the day meant that opium derivatives were among the most effective of available treatments, so laudanum was widely prescribed for ailments from colds to meningitis to cardiac diseases, in both adults and children. Laudanum was used during the yellow fever epidemic. Innumerable Victorian women were prescribed the drug for relief of menstrual cramps and vague aches. Nurses also spoon-fed laudanum to infants ... Initially a working class drug, laudanum was cheaper than a bottle of gin or wine, because it was treated as a medication for legal purposes and not taxed as an alcoholic beverage."

Of course, federal regulations in the early 20th century began to recognize the addictive nature of Laudanum, and its use declined dramatically.

As late as the 1970s scores of discarded Laudanum bottles could still be dug up behind many of the older homes on Ocracoke.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Patent Medicines, Part II

Yesterday I wrote about Grove's Chill Tonic, a late 19th century and early 20th century patent medicine developed to treat malaria. The creator of the tonic, Edwin Wiley Grove (1850–1927), was a prohibitionist and abstainer, so his medicine contained no alcohol, as so many other patent medicines did.

Another popular product in the 18th and 19th centuries, which did contain alcohol as well as opium, was designed to treat diarrhea, cough, and pain in children and adults. Paregoric became a household remedy on the Outer Banks, especially during times when no professional medical providers were serving the area. It was used to calm worrisome children and to soothe the gums of teething infants.

Photo by Jwilli74



















Once the narcotic and addictive properties of opium and its derivatives became better understood in the early 20th century, the federal government began regulating its use and sale. Nevertheless, until 1970 paregoric could still be purchased in the United States at a pharmacy without a medical prescription.

Paregoric is one of several patent medicines containing opium that were used extensively on Ocracoke and elsewhere on the Outer Banks. Another favorite was Laudanum. Look for more about that medicine tomorrow. 

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Patent Medicines, Part I

For much of its history, the Outer Banks was without professional medical care. Midwives, "healers," and parents relied on home remedies to treat illnesses and injuries. During the 19th century, and into the 20th century, patent medicines became popular alternatives to local herbs and poultices. One such medicine was Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonic.

In 1878 Edwin Wiley Grove (1850–1927) patented a quinine mixture that he claimed eliminated the bitter taste of pure quinine. The medicine was marketed as a cure for the chills and fever associated with malaria.


















According to NCpedia, "From the earliest attempts at colonization, North Carolina was plagued by malaria. Carried in the blood of the 15th century European explorers, and transmitted by the bite of the ubiquitous Anopheles mosquito, the disease found an easy foothold amongst the Native Americans. Successive waves of colonists, naturally settling near sources of water, provided a vulnerable and concentrated population on which the mosquitoes could feed. Millponds, wells, and open farmland (where water could pool and stagnate) also provided a rich breeding ground."

At the time Grove's Chill Tonic was introduced, malaria was considered the "scourge of the South." The tonic became an overnight sensation, and a staple in Outer Banks homes for decades. In addition to being used as a remedy for malaria, it was also often taken in the fall to prevent colds.

NCpedia explains that, "An increasingly educated public, the aggressive use of chemical insecticides, and a reduction in available breeding places for mosquitoes, all contributed to a decline in [malaria], and by the late 1940's, malaria had all but disappeared from the state." Not surprisingly, Grove's Chill Tonic also disappeared. Today, the only evidence of the tonic is an occasional bottle unearthed in someone's back yard.

Look for information about other patent medicines popular on the Outer Banks in future posts.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.

Friday, June 22, 2018

1953 Map

Below is a detail from the official 1953 North Carolina Highway Map. It shows a dotted line for the "Toll Fy" (Frazier Peele's wooden, 4-car ferry across Hatteras Inlet), double-dotted lines on Ocracoke (the Unimproved [sand] Road the length of the island), and a dotted line for "Toll Ferry-No Cars" (the mailboat route from Atlantic to Portsmouth to Ocracoke.


















In 1953 Ocracoke was just on the verge of being discovered by more than hunters, fishermen and a few adventurous souls.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Dr. Warren Silverman

In the summer of 1981 Warren Silverman, M.D. moved to Ocracoke. It had been four decades since Ocracoke had a resident doctor. Dr. Silverman's wife, Jean, a nurse, accompanied him. They practiced from their home until the island's new Health Center was completed the following year. Dr. Silverman also made house calls. In 2017 Dr. Silverman visited the island, and stopped by to say hello. He regaled us with stories of his time at Ocracoke.

At my request, Dr. Silverman sent me a delightful story he wrote about his very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). We have published Dr. Silverman's story as this month's Ocracoke Newsletter. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Tale of Blackbeard

Julie Howard's musical, A Tale of Blackbeard, has entertained islanders and visitors on and off since 1974. This year marks the production's 11th season during the last 44 years. Not coincidentally, 2018 is the 300th anniversary of the death of Blackbeard during a naval battle at Ocracoke in November, 1718.

Blackbeard (Peyton Piquard) &
Sailor (Zoe Howard)




















Produced by Ocracoake Alive [a 501(c) 3 non-profit with a mission “to enrich the Ocracoke Island community by encouraging and sponsoring cultural, artistic, educational, and environmental activities including the production of plays, musicals, musical events, exhibits, schools, workshops, and festivals.”], A Tale of Blackbeard highlights the creative talents of a host of island residents.

In 2018, regular shows will be held at the Ocracoke Community Center on Mondays (June 11-25), and at the Ocracoke School Gym Auditorium, Monday, July 2 - Monday, August 13. Summer shows start at 8 PM with the door opening at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $15 Adults/$7 Kids. Performances at the Ocracoke School Gym have plenty of room for walk-ups, while the Ocracoke Community Center has limited seating.

Click here for more information: https://www.ocracokealive.org/tale-of-blackbeard.html.

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, June 19, 2018

Quiz

Here is a quiz for our long-time readers. The following photo was taken sometime in the late 1990s on Ocracoke Island.


















  • Where was the picture taken?
  • What is the name of the business?
  • Who are the two people in the photo?
If you know the answers to any of the above questions please leave a comment.  Also, if you have any stories about anyone or anything in the photo please share them.

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, June 18, 2018

Raleigh Bay

I wonder how many of our readers are familiar with Raleigh Bay. Roger Payne, in his book Place Names of the Outer Banks, describes it as a 75 mile long bight along the coast of Carteret County, Hyde County (Ocracoke Township), and Dare County.

The coordinates of Raleigh Bay are 35°14'40"N 75°31'38"W (northeast end), 34°34'57N 76°32'01"W (southwest end), and 35°00'00"N 76°00'00"W (center). 

A bight is a large open bay created by a bend or curve in the coastline. Wikipedia explains that "explorers defined a bight as a bay that could be  sailed out of on a single tack in a square-rigged sailing vessel, regardless of the direction of the wind (typically meaning the apex of the bight is less than 25 degrees from the edges).

Click here to see an aerial view of Raleigh Bay: https://mapcarta.com/21319764.

Of course, Raleigh Bay was named for Sir Walter Raleigh, English organizer whose expeditions explored the Outer Banks in the 16th century.

Sir Walter Raleigh



















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/.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Yaupon Tea

I have written about yaupon tea in the past, but I just recently discovered two informative articles about this island drink: "The Yaupon Holly Tradition," by Jared Lloyd in the Coastal Review Online (https://www.coastalreview.org/2014/11/yaupon-holly-tradition/), and "The Forgotten Drink That Caffeinated North America for Centuries" by Ben Richmond (https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/what-is-yaupon-tea-cassina).

Lloyd explains that Native Americans in the Carolinas used the leaves of the yaupon holly, a shrub that grows wild on Ocracoke Island, to brew a tea rich in caffeine.The leaves were harvested and roasted in the early summer when caffeine content was at its peak. Yaupon was traded with other tribes as far west as Illinois. Early colonists learned to drink yaupon tea when royal taxes and import duties made other teas too expensive.

Richmond points out that "William Aiton, an eminent British botanist and horticulturist, director of Kew Gardens, and “Gardener to His Majesty,” is credited with giving cassina [yaupon tea] the scientific name it bears to this day: Ilex vomitoria. Ilex is the genus commonly known as holly. Vomitoria roughly translates to 'makes you vomit.'” Richmond goes on to write that "Cassina does not make you vomit. Both modern scientific analysis and centuries of regular use by Southerners confirms this. But several early European accounts of cassina mention vomiting. Cassina seems to have been used in elaborate purification rituals where men sat in a circle, sung or chanted, and took turns chugging and then throwing up hot cassina. Yet other detailed, first-hand accounts of indigenous people drinking cassina don’t mention vomiting at all. Anthropologist Charles M. Hudson and others have suggested that a plant with emetic properties may have been added to the cassina brew (unbeknownst to European observers) or that the black drink ceremony may not have involved cassina at all."

There is no question that yaupon tea rivals any of the commercial teas available for sale today. Lloyd reports that "the Outer Banks is thought to have been the last holdout [for drinking yaupon tea]. The tea was sold in restaurants along the Banks into the 1970s; Ocracoke Island is the last known location to have served yaupon tea."

You may not be able to order yaupon tea in any restaurant today, but you can purchase a bag of locally harvested yaupon tea leaves ($8.00) in Village Craftsmen...and brew your own!  Call (252-928-5541) or email us (info@villagecraftsmen.com) to place an order. Or stop by the Village Craftsmen on Howard Street to purchase yaupon tea in our gallery.


















The label on the back of the bag reads: "Yaupon trees grow naturally along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Their berries are an important source of food for birds, & their leaves have been used in making tea for thousands of years. Croatan Indians on Ocracoke & Hatteras Islands used the tea, which they called the Black Drink, for medicinal & ceremonial purposes & traded it to their neighbors to the west. Later residents enjoyed yaupon tea as a replacement for Asian tea & coffee, especially during the Revolutionary & Civil Wars when these were hard to obtain Many Ocracoke old-timers remember their parents & grandparents drinking it.

"Yaupon is rich in antioxidants, and it is the only native North American plant containing caffeine. It is claimed to be a tonic, an aphrodisiac, & a cure for hangovers.

"To prepare, crumble a spoonful of leaves in a teaball & steep in very hot water. To make 4 cups, add a half cup of leaves to 5 cups water & boil. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon or a sprig of mint. Serve plain, with milk, or with honey & lemon."



















Jared Lloyd's article ends on this note: "Today, modern science has begun to focus on yaupon holly as another possible weapon in the fight against cancer. Thus far, yaupon holly has proven itself to be packed full of antioxidants, beneficial polyphenols and anti-inflammatory properties that show promising results against colon cancer."

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/.  

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Soft Shell Crabs

Soft shell crabs are a delicacy enjoyed by many folks along the North Carolina coast, although they may seem unappetizing to those not familiar with this culinary delight.













Soft-shell crabs have recently molted, leaving their old exoskeleton behind. Crabs must be removed from the water as soon as they molt or a new hard shell will develop within hours. When crabs are soft, almost the entire animal, less the mouth parts, gills and abdomen, can be eaten. Cooks usually deep fry or sauté soft shell crabs.

Nowadays, commercial fishermen typically catch blue crabs, then hold them in saltwater tanks if they want soft shells. As soon as the crabs molt, they are removed from the water, which stops a new hard shell from forming.

Ellen Marie Cloud, in her book, Portsmouth the Way it Was, recounts a 1963 interview with Miss Mattie Gilgo (1885-1976) by her grandson, Julian Gilgo. While discussing the several salt water ditches in Portsmouth village, Julian remarks, "There's been a many a soft crab caught in them ditches, ain't they? On high tide they come up them ditches. I caught a many one with a rake, myself."

If you've never tasted soft shell crab, be sure to order some the next time you see them on a menu!

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, June 13, 2018

Megalops cyprinoides

Megalops cyprinoides is a medium-sized tarpon, also known as the Indo-Pacific tarpon or simply herring.  Although widely distributed, as expected, their range is generally in the Indo-Pacific Oceans, including the waters of Australia, Japan, and North Africa.

However, Henry Fowler's 1945 book about fish found in waters from Maryland to Texas, Study of the Fishes of the Southern Piedmont and Coastal Plain, documents four of these fish found by Ocracoke resident Wallace Springer "in beach pool formed by storm September 15-16, 1933."

Indo Pacific Tarpon (United States public domain tag)











The fish were small, between 52 and 87 mm ( 2" - 3.5") long. Even accounting for the hurricane, I wonder how these fish ended up in the North Atlantic Ocean. You never know what might turn up on our beaches!

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/.