Friday, February 09, 2018

Capt. Joseph Burrus

Yesterday I wrote about the big freeze of 1917-1918, and Capt. Joseph Burrus. Capt. Burrus, a prominent island resident, died in 1951. This obituary ran in the Coastland Times:

Capt. Joseph Burrus

Ocracoke – Capt. Joseph Merritt Burrus, veteran lighthouse keeper, age 76, died Tuesday [July 17, 1951] at his home here. Funeral service was held Friday morning with Rev. W. Y. Stewart officiating and with the local Coast Guard as pall bearers.

Capt. Burrus was a native of Hatteras, son of a sea captain. He enlisted in the lighthouse service in his early twenties and served forty-five years in North Carolina or Virginia lighthouses, among them Tangier Island, Thimble Shoals, Cape Lookout, Croatan, Oliver’s Reef, Bluff Shoals, and Ocracoke He was well known to everyone during the last sixteen years of his service at the historic Ocracoke lighthouse, retiring from duty here in 1947.

He is survived by his wife, Elanor Oden Burrus, one son, Oscar Burrus of Norfolk, six daughters, Mrs. C. L. Thorpe of Hawthorne, California, Mrs. Victor Grigas of Worcester, Mass., Mrs. Raymond Beasley of Portsmouth, Va., Mrs. Monford Garrish, Mrs. Sybil Simpson, Mrs. Herman Spencer, all of Ocracoke, and fourteen grandchildren.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about Old Christmas in Rodanthe. You can read it here:  


  1. That picture. It's a great photo. It makes you wonder what he was thinking...

  2. Did he build Oscar's House?

    1. Tom, "Oscar's House" was built in 1940 as a retirement home for Capt. Joe and Miss El Burrus by Thad and Charlie Scarborough.