Thursday, February 15, 2018

Life Saving

For the last several days I have been writing about island occupations (inlet pilots, mariners, and fishermen). Another prominent occupation for Ocracoke men was surfman in the United States Life-Saving Service.

The Life-Saving Service was officially established in 1871. As a section of the Department of Treasury the USLSS exclusively targeted the systematic rescue of shipwreck victims. The first establishment of the Life-Saving Service occurred in North Carolina in 1874 when seven stations were built on the northern barrier islands.

The first station was built on Ocracoke Island, near Hatteras Inlet, in 1883. Capt. James Howard was the keeper.

Hatteras Inlet USLSS, Ocracoke












The original crew consisted of six surfmen who took turns scanning the ocean from the station's cupola during daylight hours, and patrolling the beach on foot during the night. Eventually, because of the great distance on Ocracoke, surfmen were permitted to patrol on horseback.

Earl O'Neal lists the following surfmen who were serving in 1900 (for more information see http://www.ncgenweb.us/hyde/LIFESAVE.HTM):

  • George Lafayette Fulcher, Jr.- B. 04-19-1844 D. 09-30-1908 
  • George Lafayette Fulcher III - B. 1871 D. Unknown 
  • Robert W. Gaskill - B. 12-14-1846 D. 11-09-1918 
  • James Wheeler Howard Sr. - B. 12-04-1874 D. 11-02-1940 
  • Charlie S. McWilliams - B. 1871 D. Unknown (He became Portsmouth Island Station Keeper on October 8, 1903.) 
  • George W. Simpson Sr. - B. 12-08-1842 D. 07-25-1912 James Hatton Wahab - B. 01-31-1861 D. 08-08-1913 David Williams - B. 03-27-1858 D. 04-05-1938
In 1904 a second Life-Saving Station was built in Ocracoke village. Capt. David Williams was keeper. 

Over the years, the brave men of the Ocracoke Life-Saving Service saved the lives of many seafarers, sometimes in dramatic and life-threatening conditions. To read more click here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/lifesaving-ocracoke-island/.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about Old Christmas in Rodanthe. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/old-christmas-rodanthe/.   

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous9:09 AM

    With all these ship wrecks and saved passengers and or sailors what happened to the cargo. Who on the island benefited the most when it came to salvage rights. That is the part I find interesting, stuff washing on shore. is it up for grabs because the insurance company pays for the loss and there it is and a free for all ensues??? If it washes on shore it is not theft to remove something that does not belong to the person removing the items??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the question. Look for an answer on our upcoming post for Monday, February 26, 2018.

      Delete
  2. Anonymous11:56 AM

    How about lighthouse keepers...is there a list of names?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will post a list of lighthouse keepers sometime in the next 10-14 days.

      Delete

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