Friday, February 23, 2018


On Tuesday, February 13, 2018, I wrote, "[I]n 1840 more than 1400 sailing ships were recorded as having passed through Ocracoke Inlet." A reader left this comment: "With all those ships making ports of call somebody-- slaves? had to unload them, right?"

Although there was a slave population on Ocracoke (Federal Census records for Ocracoke show that the island’s slave population hovered between 16 and 156 individuals from 1790 to 1860), most of the loading and unloading of ships took place on Shell Castle, a small shell island between Ocracoke and Portsmouth. Shell Castle was developed by entrepreneurs John Blount (he owned 74 slaves) and John Wallace in 1789. In 1810, 22 slaves were living on Shell Castle Island. They worked as clerks, stevedores, laborers, sailors, fishermen, and domestics.

You can read more about slavery on Ocracoke here:

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter, a newspaper article published in 1923 titled "Quaintest Town in America," provides a fascinating glimpse of Ocracoke Island life a century ago. You can read it here: .


  1. Anonymous9:01 PM

    Thank you for that interesting story about slavery on Ocracoke and especially for the very moving story of Muzel who, in her old age, was taken care of by a man whom she took care of when he was a boy.

  2. Anonymous1:42 PM

    I'll tell you what is interesting...this info was googled at 1:38pm, Feb 24, 2018. here is the link.

    40 million slaves in the world, finds new report - CNN
    (CNN) More than 40 million people were estimated to be victims of modern slavery in 2016 -- and one in four of those were children.....THAT'S INTERESTING. The USA TOOK IT UPON ITSELF TO BAN SLAVERY OVER 150 YEARS AGO BUT NEVER SEEMS TO GET CREDIT FOR IT. THANK YOU USA!

  3. Anonymous8:01 AM

    Philip, if you know, please tell us how we can donate money to the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Dept
    Thank you

    1. I have not seen a way to make on-line donations to the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department. I always just write a check and mail it. Here is the address:

      822 Irvin Garrish Hwy.
      PO Box 332
      Ocracoke, NC 27960



  4. Anonymous6:21 PM

    Thank you for addressing our question. Your info was helpful...(as always!)


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