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: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/slavery-on-ocracoke/.
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: