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/.