Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Blackbeard's Treasure

For 300 years various tales have been told of Blackbeard's treasure, supposedly buried on an eastern North Carolina farm, in a riverbed, or under a stately oak tree. Here is one from F. Roy Johnson's 1962 book, Legends and Myths of North Carolina's Roanoke-Chowan Area:

"D. R. McGlohon of Winton [NC] quotes an old colored man of Edenton as relating a representative Blackbeard treasure tale soon after 1900. His master, who operated a farm and fishery, told him one Saturday afternoon, 'Go hitch up the cart and take it to the creek.' Later the two men pulled a heavy iron box from a spot in the creek the master selected. 'This is Blackbeard's treasure,' he remarked enroute to his warehouse. The Negro never saw the chest again; but after that his master was a wealthy man."

Another popular tale about Blackbeard's treasure (he is reputed to have said that his treasure was hidden "where none but Satan and myself can find it") is that it is buried in the Oak Island (Nova Scotia) Money Pit.

Excavations at Oak Island, 1931

 I, for one, believe Blackbeard never buried any treasure (after all, most of his ill-gotten booty was sugar, cotton, or other trade goods...even slaves; not gold and silver). He and his crew were surely living in the moment. No doubt they sold their stolen goods quickly, then spent the money on rum, women, and other luxuries.  Only the lucky few (William Howard comes to mind!) were granted pardons, then went on to live long, and sometimes productive, lives.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Howard's Pub. You can read it here:

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Howard's Pub

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the interesting, though sometimes confusing, story of Howard's Pub.

Painting by Kitty Martin Mitchell

Click here to go directly to our story of the beginning and evolution of Howard's Pub:

Monday, August 21, 2017


According to, "Between 1776 and 1918, 16 total solar eclipses crossed over what was or would eventually become U.S. soil."

The web site goes on to explain that, "[t]he total eclipse of June 24, 1778, was the first of its kind for the newly independent, but still at war, United States of America.

The North-Carolina Weekly Gazette in New Bern published this report on June 26, 1778 (transcription follows):

"Newbern, June 26. On Wednesday last, the great eclipse of the sun, as calculated by astronomers in the almanacks, and said to happen in this latitude, and be visible here, was observed with great attention, and some surprise to the ignorant, the weather being tolerably clear, and the moon’s passage over the sun’s disk, being distinctly seen during the whole iimmersion. This was the greatest eclipse of the sun ever seen here by the oldest people now living among us, and exhibited a scene truly awful. The gradual obscurity of the sun, the decrease of her light, the fickly face of nature, and at last the total darkness which ensued, the stars appearing as at midnight, and the fouls seeking for their nightly shelter, caused a solemnity truly great, and, tho’ proceeding from a natural cause, the moon’s passing between the sun and our earth, which she must necessarily do in certain periods in different latitudes, was beheld with astonishment and gratitude to the supreme RULER of the universe, by whose almighty power the motions of such vast bodies are regular and uniform, and the delightful system of the world kept intire and complete."

According to, "The eclipse first entered the continent in Spanish-, French-, and British-controlled land and then slid out into the Atlantic Ocean through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. New Bern, North Carolina, was close to the southern edge of the eclipse path...."

To see photos of the 2017 eclipse on Ocracoke, take a look at our Facebook page later today.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a contemporary account of the December 24, 1899 wreck of the Steamship Ariosto. You can read the Newsletter here:  

Friday, August 18, 2017


Washington (Washie) Spencer (1901-1988) was a native Ocracoke fisherman who loved his island home. His grandson, Vince O'Neal, owner of the Pony Island Restaurant, carries on the family tradition by working the water to supply fresh fish for local restaurants.

Vince is also a strong supporter of the Ocracoke Working Watermen's Association, and often provides fish cakes for events using an old family recipe. If you are not on the island for one of these events, you can still enjoy Ocracoke fish cakes. Just stop by the Fish House on Hwy 12, and pick up the main ingredient. Then follow Washie's recipe.

Washie Spencer’s recipe for Fishcakes:
  • 12 fillets of fish (fresh catch of the day) 
  • 3 eggs 
  • ½ cup flour 
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 6 cubed potatoes 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Fill a large pot with enough water to cover fish and potatoes. Bring fish and potatoes to a boil and cook until potatoes are soft. Drain and let cool. Add remaining ingredients to fish and potatoes in a large bowl and mix well. Hand pat into cakes and grill or fry to a golden brown.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a contemporary account of the December 24, 1899 wreck of the Steamship Ariosto. You can read the Newsletter here:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Fig Festival

Tomorrow, August 18, is the first day of this year's Annual Fig Festival. The Fig Festival celebrates Ocracoke's sweetest tradition: fig preserves and fig cakes!

This year's event begins on Friday afternoon/evening on the grounds at the Ocracoke Preservations Society Museum. Learn about Ocracoke fig trees and fig recipes, and vote for your favorite in the Fig Preserves contest. Join in a Traditional Ocracoke Square Dance to the tunes of Molasses Creek! 

Photo by Trudy Austin

On Saturday, the Fig Festival moves to the historic Community Square. Local vendors provide fresh figs, fig preserves, local cookbooks, fig-smoked BBQ, and other fig-tastic items. Bring the kids for crafts and games, and enjoy live music throughout the day until the main event -- the Fig Cake Bake-Off with free samples for everyone.

The fun continues with a dance party in Community Square. We hope to see you there!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a contemporary account of the December 24, 1899 wreck of the Steamship Ariosto. You can read the Newsletter here:  

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

MTS Trail

On Saturday September 9, 2017 people all across the state of North Carolina will be hiking and paddling different segments of the North Carolina  Mountain To Sea Trail.

The Outer Banks Region of the trail covers 81 miles, has 20 different segments, starts/ends at Jockeys Ridge State Park and Silver Lake Ferry Dock in Ocracoke. The MST in a Day event commemorates a speech on September 9, 1977 by Howard Lee, then the NC Secretary of Natural Resources and Community Development. He told a National Trails Symposium in Waynesville that North Carolina should create a “state trail from the mountains to the coast, leading through communities as well as natural areas.”

Catherine Peele, Segment Leader for the Mountain To Sea Trail In A Day event for the Outer Banks Region, remarked that "We are pushing to get the entire trail covered in one single day which is the 40th Anniversary of the trail!"

Photo by Paul Travis

There are a total of 1,175 miles of the trail divided into various short legs. Legs average 3-5 miles, which means that just about anybody, of any age, can hike, & can find a suitable leg (dirt trail, road, greenway, beach, flat or steep.)

If you will be on the island Saturday, September 9, please consider hiking one of the three legs of the trail on Ocracoke Island (one is 4.5 miles long; one 3.2; and one 6.6).  Of course, many other segments of the trail are available to hike. To register to hike, and for more information, please visit the MTS web site.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a contemporary account of the December 24, 1899 wreck of the Steamship Ariosto. You can read the Newsletter here:  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

One of Ocracoke's Iron Men

John T. Parris, Jr. penned the following obituary at the death of Ocracoke islander, Capt. Tom Gaskins, in 1947:

"Ocracoke Sees the Passing of One of its Iron Men as Capt. Tom Gaskins Departs.

"Captain Tom Gaskins sailed today [July 5, 1947] for the Islands of the Blessed and tonight the ghost skippers of the Seven Seas gathered to welcome him into their celestial harbor.

"The long shore-leave that his age has imposed on him came to an end at noon when his heart stopped beating and he crumpled to the ground of the oak-shaded yard of his home where he had lived alone for a dozen years or more.

"Only an hour before, the 93-year-old one-time skipper of schooners and clipper ships had been sitting down on the quay spinning yarns of a bygone era when sailing vessels with two and three raking masts, their topgallant and royal sails furled, stood in the roadstead off Ocracoke....

"Born on Ocracoke island, Dec. 19, 1854, Captain Tom took to the sea when he had barely reached his 'teens.

"For almost 40 years he sailed up and down the Atlantic Coast.... The two ships of his life were the Annie Wahab and the Paragon, both two-masted schooners....

"So perhaps he has found the Annie Wahab up there in the Island of the Blessed and is sitting around signing on a crew to take her out of that stormless sea where he can let her canvass billow full and white."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a contemporary account of the December 24, 1899 wreck of the Steamship Ariosto. You can read the Newsletter here: