Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Ocracoke Village to Hatteras Inlet, 1949

In 2009 I published as one of our monthly newsletters "A LETTER CONCERNING A VISIT TO OCRACOKE" By C.A. Weslager. The letter was written July 31, 1949 from Wilmington, Delaware.

This is what Weslager wrote about his trip from Ocracoke village to Hatteras Inlet:

"The island is covered with heavy sand and only jeeps can navigate. Several natives have them and provide taxi service to visitors. We hired one driver to take us to Hatteras Inlet at the north point of the island. We went when the tide was right so that we could sweep up the beach as each wave washed in and out. The idea is to get the jeep wheels on the sand that the water has just laved — otherwise one either sinks, or slides, and the minute that happens a wave rolls over you and the jeep is carried away. It was a thrilling and dangerous ride. One must also travel fast in order to keep from sinking in the sand. There were four of us and the driver, and he was the only one who didn't seem frightened."













This month's Ocracoke Newsletter highlights several noteworthy staircases in historic island homes. To read the newsletter, and see photos, click here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092117.html.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Salt Water Apples

Native Outer Bankers have an impish sense of humor. I heard this story recently about one of the deckhands on the Hatteras Inlet ferries.

Some years ago the US Coast Guard was slow to mark a shoal that threatened to ground the ferries and other vessels. Local watermen and/or ferry personnel decided to mark the channel themselves. They cut several saplings and positioned them on the edge of the shoal to warn mariners.

On one crossing a ferry passenger noticed the saplings, stopped the deckhand, and pointed to them.

“What kind of trees are those growing out in the water?” he inquired.

“Why those are apple trees,” the deckhand answered. “But they’re not the kind of apple trees you are familiar with. These are salt water apple trees. The apples taste great, but they are a little salty. We pick them in the late summer and early fall.”













The passenger seemed satisfied with this answer, and vowed to return in September to taste those delicious salt water apples.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter highlights several noteworthy staircases in historic island homes. To read the newsletter, and see photos, click here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092117.html.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Farewell

Any death in a small community affects many people. Recently two well-known and respected native islanders died.  

Last week Thomas Midgett, a Vietnam veteran who retired from the NC Ferry Division and later worked for the National Park Service, died at his home on Ocracoke. Thomas was friendly and well liked by native islanders, newcomers, and visitors alike. He was known as one of the island's foremost gardeners. Thomas was 67 years old. You can read his obituary here

On October 7 Jule Garrish, 94, died at his home in Beaufort, NC, where he lived with his wife Rosemary. Jule's first wife, Etta Mae Howard, died a number of years ago. Jule was a US Navy veteran and was retired from the US Coast Guard and the NC Department of Transportation. Many of our readers will remember Jule as a featured performer at the Ocracoke Opry in Deepwater Theater. His signature song was "Governor Edward Hyde," a tribute to the Swan Quarter ferry. Audiences loved it when Jule paused to speak into the soundhole of his guitar. "This is your captain speaking...."
You can read Jule's obituary here. Jule is buried in the Howard graveyard across the lane from Village Craftsmen.
 
This month's Ocracoke Newsletter highlights several noteworthy staircases in historic island homes. To read the newsletter, and see photos, click here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092117.html.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

False Lights

Two years ago I wrote about the Outer Banks village of Nags Head. Legend has it that Nags Head obtained its name from the activity of "wreckers" (unscrupulous bankers who would lure sailing vessels close to shore by tying lanterns around horses' heads or necks, thus suggesting a safe anchorage; when the ship wrecked it would be plundered). (see https://villagecraftsmen.blogspot.com/2016/11/nags-head.html)

According to Wikipedia: "[John Viele, retired U. S. Navy officer] points out that mariners interpret a light as indicating land, and so avoid them if they cannot identify them. Moreover, oil lanterns cannot be seen very far over water at night, unless they are large, fitted with mirrors or lenses, and mounted at a great height (i.e., in a lighthouse). In hundreds of admiralty court cases heard in Key West, Florida, no captain of a wrecked ship ever charged that he had been led astray by a false light."
  
Nevertheless, in 1825 Congress approved an act stipulating that "if any person or persons shall hold out or show a false light or lights, or extinguish any true light, with intention to bring any ship or vessel, boat or raft, being or sailing upon the sea, into danger or distress, or shipwreck, every person so offending, his or her counsellors, aiders, and abettors, shall be deemed guilty of felony, and shall, on conviction thereof, be punished by fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, and imprisonment and confinement to hard labor not exceeding ten years, according to the aggravation of the offense."

Perhaps there is some truth to the legend!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter highlights several noteworthy staircases in historic island homes. To read the newsletter, and see photos, click here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092117.html.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Big Ike

In 1939 W. O. Saunders from Elizabeth City, N. C., interviewed Ocracoke native Isaac (Big Ike) O"Neal (1865-1954). Big Ike was 74 years old at the time of the interview, which was conducted in his home on the island. Saunders describes Big Ike as "A mighty man he has been in his day, measuring six feet two in his stocking feet and tipping the scales at 240 pounds. At the age of 74 he is still a robust enough man, to all outward appearances, and his speech is punctuated with an infectious laugh and a flashing of good white teeth."

Big Ike begins his interview with these comments:

"Life was hard when I was a boy. There wasn't but one other family on this island that had a harder life than ours. My father fell through the hatch of a ship when I was a little boy and was crippled for life. He couldn't do any hard work after that.

"But we always had somethin' to eat; fish and clams and oysters and crabs. Never had much flour bread; if we had flour bread once a week we did mighty well. Corn bread was our bread.

"We had two wind mills on the island that ground corn. When there was no wind the mills didn't turn. I remember we once had a calm for twenty one days. But most families had their hand stones to fall back on at such times. It took a half hour to grind enough corn for breakfast with those old hand stones.

"No, we didn't grow corn on the island; we got our corn from the mainland; took salt fish, oysters and clams to the mainland and traded for corn and molasses.

"We didn't know what white sugar was; and never saw much of the brown sugar that was used in those days. Coffee? The only coffee we had was parched chestnuts which we boiled and made what we called coffee. Sweetened it with molasses. Most often we drank yaupon tea; just step out your back door and gather your tea leaves. Yaupon still grows wild on the island, but most folks now-a-days hold themselves above drinkin' tea made out of it."

Look for more excerpts from this interview in future posts.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter highlights several noteworthy staircases in historic island homes. To read the newsletter, and see photos, click here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092117.html.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Mary Ann's Pond

At one time there were three "ponds" in Ocracoke village. The largest, Silver Lake, is not a lake, and neither is it a pond, although some early maps list it simply as the "Pond." It is actually a wide, naturally shallow tidal creek. Old time islanders still call it by one of its early names, Cockle Creek.

1837 Map of Ocracoke Village



















Northern Pond is not a pond either. It is a cove located just north of the village. This Google image shows it clearly.











Finally, there is Mary Ann's Pond...or more accurately, there was Mary Ann's Pond. It was located just west of Northern Pond (and is still listed on the Google Map above), but Mary Ann's Pond is gone. It was filled in by the Navy during WWII. This "pond" was named after Mary Ann Styron (born ca. 1795) who lived on the shore of the pond with her husband Francis Williams.

You can read more about Mary Ann's Pond here: https://ocracokeobserver.com/2016/08/31/where-did-mary-anns-pond-go/.


This month's Ocracoke Newsletter highlights several noteworthy staircases in historic island homes. To read the newsletter, and see photos, click here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092117.html.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Nautical Chart

Last week a reader commented on our post about the spuds visible near the Cedar Island/Swan Quarter ferry channel, and asked if the spuds could be located on the map I reproduced on our post about Ocracoke Inlet.














The map mentioned above is simply a boater's guide to North Carolina coastal waters, not a navigation chart, so the spuds are not referenced. However, you can view a NOAA navigation chart here: http://www.charts.noaa.gov/OnLineViewer/11548.shtml. To see where the spuds are located (at 35° 9" 25" N, 76° 0' 7"W) you might want to zoom in, and then look NNW of Ocracoke Village. You will see this symbol that marks the spot where the dredge Lehigh rests:





This month's Ocracoke Newsletter highlights several noteworthy staircases in historic island homes. To read the newsletter, and see photos, click here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092117.html.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Spuds

Five years ago I published a post about these metal "piles" that the Swan Quarter and Cedar Island ferries pass as they enter Big Foot Slough Channel, just a few miles northwest of the village.











In case you missed that post, these piles are called spuds. They are part of a sunken dredge (the Lehigh) which sank in 1942. Spuds are used to pinion a dredge to the bottom while working. Native islander Benjamin Early Spencer was captain of the Lehigh, and a couple of other Ocracokers were working on the dredge along with about nine other men.

The Lehigh was approaching Ocracoke to dredge the harbor in preparation for bringing vessels to the docks at the WWII naval base. The Navy's mission was to thwart German U-boat activity off shore.

Strong winds produced huge waves that swamped the dredge, and she quickly sank. Navy personnel at the newly established base rescued the captain and crew.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter highlights several noteworthy staircases in historic island homes. To read the newsletter, and see photos, click here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092117.html.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Island Inn

The Island Inn, one of Ocracoke Island's iconic hotels, is for sale. Built in 1901 as a school house and Odd Fellows Lodge, it was later used as a residence, a WWII officers quarters, a coffee shop, and, most recently, a hotel.  The southwest wing was added immediately after the war; the northeast wing, in the 1950s. For many years the Inn included a popular restaurant.











Unfortunately, the building has not been well maintained, and is presently in a state of disrepair, and in need of renovation. A number of concerned island individuals and preservation organizations would like to see the Inn (or at least the historic central section) restored, but the money necessary is not available. The future of the Inn is unclear.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to listen to Chester Lynn share stories about the Island Inn. In the 1980s Chester was manager of the restaurant. He showed me this note left by one of his patrons. It is stained and yellowed, but Chester has kept it all these years.













The note reads,

ODE to AN Island Inn. 10/24/87, Sat night.

Tender was the fish
Dry was the wine
What a charming place to Dine
The waiter was warm
The beer was lite
and when we left
We felt just right.

Thank you!
Steve

And now its time
for us to leave
So we bid "Adieu" to our waiter Steve

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter highlights several noteworthy staircases in historic island homes. To read the newsletter, and see photos, click here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092117.html.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Jeep Seat

Here is a quintessential island story from Ann Ehringhaus' book Ten thousand Breakfasts, A Tale of Wonder, pp 121-122:

"One summer the passenger seat on my old jeep finally collapsed. It was rusted, broken, and had to be taken to the dump. People had been teasing me for awhile about taking folks for rides, saying they all needed a massage afterwards. Since I'm a bodyworker, among other professions, this sure looked like a sneaky way to get business! But this is a story about synchronicity and recycling.

"An old friend of mine, an engineer, was visiting the island and saw my jeep with no passenger seat at Oscar's House.

Ann on Beach with her Jeep













 "Later when he and his son were kayaking in Pamlico sound, my friend Phill spotted a floating Adirondack chair, at least part of one. To him it looked like just the part my jeep needed. His son was confused. He couldn't really see how the broken chair part would work, plus he thought the old jeep was already strange. He called me 'lady with the car with no doors.' At dad's insistence, they lashed the chair part to their kayak and paddled it to shore.

"I loved the wonder on the son's face when dad inserted the old chair part into the jeep's empty front seat. Wow! Perfect fit! He really couldn't believe my delight, but of course he hasn't lived for decades on a small barrier island with only a few stores. The salvaging of a working part, and that becoming the surprise solution to my jeep's seating, were cause for great celebration! With a wave and a bit of lingering confusion, the boy and his dad rode off on their bikes. An unusual job well done!"

Click here to read more about Ann's Bed and Breakfast, Oscar's House.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter highlights several noteworthy staircases in historic island homes. To read the newsletter, and see photos, click here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092117.html.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Ocracoke Inlet

A few days ago a reader left this comment and question on our blog: "[I]t seems pretty amazing that Ocracoke Inlet has been opened as far back as we can record... Inlets act more like what you describe for Hatteras inlet; moving, opening, closing, shifting. I wonder if there's a theory about why OI inlet has stayed open as far back as records are kept...?"

The following should help explain why Ocracoke Inlet is unique...from THE NORTH CAROLINA OUTER BANKS BARRIER ISLANDS: A FIELD TRIP GUIDE TO THE GEOLOGY, GEOMORPHOLOGY, AND PROCESSES  (http://core.ecu.edu/geology/mallinsond/IGCP_NC_Field_Trip_Guide_rev1.pdf).

"Oracoke Island is situated on an interstream divide between Pamlico Creek (the riverine system occurring beneath Pamlico Sound during the Last Glacial Maximum) and offshore paleo-watersheds. The Pamlico Creek valley extends beneath Ocracoke Inlet (Fig. 6b*), making this inlet the most stable and long-lived in the Outer Banks system. Ocracoke Inlet is the only inlet that has remained open throughout historic times (i.e., since 1590 – the first map of the Outer Banks)."

*The caption below figure 6b in the report reads, in part, "A map showing the topography of southern Pamlico Sound and the Ocracoke Inlet area as it appeared during the last glacial maximum approximately 20,000 years ago when this area was dry land (based upon seismic data; Mallinson et al., in review). Ancient river channels (blue) were mapped beneath the modern southern Pamlico Sound and the inner continental shelf. Note that Ocracoke Inlet occurs where Pamlico Creek passes beneath the modern barrier island trend, and Ocracoke Island occurs on an interstream divide." (Click on the link above to read the entire guide, and to view figure 6b.)

Today outflow from the mouth of the Pamlico River (not to be confused with Pamlico Creek, a paleo-creek referenced above) continues to help keep Ocracoke Inlet open.

Below is a detail from The 2011-2012 Coastal Boating Guide published by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. You can see the mouth of the  Pamlico River in the upper left corner of the map. About 25 miles to the southeast is Ocracoke Inlet.












This month's Ocracoke Newsletter highlights several noteworthy staircases in historic island homes. To read the newsletter, and see photos, click here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092117.html.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Ocracock Bar

In March of 1801 Ocracock (Ocracoke) Inlet and Beacon Island (a small island between Ocracoke and Portsmouth Island) came to the attention of President Thomas Jefferson.

In a letter to the newly elected President,  Richard Dobbs Spaight (1758–1802) of New Bern (he was a member of the Continental Congress from 1783 to 1785, a delegate to the federal Constitutional Convention in 1787, governor of North Carolina from 1792 to 1795, and interim congressman until March 3, 1801), advocated for the completion of a fort on Beacon Island.

He informs the President that "there is no place on earth where smuggling can be carried on with more advantage, & with less probability of Detection" than through Ocracoke Inlet.

Spaight reminds Jefferson that "All the trade of No. Carolina except what is carried on at Wilmington, and a little at Beaufort & Swannsborough, passes over Ocracock bar: and the fort at Beacon Island command both Harbours, or, roads, where the shipping bound either in, or out come too in order to lighten, to enable them to pass the swash. It likewise commands both the passages that lead from the harbours or roads, up into the Country."

You can read the entire letter here

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter highlights several noteworthy staircases in historic island homes. To read the newsletter, and see photos, click here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092117.html.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Cousin Elsie's

Two days ago a reader asked this question about the building behind the Slushy Stand: "how long has that been there and what is it?"

Here is a photo of the building in question (in the center of the picture), taken sometime in the early 1950s:

Courtesy OPS, Mary Ruth Dickson Collection














The reader went on to comment that newer buildings and other structures have crowded out many views around the harbor. This area is a prime example. This photo was taken from the edge of Silver Lake, on the corner where Ride the Wind stores its kayaks. The road on the left (NC12 South) leads past the Community Square to the Swan Quarter and Cedar Island ferries. Proceeding around the corner on the right (NC 12 North) the road passes Spencer's Market on the way to Hatteras Inlet. 

The large area of green in front of the house in the center is where the Slushy Stand is today. To the right, around the corner on NC12, is the location of the Island Ragpicker. 

The house in question (with two dormers) was the home of Murray Tolson and his wife Elsie. Elsie, my father's first cousin, was the daughter of Rev. Lawrence Olin Wyche and Lorena Howard (and granddaughter of Capt. James W. Howard, keeper of the Cedar Hammock Life Saving Station). Elsie was also the sister of Major General Ira Thomas Wyche (you can read his story here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092110.htm). 

After Cousin Elsie died the house was sold. For a while it was used as a bed and breakfast. At one time it was connected to the Island Ragpicker. Today it is a year-round rental house, accessible via a sandy driveway from Lawton Lane.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter highlights several noteworthy staircases in historic island homes. To read the newsletter, and see photos, click here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092117.html.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Evacuation Lifted

Hyde County, NC

Press Release: September 28, 2017 10:30am

Donnie Shumate 
Public Information Officer
dshumate@hydecountync.gov
(252) 542-0842

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Ocracoke Island Visitor Evacuation Order Lifted

The state of emergency for all of Hyde County and mandatory visitor evacuation of Ocracoke Island has been lifted. This morning NCDOT officials confirmed that road conditions were acceptable for travel and the NCDOT Ferry Division operated a successful test run. Based on that information, the Ocracoke Deputy Control Group recommended that the visitor evacuation order be canceled. The Hyde County Board of Commissioners immediately called for a vote and issued a proclamation lifting the state of emergency and visitor evacuation order. The Cedar Island and Swan Quarter ferry routes will resume scheduled service immediately, while the Hatteras route will resume service at 1 pm, when Hatteras Island reopens to visitors. Visitors coming via Hatteras will not be allowed past the Bonner Bridge checkpoint until Dare County's evacuation order is lifted at 1 pm.

Visitors returning to Ocracoke should be aware that there will be some areas of standing water on the roadways and drive very cautiously. Additionally, saltwater can cause damage to vehicles. The threat of dangerous surf and strong rip currents is very high along the beaches of Outer Banks and they are expected to persist throughout the weekend. Individuals visiting the beaches of Ocracoke need to be aware that National Park Service lifeguard services have ended for the season and be extremely careful if you are planning on entering the water.

If caught in a rip current remain calm. Don't fight the current. Swim in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim back to shore. If tired, float or tread water until out of the rip current. If you are unable to escape, face the shore and call or wave for help.

Shore break occurs when waves break directly on the beach. The most common injuries associated with strong shore break are neck and back injuries, which most often occur when the powerful surf throws a swimmer or surfer head first into the bottom. It is extremely important to protect your head and neck whenever you are in breaking waves by keeping your hands in front of you at all times.

Walking to Hatteras

Hurricane Maria's winds and tides are moving out to sea. Today's post is about another storm, the 1846 hurricane that opened Hatteras and Oregon Inlets.

All of the inlets along the Outer Banks are periodically changing...all but one, that is. Ocracoke Inlet has been continuously open since Europeans began keeping records.

Before 1764 Ocracoke and Hatteras islands were separated by Old Hatteras Inlet, about 8 miles northeast of Ocracoke village (about 2 miles northeast of the pony pen).

Old Hatteras Inlet closed in 1764, thereby joining Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, making it possible to travel by foot or pony cart between the settlements. On September 7, 1846, a violent hurricane opened the present Hatteras Inlet, again separating Ocracoke and Hatteras. This almost doubled the length of Ocracoke, which is today about 16 miles long.

Local island lore reports that in 1846 Caroline Williams Howard walked from Hatteras to Ocracoke "on dry foot." She was carrying her stepson Robert (1845-1878), and is believed to be the last person to walk across what is now Hatteras Inlet.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter highlights several noteworthy staircases in historic island homes. To read the newsletter, and see photos, click here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092117.html.



Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Blue Skies

Blue skies over Lawton Lane this morning!


















A lifting of the evacuation order can't be too far behind!

Maria Update

Although the tide came up over the roads in several places in the village yesterday, we were spared at Village Craftsmen on Howard Street.

At the Slushy Stand/Ride the Wind Corner
















It is still cloudy and windy this morning, but we are looking forward to sunny weather tomorrow.

You can see more photos and a video on our Facebook page.

A reader posted this question yesterday, "I am not up on computers that much but why is it easier to post things on facebook than on here?? I went on face book once and I was bombarded by ads and junk for weeks. I rather read your posts here-it seems safer."

In the early days of this blog I did my best to keep our readers informed of conditions before, during, and after hurricanes and storms.  It was often the best source of information for folks off the island. Several years ago it became apparent that Facebook was a better source for up-to-date storm news. The reason for this is networking. I could only post photos I had taken in my neighborhood. To get a broader perspective I had to wade all over the village...and that was often impossible during the storm, and difficult afterwards. With Facebook we can share photos and videos posted by dozens of friends and neighbors.

Our readers may have noticed that I (Philip) write this blog, and my daughter (Amy) posts on Facebook. Our blog continues to be a source for short articles about island history, culture, and traditions. We share longer articles and stories in our monthly newsletter. The Village Craftsmen Facebook page is your best source for up-to-date and more comprehensive news, especially about storms and hurricanes. We hope you will follow them all.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter highlights several noteworthy staircases in historic island homes. To read the newsletter, and see photos, click here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092117.html.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tuesday Afternoon

Karen Lovejoy just shared these two photos of roads near Silver Lake. The tide is coming in, but still not very windy. No tide yet on Lawton Lane, or in front of Village Craftsmen on Howard Street.



















See more photos on our Facebook page.

"High" Ground

It started to rain a few minutes ago, and there is a bit of a breeze (probably 20-25 mph), but I haven't seen any rising water in my neighborhood. Cars are parked on higher ground "just in case."




No New Signs

Amy posted this sentence and photo on our Facebook page about 5 pm yesterday:

I'm hoping we don't have to add any new signs to this!      



















It is easiest to post up-to-date storm news on our Facebook page, so check there periodically for the latest information. But we will continue to post here on our blog also, just not as frequently.

Hurricane Maria is not forecast to make a direct hit on the Outer Banks, but islanders are preparing nevertheless. We are expecting tropical storm force winds and higher than normal tides. Cars are already parked on every bit of higher turf. We have been fooled too many times in recent years.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter highlights several noteworthy staircases in historic island homes. To read the newsletter, and see photos, click here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092117.html.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Tide

I took this photo about 3:30 this afternoon at the airport ramp. The tide was ebbing!


Evacuation

As of 5 am this morning Ocracoke is under a mandatory evacuation order for visitors because of approaching hurricane Maria which is expected to brush the Outer Banks with tropical storm force winds, heavy surf, some coastal flooding, and rip currents.

More information is available on our Facebook page.

Also look for more posts later today and in the next few days.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Springer's Point Cistern

The following 1733 map shows Ocacock Inlet and Ocacock Island. If you look carefully just above the "k" of "Ocacock Island" you will notice the word "well." Although wind and tide have reshaped Ocracoke Island over the intervening years, various people have speculated that this well was located in the vicinity of present day Springer's Point.



















As it turns out the brick structure pictured below, now fitted with a heavy wooden cover, can be found at Springr's Point. Some people have theorized that this is the exact location of the old well.













Although I have never probed the depths of the structure, I always assumed it was an enclosed tank, or drinking water cistern, with a solid bottom, not a well.

The following document, a series of dates and notes (from 1878 to 1900) jotted down on the back of an envelope by E. D. Springer, should settle the matter.



















Although it is difficult to make out from the photo, a notation entered after July 8, 1899, clearly reads "built cistern."

So, the brick structure at Springer's Point is a water cistern. But where was the well? We will probably never know for sure, but it may have been located on Springer's Point as well.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter highlights several noteworthy staircases in historic island homes. To read the newsletter, and see photos, click here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092117.html.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Stairsteps

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a look at several noteworthy stairways in historic island homes.


















You can read the Newsletter, and see more photos, here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092117.htm.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Pearls

When talking of pearls most people think of oysters. Of course, any shelled mollusk can produce natural pearls, but they are not common, at least not in clams. Nevertheless, diners occasionally discover pearls in Pamlico Sound clams. These five pearls were found over several decades by one islander:



















I did not measure the pearls when I took the photo, but I am guessing the largest one was close to one centimeter in diameter.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Howard's Pub. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082117.htm.     


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ocracoke's Fresnel Lens

Yesterday I wrote about Winslow Lewis' reflecting-illuminating lamps that were installed in the Ocracoke Lighthouse in 1823. These were used in spite of their inferiority to the Fresnel Lens which was invented in 1822 by French physicist Augustin Fresnel.

The Fresnel Lens was a technological leap in lighthouse lighting. With a precise arrangement of glass bull's-eyes and prisms the light was concentrated into parallel rays that produced a much brighter beam from a single light source.

1872 Diagram showing how a Fresnel Lens works



















In 1854 the Winslow Lamps in the Ocracoke Lighthouse were replaced with a fourth order Fresnel Lens.

Ocracoke's Fresnel Lens



















There are six orders of Fresnel Lenses, based on their size and focal length. First order lenses are the largest.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Howard's Pub. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082117.htm.    

Monday, September 18, 2017

Winslow Lewis

When the Ocracoke Lighthouse was built, in 1823, it was fitted with fifteen Argand lamps and an equal number of parabolic reflectors and glass magnifying lenses. This arrangement was the creation of Winslow Lewis, a New England sea captain, engineer, and inventor.

19th Century Drawing of a Lewis Lamp



















The drawing above shows the Argand Lamp in the center. The Argand Lamp (invented by Swiss-born physicist Aime Argand in 1782) used a circular wick placed between two thin concentric brass tubes, and enclosed within a glass chimney. To the right is the thin, silver-plated copper reflector. On the left is the lens. A reservoir to hold the oil is situated behind the reflector.

Unfortunately, Lewis' parabolic reflectors tended to warp, resulting in a spherical shape. And the lenses were quickly covered with soot, greatly reducing the luminosity. 

In 1849 ten lamps and twenty-one reflectors replaced the original apparatus. In was not until 1854 that a much more efficient  fourth order Fresnel Lamp replaced the original reflecting-illuminating lamps.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Howard's Pub. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082117.htm.    

Friday, September 15, 2017

Hatteras Jack

In his book, Legends of the Outer Banks, Charles Whedbee opens his chapter on a famous North Carolina dolphin (also called a porpoise on the Outer Banks), with these words: "For as many years as there have been deep water sailors, man has been fascinated by and strangely drawn to porpoises."

According to legend, in the late 18th century a remarkable albino dolphin  made it a point to greet sailing ships as they approached Hatteras Inlet. Captains soon discovered that the dolphin was poised to guide their ships through the inlet, making sure to navigate in the deeper channels and to avoid the sand bars that made the inlet so treacherous.


You can read a condensed version of the legend here: http://nclegends.weebly.com/hatteras-jack.html.

Also, a regular reader of this blog, Robb Foster, wrote the following poem about Hatteras Jack:

Hatteras Jack 

When chatting with other old briny blokes 
Folks, who rarely have sailed this way 
I sense their undeniable fear 
They dread the inlet that’s north of here 

I once, was one who held such dread 
Pled to Poseidon “Keep us us safe to the quay” 
Passing along this oft shoaling coast 
When safely home, we all offered a toast 

One day a dash of white was spied 
Eyed one single point in the low of a sway 
He danced in the water and was marking a path 
To save us all from the inlet’s wrath 

We mariners talk, and the word spread quite fast 
Last were the few who infrequent this caye 
 “Follow this dolphin, from the sea to the sound” 
“Jack knows the safest of routes to be found” 

Rare are the days, but I still find those folks 
Blokes still reluctant when anchor’s at weigh 
These days, I explain, we’ll be sure on our tack 
Now that Neptune protects us with Hatteras Jack

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Howard's Pub. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082117.htm.    

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Portsmouth

In April, 1753, a bill "appointing and laying out a Town on Core Banks, near Ocacock [Ocracoke] Inlet, in Carteret County" passed in the North Carolina colonial assembly.

"The town, Portsmouth Village, was established as a transfer and storage site for goods passing through Ocracoke Inlet. A fifty acre plot of land was divided into half acre lots. The town was named after Portsmouth, England."

Frances A. Eubanks Photo from
Friends of Portsmouth Island website

















The above two paragraphs come from a National Park Service web page documenting the history of Portsmouth Village. From artifacts indicating that the North Carolina coast was inhabited as early as 3,800 years ago, to the restoration of the Henry Pigott house in 2012, the web page documents the historic timeline of Portsmouth Village. 

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Howard's Pub. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082117.htm.  

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Last Supper

In March, 2016, I published a blog post about Frank Treat Fulcher, with a link to a 2011 Ocracoke Newsletter of his autobiography.

Frank Treat was a colorful Ocracoke native, and a preacher, storyteller, mandolin player, and folk artist. This carved last supper scene is displayed in the hallway in the rear of the Ocracoke Methodist Church:

The carving is worth noticing. If the current pastor is in his office I'm sure he would be happy for you to step inside and take a look.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Howard's Pub. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082117.htm.    

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Quawk Hammock

In the past I have written about Old Quawk's Day (you can read about that here). Old Quawk is remembered in the names of several places on Ocracoke Island, especially Quawk's Point (also known as Quokes Point, Quork's Point, and several other variations in spelling), and Quawk's Creek (the road sign, now gone, said Old Quoke's Creek if I am not mistaken). There is also Quawk Hammock.


Quawk Hammock












Although the irreverent Old Quawk may have actually existed...and been lost at sea on March 16 many years ago, there are other explanations for the name Quawk (or Quoke, etc.). This is what Roger Payne has writes in his book, Place Names of the Outer Banks:

"Actually the name is a derivation of the spelling of the word quaking. A low wet marsh or hummock (hammock) is sometime referred to as a quaking hammock or a quake hammock. some sources indicate that if the marsh contains certain species of grass whose spikelets make a rattling or quaking noise in the wind, it is known as a quaking hammock. A quaking or quake hammock may also have its origin from the Middle English term quaghe which eventually meant quag or quake and referred to wet low marshes. The term quaking bog is a common reference in fourteenth and fifteenth century England."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Howard's Pub. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082117.htm.   

Monday, September 11, 2017

Blue Anchor

The 1891 Annual Report of the United States Life-Saving Service includes this paragraph:

“The thanks of the Service are gratefully given to the Women’s National Relief Association for the liberal supplies of clothing, delicate food and restorative cordials that it has donated during the year for the relief of the shipwrecked. By this means the society supplements and assists the efforts of the Life-Saving Service in an effective manner. Like Florence Nightingale, in the Crimean war, and the Sanitary Commission in our own civil war, the ladies of this association step in to relieve, in their own peculiar way, the distressed and suffering and many storm-beaten mariner has blessed them for their kind gifts and timely assistance.”

Among many other mariners aided, were those of “the schooner Allie R. Chester at the Ocracoke Station, coast of North Carolina, on January 21, 1889.”












The Women's National Relief Association was also called the Blue Anchor Society.   You can read more here: http://northcarolinashipwrecks.blogspot.com/2012/06/womens-national-relief-association-blue.html.
 
This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Howard's Pub. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082117.htm.  

Friday, September 08, 2017

Millstones

In the past I have written about Outer Banks and Ocracoke Island windmills (http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012113.htm). One large millstone (along with an accompanying photo) is on display in the yard of the Preservation Museum.

Not long ago a neighbor directed me to these two smaller millstones in the yard of a descendant of one of the island's 19th century millers.












Fish were often carried from Ocracoke to the mainland and traded for corn. Then the corn was ground on the island and sold in the village.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Howard's Pub. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082117.htm.   

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Island Doctors

As Alton Ballance writes in his book, Ocracokers, "for many periods in its history, Ocracoke had no doctor. Over the years a number of doctors have come here, perhaps staying for a few years or less, but until recently none actually settled here to practice. So Ocracokers learned to take care of their sick or injured themselves, using home remedies and relying on the wisdom and experience of the old people."

No comprehensive list of the island's doctors has ever been compiled. However, here are a few names I gathered from some of the island's older residents:
  • Dr. Morgan (ca. 1900)
  • Dr. Angle (sometime in the 1920s)
  • Dr. McKennon (late 1920s?)
  • Dr. Lewis (ca. 1935/36)
  • Dr. Swindell (ca. 1937/38)
In addition, several midwives served the island over the years, and two nurses, Kathleen Bragg and Elsie Ballance Garrish, were notable caregivers on Ocracoke.

Beginning in the mid-1960s Dr. F. Danford Burroughs of the newly completed Hatteras Medical Center treated many Ocracoke islanders, although that required a ferry ride to Hatteras.

In the summer of 1981 Warren Silverman, M.D. moved to Ocracoke after four decades without a doctor. Dr. Silverman's wife, Jean, a nurse, accompanied him. They practiced from their home until the island's new Health Center was completed the following year. Dr. Silverman also made house calls.

Today Dr. Erin Baker is the island's resident physician. She practices in the Ocracoke Health Center on the Back Road.

Photo courtesy OcracokeObserver.com















In addition, Dr. John T. Kihm makes monthly trips to the island from Durham, where he lives and practices medicine.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Howard's Pub. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082117.htm.   

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

A Smart Ocracoke Dog

In a 1985 article by Pat Brown for Life on the Pamlico (http://circanceast.beaufortccc.edu/BCCC/lifeonpamlico.htm), a publication of Beaufort County Community College, Pat Brown interviews John A. Wilkinson, “attorney and man for all seasons” (http://circanceast.beaufortccc.edu/BCCC/articles/Summer1985/PDF/Story2.pdf).

The interview begins with Brown presenting Wilkinson with a complimentary copy of the Spring, 1984, issue of Life on the Pamlico. The cover photo (from the 1930s) shows Stanley Wahab of Ocracoke, another man, and a dog standing on an Ocracoke Island pier.



















Wilkinson immediately comments: The dog I knew.

Pat Brown: Is that right?

Wilkinson: Yes. He was David’s [Wahab {actually, Brown’s annotation here is incorrect; Wilkinson was talking about the dog that belonged to David Gaskill, owner of the Pamlico Inn, not Stanley Wahab}] favorite. He had a bad habit of swimming, jumping out in the sound when a boat was coming in. Swimming around and picking up trash. David said that he would beat him three or four times a night but he persisted in doing it and finally one day he came in with a quart bottle of liquor in his mouth that somebody had lost over a yacht out there. Liquor was more precious than gold in Ocracoke in the early 1930s. So he said he apologized to the dog for having beat him and told him that he could jump overboard as many damn times as he wanted to. I said, “Did the dog take you at your word?” And he [Wahab {again, Gaskill}] said, “You saw him this morning swimming around out in the sound.”


This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Howard's Pub. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082117.htm.   

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

John W. McWilliams

Ocracoke is typically viewed as an isolated community with few ties to the mainland. Although that is somewhat true, island residents have sometimes taken prominent roles in the political life of North Carolina. John W. McWilliams was one such person. The following information is taken from A Pocket Manual of North Carolina, For the Use of Members of the General Assembly, Session 1911, page 292:

Member of House of Representatives

John W. McWilliams

John W. McWilliams, Democrat, of Hyde County, Ocracoke, N.C., March 10, 1869. Son of John S. and Eliza (Farrow) McWilliams. Educated at the public and private schools of Ocracoke, 1876-1885. Merchant. Commissioner of Wrecks for Hyde County since 1905. Nominated clerk of Superior Court of Hyde County in 1906, but declined to serve. Representative in General Assembly from Hyde County, 1909, 1911. Fraternal orders: Masons, I.O.O.F.  Served as Noble Grand five terms; Treasurer since 1904. Methodist. Married, in 1889. Miss Elizabeth Williams. Three children. Address: Ocracoke, N.C.

------------------------------------------------------------

McWilliams was listed as "merchant." The following paragraph is from our September, 2006, "Ocracoke Newsletter," http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092106.htm:

One of the largest general stores on Ocracoke was that established by John W. McWilliams in the late 1800s. Located down point, on the shore of Cockle Creek, with a view of the harbor from one side, and the lighthouse from the other, the "Department Store," as it came to be called, included several structures joined together. McWilliams traded in groceries, boating supplies, hardware, clothing, and other general merchandise. He even carried a line of furniture. A barber shop sat across the lane. The fierce storm of 1933 did considerable damage to the store, and sometime after John McWilliams’ death the store was abandoned."

------------------------------------------------------------

A number of people living on Ocracoke today are direct descendants of John W. McWilliams. 


This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Howard's Pub. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082117.htm.   

Monday, September 04, 2017

Black Anchor Antiques

I wonder how many of our readers remember Black Anchor Antiques. This small business was owned and operated by Darrell Bell Dudley and his wife Sallyanne.

Darrell was born on Ocracoke in 1933. He was the son of the late Claude and Annie O’Neal Dudley, and had homes in Ocracoke and Elizabeth City, NC. He died in 2007 at his home in Ocracoke.

In addition to operating Black Anchor Antiques & Collectibles, Darrel was a clock repairman. He and his brother, Ronald, donated a pendulum clock to one of Ocracoke's local non-profit organizations. He was also a member of the Ocracoke Masonic Lodge.

Clock Donated by the Dudleys
(Mechanism had been removed
when this photo was made)




















I could not locate any photos of the Black Anchor Antiques shop, but I recently took this photo of the building where it was located. It is now a private cottage.












Do any of our readers know where this building is located...and can anyone  remember what other businesses or organizations have used it?

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Howard's Pub. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082117.htm.  

Friday, September 01, 2017

Willie Hunnings

Some of our readers will remember William Bryant (Willie) Hunnings (1913-2000). Willie was the son of Winfield Hunnings and Ocracoke native Myra Garrish. Willie was not born on Ocracoke Island, but moved here with his mother and step-father, Jather (Jake) Alligood, about 1930.

Photo courtesy
Ocracoke Preservation Society




















Willie, who was seldom without his trademark white yachting cap, worked painting houses in the 1950s and 1960s. You could also often find him behind the counter of the Community Store. His friendly, pleasant personality made shopping there a genuine pleasure.

Willie enjoyed music, and often sang while he worked. He also played harmonica for the old island Graveyard Band.

In the 1970s and 1980s you could usually find Willie (sometimes called "Three Fingers"...no one could ever tell me how he lost his fingers) in his workshop carving birds or sailing ships.

Willie Hunnings Carvings in OPS Museum















Willie was the grandson of Epherena Fulcher Garrish (click here for her story).

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Howard's Pub. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082117.htm.  

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Charlie Ahman

Carl Fridolf Ahman was born in Goran, Scotland, in 1887. He later moved to Glasgow. About 1900 he changed his name to Charles Freemont Ahman, and immigrated to the United States soon thereafter.  In 1912 he married Esther Thompson, a native of Belfast, Ireland.

Charlie Ahman worked as a carpenter and seaman, but quit his life at sea sometime in the mid-20th century. He spent time in Saugus, MA, New York City and Norfolk, Virginia, and eventually found his way to Ocracoke Island.

Photo by John Wall
Courtesy Ocracoke Preservation Society





















Local legend has it that Charlie purchased a house in Norfolk and had it delivered to Ocracoke on a barge. It was unloaded in Silver Lake Harbor, then rolled on logs to its home site. Charlie bought an adult tricycle and was happy visiting neighbors and pursuing his interest in painting. When artists' canvas boards were unavailable Charlie painted on anything he could get his hands on...wooden shingles, Formica, even paper plates.

Charlie Ahmen with some of his Paintings
















Charlie was gregarious, and enjoyed being a member of the Ocracoke Methodist Church, and participated actively in the Ocracoke Civic Club. Charlie died suddenly in 1975 while in Manteo, North Carolina. Esther had died in 1966. They are both buried in the Community Cemetery on Ocracoke Island.

Below are photos of a few of Charlie's paintings. You can view more of his artwork at the Ocracoke Preservation Society's Charlie Ahman Online Exhibit.
















This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Howard's Pub. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082117.htm.  

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Door Lock

Many older homes on the island still include antique hardware. This solid brass door handle and lock is the original equipment on a 150 year old Ocracoke Island house that was built from salvaged materials.










Sections of this house were constructed with lumber from a shipwrecked schooner. Presumably the door lock also came from that ship. Not too remarkably (considering the quality of workmanship in the mid 19th century), the lock still works.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Howard's Pub. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082117.htm.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Twins

The following article about two prominent islanders appeared in 1955 in The Coastland Times, a popular Outer Banks newspaper that is still in circulation.

"TWIN BROTHERS 70 YEARS OLD ON OCRACOKE

"Capt. Ike O'Neal and Capt. Walter O'Neal, twin brothers, celebrated their 70th birthday recently and were delightfully entertained by a dinner party at the home of Mrs. Maude Fulcher. Fourteen friends enjoyed the occasion with the honorees. Two tables were attractively decorated, the family sitting at one and the friends at the other. A chicken and ham dinner was served. Guests included their sisters: Mrs. Tressie Howard and Mrs. Elnora Ballance, and a brother, John O'Neal, who came here recently from Philadelphia; Mrs. Walter O'Neal, Mrs. Marvin Howard, Mr. & Mrs. Murry Tolson, Mr. & Mrs. Kelly O'NwL, Mrs. Etta Scarborough, Miss Marie Hodges, and Charles Agmon.

Capt. Walter O'Neal (standing, in white hat)












"Capt. Ike operated the freight boat between Ocracoke and Washington, N.C., skipper of the "Relief", the "Russell L." and the "Dryden". He was also in the grocery store business for many years and continues as a partner in Garrish and O'Neal's Community Store, which has recently moved into a fine new building. In addition to this he has done considerable commercial fishing.

"Capt. Walter O'Neal is a well-known sports fishing and hunting guide. He has worked with sportsmen from new England, new York, all the way down the Eastern Seaboard and even as far away as Texas. At one time he operated a small store on the island. He is now half-owner of the freight boat "Bessie Virginia" with his son, Capt. Van Henry O'Neal who operates between Ocracoke and Washington. Capt. Walter is not only a guide but an ardent fisherman. Both are members of the Ocracoke Methodist Church and active in church and community affairs."

(From http://www.ncgenweb.us/hyde/news/newsjan55_jun55.HTM)

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Howard's Pub. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082117.htm.  

Monday, August 28, 2017

Stormy Gale

In a 2016 article, "Aycock Brown Sang the Praises of the North Carolina Coast" (http://www.newsobserver.com/living/liv-columns-blogs/past-times/article80293577.html), Teresa Leonard quotes a 1949 article by writer Jack Riley, who introduced readers to Aycock Brown and credited him with putting the North Carolina coast on the map.

Although Brown was born in Happy Valley, NC, as a young man he fell in love with the Outer Banks and with Ocracoke native Esther Styron. Aycock and Esther married and had two children, William and Esther Gale. 

Aycock renamed his daughter Stormy Gale when she was less than two years old. This is how Jack Riley related the story:
 


Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/living/liv-columns-blogs/past-times/article80293577.html#storylink=cpy
"Biggest by-line of his career came to Aycock for a Saturday Evening Post story on Ocracoke which was titled “Cape Stormy.” The story appeared in August of 1940, and in elation, Aycock named his 20-months-old daughter “Stormy Gale.” She had borne the name Esther Gale and is probably the only child the magazine has had a hand in renaming."

You can read the entire atricle here.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Howard's Pub. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082117.htm.  

Friday, August 25, 2017

Of the Inlets and Havens of this Country

Ocracoke Inlet is the only North Carolina Inlet that has been continuously open since Europeans first began keeping records.

This is what John Lawson wrote in his 1709 account, A New Voyage to Carolina; Containing the Exact Description and Natural History of That Country: Together with the Present State Thereof. And a Journal of a Thousand Miles, Travel'd Thro' Several Nations of Indians. Giving a Particular Account of Their Customs, Manners, &c. (London, 1709):

"Ocacock is the best Inlet and Harbour yet in this Country; and has 13 Foot at Low-water upon the Bar. There are two Channels; one is but narrow, and lies close aboard the South Cape; the other in the Middle, viz. between the Middle Ground, and the South Shoar, and is above half a Mile wide. The Bar itself is but half a Cables Length over, and then you are in 7 or 8 Fathom Water; a good Harbour. The Course into the Sound is N. N. W. At High-water, and Neap-tides, here is 18 Foot Water. It lies S. W. from Hatteras Inlet. Lat. 35° 8″."

http://garrettfisher.me/2014/12/



















The above photo of Oregon Inlet [this photo was initially mislabeled Ocracoke Inlet; see comments below] was made by Garrett Fisher in 2014. Click here to see more stunning photos, and lean more about his book, Sea of Change: Flying the Outer Banks.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Howard's Pub. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082117.htm.  

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Schooners

According to a 1947 newspaper article at least four schooners were built on Ocracoke. A traditional schooner is a sailing ship with two or more masts, typically with the foremast smaller than the mainmast, and having gaff-rigged lower masts (modern schooners may be Bermuda-rigged).

Schooner Windfall, Ocracoke



















The 1947 newspaper article explains that the Annie Wahab and the Paragon were two of the schooners built on Ocracoke by Capt. Tillman Farrow. "At that time [the mid to late 1880s] there were plenty of big live oaks and red cedar on the island.... Old Captain Tillman Farrow...had his slaves to cut the oak and hew the timber. And when they were built, Captain Tom [Gaskins] took over as skipper of the Annie Wahab. Later he served on the Paragon.

"The Annie Wahab could carry about 2,300 bushels of grain or rice...."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Howard's Pub. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082117.htm.