Monday, August 29, 2016

Rob Hanks

A few days ago I received this question in an email message: "Who was the ruff looking guy that would just appear out of the woods around the old well (now covered) area if you were walking there [Springer's Point].  He would tell you about Blackbeard and hope you would give him some change.  To my 12 year old mind I was quite certain he was a 'pyrate'  I never learned who he was."

The questioner is referring to Rob Hanks (Robert Dozier Tolson). Rob Hanks (his nickname is a reference to his father Benjamin Henry "Hank" Tolson) was born in 1895, and died in 1961.

OPS Photo, James B. Gaskill Collection



















Rob was a memorable island character who, in the 1950s, offered to tell visitors "the story of Ocracoke and Blackbeard" for a dime. He was short and slight of build. He often wore a white sailor's cap, a jacket, and long pants, even in the middle of the summer. Rob Hanks could usually be found at Springer's Point, near where Blackbeard met his end in November, 1718.

If any of our readers remember Rob Hanks, please leave a comment with your story.

Our Ocracoke Newsletter for this month is an article by Philip Howard, My Ocracoke, Living amidst 250 years of Howard family history. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082116.htm.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Fig Muffins

Gary Mitchell recently made a 30 minute video of Fiddler Dave making fig muffins. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KY_QAXSYlQ8


















There has been some confusion about fig pollination (even in Fiddler Dave's video). For more information, please read my post from August 17, 2016, for a brief explanation of how our parthenocarpic fig trees propagate without pollination by fig wasps. 

Our Ocracoke Newsletter for this month is an article by Philip Howard, My Ocracoke, Living amidst 250 years of Howard family history. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082116.htm.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Summer Story...

...from the 1970s:

Ocracoke was a lot quieter 45 years ago, with much less automobile traffic...and the laid-back nature of island life seemed to nurture eccentricity. One warm summer day a native islander, now deceased (I will leave it up to members of his family to identify him if they wish), decided to cool off by stripping naked and swimming across Silver Lake Harbor.

It was a refreshing swim, and several minutes later he climbed up on shore near the public docks. He immediately realized that he was too tired to swim back to where he had left his clothes, so he grabbed a seat cushion from a nearby skiff, and began walking back to the other side of the harbor. Whenever a car approached he held the seat cushion like one half of a loin cloth...in front when he saw a car coming towards him, or behind his back when he heard a vehicle coming from the other direction. In the rare times when a car approached from both directions he stopped, turned toward the harbor, and held the cushion behind him.

 Many a laugh was had over this story.

Our Ocracoke Newsletter for this month is an article by Philip Howard, My Ocracoke, Living amidst 250 years of Howard family history. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082116.htm.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bonfire on the Beach

Tomorrow evening beginning at 7 pm the National Park Service will be offering a Night Sky Appreciation Event at the Ocracoke Lifeguard Beach. Activities include a bonfire, nautical and pirate stories by Capt. Rob Temple, a Night Sky Star Program, and photographing the Milky Way and star trails.

Photo by Craig Roberts













 Ocracoke beach is one of the best places on the East Coast to enjoy the night sky.

For a schedule of events, and more information, please visit http://www.ocracokecurrent.com/141106.

Our Ocracoke Newsletter for this month is an article by Philip Howard, My Ocracoke, Living amidst 250 years of Howard family history. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082116.htm.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Gascone

On July 28, 2016, I posted a blog about the Ocracoke family names, Gaskins & Gaskills.

A few days ago I was chatting with Euphemia Gaskins Ennis. She told me that her father, George Gaskins (1887-1967), told her that the Gaskins (Gascone) family was originally from France [further research suggests they moved to County Offaly, Ireland], that they then settled on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, then moved to Craven County, North Carolina, and eventually to Ocracoke.

I have discovered that a Thomas Gascoyne was living on the Eastern Shore of Virginia in 1623. Gaskins Point is still recognized as a landmark on the Occohannock Creek.

Chart Showing Gaskins Point, Occohannock Creek, VA










Ellen Marie Fulcher Cloud, in her book, From Whence We Came, confirms Euphemia's information, writing that "The Gaskins seem to have been most thickly populated in Craven Co. in the 1700 and 1800s."

I found the following information on The Internet Surname Database:

"This interesting and unusual surname [Gascone] is of early medieval English origin, and is from a regional name for someone from the province of Gascony [a Basque-speaking area of southwest France], from the Old French 'Gascogne'....The surname was first recorded in the early 13th Century.... The modern surname can be found recorded as Gascoigne, Gascogne, Gascoyne, Gascone, Gasken, Gaskin and Gasking."

Our Ocracoke Newsletter for this month is an article by Philip Howard, My Ocracoke, Living amidst 250 years of Howard family history. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082116.htm.

Monday, August 22, 2016

"My Ocracoke"

Earlier this year the editor of Outer Banks Magazine asked me to write an article about the Howard family of Ocracoke. The article was printed in the 2016 issue (Vol. 4), and was accompanied by photographs taken by Daniel Pullen.

Our Ocracoke Newsletter for this month is a reprint of that article, My Ocracoke, Living amidst 250 years of Howard family history. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082116.htm.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Argentine Ants

They march through the yard, across the boardwalk, up the side of the house, and disappear into my attic. Fine, pink dust filters down onto floors and furniture. They are tiny Argentine ants, an invasive species that has taken up residence on Ocracoke.

Argentine Ant, from Wikipedia (Penarc)
















 In 2009 John Brightwell, a postdoctoral researcher at NC State University, began studying the Argentine ant population on Ocracoke Island. The ants have produced a "supercolony" whose numerous queens spawn tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of new workers each year. It is not unusual for an island home to be invaded by great numbers of these ants. Although they do not sting, they are a nuisance, and a threat to the ecology.

According to Eleanor Spicer, author of an informative article, "Coastal Invasion: The Argentine Ant," in Coastwatch, a North Carolina Sea Grant magazine, the ants can be controlled, but probably not eliminated.

If you see these invaders marching across your kitchen counters, go out to the Variety Store and purchase some ant killer. Just be prepared to tackle the problem again when they return.

Our latest Ocracoke Newletter is the story of Augustus Cabarrus, early inlet pilot, and the present day d'Oelsnitz family. Click here to read the Newsletter: Ocracoke...The French Connection