Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Ocracoke Schools

Last week I wrote this about Ocracoke village in 1877/1878: Although no Ocracoke schools were listed in that year's Business Directory, "[t]here were several small private schools on Ocracoke Island between the early 1800s and 1901, at which time a school was established in the building now known as the Island Inn."

A reader left this comment on that post: "NCpedia a resource for information cites 1839 as the year the common school law passed. Funding was to be state and local. The business directory lists many a taxable entity to generate funds for a public school in Ocracoke. What was the school age population back then I wonder...."

In answer to the reader's musings, I am reprinting a slightly edited blog post from 2015:

The first mention of a school on Ocracoke was in 1785 when school master Henry Garrish was hired to teach young Thomas Wahab. By the early 1800s a community schoolhouse was built in the vicinity of the Ocracoke Coffee Company. A new schoolhouse was built in the same area in 1825. Sometime before the Civil War there were two community schools on the island. In addition, Sarah Owens Gaskill operated a private school near the lighthouse.

In the late 1800s "Captain Wilson" taught school at the Life Saving Station at Cedar Hammock (near Hatteras Inlet), and a Mr. Manson gave private lessons in the village.

In 1901 the Independent Order of Odd Fellows built a new lodge (it is today the center section of the Island Inn). They met on the second floor, and a "consolidated" public school was held on the ground floor.

Photo: OPS, Earl O'Neal Collection















The 1880 Ocracoke census lists the number of school age children (6-14 years old; in those days the highest grade was grade 8) as about 59 (although some of those children may not have been enrolled). The photo above, taken about 1901 or 1902, shows approximately 40 pupils.  

In 1917 a new schoolhouse was built at the location of the present-day building. 

1917 Schoolhouse












The current school house was built in 1971. It is the smallest pre-K - 12 public school in North Carolina.The photo below shows school secretary Lisa O'Neal Caswell outside during lunch break. Ocracoke School has no cafeteria, so children and staff either bring bag lunches, or go home for lunch.

Ocracoke School, 1971-Present















This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is my analysis of a sentence penned by surveyor Jonathan Price in 1795. The sentence reads, "Occacock was heretofore, and still retains the name of, an island. It is now a peninsula; a heap of sand having gradually filled up the space which divided it from the bank."  You can read my analysis here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/description-occacock-1795/

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Meal Wine

Last week a reader asked about meal wine. I published the recipe in 2010. Here it is again:

Ocacoke Island meal wine recipe: Get a large crock, jug or clean trash can. Pour four gallons of water into the container. Add five pounds of sugar, four pounds of corn meal, three or four packages of yeast, a box of raisins, and some fruit (figs, peaches, blackberries, bananas, etc. work well).

Set the container outside where it can "work" for a week or more (it will work more quickly in the summer). Add a couple of pounds of sugar in a few days, and again a few days later. Eventually the solids will sink to the bottom and you will be left with a clear brew on top.

Meal Wine Brewing













You might want to strain your meal wine through cheesecloth (or an old lace curtain) to eliminate most of the ants. Fowler O'Neal always told me, with a wry smile, that sometimes when you get down to the bottom of the crock you might discover a drowned rat. A mainlander, Fowler said, might be tempted to pick the rat up by the tail and toss him into the woods before dipping another cup full of meal wine. An islander, Fowler assured me, would wring him out first, so he wouldn't lose any of his valuable product! Then he would toss him in the woods.

A visiting journalist who was invited to one of the Saturday night square dances at the old Pamlico Inn in the 1930s was offered a drink of Ocracoke meal wine. He described it as equivalent to drinking a lit kerosene lantern!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is my analysis of a sentence penned by surveyor Jonathan Price in 1795. The sentence reads, "Occacock was heretofore, and still retains the name of, an island. It is now a peninsula; a heap of sand having gradually filled up the space which divided it from the bank."  You can read my analysis here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/description-occacock-1795/.  

Monday, December 11, 2017

Island Inn

For months one of Ocracoke’s most iconic buildings, the Island Inn, has been sitting empty and neglected. A “For Sale” sign fastened near the front door announces that its future is uncertain. Now an ad hoc committee of four concerned islanders, Johnny Giagu, Ed Norvell, Bill Rich (County Manager), and Tom Pahl (County Commissioner), have put together a proposal that could save the building and make it available for community use.

In 1900 James and Zilphia Howard sold the one-acre tract of land to the trustees of "Ocracoke Lodge No. 194 Independent order of Odd Fellows" for use as a "Lodge room or such other purpose as they may deem proper." A two-story wood frame building, the center section of the current structure, was built in 1901. It housed the Odd Fellow's Lodge on the second floor. Soon thereafter two island schools were consolidated to create one public school which was held on the first floor.

Odd Fellows Lodge, OPS Photo, Earl O'Neal Collection















Over the next 117 years the “Lodge,” as it came to be called, was added to and modified. Over the years it variously served the island as a private home, inn, restaurant, coffee shop, WWII officers quarters, and gift shop. In the early to mid-20th century it was the center of community social life. Islanders gathered there for Saturday night square dances accompanied by the music of fiddle, banjo, guitar, and triangle.

On December 7, 2017, the ad hoc committee (the “Island Inn Preservation Committee”) secured a purchase agreement from the property’s current owner which allows the committee 150 days to negotiate additional agreements with adjoining property owners, the Occupancy Tax Board, the Tourism Development Authority, Hyde County, and the Ocracoke Preservation Society.

Immediately Tom Pahl and Johnny Giagu met with the Executive Committee of the Preservation Society to present their proposal. At the meeting on December 7, 2017, the members of the OPS Executive Committee voted to “support the plan brought by the ad hoc committee … and … to work with the ad hoc committee toward accomplishing the goals presented,” which included using $150,000 of OPS’s “Save an Old House” revolving fund as down payment on the property, to accept initial ownership of the property, and to transfer the property, with conservation easements, to “another community entity” in the future.

Still to be negotiated during the 150-day period are funding to pay mortgage payments, demolition of the two badly deteriorated wings, and stabilization of the historic center section. Sale would not be final, nor funds committed, until those details of the project were established.

Although the initial goal is simply to preserve the historic center section of the Lodge, future plans might include turning the building into a visitors center with public restrooms, space for community meetings and gatherings, and “green” areas for picnicking and other outdoor activities.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is my analysis of a sentence penned by surveyor Jonathan Price in 1795. The sentence reads, "Occacock was heretofore, and still retains the name of, an island. It is now a peninsula; a heap of sand having gradually filled up the space which divided it from the bank."  You can read my analysis here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/description-occacock-1795/.  

Friday, December 08, 2017

Business Directory, 1877-1878

Below are some interesting Hyde County statistics gleaned from Branson's North Carolina Business Directory for 1877 and 1878.
  • Ocracoke is listed as having the following organizations & services: 
    • 1 magistrate (there are 4 on the mainland)
    • 1 church (10 on the mainland)
    • 3 merchants (55 on the mainland)
    • 1 mill (11 on the mainland)
    • 1 post office (8 on the mainland)
  • The mainland has the following; Ocracoke has none:
    • county offices
    • hotels (5 on the mainland)
    • lawyers (3 on the mainland)
    • physicians (12 on the mainland)
    • schools (3 on the mainland; all private)*
    • farmers (52 on the mainland)
 *There actually were several small private schools on Ocracoke Island between the early 1800s and 1901, at which time a school was established in the building now known as the Island Inn. Perhaps there was no school on Ocracoke in 1877-1878.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is my analysis of a sentence penned by surveyor Jonathan Price in 1795. The sentence reads, "Occacock was heretofore, and still retains the name of, an island. It is now a peninsula; a heap of sand having gradually filled up the space which divided it from the bank."  You can read my analysis here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/description-occacock-1795/

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Spanish Casino

In 1935, Ocracoke resident Stanley Wahab built an inexpensive replica of a Spanish style building on the island, near where the Back Porch Restaurant sits today, to be part of his larger operation which included the Wahab Village Hotel (later renamed Blackbeard’s Lodge).

1941 Newspaper Ad


















Made of plywood strewn with gravel while the earth-colored paint was still wet, the 400 square foot Spanish Casino mimicked an adobe hacienda. The flat roofed structure had extended and crenulated exterior walls with gently curving main sections. Windows were topped with decorative trim, and crosses within circles painted near the roof line suggested a southwestern theme. An open porch on the ocean-facing side was supported by peeled cedar posts, adding to the Spanish motif.

OPS Photo, Mike Riddick Collection













The interior of the Spanish Casino was one large room with a raised platform on the western wall to accommodate a piano and musicians. Benches were placed along the walls, leaving a sizable dance floor in the middle. Island natives, Edgar and Walter Howard, brothers who had moved to New York City to play vaudeville in the 1920s and 1930s, came home periodically to entertain their fellow islanders. The popular music of the day included cowboy and western songs and ballads. Once in a while Edgar’s banjo and Walter’s guitar accompanied nationally popular entertainers who followed the Howard brothers to Ocracoke. At times, other island musicians played at the Spanish Casino. When live music was unavailable a jukebox served nightly to provide tunes for round dances, jitterbug, and traditional island square dances.

Stanley Wahab included a small canteen to serve his customers. Candy, cigarettes, and soft drinks were popular items. Eventually the Spanish Casino also offered hamburgers. Some years earlier, under the influence of Mr. Shaw, one of the Methodist preachers, sales of alcoholic beverages had been banned on Ocracoke Island. It was a rare night, however, when homemade meal wine did not flow freely behind the building or on the other side of the sand dunes.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is my analysis of a sentence penned by surveyor Jonathan Price in 1795. The sentence reads, "Occacock was heretofore, and still retains the name of, an island. It is now a peninsula; a heap of sand having gradually filled up the space which divided it from the bank."  You can read my analysis here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/description-occacock-1795/

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Great Black-backed Gull

The Great Black-Backed Gull (Laurus marinus) is a common sight on Ocracoke's beach, especially during the winter months. According to local bird-watcher, Peter Vankevich, this is the largest gull in the world, with a wingspan of up to five feet.

Photo by Peter Vankevich













You can read more about this beautiful seagull in Peter's article in the Ocracoke Observer.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is my analysis of a sentence penned by surveyor Jonathan Price in 1795. The sentence reads, "Occacock was heretofore, and still retains the name of, an island. It is now a peninsula; a heap of sand having gradually filled up the space which divided it from the bank."  You can read my analysis here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/description-occacock-1795/.  

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Basket Making

A reader recently posed an interesting question about traditional basket-making on Ocracoke and the Outer Banks.

An article in NCpedia asserts that “Although the fragility of basket materials means that few related artifacts still exist, the Native Americans of North Carolina's Paleo-Indian period (13,000 B.C. to 8000 B.C.) probably used baskets that they constructed from native materials for transporting items and gathering food. Archaeological evidence confirms that Indians used baskets widely in the early archaic period (8000 B.C. to 6000 B.C.)…. 

“Once crucial to the agricultural and fishing economies of North Carolina, basket making diminished in importance during the twentieth century as inexpensive and readily available galvanized buckets, plastic containers, and paper bags became popular for gathering, transporting, and storing household items.”

Although handmade baskets were surely a mainstay of the early European households on the Outer Banks, I am not aware of any Ocracoke basket-making tradition, or surviving examples of colonial Ocracoke baskets.

Unlike South Carolina, whose distinctive sweetgrass basket-making tradition came to the state in the 17th century by way of West African slaves, North Carolina’s Outer Banks never developed that tradition. Although some of the materials for South Carolina baskets (sweetgrass, bulrush, pine needles, and palmetto palm) are available along North Carolina’s Outer Banks, the West African technique was never established. The dearth of other available basket-making materials, such as white oak, probably means that baskets were brought to the islands from England, other colonies, or the North Carolina mainland.

Another indication is the Last Will and Testament of William Howard, 1776-1851, (see https://villagecraftsmen.blogspot.com/2017/03/last-will-and-testament.html). It lists kitchen furniture, livestock, boats, money, and land…but no baskets.

The only island handmade basket from earlier than the twentieth century that I am aware of is the one carried by midwife Esther Gaskins O’Neal (“Aunt Hettie Tom,” 1822-1899) and nurse Elsie Garrish (1915-2003) but I do not know if it was woven on Ocracoke or elsewhere. Perhaps one of our local readers has more information. 

Elsie Garrish with Basket



















This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is my analysis of a sentence penned by surveyor Jonathan Price in 1795. The sentence reads, "Occacock was heretofore, and still retains the name of, an island. It is now a peninsula; a heap of sand having gradually filled up the space which divided it from the bank."  You can read my analysis here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/description-occacock-1795/

Monday, December 04, 2017

Christmas House Tour

On Saturday the Ocracoke Preservation Society sponsored their annual Holiday Homes Tour. Two local businesses (Over the Moon and Island Artworks) and four residences were featured.

Residences included the Amasa Fulcher House (built in 1904), the former Methodist Episcopal Church, North, Parsonage (built 1928), the Elisha Ballance House (built 1908), and the Della & William Scarborough House (built ca. 1912).

All of the houses were originally "story and a jump" houses.  These one-and-a-half story cottages with a central staircase were popular on Ocracoke from the mid-1800s through the early twentieth century. All of the houses on the tour had been been modified with later additions or modern conveniences. For example, a second story was added to the Amasa Fulcher house soon after it was built, and dormers were added to the parsonage after a fire several years ago.  Nevertheless, much of their original character of these homes has been maintained, as you can see from the photos below.





































This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is my analysis of a sentence penned by surveyor Jonathan Price in 1795. The sentence reads, "Occacock was heretofore, and still retains the name of, an island. It is now a peninsula; a heap of sand having gradually filled up the space which divided it from the bank."  You can read my analysis here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/description-occacock-1795/

Friday, December 01, 2017

Tour 28A, 1930s

In the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration published a series of books designed to document our country's history and culture. The Federal Writers’ Project collaborated to produce The WPA Guide to North Carolina: The Tar Heel State.  Part III includes more than three dozen Tours of North Carolina. This is the entry for Tour 28A:

"Atlantic-Cedar Island-Portsmouth-Ocracoke; mail or chartered passenger boat. 30m.

"Daily mail boat, 25 passengers, leaves Atlantic 1 p.m., stops at Cedar Island and Portsmouth, arrives at Ocracoke, 5 p.m.; return trip leaves Ocracoke 7 a.m., arrives Atlantic 11 a.m. One-way fare to Portsmouth, $1.25; to Ocracoke, $1.50. Limited accommodations.

"This boat trip proceeds north through parts of Core and Pamlico sounds. Boatmen hold to the channel to avoid shallow bars and fish weirs. Sharks sometimes invade the waters through the inlets, lured by the abundant game fish."

Mail Boat Aleta















Eighty years later visitors are still coming to Ocracoke via Cedar Island, but now by car ferry. The runs are more frequent, the fare is still reasonable, and game fish continue to be abundant.  Accommodations are definitely more numerous.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is my analysis of a sentence penned by surveyor Jonathan Price in 1795. The sentence reads, "Occacock was heretofore, and still retains the name of, an island. It is now a peninsula; a heap of sand having gradually filled up the space which divided it from the bank."  You can read my analysis here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/description-occacock-1795/.
 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

ULSS Hatteras Inlet

In the mid 1950s the United States Coast Guard Station (originally the US Life-Saving Station) at Hatteras Inlet finally succumbed to the relentless assaults from the sea. Today only a handful of pilings are visible in the surf, or on dry land, depending on tide, erosion, and changes due to storms.

Courtesy Ocracoke Preservation Society
Bill & Ruth Cochran Collection














Just a few years before the station finally collapsed, C. A. Weslager, visited the island. In his letter of July 31, 1949, he writes about the fate of the station:

"The Ocracoke Coast Guard Station on the north end of the island of the Hatteras Inlet is gradually being washed away by the sea. The lighthouse tower is leaning badly and waves lap at its base, whereas it was formerly 200 yards inland. The officer in charge told us that they had experienced a terrific twister the previous night, and it took nine of them to hold the door of their quarters shut. I explored this end for Indian remains (as I had done the southern end) but found no traces of any kind. At this point, one has the feeling that this handful of Coast Guardsmen are at the end of the earth -- our last frontier, so to speak. Their contribution to this island community is very great, as it is to the ships that would otherwise be driven into the treacherous shoals and reefs that surround Ocracoke. These men can tell many stories of ships in distress in these hazardous waters."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is my analysis of a sentence penned by surveyor Jonathan Price in 1795. The sentence reads, "Occacock was heretofore, and still retains the name of, an island. It is now a peninsula; a heap of sand having gradually filled up the space which divided it from the bank."  You can read my analysis here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/description-occacock-1795/.  

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Contributions

Until the middle of the 20th century Ocracoke was one of the most isolated communities in the nation. The initiation of ferry service to the island in 1950 ushered in the modern age, and with it a growing tourist presence. Many of those early visitors to Ocracoke were interested in contributing time, labor, or supplies to island churches and other organizations.

The following Ocracoke "Personal" announcement in the Coastland Times, September 24, 1954, is typical:

"Through the kindness of 3 summer visitors, the Ocracoke Teenage Club received some interesting games. There were sent to Rev. Robert L. Vickery, Jr. by Harry Pendleton, Aaron Kravitz and Louis Snyder, all from Boston, Mass., who visited Mr. & Mrs. Jim Williams this summer. Included in the games were two sets of table tennis, one miniature golf set, one badminton set, chess, checkers, dominoes, puzzles, maps and other games."

I wonder if any of the Pendleton, Kravitz or Snyder family still visit Ocracoke. If so, maybe they would post a comment. 

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is my analysis of a sentence penned by surveyor Jonathan Price in 1795. The sentence reads, "Occacock was heretofore, and still retains the name of, an island. It is now a peninsula; a heap of sand having gradually filled up the space which divided it from the bank."  You can read my analysis here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/description-occacock-1795/

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Oriental

Fishermen and beachcombers walking along the oceanfront at Pea Island beach on Hatteras Island may notice a large rusty cylindrical object sticking out of the surf about one hundred yards offshore.













(Above image by Wilton Wescott (obx_shooter), @ http://s137.photobucket.com/user/obx_shooter/media/DSC_0040-1-3.jpg.html)

Although locals refer to this object as a "boiler," Kevin Duffus, in his book Shipwrecks of the Outer Banks, identifies it as a steam cylinder (the part of a steam engine that contains the piston).

This cylinder belongs to a sunken Federal Transport ship, the Oriental. The 210' long Oriental was built in 1861, and used during the Civil War. During its second mission (carrying mail to Federal soldiers, and transporting missionaries and abolitionists to minister to freed slaves), the vessel sank during a severe storm on May 16, 1862.

The Oriental is also sometimes known as the "Stovepipe Hat Wreck." To read about the colorful legend of when the Hatteras beach was littered with stovepipe hats click here.


















This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is my analysis of a sentence penned by surveyor Jonathan Price in 1795. The sentence reads, "Occacock was heretofore, and still retains the name of, an island. It is now a peninsula; a heap of sand having gradually filled up the space which divided it from the bank."  You can read my analysis here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/description-occacock-1795/.

















Monday, November 27, 2017

The Tarpon & Sand Tiger Sharks

On August 26, 1957, the American submarine, USS Tarpon, foundered and sank about 20 miles south of Ocracoke Island while under tow to a salvage yard.









In 1983 Roderick M. Farb, author of Shipwrecks, Diving the Graveyard of the Atlantic, discovered that the Tarpon was an aggregation and breeding ground for the Atlantic sand tiger shark.

By D Ross Robertson
http://biogeodb.stri.si.edu/caribbean/en/gallery/specie/2674
Public Domain
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53039786














Farb had noticed "large numbers of shark's teeth on the hull of the submarine."  "Males," he writes, "prior to mating, bite the female behind her head and forward of the first dorsal fin. In the process the male shark loses some of his protruding teeth and these fall to the bottom."

The presence of the sub prevented the teeth from being covered by sand, thus providing visual evidence that the area is a mating ground for the sharks.

Sand sharks are sometimes caught by surf fishermen along the Outer Banks. According to Wikipedia, "The sand tiger is often associated with being vicious or deadly, due to their relatively large size and sharp, protruding teeth that point outward from their jaws, however they are quite docile, and are not a threat to humans," There have been "no confirmed human fatalities" associated with sand sharks.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is my analysis of a sentence penned by surveyor Jonathan Price in 1795. The sentence reads, "Occacock was heretofore, and still retains the name of, an island. It is now a peninsula; a heap of sand having gradually filled up the space which divided it from the bank."  You can read my analysis here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/description-occacock-1795/.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Royalty

Starfish are not rare; but nor are they common on our beaches. This Royal Starfish (Astropecten articulatus), probably named for its bright purple color, washed up on the beach this past summer.


















The royal starfish, like all starfish, has no brain. They also have no blood. Instead they have a water vascular system. The starfish's primitive eyes are at the tip of its arms.

Starfish can reproduce by physical birth or by giving up an arm to morph into another starfish.

The Royal Starfish feeds by wrapping its arms around mollusks and swallowing them whole. 

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is my analysis of a sentence penned by surveyor Jonathan Price in 1795. The sentence reads, "Occacock was heretofore, and still retains the name of, an island. It is now a peninsula; a heap of sand having gradually filled up the space which divided it from the bank."  You can read my analysis here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/description-occacock-1795/

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

The entire staff at Village Craftsmen wish our readers a very Happy Thanksgiving.

From Amy, Philip, Finley, Desiree, David, Sally, and Vera!!



  

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Quern Stones

On October 11, 2017 I posted a story about Big Ike O'Neal (1865-1954). Reminiscing about island wind mills, he commented, "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."

I had never seen any island hand grinding stones, nor had I ever heard anyone mention them. I wondered what they looked like and how they were used. No islanders I talked with remembered hand stones. An internet search yielded mostly information about neolithic and Native American grinding stones. Finally I discovered the term quern stones.

A quern is defined as a simple hand mill for grinding grain. It typically consists of two circular stones, the upper of which is rotated or rubbed to and fro on the lower one. Quern-stones were often made of igneous rocks such as basalt.

According to Wikipedia, varieties of hand grinding stones consisted of saddle, rotary, beehive, and disc querns. The Wikipedia article includes this quotation from T. Gannet describing his 1800 tour of Scotland:

"The quern consists of two circular pieces of stone, generally grit or granite, about twenty inches in diameter. In the lower stone is a wooden peg, rounded at the top; on this the upper stone is nicely balanced, so as just to touch the lower one, by means of a piece of wood fixed in a large hole in this upper piece, but which does not fill the hole, room for feeding the mill being left on each side: it is so nicely balanced, that though there is some friction from the contact of the two stones, yet a very small momentum will make it revolve several times, when it has no corn in it. The corn being dried, two women sit down on the ground, having the quern between them; the one feeds it, while the other turns it round, relieving each other occasionally, and singing some Celtic songs all the time."

Woodcut from Thomas Pennant's 1772 book A Tour in Scotland.













I am guessing Ocracoke islanders used disc querns similar to the ones described by Gannet, above. Perhaps I will discover one on the island some day. If I do, I will be sure to take a photo to share with our readers. 

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is my analysis of a sentence penned by surveyor Jonathan Price in 1795. The sentence reads, "Occacock was heretofore, and still retains the name of, an island. It is now a peninsula; a heap of sand having gradually filled up the space which divided it from the bank."  You can read my analysis here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/description-occacock-1795/

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

November Newsletter

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an analysis of a short paragraph penned by surveyor Jonathan Price in 1795. Price made this observation: ”Occacock was heretofore, and still retains the name of, an island. It is now a peninsula; a heap of sand having gradually filled up the space which divided it from the bank."

I was puzzled when I first read that sentence. In what sense, I wondered, was Ocracoke at one time an island, but had now become a peninsula?

The newsletter presents my analysis. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/description-occacock-1795/.

If you have an opinion, or another idea, please leave a comment. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Providence Methodist Church

The Providence Methodist Church, a little frame church (now attached to a newer brick edifice) in our county seat, Swan Quarter, is often called "the church moved by the hand of God."  Below is a somewhat fanciful account (from an unnamed and undated newspaper) of the 1876 hurricane that contributed to this remarkable story.
















"'TWAS THE HAND OF PROVIDENCE [There is] a singular incident which occurred here several years ago. It was in the year 1876. The Methodist folk were about to build a house of worship. There was division in the membership on the question of locating the edifice. The ladies were a unit in favor of locating it on Pamlico Avenue, while the male members were united in their determination to have it on a site about 400 yards from the one desired by the ladies. The men won out and the building was in course of erection when the memorable storm of '76 swept this vicinity. The singular feature of the story is that the unfinished church structure was floated and carried by the storm to a point within twenty feet of where the ladies had desired that it be erected. The men believed this to be the work of a divine hand and it is needless to say that this house of worship remained where the storm had driven it. And to this day the men of this community let the women have their way in church matters as well as in many other respects."

For a more complete, and probably more accurate, account of this event, click here: http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~jmack/photos/providen.htm.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a transcription of a letter describing the September, 1944, hurricane, its aftermath and cleanup. You can read the letter, with vintage photographs added, here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102117.htm.    

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Stevensons

Robert Louis Stevenson is best known as the author of Treasure Island. Fewer people know that he was the grandson of Robert Stevenson (1772-1850), a Scottish civil engineer who was instrumental in designing the Bell Rock Lighthouse, a beacon constructed on a barely exposed reef off the coast of Angus, Scotland, and sometimes described as one of the Seven Wonders of the Industrial World.

Robert Stevenson is credited with designing a total of fifteen lighthouses. His sons Alan, Thomas (Robert Louis Stevenson's father), and David designed forty-one lighthouses; and his grandsons, David Alan and Charles Alexander, twenty-six lighthouses.

Lighthouse construction in the United States was strongly influenced by the design and engineering skills of the three generations of the Stevenson family.

Ocracoke Lighthouse
photo by Eakin Howard




















Robert Louis, however, was more interested in writing. Interestingly, one of the main characters in Treasure Island is Israel Hands. In real life Israel Hands was put in command of Blackbeard's sloop, Adventure, although, having been shot in the knee by Teach, he was not on board during the fateful battle at Ocracoke in November, 1718.

According to Captain Charles Johnson, author of A General History of the Pyrates, Israel Hands spent his final days begging in the streets of London.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a transcription of a letter describing the September, 1944, hurricane, its aftermath and cleanup. You can read the letter, with vintage photographs added, here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102117.htm.   

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Toilet Paper

Today islanders rely on the internet to purchase many items. In the past Ocracokers ordered from Montgomery Ward or Sears & Roebuck catalogs. It was always a happy day when the packages arrived on the daily mailboat.

The story is told that many years ago an Ocracoker decided to order some of that newfangled toilet paper, a novelty on the island. He asked his daughter to draft a letter to Sears requesting several rolls of toilet paper.

Days later he received a reply form Sears. Sears only sold toilet paper in specific quantities, he was told. "Please consult page 126 in our catalog," the letter explained, "and place your order referencing the catalog number."

The islander's reply was classic: "Dear Sears," his daughter wrote for him, "if I had one of your catalogs I wouldn't need any of your damned toilet paper!"

If you want another laugh, check out this brief French commercial for toilet paper: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZH_YInXvpoU.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a transcription of a letter describing the September, 1944, hurricane, its aftermath and cleanup. You can read the letter, with vintage photographs added, here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102117.htm.   


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Controversy in 1894

The following editorial was published July 12, 1894, in the King's Weekly, a Greenville, NC, newspaper (photo added):

"Just think of it! You can go to Ocracoke. And it is so convenient, too. Buy your ticket, get on the boat here, and some time not in the distant future, you are at Ocracoke, historical Ocracoke.

Steamer at Ocracoke, 1899













 
"Let's see how easily it is done:

"You buy your ticket. Two dollars, please ! Then you go aboard the steamer, Mevers. Off you go for Washington. At that delightful town yon spend considerable time and perhaps cash. At 10 p. m . you leave for Ocracoke, and of course get there o. k. When ready, you return by the same route and nearly the same convenience. Now, let's see again.

"You pay $2 for a round trip ticket. You get to Washington and stay there or on the boat, long enough for two meals, costing doubtless another $1. You are only twenty-five miles from home, and though it is yet eighty miles to Ocracoke the round trip fare from there is just $1. For a round trip of 210 miles you pay $2. The people of Washington for a round trip pay $l for 160 miles. Greenville pays one cent a mile, Washington pays [.6 cents a mile] . And the business of Greenville is about what keeps up the O. D. S. S. [Old Dominion Steam Ship] line on Tar river. Did you ever hear of such discrimination and do you wonder that the railroad drove the two lines into consolidation?

"Another thing. People here have to lose a day on that trip while the boats for Ocracoke leave Washington at 10 o'clock at night. Why shouldn't the boat wait here till six or seven p. m. for the benefit of our people, and then make close connections at Washington?"

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a transcription of a letter describing the September, 1944, hurricane, its aftermath and cleanup. You can read the letter, with vintage photographs added, here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102117.htm.   

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Getting Around

Barbara Garrity-Blake and Karen Willis Amspacher have compiled a wonderful "Heritage Guide to the Outer Banks Byway." Their 290 page book, Living at the Water's Edge, has this to say about "Getting Around" on Ocracoke Island in years past:

"Before roads and bridges, the easiest route for Ocracokers traveling to the mainland was a half-day mailboat ride to Atlantic, where they could catch a midday bus to Morehead City. Otherwise they could ride nine hours on a freight boat to Washington, North Carolina. Traveling north to Norfolk was more arduous, involving thirteen miles of sand tracks just to get to the north end of Ocracoke Island. A private ferry took people across the inlet to Hatteras. The Manteo-Hatteras Bus line, a bus suervice run by the three Midgett brothers from Rodanthe, would take travelers the length of Hatteras Island, across Oregon Inlet via ferry, and up to Manteo. 'It was like going on a safari across a desert to get to Manteo,' remarked Earl O'Neal.

"In 1938 an enterprising Ocracoke resident began a taxi service from the village to Hatteras Inlet, navigating sand paths in a station wagon. The ferry, run by Hatteras resident Frazier Peele, began in 1950 as a passenger ferry and expanded to a four-car operation by the time the state bought his business in 1957. 'The ferry consisted of taking a boat, putting a platform on it, taking boards for a ramp and running the car up on the boat,' an islander recalled. 'We just ran the car off in shallow water, and off we went; there were no docks or anything.'"

Frazier Peele on his early ferry across Hatteras Inlet











This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a transcription of a letter describing the September, 1944, hurricane, its aftermath and cleanup. You can read the letter, with vintage photographs added, here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102117.htm.  

Monday, November 13, 2017

Aurora

In June, 1837, the schooner Aurora wrecked on Ocracoke Bar. Unlike so many other shipwrecks, the Aurora struck the bar in fair weather. The captain and crew were able to make it to shore under their own efforts. In January, 1838, the true nature of the shipwreck emerged.

David Stick, in his book Graveyard of the Atlantic, quotes this article that the New York Courier ran about the Aurora:

“On Thursday last, Mr. Waddell, the United States Marshal, arrested Richard Sheridan, late master of the schooner Aurora of New York, John Crocker, mate, and James Norton, seaman, on the charge of the most serious nature, and which, if proved, will place the lives of the offenders in jeopardy. The prisoners are charged with willfully wrecking and losing on Ocracoke Bar, the schooner Aurora, bound from Havana to New York, in June last, and they are also charged with stealing from the vessel after she was wrecked $4000 in doubloons, which had been sent on board in Havana, consigned to Don Francis Stoughton, Spanish Consul in New York.”

Stick goes on to explain that, "The Marshal specifically charged that Captain Sheridan had enlisted the aid of the two crewmen, and together they had carefully planned the shipwreck and stolen the 264 doubloons, which had then been entrusted to the Captain by his henchmen for transfer to the north where they could be converted into American money. About the time this charge was made public it may have become obvious to Crocker and Norton that they joined forces with the wrong man, as on meeting him in New York they were told that he had been robbed of the doubloons and there was no loot to divide.

When the Captain was brought to trial in New York in February he was found guilty—the doubloons had been discovered in the hands of yet another accomplice—and he was ordered to pay costs and to repay the Spanish Consul, $4,919 in all. Captain Sheridan was kept in jail for an undetermined period as further punishment."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a transcription of a letter describing the September, 1944, hurricane, its aftermath and cleanup. You can read the letter, with vintage photographs added, here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102117.htm.   

Friday, November 10, 2017

Portsmouth Coast Guard Station

For nearly two decades (in the 1920s and 1930s) Dorothy Byrum Bedwell spent her childhood summers on Portsmouth Island. She recounted those idyllic years in her book Portsmouth, Island with a Soul. This is what she remembers about the Coast Guard Station:

"A team of beautiful, large, white horses is in my earliest recollections of the Coast Guard. They were useful in many ways, one of which was shore patrol especially when the tide covered the beach. On patrol, the men punched keyposts which were standing at intervals along the beach (similar to the time-clock process). I remember too the wide ramp into the expansive room that housed the surf boats and surf boat drills which were held regularly. I thought of the kitchen house which was apart from the main building, and of the tantalizing aromas of supper cooking on late afternoons when we were trudging home hunglily from a walk on the beach and an ocean swim. I recall how, during hurricanes, the Captain of the Coast Guard would invite everyone to come to the station for safe housing. During the terrible hurricane of 1944, when my mother, brothers and sisters-in-law were on the island, the Coast Guardsmen came and escorted them to the station. The tide was rising so rapidly that before they reached the station, the water was up to my mother's armpits and she said that the Coast Guardsmen on each side of her literally lifted her through some of the deeper places."

Today, the Portsmouth Coast Guard Station has been restored and outfitted with reproduction surf boats and life saving equipment.
















This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a transcription of a letter describing the September, 1944, hurricane, its aftermath and cleanup. You can read the letter, with vintage photographs added, here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102117.htm.  

Thursday, November 09, 2017

George P. Hassell

The 1890 Federal Census of Ocracoke Island lists George P. Hassell, age 39, his wife Ida, age 24, and their two year old son John. George was not from Ocracoke, but he married island native Ida Ballance. George's occupation is recorded as "Agt. N&S RR."  This means Agent, Norfolk and Southern Railroad.

Readers might wonder why Ocracoke needed an agent for the railroad.

Photo by Petar Milošević













In 1885 the Spencer brothers from Washington, NC, established a large Victorian hotel (the Ponder, or Ponzer, hotel) on Ocracoke Island. This was in response to the expansion of railroads and steamships in eastern North Carolina, and the growing interest of well-heeled Tar Heel residents in vacation resorts on the Outer Banks.

As recorded in http://www.carolana.com/NC/Transportation/railroads/nc_rrs_elizabeth_city_norfolk.html:

"On January 20, 1870, the Elizabeth City & Norfolk Railroad was chartered to build a railroad line between Norfolk, VA, and Elizabeth City, NC. [The railroad was completed in 1881.]....

"In 1882, less than a year after the railroad's completion, the railroad company signed a five-year contract with the Old Dominion Steamship Company to make connections with the railroad in Elizabeth City and to provide passenger and freight service between Elizabeth City and New Bern and Washington, North Carolina. This arrangement ended in 1887, with the Norfolk and Southern Railroad operating its own line of steamers and the Old Dominion Steamship Company continuing its Norfolk to New Bern-Washington route through the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal. This route change meant the loss to Elizabeth City of much of the trade of the Pamlico Sound region. During the summer, however, most vacationers going to the prospering resort at Nags Head [and Ocracoke!] were still dependent on taking a steamship from Elizabeth City."

And thus the need for a "railroad" agent on Ocracoke Island!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a transcription of a letter describing the September, 1944, hurricane, its aftermath and cleanup. You can read the letter, with vintage photographs added, here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102117.htm.   

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

1942 Praise for Ocracoke

The following paragraph is reprinted from The State magazine, April 11, 1942.  The State, with Carl Goerch, an eastern North Carolina newspaper journeyman, as publisher, printed its first issue in 1933. In 1996 the magazine's name was changed to Our State.

"[Ocracoke Island] has been a favorite summering place with large numbers of people, particularly those who lived in Washington, Greenville, New Bern, and other towns in the eastern part of the state. Hunters and fishermen have visited it from all parts of the country. It has no paved streets, no power, except that which is supplied by private plants, no sewerage or water systems, none of the many civic improvements that you will find elsewhere, but it's the grandest place in the world to visit and, if you listen to the natives, it's also the grandest place in the world to live. The houses are mostly two-story frame structures, each of them being immaculately clean and most of them well painted. Practically every house has its small garden and chickens. The entire population of the island--it's around 700--depends upon the sea for its livelihood. No, not quite all either because there are a number of men who are in Coast Guard or else have been retired with pensions. Wahab Village, originated by Stanley Wahab, local boy who made good in the big city of Baltimore, has a first-class hotel, cottages and other accommodations. It promises to be quite a development. Ocracoke lighthouse is one of the oldest on the coast."


















"The Coast Guard station is located on the sound side of the island. We didn't get to go there on this trip through Hyde County, but we have been there any number of times in the past. There are no people anywhere whose friendship we value more highly than we do that of those hardy, whole-souled folks at Ocracoke. If you've never been there you have missed one of the most interesting of all places within the boundaries of North Carolina...."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a transcription of a letter describing the September, 1944, hurricane, its aftermath and cleanup. You can read the letter, with vintage photographs added, here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102117.htm.   

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Portsmouth Island Memory

In her 1984 book, Portsmouth, Island with a Soul, Dorothy Byrum Bedwell writes about the serenity of Portsmouth in the 1930s.

"The simplicity and tranquility of the island were evidenced by the sounds that were heard. The roar of the ocean swelled and diminished with the winds and tides, sometimes hardly audible, sometimes thundering. Always there were the shrill cries of seagulls in flight heard above the piping of smaller birds that flitted from bush to tree. The monotonous humming of insects rose and fell in regulated crescendo. Occasionally the lowing of cattle could be lheard in the distance. The only man-made sound was the motor boat's drone, intermittently drifting in with the breeze. Portsmouth had an 'at peace with the world' atmosphere, hushed and serene." (page 16)

Today Portsmouth is at least as quiet, probably more so since cattle no longer graze there, and no one lives in the once bustling village.

Click on the photo below for more information about Portsmouth Island.

http://friendsofportsmouthisland.org/fopi/















This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a transcription of a letter describing the September, 1944, hurricane, its aftermath and cleanup. You can read the letter, with vintage photographs added, here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102117.htm.  

Monday, November 06, 2017

Village Craftsmen Logo

For more than four decades Village Craftsmen has used a windswept tree as our logo.


Recently a reader asked about the logo. Although there are a number of such island trees, sculpted by wind and salt spray, a particular tree was the inspiration for our logo. The tree is located just a short distance north of the National Park Service campground, on the sound side of NC12. In the 1950s and 1960s it stood in a small clearing a few feet from the new highway, and was often photographed. Some people called it the "dancing lady" because of its graceful curves.

This photo of the tree was taken in 1969:


















In 1986 I made this pen & ink/watercolor drawing of the tree:


















Unfortunately, the tree died a number of years ago, but it still stands, a ghost of its former beauty. Today it is surrounded by much other vegetation, and difficult to locate.

Village Craftsmen's logo is modeled on this tree and other similar trees. It is a symbol of Ocracoke Island and how it has been shaped by the forces of nature.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a transcription of a letter describing the September, 1944, hurricane, its aftermath and cleanup. You can read the letter, with vintage photographs added, here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102117.htm.  

Friday, November 03, 2017

Ocracoke Tidbits

The following comes from The Ocracoke Island Beacon - Wednesday, October 15, 1941:

"Victor Meekins of Manteo, who is secretary of Cape Hatteras Natl. Seashore Park Commission, has reported that he expects to have deeds to the 10,000 acres desired for the park by January. Deeds for 900 acres of land from the Phipps estate at Cape Hatteras are in the process of completion. Many acres have already been donated on Ocracoke Island."

and

"Ocracoke Island has a law protection at last. For years the commissioners liked to boast of the distinction of having "no law" and no jails. That was in the days before automobiles and such promiscuous drinking. Ocracoke still has no jail but it has a deputy sheriff, J.G. Riddick, formerly of Gates County and Suffolk, Va., who married the former Miss Beatrice Fulcher, and has lived here for the past 8 years, was recently appointed as deputy sheriff of Ocracoke Precinct in Hyde County."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a transcription of a letter describing the September, 1944, hurricane, its aftermath and cleanup. You can read the letter, with vintage photographs added, here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102117.htm.   

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Arabs in Ocracoke

The following paragraph is reprinted from the web site Arabs in America, a project of the Asian Studies program at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and sponsored by the UNC Center for Global Initiatives [my comments in brackets]:

"Arab Immigration to America Before the 1880s: The history of Arab-speaking people in the United States can be dated as early as the mid-18th century. Much of the early history of Arab presence is still undocumented. We offer here only some key names: Wahab Family on Ocracoke Island, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina (mid-18th century): The first Wahab was an emissary of a “King of Arabia” who was sent to establish Islam in the New World . He was shipwrecked at the coast of Ocracoke with a load of Arabian horses. [This is the only source for this claim I have been able to locate. There is no credible evidence that the 'King of Arabia' sent an emissary to this continent to establish Islam, nor that any Arabs were shipwrecked on Ocracoke Island.] Even today, some wild horses run in various sections of the island [No one is certain how the first horses arrived on Ocracoke.]. James Wahab purchased land on colonial Ocracoke and established a Wahab village. [Although James Wahab was the first of his family to settle in coastal North Carolina, Stanley Wahab (1888-1967) established "Wahab Village," a small area of Ocracoke with a hotel (now called Blackbeard's Lodge) and several other buildings, in the late 1930s & 1940s.] Today, the Island Inn, the oldest hotel on the Island, stands at the site of the Wahab Village. [The Island Inn is on Lighthouse Road; not in "Wahab Village."] It has remained in the hands of the Wahab family ever since. [The Island Inn was built on the former land of James & Zilphia Howard in 1901 as the Ocracoke Odd Fellows Lodge (on the upper floor) and the Ocracoke School (on the first floor); Stanley Wahab purchased the building in the 1940s.] Larry William, whose mother was a Wahab, is the current owner of the Inn [Larry Williams owned the Island Inn in the 1980s.].

For more information on the Wahabs of Ocracoke Island, and their probable Scotch-Irish origins, see our Ocracoke Newsletter of February, 2015: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news022115.htm.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a transcription of a letter describing the September, 1944, hurricane, its aftermath and cleanup. You can read the letter, with vintage photographs added, here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102117.htm.  

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Village Craftsmen Web Site

Finally, after months of design work, picture taking, and critical decisions, Village Craftsmen's web site has a brand new look! You can see the new and improved site here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/.

https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/













Our site now has a crisp, clean look with many new hand-crafted products and an easy-to-use shopping cart system. In addition to dozens of items you have come to expect from Village Craftsmen, our site continues to include links to this Journal, our monthly Newsletter, general island information, and our Ghost & History Tours.

Please take a look at our upgraded web site, and bookmark it for future reference. As always, we maintain a sizeable inventory of  fine quality American handcrafts ready to be shipped for the holidays, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and other occasions.

We will be adding more craft items regularly. If you don't see an item you are interested in, please contact us. We will be happy to take photographs to send to you.

Click on the photo above, or here, to visit our new web site.

Our new design was created by Stefen Howard. For information about Stefen and his web and graphic design business (with contact information) click here.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a transcription of a letter describing the September, 1944, hurricane, its aftermath and cleanup. You can read the letter, with vintage photographs added, here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102117.htm.  

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Churches

For a number of years in the nineteenth century Ocracoke Island had two Methodist churches (you can read a detailed history here).  This is what I wrote in 2003 about the cause of the division:

"Ocracoke islanders in the 20th century rarely talked about the source of local church conflict, so much is speculation, but tradition indicates that the major reason for the division centered around the choir. According to Fannie Pearl Fulcher, who heard the story from her grandmother, 'a young singing master' came to the island who 'wanted to teach the choir to sing by note.'

Southern Methodist Church


















 "This was in the early 1880's. Other islanders remember hearing that church leaders also wanted to replace the older hymn books (which included only the words to songs, not notes) with newer hymnals that included notes. Some members were attracted to singing classes and musical notes while others were not."

Northern Methodist Church



















This is how Carl Goerch described the situation in his book, Ocracoke:

"A singing teacher visited the island and wanted to teach the church members how to sing from books. One brother (a Howard) said this was all foolishness; that the singing was good enough when they h'isted the turne and he didn't see any reason for making a change and investing money in song books. But another brother (also a Howard) was equally vigorous in the contention that the singing would be greatly improved through the use of song books.

"Each of the two Howards had his followers and the dissension became quite bitter. Some of the members dropped out and started a new church.

"From what I've been able to find out, the new church was known as the Methodist south Church. The old one was known as the Methodist Episcopal Church [Actually, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was the existing church at the time of the dispute; the new church was the re-introduced Methodist Episcopal Church. The national body had split in the 1840s over slavery). It had not been called the Northern Church because of any Yankee affiliation or sympathy but because it was north (in direction) from the other church.

"The two Howard brothers whom I've mentioned were [Perry] Coleman and [Enoch] Ellis Howard, but there seems to be some disagreement about which one did which."

[Coleman Howard was definitely a pillar of the Southern Methodist Church].

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a transcription of a letter describing the September, 1944, hurricane, its aftermath and cleanup. You can read the letter, with vintage photographs added, here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102117.htm.  

Monday, October 30, 2017

Maurice R. Thurlow

On Friday I wrote about the Maurice R. Thurlow, a 1,270 ton schooner built at  Stockton Springs, Maine, in 1920. She disappeared on Diamond Shoals in 1927.

The following account was published in The Evening Independent, St. Petersburg, Florida, Friday, October 28, 1927:

OCEAN DERELICT SAILS ATLANTIC
 ---
LUMBER SCHOONER, THOUGHT LOST SIGHTED UNDER FULL SAIL, CREWLESS
--- 
Washington, Oct. 28.—(UP)—Crewless and with her sails bellied full, a derelict schooner is playing hide and seek with trans-Atlantic shipping and a full fleet of pursuing coast guard cutters.

The “Flying Dutchman” of the North Atlantic, the abandoned Maurice Thurlow, with a valuable lumber cargo aboard, has eluded searchers since she went on the Diamond shoals off the (Virginia [sic]) coast and then slipped away 10 days ago.

Yesterday the steamer Slidrecht wirelessed coast guard headquarters that it passed the phantom ship about 100 miles east of Nautucket, fully 600 miles from where it was lost.

It was sailing along serenely “without a helmsman at the wheel or any sign of life aboard,” the Slidrecht reported. “The sails were full and the schooner was pushing steadily north by east.”

The Maurice Thurlow is a four master schooner of about 1,200 tons. During the recent Atlantic coast storms she was abandoned by her crew off Diamond shoals. The crew was picked up by a coast guard cutter, which was later forced to the open seas by the storm. Returning 10 hours later the cutter found the schooner gone and the beach strewn with wreckage. It was thought the schooner had been battered to pieces until it was reported sailing to the northward.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a transcription of a letter describing the September, 1944, hurricane, its aftermath and cleanup. You can read the letter, with vintage photographs added, here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102117.htm

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Flying Dutchman

The Flying Dutchman is a nautical legend about a ghost ship that sails the oceans forever. Superstitious sailors claim that sighting the Flying Dutchman is a sure sign of doom and misfortune. The earliest literary reference claimed this Dutchman was lost attempting to round the Cape [of Good Hope] in a storm.

In 1941 journalist Aycock Brown told this Outer Banks story about the wreck of the Maurice R. Thurlow:

"Few ships have ever grounded on Diamond Shoals and come off – that is, nothing came off except the wreckage which usually fetches up on Ocracoke Beach. The Maurice R. Thurlow was a notable exception. She struck in a storm on October 13, 1927. The lookout at Cape Hatteras station, 10 miles northeast of Ocracoke Island, sighted her distress signal and motor lifeboats put out and saved the crew of nine.

"When the morning of the fourteenth dawned, the Thurlow had vanished. It could not have broken up in that time – although stranger things happen in the Graveyard of the Atlantic – so the Coast Guard Cutter Mascoutin was dispatched from Norfolk to search for her. The cutter found no trace, but 13 days later a Dutch oil tanker sighted the vessel in the North Atlantic. More Coast Guard vessels put out to run down the Flying Dutchman, but she was never sighted again – a phantom ship."

Click here for more about the Legend of the Flying Dutchman.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a transcription of a letter describing the September, 1944, hurricane, its aftermath and cleanup. You can read the letter, with vintage photographs added, here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102117.htm.