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Laughter -- The Best Medicine

Ocracoke Island Journal - Thu, 02/20/2014 - 06:14
Ocracoke islanders do not take themselves too seriously. It is a long-time island tradition to poke fun at themselves and each other. Some years ago the island's Methodist preacher seemed more interested in catching fish than winning souls. Islanders noticed that he was out standing in the Sound more often than he was at the church. Oscar Burrus suggested taking up a collection to purchase copper paint for the preacher.  "Boys," he said, "if we painted the preacher’s feet maybe we could keep the ship worms from getting to him."

This is a photo of my Uncle Marvin clowning around one evening with a makeshift wig and a twig mustache. He loved a good laugh. One afternoon, after his wife left the house to walk down the sandy lane to attend a Ladies Missionary Society Meeting at the Methodist Church Marvin went right to her closet. In a few minutes he had donned one of her dresses, positioned a fancy Sunday hat on his head, and draped an old purse over his arm. To everyone’s delight, Marvin joined the other ladies at their meeting, and even stayed for refreshments.



















To this day Ocockers tell stories about the old-timers and their great sense of humor -- Monk Garrish, Danny Garrish, Lum Gaskill, Oscar Burrus, Wallace Spencer, Oscar Jackson, Lawton Howard...and many more.

And the tradition continues. Just spend a little time with David, Earl & Robbie, who work at the Water Plant...and you will know what I mean!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the 2013 Portsmouth Island Christmas Bird Count. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Pine Cones

Ocracoke Island Journal - Wed, 02/19/2014 - 06:03
In 2006 & 2010 I wrote about the Fibonacci Sequence. This mathematical sequence is quite dramatic in seashells, but it is also evident in the structure of pine cones. When I walk the Hammock Hills Nature Trail I pass numerous pine cones lying along the path, and I always think of this fascinating sequence. You can see it in the spiral pattern in the photo below.















To read the other two blog posts, and learn more about Fibonacci and his sequence, just click on this link: http://villagecraftsmen.blogspot.com/search?q=Fibonacci.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the 2013 Portsmouth Island Christmas Bird Count. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

The State, 1942

Ocracoke Island Journal - Tue, 02/18/2014 - 05:54
"Look at your map of the state and you'll observe the location of Ocracoke, a long, narrow strip of sandy land, timbered in some places, with Hatteras at its northern end and Portsmouth to the south. It is separated from each of these places by narrow inlets. Ocracoke! To our way of thinking, it is one of the romantic places in North Carolina. It was here, in Silver Lake, that the pirate Teache was captured by Lieutenant Maynard of the British navy. The story is that while waiting for daylight to come, in order that be could get out of the harbor, Teache kept beseeching, 'Oh, crow, cock! Oh, crow, cock!' And that's how  the place got its name. But the cock didn't crow. Maynard appeared on the scene. Teache was captured, beheaded, and his head placed at the end of the bowsprit. In this fashion the Lieutenant sailed his craft up to Bath. The story goes that after being beheaded, Teache's body was thrown overboard and it swam around the boat three times before it finally disappeared from view. We don't believe, however, that this could have been possible, unless somebody had rigged an outboard motor on him. Come to think of it, they didn't have outboard motors in those days, so you can just forget that part of the story."-- from The State magazine, April 11, 1942.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the 2013 Portsmouth Island Christmas Bird Count. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Hospital

Ocracoke Island Journal - Mon, 02/17/2014 - 06:20
Our August, 2011 Ocracoke Newsletter, a 1991 article by Dr. Martin Rozear, recounts the history of the mid-19th century marine hospital on Portsmouth Island: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082111.htm.

Front View of Hospital










Although the hospital did not open until 1847, the government signed a contract in 1828 with Dr. John W. Potts to establish the hospital.

Potts rented a small house on Portsmouth which Joseph B. Hurtow described in a letter to the Collector of Customs, Ocracoke District, February 24, 1831. The Cape Lookout National Seashore, which manages Portsmouth village, has published on its website the account below of Dr. Potts' first "hospital."

The National Park Service states  that "Hurtow likely exaggerated the conditions at this first hospital, as he proposed to personally take over the hospital contract and move the location ho his home in Ocracoke village. Collector Joshua Taylor wrote to the Secretary of the treasury on March 14, 1831, saying that the hospital was well situated and consisted of three rooms upstairs and two rooms downstairs" 
Nevertheless, careful reading of this brief passage provides a rare peek into life on Portsmouth Island almost 200 years ago.
"A small house has been rented and occupied for the purpose at $30 to $40 per year. The house stands about two feet above the level of the ocean and not too far from its margin, upon the Portsmouth Banks and on the naked sands, without the benefit of shade. The house itself is 16 to 18 feet by 20 or 22 feet in size, without plastering or as I believe glass windows. About six cots, a pine table or two and a few benches or chairs, and the furniture of the hospital has been described. There being no cistern to contain fresh water, the water used is gotten out of a hole about a foot depth in the sand..."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the 2013 Portsmouth Island Christmas Bird Count. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012114.htm
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Letter from Portsmouth

Ocracoke Island Journal - Sun, 02/16/2014 - 06:08
The following letter was written June 14, 1861 from Portsmouth Island by Sgt. John Wheeler (CSA):

"...Having finished dinner I shall continue my letter.  We had crabs, bluefish, spots, and mullets besides ham for dinner.  Our table was made of plank unplaned set on legs of unhewn timber.  Our utensils of tin made up our soldierly table quipments.  But Oh! the water such stuff I never attempted to drink! Out of our tin drinking cups we strain it through our lips.  Our cake today we saved for hard times which we expect at most any time.  Out company is of good cheer and their only solicitude is sympathy with the feelings of those at home.   We are very well situated.  Better by far than we expected.  Portsmouth has about 500 inhabitants.  Joshua Taylor [Collector of Customs] is dead and his family removed.  All this region is called Ocracoke.  Most of the troops are on this; the fort is on Beacon Island.  We are ready.

"Goodbye,  Your son John"

Sgt. Wheeler (1841-1861) died July 7, 1861 of typhoid fever. 

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the 2013 Portsmouth Island Christmas Bird Count. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Law Comes to Ocracoke

Ocracoke Island Journal - Sat, 02/15/2014 - 05:38
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I thought our readers would enjoy this glimpse into Ocracoke Island history, from The Coastland Times, January 2, 1953:

"...For a period of 30 years Ocracoke has been known as the one place in North Carolina without any form of law. It received much publicity due to the fact that it did not have a jail, any law enforcement officers, and there are no license plates on the cars and no licenses for driving. The fact that the problems of civilization were slowly encroaching this island of legend became evident in 1950 following the construction of Scott's Highway [NC Highway 12]. The citizens were faced with the problems of speeders along the narrow highway which had been called the road which 'started from nowhere and ended at the same place.' In order to check the speeders and the Saturday night celebraters, Ansley O'Neal was appointed Deputy Sheriff. Additional problems appeared when it was discovered that following an arrest the defendant and all witnesses were forced to travel through four counties to get to Swan Quarter, the county seat of Hyde County. This trip, due to the boat and bus schedule, requires a period of four days. As the result, the deputy sheriff didn't have too much business. In order to offer a solution to the problem, Harvey Wahab, a retired Coast Guardsman, was appointed Justice of the Peace...." 
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the 2013 Portsmouth Island Christmas Bird Count. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Arrowheads

Ocracoke Island Journal - Fri, 02/14/2014 - 05:24
Every now and then someone finds evidence of Native American presence on Ocracoke. This 2 1/2" X 1 1/2" flint arrowhead was discovered in 1993.



















 In 2007 a neighbor found this Clovis Point on the edge of the surf.















I found this quartz arrowhead in January, 2013:














At this time we have no evidence of any permanent or semi-permanent Indian villages on Ocracoke Island. Coastal Indians seem to have made only brief visits to the island to fish, gather clams & oysters, and collect other seafood.

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Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

A Tale of Blackbeard

Ocracoke Island Journal - Thu, 02/13/2014 - 06:01
Latest news from Ocracoke Alive!

The audition parts from A Tale of Blackbeard script have been posted on the home page of Ocracoke Alive at http://www.ocracokealive.org.

The auditions are from 3-5 PM on Saturday, Feb 22 at the Ocracoke Community Center.  Directors Desiree Ricker and Charles Temple are requesting that everyone arrive at 3 PM for group movement and singing. 

The cast is listed below.  We are also looking for other volunteers in addition to the performers. Please contact Ocracoke Alive at info@ocracokealive.org if you have any questions.

CAST:

BLACKBEARD – Captain of the Adventure
WILLIAM HOWARD – Blackbeard’s quartermaster
EZEKIEL JONES – ship’s cook
RICHARD EVANS – a young pirate
HELMSMAN
SAILORS – three or four required
CABIN BOY
OLIVER FARTHINGHAM – watchman of Ocracoke village
VICTORIA FARTHINGHAM – Oliver’s wife
ELIZABETH FARTHINGHAM – Oliver’s older daughter
KATHERINE FARTHINGHAM – Oliver’s younger daughter
MISS EUPHEMIA – Ocracoke boardinghouse proprietress
MARJORIE O’NEAL – boardinghouse cook
RACHEL, ABBY, SUZANNAH, ELLEN - boardinghouse girls
SCULLERY MAID
N.B. Additional VILLAGE GIRLS (non-speaking roles) may be cast; likewise, the number of SAILORS may be increased.

If you can't be in the performance, we'll be looking for you in the audience this spring and summer!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the 2013 Portsmouth Island Christmas Bird Count. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Howard Street Snow Photos...

Ocracoke Island Journal - Wed, 02/12/2014 - 08:10
...courtesy of Sundae Horn of the Ocracoke Current (click here for more photos).








Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Aliph, Connie, & Philip

Ocracoke Island Journal - Wed, 02/12/2014 - 06:01
I know I have published this photo before, but since it is one of my favorites, I am sharing it again.



















I was about six years old, sitting with my mother on my grandmama Aliph's porch. Notice how close to the ground the house sits. My father told me the sea tide washed through the downstairs windows during the great September storm of 1933. But the house still stands (now raised several feet!).

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the 2013 Portsmouth Island Christmas Bird Count. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Snow at Hatteras Inlet

Ocracoke Island Journal - Tue, 02/11/2014 - 14:35
Two more snow photos (thanks to David Tweedie), taken as he was stranded on Hatteras earlier today. The ferries were not running because the snowstorm has reduced visibility.



Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

More Snow

Ocracoke Island Journal - Tue, 02/11/2014 - 14:10
Here we go again! More snow...even on Ocracoke. This is the second snowfall for us this season.

Courtesy, Ocracoke Preservation Society














I haven't been able to get out and take photos, so I borrowed this one from the Ocracoke Preservation Society. Many more pictures of the island under a covering of snow are available on various Facebook pages.


Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Eliza & Job Wahab

Ocracoke Island Journal - Tue, 02/11/2014 - 05:51
Eliza Bradley Howard Wahab (1808-1870) and her husband Job Wahab (1802-1860) had 15 children. Several of their children died young; many of the others eventually moved to the mainland. Eliza, Job, and several of their children are buried in the large George Howard cemetery near the British Cemetery.

Eliza Bradley Howard Wahab
Job Wahab


































I know many of our readers have seen Eliza & Job's tombstones which are close to the paved road, near their three sons, Jonathan, Job, & Warren. Now, thanks to the photographs above, perhaps you will have a mental image the next time you visit their cemetery.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the 2013 Portsmouth Island Christmas Bird Count. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

The Spanish Casino

Ocracoke Island Journal - Mon, 02/10/2014 - 05:57
Today's post takes us back more than three quarters of a century for a glimpse into island life just prior to WWII. 

In 1935 Stanley Wahab built an inexpensive replica of a Spanish style building on the island, near where the Back Porch Restaurant sits today. 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 crenelated 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.












The interior 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. 

Although the Spanish Casino is long gone music continues to be an important part of twenty-first century island life.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the 2013 Portsmouth Island Christmas Bird Count. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012114.htm.  
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Three Island Women Remembered

Ocracoke Island Journal - Sun, 02/09/2014 - 05:34
In July of 2010 I published a post about the Captain William & Eliza Thomas house, an iconic two story, cross gable house on the south side of Silver Lake Harbor.

Photo by Lou Ann Homan












Capt. Thomas died in 1930. Eliza Thomas died in 1946. The following year Ms. Susan Barksdale purchased the property. Susan, a painter and professor of art at the University of North Carolina, began visiting Ocracoke before WWII. After she bought the Thomas house she began spending summers on the island with family and friends. Susan Barksdale appreciated island culture and traditions, and made many friends on the island. Susan died January 22 at the age of 96. You can read her obituary here.

Two days after Susan Barksdale died, Ocracoke resident Eugenia "Jean" Fletcher died. Long time visitors to Ocracoke may remember Jean. For seven years she operated Eugenia's Bed and Breakfast. Jean's obituary is available here.

On January 10 [2013] Rosemary Wetherill, a spunky island resident with a touch of gutsy irreverence, also died. Rosemary was an active participant in Ocracoke community life. She volunteered regularly at the Preservation Museum and the Ocracoke Library, and was a major contributor to the Ocracoke Needle and Thread Club. You can read Rosemary's obituary here.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the 2013 Portsmouth Island Christmas Bird Count. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Ocracoke Island Journal - Fri, 02/07/2014 - 06:00
The following paragraph is from the history page of HatterasGuide.com:

"In 1773 a teenager named Alexander Hamilton was a passenger on a ship that nearly sank off Cape Hatteras, and he experienced first hand the danger of the cape’s dreaded Diamond Shoals. Seventeen years later, when Hamilton was the second-ranking member of George Washington’s cabinet, he still heard terrifying tales of shipwrecks at Cape Hatteras. In 1789 Hamilton, who is reputedly the one who coined the moniker “Graveyard of the Atlantic,” urged Congress to investigate the possibility of establishing a lighthouse on the Hatteras Sand Banks. The lighthouse wasn’t authorized until 1794, and it wasn’t constructed until 1802. Mariners were not impressed with the lighthouse, which they said was not sufficiently bright or reliable."

In 1868 Congress appropriated funds to construct a new lighthouse at Cape Hatteras. The new beacon, with the iconic black & white spiral design, was first lighted in 1871.

Image by Henry Hartley


















In 1872 the original lighthouse was demolished.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the 2013 Portsmouth Island Christmas Bird Count. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

James & Zilphia

Ocracoke Island Journal - Thu, 02/06/2014 - 06:19
On Sunday morning (Jan. 26, 2014) I published a photo of my great-grandfather on our Village Craftsmen Facebook page. Capt. James W. Howard was the first keeper of the Cedar Hammock Life Saving Station. The station was located on the north end of Ocracoke Island, at Hatteras Inlet. He served from 1883-1903. This is a picture of Capt. Jim and his wife, Zilphia, taken about 1895. Zilphia bore twelve children, eight of whom died in infancy.


















One of the most dramatic shipwrecks on Ocracoke, occurred on Christmas Eve, 1899. You can read the story of the wreck of the British steamship, Ariosto, here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news122007.htm.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the 2013 Portsmouth Island Christmas Bird Count. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Cross

Ocracoke Island Journal - Wed, 02/05/2014 - 06:01
Yesterday I posted information about the sinking of the Caribsea in 1942. Here is a photo of the cross which stands on the altar of the Ocracoke United Methodist Church.









This wooden cross was fashioned by my grandfather, Homer Howard, from wreckage of the Caribsea.

You can read a history of the Ocracoke United Methodist Church here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102603.htm.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the 2013 Portsmouth Island Christmas Bird Count. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Caribsea

Ocracoke Island Journal - Tue, 02/04/2014 - 05:45
On March 11, 1942 the steam powered freighter, Caribsea, was struck by two torpedoes from a German U-boat off the coast of North Carolina. Ocracoke Native James Baughm Gaskill, one of the crew members, was killed in the attack. The ship's nameplate now hangs in the NPS Visitors Center.






From Village Craftsmen's History of the Ocracoke United Methodist Church:

"A hand-made wooden cross rests on the altar in the sanctuary of Ocracoke's united church building. The cross was constructed by Homer Howard, and painted gold by his wife, Aliph. The cross was made out of salvage from the ship on which island native, James Baughm Gaskill, served and lost his life. Jim Baughm's ship, the "Caribsea," was torpedoed and sunk offshore by a German U-boat on March 11, 1942, little more than a year before the new church was dedicated. Shortly after the sinking, Christopher Farrow, James Baughm's cousin, found his framed license cast up on the ocean beach. Later, the ship's nameplate and other debris washed up at his family's dock, at the old Pamlico Inn. The cross stands today as a memorial to James Baughm Gaskill, 3rd mate in the USS Maritime service."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the 2013 Portsmouth Island Christmas Bird Count. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

The Anna R. Heidritter

Ocracoke Island Journal - Mon, 02/03/2014 - 05:48
In May of 1942 one of the last great coastal schooners, the four masted Anna R. Heidritter, wrecked on Ocracoke beach. Captain Bennett Coleman was the youngest of the eight crewmen. He was 63 years old!

The Anna R. Heidritter in the Breakers at Ocracoke












You can read more about the Heidritter here: http://northcarolinashipwrecks.blogspot.com/2012/05/schooner-anna-r-heidritter-3-march-1942.html.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the 2013 Portsmouth Island Christmas Bird Count. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs
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