Friday, May 22, 2015

Firemen's Ball

The tenth annual Ocracoke Firemen’s Ball will be held tomorrow, Saturday, May 23, at the Ocracoke Community Center.



















The event (the major fund raiser for the fire department) begins at 5 p.m. with a pig pickin’ followed by a silent and a live auction. The evening ends with live music by The Ocracoke Rockers, The Aaron Caswell Band, and The Dune Dogs.

Bidding for Great Items & to Support OVFD
















This is the schedule of events:

5:00 – 6:30 Barbeque dinners @ $12.00 each
5:00 – 6:30 Silent auction (also, Firemen’s Ball t-shirts for sale)
7:00 Live Auction
8:30 -Midnight Music and Dancing

More information here and here

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Part II of Crystal Canterbury's account of her first visit to Portsmouth Island. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news052115.htm.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

May Newsletter

We have just published our latest Ocracoke Newsletter, Part II of Crystal Canterbury's account of her first visit to Portsmouth Island. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news052115.htm. If you haven't read Part I, no worry. There is a link to Part I at the beginning of the article.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Friends of Portsmouth Island

The Friends of Portsmouth Island held their spring membership meeting Saturday, May 16, at the Ocracoke Community Center. Several dozen people attended. Many were able to trace their ancestry to historic Portsmouth Island families.

The meeting commenced after a delicious and nutritious brunch provided by various members. After the secretary's and treasurer's reports, James White presented a plaque to Ken Burke in recognition of his contributions to the history of Portsmouth.

James White & Kenneth Burke



















Ken Burke discovered Portsmouth in the 1950s, and immediately fell in love with the island, the village, and the people. In 1958 Ken wrote about Portsmouth as his honors thesis for a degree in history from the University of Richmond. It is titled The History of Portsmouth, North Carolina From Its Founding in 1753 to Its Evacuation in the Face of Federal Forces in 1861.

As James White explained, this was the first, and continues to be one of the most important documents chronicling the history of this unique island community. Ken Burke's text can be accessed on the web at  http://scholarship.richmond.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1410&context=honors-theses.

After the presentation, Glenn and Brenda White shared stories and photos documenting their time as National Park Service volunteers in Portsmouth Village.

The next Portsmouth Island Homecoming is scheduled for April 30, 2016. 

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an article by island resident, Crystal Canterbury, about her very first visit to Portsmouth Village, on the last day of 2014. You can read Part I here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news042115.htm.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Paraguay

The 242' freighter, S. S. Paraguay, was built in 1900 to carry ore on the Great Lakes. Shortly thereafter, the Paraguay was converted to an oil tanker, plying the sea lanes in the North Atlantic Ocean. 

S.S. Paraguay, Courtesy M.W. Kates.(http://www.fleetsheet.com)













On December 4, 1927, the Paraguay (recently renamed the Kysikos) encountered a punishing gale off shore of the Outer Banks. While working the pumps in an effort to keep the embattled ship afloat, several crewmen were washed overboard by a huge wave. Early in the morning of the next day the Paraguay was driven ashore just north of Kitty Hawk. In spite of the weather, rescuers from the Kitty Hawk Life Saving Station managed to launch a life boat, and succeeded in rescuing the remaining 24 crew members.

While rehabilitating my house I discovered the following account of the Paraguay in a 1927 newspaper clipping laid down under the linoleum:

"Beachcomber Pays $100 for Wrecked ship And Expects to Realize $65,000 From It

"Underwriters of a Greek tank ship named Paraguay, which went ashore off Kitty hawk, N. C., during a storm on Dec. 4, have sold for $100 a property which is expected to yield the present owner more than $65,000.

"One of the beachcombers, who makes a practice of buying wrecks for such stores aboard as may be salvaged, paid $100 for the Paraguay. He took off wireless apparatus and stores worth $4,500 and sold the rest of the hulk to dealers in Norfolk, Va., for $1,500 or more.

"The wreck is laden with 800,000 gallons of fuel oil, and the beachcomber expects to sell this for $60,000. The former owners of the Paraguay lose nothing, since they were insured.

"Two men were lost off the Paraguay when she struck the beach. The tanker broke in half almost as soon as she hit, but the cargo section is intact and the oil still aboard. The salvager expects to have no trouble beaching the cargo."

According to Minor Kates, Jr. on his web site (http://www.fleetsheet.com/paraguay.htm), "the Kyzikos [the Paraguay] rests just offshore of Kill Devil Hills at Mile Marker 7. This site is very popular with scuba divers."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an article by island resident, Crystal Canterbury, about her very first visit to Portsmouth Village, on the last day of 2014. You can read Part I here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news042115.htm.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Salt

Amy loaned me her copy of Mark Kurlansky's 2002 book, Salt. It was fascinating to learn how important and valuable salt has been in the history of the world. And that got me to wondering...were there ever attempts to harvest or produce salt in eastern North Carolina? This is what I discovered in David Stick's book, The Outer Banks of North Carolina:
  • In September, 1775, the Provincial Congress offered a bounty of 750 pounds "to any person who shall erect and build proper works for Manufacturing common Salt on the sea shore."
  • Two ventures were begun in the Beaufort, NC, area, one designed to flood coastal areas and produce salt by solar evaporation, the other producing salt by boiling salt water in large vats.
  • Heavy rains thwarted one operation; the drowning of the operator terminated the other venture.
  • The wreck of the Success (sailing from Bermuda to North Carolina) in January, 1788, and loss of her cargo of salt, was of great concern because there had been an acute shortage of salt in North Carolina since the outbreak of the Revolutionary War.
  • In September, 1776, delegates from the North Carolina Council of Safety wrote to the delegates to the Congress in Philadelphia that, "It is impossible for us to describe the distressed Situation of this State for the want of Salt. The Inhabitants in general say only let them have that article and they will fight so long as they have Existence, in support of the just rights of their Country. Without it, themselves, Families and stocks must perish."
  • Benjamin Franklin then made available pamphlets on "making Salt by Sun Evaporation or by Culinary fire."
  • After this information was distributed on the Outer Banks, it was reported that "The Humour of Salt boiling seems to be taking place here....Every Old Wife is now scouring her pint pot for the necessary operation."
Salt was an important product that was used to cure fish and ham. Without it, eighteenth century Outer Banks sustenance and commerce was in serious jeopardy. Luckily, abundant salt water and Ben Franklin's pamphlet saved the day!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an article by island resident, Crystal Canterbury, about her very first visit to Portsmouth Village, on the last day of 2014. You can read Part I here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news042115.htm


Friday, May 15, 2015

What's With These Road Names?

While driving around Ocracoke Village you may have noticed the intersection of Ocean View Road and Old Beach Road.















These two roads are surrounded by houses, cedars,and other thick vegetation. There is certainly no view of the ocean...nor are they on, or even near, the beach. You may wonder, What gives?

The answer to the question lies in the history and geology of Ocracoke Island. Before NC Highway 12 was built in 1957, the area between the village and the National Park Service campground was three miles of barren tidal flats...sand, shells, and hardly a blade of sea grass. During high tides, ocean overwash inundated the flats.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the National Park Service and the State of North Carolina decided to protect the new highway by building a continuous row of artificial dunes between NC12 and the Atlantic Ocean. Over the years vegetation took root on the dunes and the sound-side flats (islanders have always called that area The Plains). First it was just grasses. Then came yaupons and myrtles, and later cedars. Today, even pines and a few oaks are starting to grow there.

Where once the beach extended as far as the Thurston House B&B (my dad said islanders thought Thurston Gaskill was crazy to build his house "on the edge of the beach"), then retreated to where the Variety Store is located, the "bald beach" is now contained by the ocean-side dune ridge.

So, 75 years ago you could see the ocean from Ocean View Road, and Old Beach Road was a sand track that would take you right across the Plains to the surf.

And now you know.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an article by island resident, Crystal Canterbury, about her very first visit to Portsmouth Village, on the last day of 2014. You can read Part I here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news042115.htm.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Senators & Pirates

As regular readers of this blog probably already know, I enjoy words and their origins...and I especially enjoy obscure words that relate to Ocracoke, or in today's case, pirates. I recently learned that the English word, freebooter (one who pillages and plunders, especially a pirate), derives from the Dutch words vrij (meaning free) + buiter (meaning booty). The French have a cognate,  fribustier or flibustier; and the Spanish have filibustero.   

In the mid-19th century a "filibuster" came to mean a meddler or troublemaker, especially a US citizen who interfered in the affairs of Central American nations. For example, William Walker (1824-1860) has been described as an "adventurer, filibuster, and revolutionary leader who succeeded in making himself president of Nicaragua (1856–57)."*

Of course, a filibuster also came to mean a long, windy senatorial speech intended to thwart passage of specific legislation. Regardless of your political persuasion (and I write this not to provoke partisan politics, but as interesting trivia related to Ocracoke and pirates!), you may be amused to discover that the word filibuster is related to pirates and senators.

You can read more about the word filibuster here: http://www.merriam-webster.com/blog/how-senators-are-like-pirates.htm.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an article by island resident, Crystal Canterbury, about her very first visit to Portsmouth Village, on the last day of 2014. You can read Part I here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news042115.htm

* http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/634642/William-Walker