Friday, May 27, 2016

Island Character

Ocracoke has never had a shortage of wonderful island characters. Some that come to mind are Rob Hanks (who, in the 1950s, would tell you the story of Ocracoke for a dime), Wilbur Gaskill (who carved birds and entertained visitors with crazy hand gestures), Horatio Williams (who sank his schooner during the Civil War to keep it out of the hands of both the North & the South), Bill Askren (a hippy before there were hippies), and Mad Mag Howard (who liked to stand in graveyards after dark). I also think of Henry (with the 3-lgged dog), Don Wood (whose living room also served as his workshop), and Dale (he works sometimes at Village Craftsmen!).

Just a few days ago I joined several friends, including Susan, an Ocracoke property owner and part-time resident, for a walk on the beach. Susan had to point out her new bumper sticker:







Susan's house is full of creative things: colorful quilts of her own design, numerous animal bones and skulls, elaborate crucifixes and statues...and baby doll heads.

"You know, Susan," I said to her, "you are a wonderful person, full of love and compassion, smart, and incredibly talented and creative. But those baby doll heads are kind of weird."

"Philip, you would be surprised to know how many people collect baby doll heads," she replied.

With nothing more to be said, we then proceeded to enjoy our walk on the beach.

Just another Ocracoke Island Character!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the dramatic story of life-saver Rasmus Midgett and his rescue of the crew of the barkentine Priscilla in August, 1899. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news052116.htm.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Rabbits

Ocracoke has historically not had an abundance of non-human mammals. However, during the last several decades squirrels, deer, raccoons, and mink have either been introduced deliberately, have swum to the island, or otherwise found their way here. They seem to be thriving. There might even be possums on the island, and bears have been known to occasionally swim over here from the mainland. Of course, we have mice and rats (what area of the country doesn't?)

One of the cutest critters is the rabbit. They are seen most frequently in the early morning hours nibbling in the mowed grass beside NC 12. I believe this is a marsh rabbit. I took the photo a few days ago. He/she didn't seem frightened until I approached within a couple of feet.












This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the dramatic story of life-saver Rasmus Midgett and his rescue of the crew of the barkentine Priscilla in August, 1899. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news052116.htm.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mr. West

I had heard about the Rev. Mr. West, 19th century pastor of Ocracoke's Northern Methodist Church (Wesley Chapel). Then, one day I came across this brief article from the New Berne Weekly Journal (New Bern, NC), July 19, 1894:

"We hear that the charges against Rev. Mr. West, the Northern Methodist pastor at Ocracoke, have been investigated and that he has been acquitted."

You might wonder what the charges were. Read on.

Wesley Chapel


















Wesley Chapel’s sixth pastor, Rev. W. E. West, was known to take a drink now and again. According to Elizabeth Howard, as recounted in Alton Ballance’s book, Ocracokers, “[t]his preacher had a very good delivery. He’d get in the pulpit and be a little under the influence of intoxicating beverages. One woman said that she would much rather hear him preach drunk than hear some sober.”

In June 1894, Mr. West was investigated by church officials on the charge of drunkenness, but, as the article above attests, was acquitted. One can only wonder what was going on behind the scenes!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the dramatic story of life-saver Rasmus Midgett and his rescue of the crew of the barkentine Priscilla in August, 1899. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news052116.htm.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Ocracoke Scrapbooks

Thanks, in part, to a grant from the Ocracoke Occupancy Tax Board to the Ocracoke Preservation Society nine scrapbooks in the Society's collection have now been digitized and added to DigitalNC. These scrapbooks range from the 1940s to the 1980s and include photographs, newspaper clippings, brochures, booklets, drawings, letters, maps, short stories, and histories about Ocracoke.

Below is a photo from one of the scrapbooks. It is the ship's clock from the wreck of the Victoria S, 1925:













The newspaper articles are often about local people and families, events, and news such as park projects and ferries. The brochures and booklets are typically informational, about nature, animals, boats, and lighthouses on the Outer Banks and Ocracoke Island .

The 1955-1981 scrapbook in particular features information about lighthouses and lighthouse keepers and ships and sailors. The 1956-1980 scrapbook is full of photographs from Ocracoke, including buildings, houses, ships, and the lighthouse.

The photo below is typical. It is the freight boat, Bessie Virginia:
















All of the scrapbooks can be accessed here: 
http://library.digitalnc.org/cdm/search/collection/scrapbooks/searchterm/Ocracoke!Ocracoke%20Scrapbook/field/all!all/mode/all!all/conn/and!and/order/nosort/ad/asc

These scrapbooks contain a wealth of historic information that was once difficult to access, but is now available to residents, visitors, and researchers from their laptops or other devices. We hope you enjoy perusing these on-line scrapbooks.

I will periodically share specific stories, photos, and other documents in future blog posts.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the dramatic story of life-saver Rasmus Midgett and his rescue of the crew of the barkentine Priscilla in August, 1899. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news052116.htm.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Rasmus Midgett

In 1899 a massive hurricane struck the Outer Banks. The barkentine Priscilla was one of many ships wrecked in August of that year. In 1903 Pearson's Magazine published "A History of the United States Life-Saving Service" by Theodore Waters. In the article Waters relates the dramatic story of lifesaver, Rasmus Midgett, and his rescue of the crew of the Priscilla.















I have re-published the article as our current Ocracoke Newsletter. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news052116.htm.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Photospheres

My son, Stefen, has been working diligently on his Ocracoke Navigator mobile web app. In addition to including over two hundred interactive maps, extensive historical content, vintage and contemporary photographs, and other information about Ocracoke Island, Stefen has added a new and exciting feature...photospheres, 360 degree spherical photographs, like those found in Google Street View, that offer an immersive viewing experience.

Click on the photo below to view a fascinating 360 degree photo of the interior of the Ocracoke Lighthouse, just one of many photospheres on OcracokeNavigator. You can use your mouse to vary the speed of rotation, and to peer up into the top of the tower.

https://www.ocracokenavigator.com/photospheres/viewer.php?photo=ocracoke-lighthouse-base-interior-photo-sphere&title=Ocracoke%20Lighthouse%20Base%20Interior&speed=-0.05









(Because of a software incompatibility, photospheres may not display properly when viewed with Chrome on a smart phone.)

To date, Stefen has published 20 photospheres of Ocracoke cultural heritage sites, cemeteries, natural areas, and historic buildings. Follow this link for more information: https://www.ocracokenavigator.com/photo-sphere-map/.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Allie (Teenie) Scott's 1968 story of Simon Garrish, Jr. and the US Life-Saving horse, Sambo. You can read it by clicking here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news042116.htm

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Another Movie Story

The last several days' posts brought back another memory from my neighbor, Al Scarborough. In 1962 he and his friend, Billy Ely, went to the movies at the Wahab Village Theater.  The film showing was Sunrise at Campobello the story of Franklin Roosevelt's bout with polio at age 40 in 1921 and how his family (and especially his wife Eleanor) coped with his illness.

As they were watching the movie, the power suddenly went out, a frequent occurrence on Ocracoke at the time. Everyone received a refund, and returned home.

In 1989, 27 years later, Billy told Al, "Remember that movie about Roosevelt we watched in 1962 when the power went out? Well, it was playing on TV the other night. I finally saw the end of the movie!"

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Allie (Teenie) Scott's 1968 story of Simon Garrish, Jr. and the US Life-Saving horse, Sambo. You can read it by clicking here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news042116.htm.