Wednesday, February 22, 2017

National Geographic

Many events have impacted Ocracoke and the Outer Banks. An 1846 hurricane opened the more-navigable Hatteras Inlet, thus diverting shipping away from Ocracoke. Union occupation of the Outer Banks in 1861 caused many islanders to flee, and the establishment of an ice plant on Ocracoke in 1938 helped energize commercial fishing. Other storms, wars, and "man-made" changes have had enormous consequences.

In September, 1969, a quieter, less dramatic event helped propel Ocracoke towards becoming a major tourist destination.

















Starting on page 393 of National Geographic (September, 1969), author William S. Ellis and photographer Emory Kristof devoted 29 pages documenting the appeal of the Outer Banks with history, stories, and stunning photos. Three elements of the article stand out: a two-page aerial photograph of Ocracoke Village, a three-page map locating Outer Banks shipwrecks, and the dramatic, space-eye image of the Outer Banks made by the crew of Apollo 9.

This issue of National Geographic is available numerous places on-line, and can often be found in antique stores and thrift shops.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Electrification of Ocracoke Island. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news02117.htm.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Nurses, Doctors, and Babies

Last week I wrote about island native, Kathleen Bragg. In 1974 Alice Rondthaler penned this article about her:

"Miss Kathleen Bragg, R.N., retired in February after twenty-five years of service as Ocracoke School Nurse under the Hyde County Health Service. She graduated from the Parkview Hospital in Rocky Mount in 1925 and thereafter followed her profession of nursing in various places all the way from Jacksonville, Fla., to Hatteras. She returned home to care for her father, who died in 1938, and afterward for her mother, who died in 1971. She was appointed Ocracoke School nurse in 1949 and served in weekly contacts with the school children in permanent health record-keeping for them.

Photo Courtesy OPS

















"During this time she continued her private practice at Ocracoke and she prepared for and worked in the various clinics which the County Health Service conducted. These included an annual check-up of pre-school and other students, an eye-clinic, a blood-test clinic and other special work, among adults as well as children.

"Dr. Johnson, of the Hyde and Dare County units, now retired, officiated with Mrs. Sybil Bouchard, R.N., in charge of the Hyde County Department and Mrs. Charlie Cahoon, recording secretary, served also at the clinics, with mainland doctors who made special trips to Ocracoke.

"Miss Bragg lived at her home here during the years when not only did Ocracoke have no resident doctor, but there was no one available, and it was she who served as doctor, as well as nurse, at the birth of many Ocracoke children now grown to adulthood.

"The Hatteras Clinic and its resident doctor has relieved this responsibility for Ocracoke but high winds and high tides have prevented expectant mothers from getting to their doctor, and babies have arrived in emergency situations in strange places. In 1963 little Andy S. O'Neal was born in a C.G. helicopter 810 feet above Camden, and as late as 1971 Dr. Burroughs of Hatteras Medical Center, was brought by amphibious U.S.C.G. Larc to officiate at the birth of Beverly Williams, on the C.G. boat, prevented by high winds and low tides from getting from the Ocracoke to the Hatteras side of the Inlet. Weather emergencies will always be an emergency factor from time to time on Ocracoke Island."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Electrification of Ocracoke Island. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news02117.htm

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Electrification of Ocracoke

Visitors to Ocracoke often wonder how we get electricity to the island. Power first came to Ocracoke in 1936 when Stanley Wahab housed a salvaged generator in his hotel. The island continued to rely on locally produced generator power until 1966, when electric cables were attached to the Oregon Inlet bridge and laid under Hatteras Inlet.

Ocracoke Power & Light, 1937













Today we rely on power generated in Virginia for normal usage, and we also have a four million dollar generator on site for use in emergencies. We also have a newly installed microgrid of solar panels and Tesla batteries.

To read more about the electrification of Ocracoke Island follow this link to our latest Ocracoke Newsletter: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news022117.htm.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Kathleen Bragg

Native islander, Kathleen Bragg (1899-1975), was the daughter and granddaughter of Ocracoke Inlet pilots. In 1925 Kathleen graduated from the nursing school at Rocky Mount Hospital, and returned home to care for her family and neighbors. In those days there was no resident doctor on the island.

Kathleen Bragg, courtesy OPS















In addition to caring for the island's sick and infirm, Kathleen also delivered more than 100 babies.

In 1953 Kathleen began working as the Ocracoke School nurse. She spent Wednesdays at the school, often administering vaccine injections. As Alton Ballance writes in his book, Ocracokers, "high absenteeism was not uncommon on Wednesdays."

You can read more about Kathleen here: http://www.ocracokecurrent.com/86202.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Ellen Marie Cloud's first-person account of the Great Ocracoke Lighthouse Window Heist. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012117.htm.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Death

James (1839-1904) and Zilphia Williams (1841-1919) Howard had twelve children, eight of whom (Annie, Cordelia, Elsie, Florence, William, Edith, Stacy, & Thomas) died very young. The eight unfortunate children are buried along Howard Street. Each of the four headstones has one child's name on one side, and another child's name on the other side. Eight footstones, with initials, lie between the dual graves.














Lorena (1866-1897), Homer (1868-1947), Sabra (1870-1951), and Wheeler (1874-1940) survived to maturity. In 1940 Homer sent a postcard to his son, Lawton (who was living off the island), explaining that his brother Wheeler had just died.


















The postcard reads, "Dear Son With a Sad heart I Pen you this note. Brother Wheeler died Saturday eve, Father Homer Nov. 2, 1940"

Before Ocracoke had a modern Health Clinic with a resident doctor, and before islanders had easy access to professional undertakers, death was a frequent companion that Ocracoke residents dealt with regularly. They coped as best they could.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Ellen Marie Cloud's first-person account of the Great Ocracoke Lighthouse Window Heist. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012117.htm.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Gaskins-O'Neal House

The Gaskins-O'Neal House on Howard Street was built ca. 1883.

https://www.ocracokeislandrealty.com/vacation-rentals/gaskins-oneal












It is a traditional "story-and-a-jump" house, and still retains its original wide, single shoulder chimney and original rear shed. The front gabled dormers may have been added at a later date.

The 1883 deed for this property, owned at one time by Solomon Howard (1807-1853), to William W. Gaskins (1841-1916) mentions buildings on the property. However, oral history indicates that the current house was built for William Gaskins. The original buildings were probably demolished before Gaskins built this house about 1883. Stanley O'Neal (1885-1956) and his wife Mozelle later owned the property.

Photo Courtesy Ellen Cloud


















You can read more about Stanley O'Neal here.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Ellen Marie Cloud's first-person account of the Great Ocracoke Lighthouse Window Heist. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012117.htm


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Home Brew

Several years ago I wrote about Ocracoke's homemade meal wine.

Meal Wine Brewing









This is what Cecil Bragg has to say about it in his book, Ocracoke Island: Pearl of the Outer Banks:

"Corn meal wine, now there was a concoction that had a kick like an eight gauge shot gun when fired. Without giving the formula, let's just say it was made from corn meal, sugar and yeast cakes, and set in the sun for fermenting. After three days it was drawn off and bottled. It was now drinkable, and the longer it sat the more potent it became. One old fellow used to say that three glasses full would make anyone fight a circular saw. What a revelry often happened, and sometimes a few fist fights, too."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Ellen Marie Cloud's first-person account of the Great Ocracoke Lighthouse Window Heist. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012117.htm

   

Monday, February 13, 2017

Cream for Coffee

Ocracoke didn't always have easy access to fresh milk and vegetables. 

In his book, Pieces of Eight, Coins, and Ocracoke, Paul Mosher relates stories of vacationing on Ocracoke in the early 20th century. In the late 1920s Paul writes that he "was a tourist at the time in a summer cottage (Hurricane House) down point.... I would go to [Mr. & Mrs. Amasa (Mace) Fulcher's] kitchen every day to get two quarts of fresh milk. This was before the days of homogenized milk, and the richest cream would rise to the top. We [had] contracted with Mr. Mace to buy, during our summer stay, all his surplus milk if he would import a milk cow. In the fall he could always butcher the cow. The locals dearly loved their coffee, and this cream beat Carnation milk all hollow."















Today you can buy milk, cream, and half-and-half at several local stores. But the cream that rose to the top of fresh unhomogenized milk was the best!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Ellen Marie Cloud's first-person account of the Great Ocracoke Lighthouse Window Heist. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012117.htm.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Pilots

Following is a reprint of a 2011 blog post, with a few additions:

In 1715 the North Carolina Colonial Assembly enacted a statute to establish pilots at Ocracoke Inlet. Masters of sailing vessels needed pilots with local knowledge to guide their ships through the inlet, across the bar, and into the ever-changing channels that led to deeper water in Pamlico Sound, and from there to mainland ports, in the vicinity of which four-fifths of the colony's residents were living.

Island Road Sign Remembering Ocracoke's Pilots












In spite of the 1715 legislation, pilots of record do not appear until almost two decades later. In 1731 the Governor of North Carolina, George Burrington, wrote that other North Carolina inlets had become so dangerous that most sailing vessels were forced to use Ocracoke Inlet. In 1734 Miles Gale became the first captain to make a formal request to be appointed as a pilot at Ocracoke Inlet (however, see http://villagecraftsmen.blogspot.com/2016/10/patsey-caraway.html for more information about an early Ocracoke Inlet pilot).

For many years Ocracoke Inlet pilots then played an important role in the history of eastern North Carolina. In addition to providing safe passage to mainland ports, the pilots were required to notify port commissioners of incoming vessels carrying persons afflicted with contagious diseases.

There is no comprehensive list of Ocracoke Inlet pilots. However, David Stick, in his book The Outer Banks of North Carolina, lists the following early pilots:

• Miles Gale
• James Bun
• David Wallace
• John Dixon
• Francis Jackson
• George Howard
• Lorable [probably Zora Bable] Gaskins

Stick lists the following Ocracoke Inlet pilots as of February, 1773 (they had petitioned the legislature to prevent what they considered unfair competition by unlicensed black slaves and freemen):

• John Williams
• George Bell
• John Bragg
• William Bragg
• Adam Gaskins
• Richard Wade
• William Styerin
• Simon Hall

A Frenchman, Pierre Auguste [Augustus] Cabarrus (1758-1819), is also known to have been a pilot during the early period (See our July, 2016, Ocracoke Newsletter).

Twenty-seven pilots are recorded in the 1850 census, the first census to list occupations:

• Oliver Bragg
• Nathaniel Bragg
• Benjamine Gaskins
• Jacob Gaskill
• Richard Gaskins
• Robert Gaskill
• Robert D. Gaskill
• Thomas Gaskill
• Abner Howard
• Wallace Howard
• Benjamine Jackson
• George W. Jackson
• Benjamine G. O'Neal
• William O'Neal
• Martin O'Neal
• John O'Neal
• Simon O'Neal
• Howard Jackson
• Thomas O'Neal
• John Gaskins
• Amasa Simpson
• Wallace Simpson
• William S. Tolson
• Caswell Williams
• John Williams
• Francis Williams
• Lemuel Salter

Hatteras Inlet opened in 1846. Because the new inlet was more navigable than Ocracoke Inlet, most of the pilots soon moved to Hatteras. By 1900 only two Ocracoke residents, Samuel Bragg & James Bragg, are listed as pilots.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Ellen Marie Cloud's first-person account of the Great Ocracoke Lighthouse Window Heist. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012117.htm.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Coffee Shop

As I write, Ocracoke is home to two coffee shops. The Ocracoke Coffee Company, located on the Back Road, has been a popular destination for visitors and locals for a number of years, offering coffee, smoothies, and breakfast fare. The Magic Bean Coffee Shop, on School Road, opened in 2015, serving organic fair trade coffee, smoothies, and muffins.

In the 1940s Ocracoke native, Stanley Wahab, opened Ocracoke's first Coffee Shop. It was a popular local attraction for a number of years.

Photo Courtesy of the Outer Banks History Center















I am wondering if any of our readers can identify the building that housed the island's first coffee shop. If so, please leave a comment.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Ellen Marie Cloud's first-person account of the Great Ocracoke Lighthouse Window Heist. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012117.htm

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Lighthouse Repairs, 1950s

When the Ocracoke Lighthouse was built in 1823 spiral wooden stairs were attached to the inside walls. In the 1950s those stairs were removed, and a central metal stairway was installed. My daughter, Amy, told me that she thought the external mortar on the lighthouse was removed at the same time, and new stucco applied. I had never heard that, and was skeptical. Later that day she sent me this 1950s photo:


















If you enlarge the photo you can clearly see where the stucco has been removed to expose the red bricks on the windows side. I learn something new every day! The solid brick walls are 5 feet thick at the bottom, and 2 feet thick at the top.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Ellen Marie Cloud's first-person account of the Great Ocracoke Lighthouse Window Heist. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012117.htm.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Photo Quiz 3, Answer

Below is a current photo of where the Trolley Stop One structure once stood (see our post for yesterday, Monday, February 6, 2017). Eduardo's is the building visible in the bottom right of this photo.












The Trolley (first a roofed, open-sided wagon pulled by a truck, later a step van) offered tours of the village starting in about 1976. The building in yesterday's photo served as ticket office and ice cream stand. In about 1978 the ticket office was moved beside the bank, expanded, and operated as ticket office and a "hamburger & ice cream" self-serve restaurant. Today it serves as the location for Ju-Jitsu instruction, behind Native Seafood.

Photos below are from the Billy Eley Collection at the Ocracoke Preservation Museum.
































Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Ellen Marie Cloud's first-person account of the Great Ocracoke Lighthouse Window Heist. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012117.htm.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Photo Quiz 3

Our third, and final, photo quiz is this picture of Trolley Stop One.














I wonder how many of our readers remember the Ocracoke Trolley, and know where this structure was located. Also, do you know who operated the Trolley, and when? If you do, please leave a comment. I will post more information tomorrow.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Ellen Marie Cloud's first-person account of the Great Ocracoke Lighthouse Window Heist. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012117.htm.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Photo Quiz 2, Answer

The photo in yesterday's post was of the Island Inn dining room. Below is a current picture of the Inn.












I was not able to take a photo of the dining room because the Inn is closed. Today the Island Inn, one of the most prominent historic structures in the village, is for sale. The center 2-story section of the Inn was built in 1901 as the Odd Fellows Lodge, on land purchased from James and Zilphia Howard. It originally sat on the other side of Lighthouse Road, and was moved in the 1920s.

In addition to serving as a fraternal lodge, the building has been used as a private dwelling, the island's first public school, a coffee shop, and a naval officers club.

Although many islanders are concerned about the future of the Island Inn, to my knowledge no individuals or non-profit organizations have sufficient funds to purchase and rehabilitate the aging structure. Perhaps one of our readers will be motivated to restore the Inn to its former prominence. For more information click here.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Ellen Marie Cloud's first-person account of the Great Ocracoke Lighthouse Window Heist. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012117.htm.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Photo Quiz 2

Below is a photo of the dining room of a popular island restaurant from the 1980s.














If you can identify the restaurant and/or have stories you would like to share about dining there or working in this restaurant, please leave a comment. I talked with the former manager of the restaurant several days ago. We laughed about all the pranks and shenanigans that went on in the kitchen!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Ellen Marie Cloud's first-person account of the Great Ocracoke Lighthouse Window Heist. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012117.htm.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Photo Quiz 1, Answer

The house in yesterday's photo is the James Hatton Wahab house. Below is a photograph I made a few days ago.












This 1 1/2 story central gabled house was built ca. 1886. The columned stoop and porches visible in yesterday's photo were added in 1936-1937. The house was raised, additional rooms added, and the porches expanded around the turn of the 21st century. This house was originally built for James Hatton Wahab (1861-1915) and his wife Martha Ann Howard Wahab (1867-1949). James Hatton was a notable islander who served in the US Life-Saving Service.

Hatton and Martha Ann's son, Robert Stanley Wahab (1888-1967), continued to live in the house. Stanley established and operated the island's first ice and electric plant, began the Wahab Village and Wahab Hotel (now Blackbeard's Lodge), and turned the former Odd Fellows Lodge building into an inn that was the forerunner of today's Island Inn.

Stanley Wahab was one of Ocracoke's first native entrepreneurs and one of the first to envision the island's tourist potential. Stanley's widow, Myra Wahab (1903-2002), lived in the house until her death. Stanley's nephew, Chip Stevens, owner of Blackbeard's Lodge, and his family live there today.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Ellen Marie Cloud's first-person account of the Great Ocracoke Lighthouse Window Heist. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012117.htm.