Thursday, September 29, 2016

20th Century Entrepreneurs

From Ocracoke's Register of Historic Places, United States Department of the Interior:

"By the early 20th century Ocracoke's fish houses were major suppliers to such east coast fish markets as the Fulton Fish Market in New York City, bringing considerable revenue to the island. During the first two decades of the 20th century prosperous merchants such as Amasa Fulcher, who operated a store on Cockle Creek [Silver Lake Harbor], and freight boat captains such as Isaac O'Neal had substantial houses constructed."

Amasa Fulcher



















Although most people think of Ocracoke as a traditional fishing and seafaring community, many islanders were entrepreneurs and/or were closely aligned with off-island merchants, especially those in Virginia, Maryland, and New York. Even the island's 18th century European residents settled here to work as pilots guiding merchant vessels through Ocracoke Inlet and across the Sound to markets on the mainland.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about earthquakes that have affected Ocracoke and the Outer Banks. You can read the newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092116.htm.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Al Smith, 1928

In the interest of sharing Ocracoke Island history, and at the risk of inflaming partisan political polemics (there are plenty of other sites for that, please), I have decided to post this news article from the Journal and Republican and Lowville Times (Lowville, NY), September 27, 1928, about that year's presidential election:

Dry, Methodist Island is Counted for Smith

Norfolk, Va., Sept. 25 – Alfred E. Smith will carry Ocracoke Island, “the most religious spot on earth,” by a unanimous vote, according to John G. Dawson, former state Democratic chairman in North Carolina, and the Rev. C. M. Pollard. Ocracoke is in the Atlantic Ocean on the North Carolina coast. It has 750 inhabitants, all Methodists. The place has been dry for thirty years and there is not any officer of the law there. “Ocracoke is the strongest Al Smith center in America not excepting New York,” said Mr. Dawson. “I don’t know why, but I believe it is because he is being abused by people who do not stand well on the island. There will not be a Republican vote cast on the island.”

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I am not sure how Ocracoke actually voted in 1928, but the above article is a bit curious. Although Ocracoke township has traditionally been a Democratic stronghold (of course, there were also Republicans on the island), Smith was a vocal opponent of Prohibition. He was also the first Catholic nominee for President.

Harris & Ewing collection, Library of Congress


















I wonder why the North Carolina state Democratic chairman thought Methodist teetotalers would vote unanimously for a strong anti-Prohibition Catholic. Did they? And who were the "people who do not stand well" who were abusing Al Smith? Maybe some old-time O'cockers know the answers.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about earthquakes that have affected Ocracoke and the Outer Banks. You can read the newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092116.htm.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Wreck of the Steamboat Home

"In October of 1837 the Steamboat Home wrecked on Ocracoke Island. It was the worst sea disaster ever to occur on Ocracoke. Ninety persons lost their lives that Monday night, October 9, as the 550-ton wooden, sidewheel steamer broke apart in the surf.

"The Home was a 198 foot luxury vessel which, although it had made two previous voyages from New York City to Charleston, South Carolina, seems not to have been designed or constructed to endure the vicissitudes of the often unpredictable and violent weather in the North Atlantic, especially near the dreaded Cape Hatteras. This harsh lesson was learned only through unspeakable tragedy."

From Steamboat Disasters & Railroad Accidents
in the United States by S.A. Howland


















So begins Chapter 12 of my 2008 book, Digging up Uncle Evans.  It is a harrowing story, and it was best told by old Arcade Williams and passed on to Walter Howard. I include an abridged version of the story in my book, along with other stories, ghost tales and history. The full version of the story is available at http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news100104.htm.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about earthquakes that have affected Ocracoke and the Outer Banks. You can read the newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092116.htm.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Whales

In case you missed it, our August, 2015 Ocracoke Newsletter recounted the story of whale and porpoise fishing on the Outer Banks. Most North Carolina whaling was based at Cape Lookout and Shackleford Banks, although it extended throughout the region from Hatteras, southward.

Cutting up Whale Blubber










Two mentions in The Weekly Record (Beaufort, NC) in February, 1888 indicate the importance of whale and porpoise fishing to interests in eastern North Carolina:

"A medium size whale was captured near Cape Lookout last week by Capt. Tyre Moor's whaling crew. His whaleship measured about 37 feet in length and will pay the captures about $1,500." (February 17, 1888)

"The whale and porpoise factory of Bell, Daniel and Watson are in full blast with 30 operations in the various departments of work." (February18, 1888)

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about earthquakes that have affected Ocracoke and the Outer Banks. You can read the newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092116.htm

Friday, September 23, 2016

Wizard Oil

Ellen Marie Cloud has collected and published a booklet of "Abstracts from Miscellaneous Newspapers Published in Beaufort, NC 1876-1893." In the Weekly Record, February 3, 1888 we learn that "Russia and Germany both continue active war preparations," that there was "a bill introduced to the U.S. Senate by Senator Ransom to appropriate $500,000 to build a light house on Hatteras Shoals," and that "Wizard Oil is for sale by Allen Davis."

Of course, we know that Europe erupted in war a quarter century later. In other news, as it turned out, in spite of the half million dollar appropriation, a lighthouse was not constructed on Hatteras Shoals until 1966! So that leaves "Wizard Oil"? I wondered what that was.



















I soon learned that Hamlin's Wizard Oil was a patent medicine sold in pharmacies and medicine shows (and apparently by individuals) as a cure-all for everything from headache to cancer. Their slogan was "There is no Sore it will Not Heal, No Pain it will not Subdue."

More than one half of its volume was alcohol (no wonder it subdued pain). Other ingredients included camphor, ammonia, chloroform, sassafras, cloves, and turpentine. No doubt many an Ocracoke Islander ingested or applied Wizard Oil to cure various ailments.

From what I gather in my reading some forms of "Wizard Oil" are still around seducing gullible consumers.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about earthquakes that have affected Ocracoke and the Outer Banks. You can read the newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092116.htm

Thursday, September 22, 2016

U-576

On July 15, 1942, a convoy of nineteen allied merchant vessels and five escorts were steaming around Diamond Shoals when they were attacked by the German type VIIc submarine, U-576. The Nicaraguan ship, Bluefields, was sunk immediately. Two other ships were damaged. When the U-Boot unexpectedly surfaced in the midst of the convoy she was attacked with deck guns, aircraft, and depth charges. The U-576 sank to the bottom.

US Government Document












Since 2009 several research, educational, and governmental agencies had been searching for the sub. In 2014, with the aid of sonar, the wreck (along with the wreck of the Bluefields) was located 721 feet below the surface, about 35 miles east of Ocracoke. However, it was only on August 24 of this year that researchers got their first look at U-576. She was lying on her side with all hatches sealed, presumably entombing all 45 crewmen. The oldest sailor was 29 years old.

According to NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), an estimated 90 vessels, including U-576 and three other subs, were sunk off the Outer Banks between January and July 1942. 1,600 men (1,100 of them merchant seamen) were killed.

You can read more of this story here.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about earthquakes that have affected Ocracoke and the Outer Banks. You can read the newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092116.htm.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Newsletter

We have just published our latest Ocracoke Newsletter. This month I write about earthquakes (yes, earthquakes) that have affected the Outer Banks. You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092116.htm.