The town of Ocracoke is about the same size as an average U.S. State University campus. Devastated by hurricane Dorian in 2019, visits in March and November 2020 showed that it is on the path to recovery.
Early on, the island was a haven for piratey goodness. The Pedia of Wiki will quickly tell you that Edward Teach (Blackbeard) liked to hang out on Ocracoke and was finally killed there in 1718. The pirates may have been given the boot, but the Howard family, putatively stemming from Blackbeard’s former quartermaster, William Howard, became substantial landowners on the island, as I discovered from a distant descendent of his on my most recent visit. So, there is no surprise that there is a Howard Street in Ocracoke.
Howard Street has a distinct charm; it is unevenly lined with grizzled old live oaks, is unpaved, and the small yet crowded Howard family cemetery lies along the north side of the street between School Road and Lawton Lane (on the right in figure 1; seen directly in figure 2). On the south side you will find the Village Craftsmen gallery, owned by one line of Howard’s descendants.
The monument to Maria Bragg (figure 3), who died in 1880, is typical of the markers in this modest cemetery. It would have to be modest: it gets periodically inundated by hurricanes. The marker of Edgar H. Howard (figure 4), who died quite recently, stands out for its banjo and epitaph, “You ain’t heard nothing yet!”
The interesting Gaskill monument (figure 5), which bears upon it another of the island’s great surnames, has in its upper register a stone arch with a prominent keystone raised upon columns. A crown fills the lumen of the arch, and from it descend two sprigs of laurel. Within the arch, under the springers, is one of those open gates images, with a scroll running down between them reading “AT REST.” It’s not quite clear to me what the grill or grid-shaped structure under the gate is meant to be. You’ll forgive the photo: I had to look sharply down over a fence to see the whole thing.
There is also—how could it be otherwise—the marker (figure 6) of a Howard family member, Robert Howard, who was a “Confederate Soldier.” He died in 1878, and his marker has the canonical pointed top we associate with Confederate markers.
One could continue with images from this rich and interesting cemetery, but I’d rather look at a few more sights as one walks down the street. In fact, at the Village Craftsmen there are a series of tags showing the height of the tidal surges of various hurricanes in recent years (figure 7).
A few paces east brings one to a house with a fantastic fence with whelk and other shells atop the pales (figure 8).
On the way down Howard Street back to our car, we passed a fantastically grizzled old live oak (figure 9) that’s visibly had to weather all of the hurricanes listed in figure 7.
In the cracked and pitted bole of this tree was a propeller, whether embedded by human hand or storm, I don’t know (figure 10).
And finally, before turning off the street we saw wonderful red berries on a tree I can’t identify (figure 11). I don’t think it’s holly.