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.

Figure 1. Howard Street, Ocracoke, N.C. Photo: author.

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.

Figure 2. Howard Family Cemetery, Ocracoke, N.C. Photo: author.

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.

Figure 3. Maria Bragg monument, Howard Family Cemetery. Ocracoke, N.C. Photo: author.

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!”

Figure 4. Edgar Howard monument, Howard Family Cemetery. Ocracoke, N.C. Photo: author.

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.

Figure 5. Robert W. Gaskill monument. Howard Family Cemetery, Ocracoke, N.C. Photo: author.

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.

Figure 6. Robert Howard monument. Howard Family Cemetery, Ocracoke, N.C. Photo: author.

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).

Figure 7. Hurricane tags on The Village Craftsmen gallery. Ocracoke, N.C. Photo: author.

A few paces east brings one to a house with a fantastic fence with whelk and other shells atop the pales (figure 8).

Figure 8. Whelk shells atop fence pales, Howard Street. Ocracoke, N.C. Photo: author.

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.

Figure 9. Grizzled old live oak on Howard Street. Ocracoke, N.C. Photo: author.

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).

Figure 10. Adventitious propeller in grizzled live oak bole. Howard Street, Ocracoke, N.C. Photo: author.

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.

Figure 11. Berried tree. Howard Street, Ocracoke, N.C. Photo: author.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Scranton, PA

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