The Soundfront Inn
Captain Elisha Chase, born March 13, 1790 in Swansea, Massachusetts,
was descended from a long line of New England sea captains and
businessmen. Elisha’s great-great-great grandfather William
Chase, had emigrated to Massachusetts from Sussex, England in the
During his sailing career Elisha Chase occasionally anchored his vessel
at Ocracoke. There he met Thurza Howard (1803-1849), daughter of
William and Agnes Mason Howard. She was the great-granddaughter of
William Howard, Sr., colonial owner of Ocracoke Island. On February 14,
1821 Elisha and Thurza were married.
In 1828 Elisha Chase purchased, from the heirs of Thomas Wahab, an
Ocracoke parcel of “3 acres more or less” with a
view of Pamlico Sound. Shortly thereafter he and Eliza had a large
2-story, double-pile (two rooms deep), gable-roofed frame house built
on their property. Nearby they added a horse stable and outbuildings.
Soundfront Inn Today:
Soon after his marriage to Thurza Howard, Elisha Chase entered into a
business partnership with his father-in-law. They operated a retail
store known as Howard and Chase, purveyors of dry goods and other
Elisha and Thurza had four children: Eliza Ann Chase (she died in 1824,
when she was less than two years old, and is buried on Ocracoke
Island), William Howard Chase, George Howard Chase, and Thurza Chase.
In 1834 Elisha and Thurza Chase sold their property to
brothers, William Hatton Howard and George Washington Howard. With
their three remaining children, Elisha and Thurza left Ocracoke to join
a wagon train heading west. Somewhere in Tennessee both Elisha and
Thurza fell ill, and lay unconscious or in delirium for several days.
When Elisha awoke he learned that his wife had died. Distraught, he
claimed to have medicine in his satchel that would have cured her.
Thurza was buried alongside the trail.
In March of 1835, seaman Tilmon Farrow of Ocracoke wrote a three page
letter to Boston attorney William Davies Sohier in regards to
suspicious dealings in dry goods “sold uncommon
Howard & Chase’s store. There was also a question
“uncurrent” (outdated or illegitimate) bank bills
a Capt. Weeks, and the “robbing” of a vessel.
was sought for information about these affairs, but as he
this state some time last spring…and not yet been heard of
can find out” he was unavailable. He left behind
letters” and “a considerable amount of
seems not to have been a fugitive, however, since his destination,
Boonville, Missouri (Cooper County), was known to Farrow.
Eventually Elisha and his three children settled in Callaway County,
Missouri, not far from Boonville. He soon became a merchant in the town
of Portland, Auxvasse Township. Elisha married again, this time to Anne
(surname unknown), and they had one child, Henry L. Chase. After Elisha
died in 1844 his estate was divided equally between his son William
Howard Chase, his daughter Thurza and her husband John R. Seal,
Elisha’s widow and her new husband Lewis Bolton, a trust for
minor son George Howard Chase, and a trust for his minor son Henry L.
In 1866 a connection was established between the H & L Chase
company of Boston (“importers, manufacturers and dealers in
& bagging,” Henry S. Chase, H. Lincoln Chase, and
Chase, proprietors) and St. Louis, Missouri, suggesting a possible tie
between Elisha Chase’s family and their New England relatives.
In 1867 George Howard purchased the former Ocracoke Island property of
Elisha and Thurza Howard Chase from the court. A year later he sold it
to Captain Samuel Dudley Bragg (1836-1902). Capt. Bragg and his wife,
Mariah Styron Bragg (1847-1917), lived there with their seven children.
Fearing that he would be lost at sea, Capt. Bragg immediately sold the
house and land to “his wife and all his children and children
In 1892 Samuel Dudley Bragg, Jr. (1870-1892) and his brother Maltby
(1877-1892) were on the mainland, having sold a catch of fish. As they
were preparing to sail back to Ocracoke the weather deteriorated. They
were advised not to attempt to cross the sound in such weather, but the
brothers insisted, saying they knew the waters and they would be
alright. They cast off and were never heard from again.
In 1902 a schooner captain brought his vessel to an Ocracoke anchorage
because his ship was leaking. Not being able to make the repair, he
left his vessel at Ocracoke under the care of Capt. Samuel Dudley
Bragg, Sr. After Bragg finished the caulking a tug arrived to tow the
schooner to Norfolk. Capt. Bragg and his son, James, accompanied the
schooner. After rounding Cape Hatteras they encountered high winds and
rough seas. The captain and crew of the tug, fearing that the heavy
seas and strong wind would pull the bowsprit out of the schooner,
decided to "cut her loose." The schooner disappeared in the storm and
Mariah Bragg is buried near her home. Her marker reads "She hath done
what she could."
Eventually Capt. and Mrs. Bragg’s son, Gary (1881-1954),
sole owner of the house and land. He remodeled the house with a hip
roof, made several other changes, and named his property the Cedar
Grove Inn. As Ocracoke’s first innkeeper he catered primarily
hunters and anglers. Later he built several small cottages which were
rented to Navy personnel during World War II.
In 1951 Gary Bragg sold his property to Warwick and Margueritte Boos
who moved to the island from Illinois. They operated the business as
the Soundfront Inn until the early1970s. Today the house is a
popular rental property owned by retired Ocracoke school teacher, David
For more information about this rental house click here. As David says, "You
are invited to return to a simpler time. The Soundfront Inn retains
much of its original charm. Antiques and local decor combined with
tasteful remodeling add to the ambiance of your stay. Take a vacation