As many of our readers know, it is impossible to stroll through Ocracoke village for very long without encountering a cemetery. More than eighty family graveyards are scattered throughout the village, many tucked away on low ridges or hills in side yards and along footpaths between historic home sites. Some are overgrown with briers and vines. Others are well tended. A half dozen old cemeteries line the British Cemetery Road, and quite a few small enclosures on Howard Street protect the graves of several branches of the Howard family. Scions of old island families lie in peace behind the lighthouse, near the NPS Visitors Center, hidden away at Springer’s Point, and elsewhere along historic lanes.
No one knows for sure how many unmarked graves lie in side yards, on small tussocks, near the sound shore, or even under the gentle waves of Pamlico Sound. Ancient wooden markers have rotted away, storms have scattered most of them, and erosion has left many graves under water. Add to that the dozens, almost certainly hundreds, of sailors and castaways whose bodies washed upon our beaches, and who were buried in the dunes. And who could forget the pirates and buccaneers who frequented Ocracoke in the early eighteenth century? Blackbeard, and many of his crew, as well as British sailors who fought to put an end to his depredations, may well be buried on the shore near where they fell and died. No doubt at least a few of the island’s earliest visitors (members of the Native American Wocon tribe) are buried here and there within the village.
In 1973 Hyde History, Inc, published In Memory Of… An Index to Hyde County Cemeteries compiled by Martha Rebecca Swindell and Romulus Sanderson Spencer, Jr. Pages 277 – 328 list every island cemetery that was identified, along with a map (reproduced below), and detailed information about each grave (name, dates, epitaphs, and additional family information).
Our island cemeteries are a rich resource for local history, genealogy, and other family information. The inscriptions are sometimes just factual, frequently inspirational, often sad, sometimes humorous, and once in a while downright confusing. Following is a small sampling of epitaphs (in no particular order) from many of our Ocracoke Island cemeteries.
Elnora Ballance (4/14/1882-7/11/1969)
She was as good as goodness is.
Her acts and all her words were kind.
And high above the memories
I hold the beauty of her mind.
Euphemia Curtis (1819-9/28/1882)
Religion filled her soul with peace
Upon a dying bed
Let faith look up, let striving cease
She lives with Christ our head.
James W. Howard (3/26/1839-9/9/1904)
Tis hard to break the tender cord
When love has bound the heart,
Tis hard, so hard, to speak the words
We must forever part.
William Jasper Howard (9/26/1895-9/30/1895)
This little rose so young, so fair,
Called hence by yearly doom,
Just came to show how sweet a flower
In Paradise could bloom.
Edward Farrow (10/31/1839-6/21/1878)
Charlotte Ann O’Neal
A Tender Mother and a Faithful Friend
James Harvey (Hobby) Fulcher (7/27/1868-8/30/1930)
We miss thee
Wilson Tilmon Farrow, Sr. (11/22/1798-7/23/1880)
To public trust, faithful & in relations of private life as husband, father & friend true.
Bersheba Garrish (7/28/1885-12/18/1905)
When we see a precious blossom
that we tended with care,
Rudely taken from our bosom,
how our aching hearts despair.
Napoleon Howard (9/1/1888-9/15/1957)
North Carolina PVT Co G 57 Pioneer INF World War I
Lydie Williams (10/14/1886-2/27/1910)
Tis hard to see our dear ones die,
To give up those we love
That shed a joy around our way.
Nancy Best (3/15/1801-9/10/1857
But words are wanting to say what,
Think what a wife should be:
She was that.
Jordan P. Dailey (2/9/1806-12/31/1843)
Tis over, that deep sigh was the last,
The last of mortal grief and pain.
Death’s gloomy horror all is past
And finish’d all this mournful reign.
Ann Howard ((1724-11/24/1841)
Wife of George Howard, born 1724.
Died November 24,1841.
Aged 117 years
Lo! the prisoner is released.
Lightened of her fleshly load.
Where the weary are at rest
She is gathered unto God.
William Howard (3/15/1776-8/30/1851)
As for man his days are as grass,
As a flower of the field so he flourished.
For the wind passeth over it,
And it is gone,
and the place thereof shall know it no more.
George H. Wahab (19/3/1827-1/22/1877)
Unveil thy bosom faithful tomb
Take this new treasure to thy trust.
And give these sacred relics room
To slumber in the silent dust.
Salina (Baba) Williams (5/10/1912-7/28/1969)
To Love Someone More Dearly Every day,
To Help a Wondering Child to Find Its Way,
To Ponder o’er a Noble Thought
And Pray and Smile When Evening Falls.
That Was Her Task.
Annie Lee Garrish (3/28/1880-8/3/1966)
A tender mother and faithful friend
Thadeus Constantine Gaskins (3/10/1887-5/17/1961)
Capt. Marvin Wyche Howard (9/11/1897-3/26/1969)
Sunset and morning star,
and one clear call for me,
and may there be no mourning of the bar
when I put out to sea.
Edgar Howard (11/19/1904-7/6/1990)
You Ain’t Heard Nothing Yet!