On September 7, 1959, The Raleigh News and Observer published a front-page article, with photo, titled, “Dock Situation Provokes Feud.” It concerned Robert Stanley Wahab and Sam Jones, both Ocracoke islanders.

Wahab, a native islander who had worked as an oysterman, sailor, accountant, and public school teacher, later became the owner of the Wahab Village Hotel (now Blackbeard’s Lodge) and the Silver Lake Inn & Coffee Shoppe (originally the Odd Fellows Lodge; later the Island Inn).  He has been described as a citizen “prominent in the political and economic life of the coastal region.”

Sam Jones was born in Swan Quarter, North Carolina, and made a fortune as owner of Berkley Machine Works in Norfolk, Virginia. He married Ocracoke Native Mary Ruth Kelly, daughter of Neva May Howard and a Maryland mariner. In the 1950s Sam built several large, shingled structures, including the Castle on Silver Lake and Berkley Manor.

The newspaper article included this photo (a line drawing is included for clarity):

Dock Feud Sept 7 1959
Dock Feud Sept 7 1959
Dock Feud Sketch
Dock Feud Sketch

Following is the article:

“Ocracoke—Ocracoke Island’s two millionaires are feudin’ over a dock situation that has a small boat owned by one of them cooped up.

“Stanley Wahab, owner of the penned-in craft, has filed a $10,000 damage suit against Sam Jones, the owner of neighboring property.

“He charges that Jones built a dock on the line between their properties so that the Wahab boat can’t get out or in except by being hauled over land.

“Wahab, an island native with extensive property holdings here, built his dock some years ago with a “T” on the end. When Jones decided to put his dock right on the property line, it closed in a boat Wahab usually ties alongside his dock, inshore from the “T.”

“Jones, who made his fortune in the iron foundry business in Norfolk, Va., has had large property holdings on the Island for several years. He [Sam Jones] built two large houses here, both fronting on Silver Lake, and recently was convicted in Federal Court in Norfolk of evading income taxes on the money spent for the houses. His case now is on appeal.”

A deposition from Mr. Neafee Scarborough to the U.S. Corps of Engineers, dated November 10, 1959, reads as follows:

“Dear Sir:

“Objection to the pier which was built on Silver Lake, in front of the property belonging to the Berkley Machine Works….

“The pier owned by R.S. Wahab is a T pier. Mr. Wahab had a boat tied up on the west side of the pier and when the pier, for which a permit is requested, was built Mr. Wahab could not remove his boat as it was entirely enclosed.

“The pier owned by Mr. Wahab is used by his friends to fish from, also by Yachts and fishing boats. Mr. Wahab always kept his boats moored alongside of this pier, keeping the end of the pier open so that boats could land at the end.

“Now that the pier mentioned in your public Notice belonging to the Berkley Machine works was built on the west side of Mr. Wahab’s his boat or any other boat cannot navigate to and from the pier. I cannot see why this pier was not built at least 50 ft. further to the westward both in the interest of the Berkley Machine Works and R. S. Wahab as both sides of their docks would be usable, as it is now there are two piers each having one side.

“Mr. Wahab’s pier across the end was long enough for a 100 ft. boat to tie up. Now only about a 60 ft. boat can tie up as the 100 ft. boat would extend over the Berkley Machine Works pier. Piers that are long enough for any size boat to tie up to are very few outside of the National Park Service piers and in stormy weather commercial fishermen come in for harbor and very often there is from 75 to 100 boats tied up in Silver Lake to make harbor until stormy weather is over.

“I reply to this notice in the interest of this beautiful harbor, the pleasure yachts small and large and commercial fishermen.”

To read more about Sam Jones, see our article, “Sam Jones, Island Legend.”

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