Ocracoke History

The island, inlet and village which bear the name "Ocracoke" all were known as "Wokokon" (at various times spelled Woccon, Woccocon, Wococon or Woccocock) at the time early English explorers came this way enroute north to Roanoke Island. At least one, possibly more, of Sir Walter Raleigh's expeditions first made landfall on Ocracoke.

Many years later in the 1700s, a young man from a fine English family began his nefarious career along the coast of Carolina and Virginia. Edward Teach (with variations in spelling) was said to have been the most dreaded of all pirates. Known as the infamous "Blackbeard", he was said to have a residence on the island. Lt. Robert Maynard of the British Navy was sent to capture Blackbeard in an effort to end his evil activities. Legend has it that during the long night preceding his capture, Blackbeard, impatient for the dawn cried out "O Crow Cock, O Crow Cock" and that from that came the name Ocracoke. In the ensuing battle he was beheaded and his head attached to Maynard's vessel as a trophy. As the legend goes the headless body swam 'round and 'round the ship seven times.

The Revolutionary War, The War of 1812, and World War II as well as great hurricanes have all played a part in Ocracoke's history. More than a thousands shipwrecks lay off its coast, with untold stories of glory, fame and human interest.

Along with the change in the island's economy from maritime to tourist related ventures brought on after ferry service began in the 1940s, there are other changes evident. The distinctive brogue, spoken by the island's natives, is an endangered dialect. Old timer "O'cockers" as they refer to themselves, have lived through the many changing facets of this unique community off Hyde County's mainland.




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Ocracoke History

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