Saturday, July 7, 2018

Massive Storm Creates Inlets
Outer Banks of North Carolina

            It was the middle of the night when the tempest first descended on the lower Outer Banks without warning. The shrieking winds and thundering waves made sleep impossible for the people who lived up and down the narrow islands. The storm continued from September 7th to September 9th, 1846, destroying property, wreaking havoc on unsuspecting ships at sea, and cutting two new inlets between the Atlantic Ocean and the North Carolina coast.
            In a12/21/2017 article, Birth of Two Inlets: Accounts of 1846 Storm, Kip Tabb wrote:         “[O]n Monday, Sept. 7, Portsmouth Island [was] battered. Sarah Clark was there, visiting friends, and the letter she wrote to her husband, Samuel, gives a chilling firsthand account of the storm’s severity. ‘You could hear the tide slopping against the floor; you cannot imagine how bad it did sound. The inhabitants say that it was the hardest wind that they have had in twenty years. The highest tide was at ebb. They say that it would have been one and a half foot higher if it had been flood … I can count ten or twelve vessels ashore around here and I have not heard how many on Ocracoke.’”
            According to Early American Hurricanes, 1492-1870 by David M. Ludlum, “the small community of Hatteras just south of the Cape had all but six houses flattened by the storm. At Nags Head the tide rose about 9 ft higher than common tide (Ludlum. 1963).
            “…On Sept. 8, 1846, Calvin Midgett, an Outer Banks farmer, fisherman and part-time employee of the U.S. Coast Survey, [who lived at Hatteras] … watched helplessly as the fury of the hurricane created Oregon Inlet at his home’s doorstep. … A sudden squall came from the southwest, and the waters came upon the beach with such fury that Mr. Midgett, within three quarters of a mile of his house when the storm began, was unable to reach it until four in the afternoon. He sat upon his horse, on a small sand knoll, for five hours, and witnessed the destruction of his property, and as he then supposed of his family also, without the power to move a foot to their rescue, and, for two hours, expecting every moment to be swept to sea himself.
            “Midgett’s house was damaged; his family members, though, were alive and well. …”
Other Eye Witness Accounts
            Reuben Quidley lived through the hurricane and remembered it vividly many years later. Quidley lived in the village of Hatteras and piloted vessels through the inlet at Ocracoke. Before the storm, he always walked along the beach from Ocracoke to his home at Hatteras. There was no open water between the two villages except in the heaviest of storms. After the storm, the villages of Hatteras and Ocracoke were separated by a wide swath of water.
            In New Bern Daily Journal on April 15, 1888, Quidley told the reporter that the tide was waist deep in his house and he expected to be swept away. During the night, when he and his family had lost all hope, the tide suddenly went down and he knew something great had happened, but he did not know what; but in the morning he found the water 25 feet deep where there had been a high beach the day before … . [As the water was drawn out of the creeks and bays, “the tide in Pamlico River was seven feet below normal. The stumps in the bottom of Tranters creek and Chocowinity bay were plainly visible.”
            In a letter to Gov. Jarvis in 1884, Quidley recalled: “The day the inlet was cut out, there were several families living where the inlet is now, and they had no more thought of seeing an inlet there than of any part of the beach, but to their great surprise, in the morning they saw the sea and sound connected together, and the live oaks washing up by the roots and tumbling into the ocean. I was well acquainted with the growth of the land where the inlet now is. I lived with my brother where the inlet is now. I have worked with him cutting wood and chopping yaupon where now, I have no doubt, there is three or four fathoms of water; the growth was live oak principally, did not grow tall, but large trunks and spreading limbs. I had an old uncle lived about where the inlet is, who had a fine fig orchard, and many peach trees on his lot, with fine potato patch and garden.”

            Another witness to the hurricane was H. B. Ansell who lived on Knotts Island near the Virginia border. He recalled that an earlier spring storm had already devastated the coastline. “On the 8th day of September, of the same year (1846), another storm arose. It was said it blew stronger than the previous one, and would have done the same damage if there had been anything left to damage. The few cattle and hogs put on the marshes and beach from the high land and gotten during summer from elsewhere were swept away as before. …
            “The sound, and especially the island bay, kept salt and saltish for years thereafter, so much so, that small oysters were found along the bay shore.
            “Schools of porpoise promenaded daily the island channel and many kinds of salt water fish were abundant.”
At Sea
            An article in The Raleigh Register on September 22, gives the particulars of the damage to shipping caused by the storm.
            The U. S. brig Washington had spent a month along the eastern U. S. coast charting the Gulf Stream. As they made their way to the Virginia Capes, “the weather appeared threatening; the wind fresh and blowing on shore, great anxiety was felt to reach an anchorage.” The ship never made it to the Capes of Virginia.

U. S. Brig Washington in 1846 Hurricane
Coastal Review Online
              Lieutenant Stembel reported later: “Sea and current (forced the vessel) upon Cape Hatteras … the gale, now increased in volume, howled ominously through the rigging, and already our little vessel swaggered under her canvas; the sky was obscured by flying masses of dark clouds; the crests of the waves heaving their dark volumes to the sky, flashed with the ghostly phosphorescent light often observed in storms … the barometer fell rapidly, and everything foretold a terrible strife of the elements.”
            The ship barely survived. “The brig lay over completely on her side; the water boiling over the lee rail. For hours the crew held to the rigging, but around noon a heavy sea broke on board …washing overboard nearly every soul.”
            Most of the officers and men were rescued, but the Captain, George Bache, and 10 crew members were lost in the turbulent sea.
            Badly damaged, the ship remained afloat and was rescued by the USS Constitution days later. The traumatized crew was given 75 gallons of water and 7 ½ gallons of whiskey and a tow to Philadelphia for repairs.
Other Losses
            The Raleigh Register, on Sept. 22, listed ships lost to the storm:
  • Sch’r Charles Slover—from Newbern bound to N. York, loaded with Naval Stores—sunk and bilged.                 
  •  Sch’r Defiance—sunk and bilged.
  •  Sch’r Frances Simpson, of Newbern—sunk and bilged.
  •  Sch’r Sophia Doane—sunk and bilged.
  •  Sch’r Patrick Henry, from Plymouth, bound to West Indies with lumber—sunk and bilged.
  • Sch’r Conquest—bottom up—two of the crew lost.
  • Sch’r Emeline—driven to sea with only two men on board.
  • Two Lighters belonging to Capt. Tilman Farrow—one driven ashore, the other to sea.
  • Sch’r G. C. Merchant—ashore.
  • Sch’r Paragon—ashore, loaded with wheat.
  • Sch’r ______, of Philadelphia, loaded with cork—sunk.
  • Harbor Island Light Boat, Capt. Robinson—ashore.
Two New Inlets
            The September storm permanently altered the coastline, slashing through the fragile barrier islands to create two new inlets: Hatteras Inlet and Oregon Inlet. "A remarkable surge of water, driven by continuous northeast winds, pushed far into the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds, flooding rivers and creeks for miles inland," Merlin S. Berry wrote in History of Northeastern North Carolina Storms ."Then, as the hurricane passed and its winds rotated to the southwest, this massive expanse of water rushed back toward the sea, overwashing the Outer Banks from west to east."
            The Oregon Inlet was named for the first vessel to navigate through it. Catherine Kozak, in The Virginian-Pilot, 11/21/2008, wrote: “Legend has it that the sailing vessel Oregon was caught in the huge storm while it was headed back to Edenton, N.C., from Bermuda. Desperately trying to keep the ship from being swallowed by the sea, the crew was given a reprieve when a tremendous wave lifted the vessel onto a shallow sandbar.
            “As the sun rose, … the weather-beaten Oregon crew members found a huge cut in the island to the east of where they were stranded in Pamlico Sound. Within days, the ocean subsided and the vessel was able to be floated free.”
Pamlico Sound and Hatteras Inlet in 1862
The Sun (New York, New York) ·  Wed, Jan 29, 1862 
            The North Carolina coast has changed immensely since the 1846 storm. However, two reminders remain: Oregon Inlet and Hatteras Inlet. The Hatteras Inlet proved to be a boon to the Outer Banks area. It was easy to get through from the Gulf Stream and it helped commerce to flourish.
            The Oregon Inlet services a number of boats that move between the Gulf Stream and the coast and is the location of the Coast Guard Station. It is spanned by the Herbert C. Bonner bridge. 

Construction on Bonner Bridge replacement
Miami Herald, 2/8/2018

  2. “Birth of Two Inlets: Accounts of 1846 Storm” by Kip Tabb 12/21/2017
  3. Coastal Review Online,  12/21/8017
  5.  NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
  6. HAMPTON ROADS HISTORY by Catherine Kozak, The Birginian-Pilot, 11/21/2008
  8. North Carolina’s Hurricane History: Fourth Edition, by Jay Barnes, 2013
  9. NOAA History
  10.  Find a Grave
  11. ;
  12. THE HURRICANE THAT OPENEO OREGON INLET John F. Sanders (1) UNC Sea Grant College Program North Carolina State University Raleigh, Ne 27650

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Walter Clark—Fighting Judge and Women’s Rights Advocate

            Walter McKenzie Clark was the oldest child of Gen. David and Anna Maria Thorne Clark. He was born on August 19, 1846 at Prospect Hill in Halifax Co., NC, but spent most of his young years at Ventosa, the Clark plantation on the Roanoke River
           At the age of 8, Walter was sent to school at Vine Hill Academy near Clarksville [later Scotland Neck] also in Halifax County. In a letter to his mother he wrote, “I go to Sunday School and church, and also clean my teeth every morning, and everything else you requested me to do.” In 1857, he was sent to Ridgeway School in Warren Co. and in 1859 to Belmont Select School in Granville Co., where he excelled in every subject. In 1860, at the age of 14, he was enrolled in Tew’s Military Academy at Hillsboro, Orange Co.

            Soon after NC seceded from the Union on May 20, 1861, Gov. Ellis called for volunteers to assemble at Camp Ellis, near Raleigh, Wake Co. He asked Col. Tew of the Academy to assign a cadet to act as drill master for the first contingent of raw recruits. Walter Clark—only 14 years old—was given the assignment.
            The Camp Ellis troops were organized into the 22nd Regiment under the command of Col. J. Johnston Pettigrew, and Clark, known as “Little Clark,” was elected 2nd lieutenant and drill master, where he served until November when he became drill master for the 35th NC Regiment at Camp Mangum, also in Wake Co.
            In the summer of 1862, “Little Clark” became Col. Matt W. Ransom’s adjutant. The regiment joined Gen. Lee’s army and Clark saw plenty of action. He was present at the Second Battle of Manassas and took part in the capture of Harper’s Ferry. After that, the troops marched double-quick to Sharpsburg, where on Sept. 17, the bloodiest one-day battle of the war was fought.
            Clark later wrote an account of that day in which he told how he was pulled out of the line of fire: “All the mounted officers in the division instantly dismounted, turning their horses loose to gallop to the rear. It being the first time I had been so suddenly thrown in contact with a line of battle, and not noticing, with the smoke and uproar, that the others had dismounted, I thought it my duty to stick to my horse; in another moment, when the smoke would have lifted, I should have been taken for a general officer and would have been swept out of my saddle by a hundred bullets. A kind-hearted veteran close by peremptorily pulled me off my horse. At that instant a Minnie ball, whistling over the just emptied saddle, struck the back of my left hand which was still clinging to the pommel, leaving a slight scar… .”
      Gen. Ransom had a slightly different recollection. He said that a big mountaineer private ran up to Clark and pulled him off his horse, exclaiming, “Git off’n this horse, you darned little fool! You’ll git killed.”
            Later, when the regiment was in winter quarters near Richmond, VA with Gen. Lee, Clark wrote his mother asking for a pair of boots. The soles of his shoes had given away and his feet were partially on the ground. “I have thought my feet would freeze in these low shoes, for they keep no more water out than if I had none. It is folly to think that persons in the army can purchase at any time, anywhere, what they need.”
            At another time he wrote his mother, “ …we had to lie in an open ditch, the rain pouring down, without blankets or a mouthful to eat (and the enemy picking off every man who raised up to stretch his benumbed limbs) for two nights and a day …”
            Walter Clark resigned his commission in 1863 and enrolled at UNC. He graduated a year later, first in his class. He was reading law, although, as he wrote his father, “… I would not be entitled to plead until I am twenty one.” As soon as he graduated in June 1864, he returned to his regiment and continued to serve until he was paroled on May 2, 1865.
After the War
            When Clark returned to Ventosa, there was nothing left. The fields were a wilderness of weed. Federal soldiers had stolen the livestock and burned the mansion to the ground. David Clark’s health was ruined and Walter took over management of Ventosa and Riverside, near New Bern in Craven Co. He became the head of the family at age 18 and managed to rehabilitate Ventosa and keep his family—mother, invalid father and 8 siblings—together.
            In December 1865, at the age of 19, he wrote to the Raleigh Daily Standard: “The picture of abandoned farms, stagnated business, a dejected people and open lawlessness is fearful to contemplate. Gentlemen may go to Raleigh and legislate, but what does their collective wisdom amount to if the plow stands still in the furrow and the anvil rests on its block? …”
            In January, 1867, Walter Clark was admitted to the practice of law in Halifax Co. and opened his office in Scotland Neck. At 21, he was licensed by the Supreme Court. He soon moved his office to Halifax where his practice thrived.
“Miss Sudie”
            “[I] go up to Company Shops [Burlington, Alamance Co.] today for the purpose of seeing Miss Sudie Graham.” This was the start of Clark’s ardent 3 year courtship of “Miss Sudie” Graham. She lived in Hillsboro, Orange Co., far from Halifax, and Clark often told of catching midnight freight trains on his return trips.
            On Jan. 27, 1875, Walter Clark and Susan Washington Graham were married. Clark was a director and general counsel for the Raleigh & Gaston and the Raleigh & Augusta Railroads, and it was more convenient for him to live in Raleigh. The young couple had an inexpensive but comfortable house, and it was there they raised their family of 8—5 boys and 3 girls.

Stock Certificate
LaBarre Galleries:

            Clark seemed to have boundless energy and enthusiasm. He and Gov. Holt purchased the Raleigh News, a daily paper which Clark managed for a number of years. He wrote an annotated Clark’s Code of Civil Procedure that was so well done every practicing lawyer had to have a copy. He compiled and edited the State Records of North Carolina (16 vols., 1886-97). He wrote a historical summary of Methodism in NC and represented the Methodist church at a number of national and international conferences. In addition, he found time to help his children with their lessons and take the boys swimming in Crabtree Creek.
Fighting Judge
            Clark was appointed to the Superior Court in 1885 and was elected, in 1889, to the NC Supreme Court where he served until his death in 1924. He was inflexible against all violators of the law. Recognized as a progressive, Clark was an ardent advocate for women, children and minorities. He had conflicts with such powerhouses as the American Tobacco Co. and several railroad companies, including the Atlantic Coast Line. He urged better child labor laws, once denying the right of an employer to plead that a child working with dangerous machinery assumed the risk incident to the employment, and when injured was barred from recovery.
Women’s Rights
            Walter Clark took an avid interest in woman’s suffrage, serving as legal adviser to the North Carolina League of Women Voters. He made his first speech favoring woman suffrage in 1911.

            In 1913, Clark spoke to the Federation of Women’s clubs in New Bern. He said, in part: “…The legal status of women under the common law … was simply that of a slave. A married woman under the common law owned no property, except after the death of her husband. She could make no contracts, not even for necessaries and not even with the consent of her husband. She could not will or devise her property. Upon her marriage the husband and the wife became one—and that one was the husband. He was master, the wife was a nonentity. The moment she married, he became entitled to all her personal property. He was entitled to the rents and profits of her real estate, which he could sell for his lifetime, or it could be sold for his debts. If she died, the husband still possessed the right to the rents and profits of all her realty for the rest of his life, while at his death she received only a child’s part of his personalty [personal property] and a life right, called a dower, in only one-third of his realty. … She could not appoint a guardian for her children, even when she outlived her husband.

            “As to her personal rights, the married woman came under the absolute control of her husband, who could chastise her if he saw fit, provided the chastisement inflicted no permanent injury. The reason given for this by Judge Pearson as late as 1868 was that it was the husband’s duty to ‘make the wife behave herself,’ and if he beat her without good cause it was held that the courts would not punish him, because it was too small a matter to take notice of, unless she was permanently injured. As late as 1868 it was held by our Supreme Court that if a husband whipped his wife with a switch no larger than his thumb he could not be punished.

 "Can this plaintiff discharge that duty when so authorized by an act of the Legislature and commissioned by the Governor? Or is she barred because she is a woman? Under the Constitution of the United States no one is debarred from holding any office from President down because of sex. What provision of the state Constitution will be shattered, and what detriment will the public welfare receive, if by legislative and executive authority a woman shall authenticate a certificate made by herself by impressing the seal upon a piece of paper? If the defendant were a man, he would not be debarred from holding this appointment unless he were an idiot, a lunatic, or a convict."
From a case heard by the NC Supreme Court in 1915

            “The first improvement came in 1848 when a statute ‘provided that as to women married thereafter, their real estate could not be sold by the husband nor for his debts.’ In 1868, the new constitution contained a provision that was intended to emancipate married women by providing that ‘a married woman should own her property as fully as if she had remained single; that she might will it, and that she could sell her personalty, but it was still required that she must get the written assent of her husband to convey her realty. This last restriction still holds in this state … .’ Despite the new provision, “the courts placidly proceeded to hold that the earnings from her needle or cooking, or otherwise acquired by her labor should nevertheless become absolutely the property of her husband, and that she could not sue for it.” It was not until 1913 that women were granted the right to their own earnings.
            In 1916, Judge Clark spoke in Greenville, Pitt Co. on the subject of votes for women. He argued, although women could not vote, legally they could hold any state office, as the constitution did not specify that office-holders must be men.
            Walter Clark died on May 20, 1924.
[From The Connector, Newsletter of Tar River Connections Genealogy Society: Vol. 12, Number 3: Summer 2008.
Sources: Dictionary of N.C. Biography edited by William S. Powell; “Soldier, Planter, Judge” by Gene Dugan, Ramparts, Summer 1998;]

Monday, June 25, 2018


          “The Flying Parson” is first of all a preacher. The matter of flying is secondary even though it did win for him the transcontinental air race.[1]   
            When he was 17 he began to preach.
            “And a mighty good mechanic was spoiled,” his North Carolina neighbors said, for the boy had always been “handy with tools.”
            The war brought him his chance as a mechanic, first in a munitions shop and then in the flying service. In January, 1917, he went into a shell factory.
            Then, when the United States went into the war, Maynard went in too. For 18 months he was in France, first in training for aviation and then as instructor at one of the camps. During the latter part of the time he was also preaching—helping (Homer) Rodehe(a)ver[2] with a series of meetings, addressing crowds of doughboys in “Y” huts.[3]  Sometimes he preached to his fellow flyers, and the fact that he was a good aviator made them the more willing to listen to his sermons.

Front Line Hunt
"History of the YMCA in World War I"

            Perhaps his simple faith had something to do with his coming home first in the transcontinental race; also certainly it had something to do with the fact that he refused to let the people from his home county [Sampson] commercialize his fame.
            To him the victory was merely an incident, a beginning, not an end. A few days after he came home from the trip he was to speak in a Massachusetts town. On the train a man was attracted by the aviator’s uniform and got to talking of his own son in the service; from that they drifted to other subjects and so they talked for the whole of a four-hour trip.
            That night after Maynard’s address the first man to speak to him was his fellow traveler.
            “Why didn’t you tell me you were the ‘Flying Parson’?” he asked.
            “I didn’t think about it,” was Maynard’s answer.

[(News and Observer) Raleigh, NC) 27 Feb 1916]

[1] See "Flying Parson," Sampson County, NC Pilot Made Aviation History: March 17, 2016
[2] Homer Rodeheaver, an evangelist, gospel song writer and publisher, worked with the famous evangelist Billy Sunday for 20 years.
[3] General Pershing ordered the establishment of servicemen’s centers in Europe. The order stated that the Y.M.C.A. would “provide for the amusement and recreation of the troops by means of its usual programme of social, physical, educational, and religious services.”