Category Archives: People and Places


Memories in clay ~ An interview with Ms. Dixie Burrus Browning

Ms. Dixie Burrus Browning with clay Coast Guardsman statue she created.

Ms. Dixie Burrus Browning, grew up in a small island village known as Hatteras. She has fond memories of a childhood spent fishing and exploring what she considers today, a place that belongs to it’s people. The stories I heard today, she has passed down to her children and they to theirs. But her stories have not solely confined themselves to spoken words. No…glimpses of them are present in the years she spent as a romance writer. Her novels are mainly based on places she has been and the place she calls home. And then…there is her art.

One can tell by studying her water color paintings that she truly cherishes the marshes and beaches that make up the Hatteras landscape. The various shades of blues, greens, and browns lead one down winding paths to scenes that can only be painted by someone who has studied their characteristics and kept each detail, consciously or subconsciously, in that special corner of their mind that only harbors the memories that are solely meant for safe keeping.

This past year Ms. Dixie’s daughter, Elizabeth “Liz” B. Fox, donated to our society, another type of artwork her mother created sometime in the 60’s. The painted clay bust is that of a Coast Guardsman. Liz believes that it’s eyes and ears are reminiscent of her Father’s, Leonard L. Browning Jr. But after Ms.Dixie gave a quick side view glance of her profile, I can definitely state that yes…the statue does have a Burrus nose.

I asked Ms. Dixie what inspired her to create the piece. The answer was quick. She didn’t know. At that time she had been doing a lot of painting and teaching art and it was quite a bit later that she sought out making a living from her talent as a writer. She never examines why she writes or paints. “The inspiration is just there and it just bubbles to the surface”, was her only explanation. It was the only one I needed.

We went on to discuss the Coast Guardsman’s hat, which is real by the way. She had painted it with metallic paint and gave it a tilt as she placed it on his head. Memories of where she bought her paints and what she made them out of came back to her. As a child she would buy them from Sears. But she also found natural sources as well. Moss and poke berries were often used and she would have used Mercurochrome, if she’d of had it.

Our visit lasted about an hour. It is always a pleasure to sit and listen to the stories told of how things were on the island by those who were born many years before my time. Ms. Dixie is one of our most fascinating treasures and I am very fortunate to be able to call her my “kin”. The history of this place fascinates her as it does most of us. She feels an undeniable connection to this place and it’s people. Just ask any butterfly that crosses your path (wink).

Thank you again, Ms. Dixie. Perhaps we’ll visit and chat again real soon.

Ms. Dixie’s original artwork and prints may be purchased at Indian Town Gallery in Frisco, NC.

Dawn F. Taylor


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Carl Ross Jennette Sr ~ A daughter’s remembrance

Carl Ross Jennette

In April of 2012, I received a package in the mail from my Cousin, Anne Jennette Kelsey. Anne’s Father was Carl Ross Jennette Sr, brother to my Grandmother, Gladys Winifred Jennette. The pages contained within the package shed some light on an Uncle who I didn’t really know much about due to him being partially raised away from Cape Hatteras, NC. Thank you Cousin Anne, for sharing your memories.

Carl Ross Jennette, was born on September 17, 1912 in Buxton, North Carolina. He was the son of Devaney Farrow and Ella Gray Jennette. Dr. Johnson delivered this fourth child to the family which was also composed of his two brothers, Devaney Elwood and Hubert Winton Jennette. And of course his sister Gladys Winifred Jennette, as mentioned prior.

Slender and tall in statue, he was a serious man that carried this trait into adulthood. A trait that would be of great benefit to him later in life. Being from this tiny barrier island thirty some miles offshore, like most whose family had lived there for generations, he could boast kinship to many. Ross spoke often to his daughter Anne, of his Cousin Isaac Jennette and the adventures that they shared. Isaac was the son of Baxter Jennette who was brother to Ross’s Father, Devaney “Dane” Jennette. The two grew up across from each other in the village of Buxton, just north of the present day location of the post office.

Ross’s time on Cape Hatteras was not to be long though. He had almost reached his teen years when in 1919,his Father received assignment as Assistant Keeper at the Cape Fear Lighthouse on Smith Island, North Carolina. So together the family moved to this remote island near Southport. But with time, he came to love the island. Being that he was born and raised in a place so similar, he quickly felt right at home.

There were of course differences between Cape Hatteras and the island he now called home. The later of the two did not have a schoolhouse or teacher. With only the lighthouse keepers, their families, and the men stationed at the Cape Fear Life Saving Station on the island, there was no need for such. So during the school year Ross and Elwood boarded at Mrs. Seller’s in Southport, so that they could attend classes. Mrs. Sellers took in children throughout the county and island.

During the summer months the two brothers would return to Smith Island so that they could be with their family. No doubt they assisted their Father with tasks common to manning a lighthouse. But when it came to ways of making money, Ross had other ideas. He would scour the island collecting turtle eggs which he would then sell. Turtle Egg Duff, was a common dish in the area.

As with all students, those school years eventually came to an end. Ross and two friends decided to turn to shrimping for a living. They did very well with this venture. In the meantime this lighthouse keeper’s son met his bride to be. Marie Wescott was the daughter of the Reverend William Chester and Annie Thomas Wescott of Southport. On April 18, 1931…the two married.

L to R: Elwood Jennette, Ella Nora Dickerson, Carl Ross Jennette Sr. Devaney F. Jennette in background.

Times were tough in the south during those years which led Ross to enlist in the United States Coast Guard at the Ditch Plain Station in Montauk, New York. Yet again, he found himself living on an island much like the one of his youth. This act led him to a twenty six year career in the service. In all, he was stationed up and down the coast at twelve different locations.

The Great New England Hurricane of 1938, found Ross stationed at the Shinnecock Life Saving Station located at Hampton Bays.The crew was lucky to escape with their lives as the fierce storm swept the station out to sea and left the men with many a harrowing story to tell. R.A. Scotti has published an excellent book about this hurricane for those who are interested in learning more.

Carl Ross Jennette, no doubt if he was here, could tell us much more about his time spent in the U.S.C.G. Perhaps he would sit and chat about the events of World War II, where German saboteurs landed on Long Island on June 13, 1942 while he was in charge of the Amagansett Station. His following obituary sheds some light on that historic event.

Ross had many sea stories to tell and like most who served in the USCG, he lived a dangerous life at times through acts of rescuing those in distress on both land and sea. Anne recalls the story of when the fishing vessel, The Pelican, sunk off Montauk Point, New York. Ross and his crew had to assist in retrieving the dead bodies from the ocean. Some of which had been in the water for quite some time. He remembers how horrific it was and how the young sailors got sick due to the stench.

When he retired he was working at Guild Hall in East Hampton, NY. His wife Marie, passed when she was fifty five years of age. Ross never remarried. She was the love of his life. Out of this union two children were born, his son and namesake Carl Ross Jr, and their daughter Anne. Five grandchildren also followed.

From his daughter Anne…

“He was a quiet man who came from humble beginnings. He saw hard times and he rose above them. He was always a perfect gentleman. He loved his family and that was the most important thing to him. He could be stubborn but he also was a man of high principles…He is missed.”


A week of lighthouses

Atop the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse: Dawn F. Taylor, Malcolm Peele, Elizabeth B. Fox

This has been a week of lighthouses and coincidences. From Cape Hatteras to Cape Fear, seems like those light keeping ancestors have been at it. For those who have already read my last blog regarding the return of the bulls eye panel back to Bald Head Island, NC., you know where it is that I am coming from. For those who haven’t, you really should read it. Then there is the lady who I met through Facebook just the other day. She is the owner of a prism that was from the Cape Fear Light. Another piece of the puzzle, I hope to see put back in place.

And today…it has been nothing short of amazing. Started the morning off by telling my Father that I was going to run down to the lighthouse for a couple hours, and then I’d be back. By now, I should know not to say that. The OBXmas and climb Cape Hatteras Lighthouse event was in full swing. Visitors were able to climb the lighthouse at no charge. They were enthusiastically greeted by members of the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society, who were there to educate the public about the history of the light and to also make them aware of their mission to preserve the light houses of eastern North Carolina. Kudos to this mighty fine group.

Now for anyone who is from Hatteras Island, you know that you can’t go anywhere without seeing someone you recognize or someone that is kin. Hence, I ran smack dab into my running buddy and Cousin, Elizabeth B. Fox. Accompanying her, was her long time friend, Dr. Malcolm C. Roberts,of the NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine.

🙂 Onward…we three amigos ended up, after repeatedly saying that I was NOT going to climb the light because of a bad knee, all the way up top. Man what a climb that was, but what a great memory that Cousin Liz, Malcolm, and I now share.

Inside the Cape Hatteras Light - Dawn Taylor and Malcolm Peele

Liz and I never seem to go just one place, when we get together. That old proverbial “snowball”, must somehow know the exact moment we pull out of the driveway. And today that snowball came in the form of a loon. Yes, a loon. One thing that I admire about Liz and her brother (Lou Browning), is that they truly care about the wild life of the island and the environment. That is what has led them both in assisting those that are in distress. Lou is the operator of the Hatteras Island Wildlife Rehabilitation.

So…”Snowy” (yes, I’ve named him/her), was trying to cross NC12 by some form of flapping, scooting, hopping, and waddling. According to Liz, he was trying to make his way to the sound in order to take flight. And since they are not known for their fine walking technique, he found himself in quite an ordeal. That is until we stopped to lend a hand. Liz slowly walked up to Snowy and talked him into getting into the car with us. Okay, so she really didn’t talk him into getting into the car. But I will say that even though I was worried about him attacking the back of my head with his beak, he did make a fine passenger.

After inspection by Lou, “Snowy” turned out to be alright…for the most part. By now, he may be flapping his wings somewhere over the sound. Hope he will always remember that car ride and the good hearted humans that cared enough to stop on their way to the Holiday Open House, at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras. I know we’ll never forget him.

Elizabeth B. Fox with "Snowy" the Loon

I have always enjoyed visiting the museum. Plenty of holiday cheer and exhibits greeted us as we walked through it’s door. Walt Fulcher, met us in the foyer. He has done such an amazing job of organizing the United Methodist Men’s Food Bank, on the island. Danny Couch was also there. He is a noted local historian and Chairman of the Friends of the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum. Always an interesting conversation with him. And Joseph K. Schwarzer, who is the museum’s Executive Director, was present. Between he and Danny, I now know where to look for more info on my lighthouse keeping Great Grandfather. Thanks to you both. And thanks to all who made this day, truly wonderful.

Elizabeth B. Fox and Malcolm Peele

Dawn F. Taylor


From Hatteras to Ocracoke…

Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum ~ Ocracoke Island, NC

There is a connection between Islanders of Hatteras and Ocracoke. No, I don’t mean the ferry that carries tourist across the inlet by the masses. Course, I do love that ride in the Fall of the year…once things have slowed down and it seems that the “island time” clock has been reset to normal.

The connection I am speaking of is one of blood. One of generations of islanders, whose ancestors left Hatteras to go live on Ocracoke, or vise versa. It’s surnames like Oneal, Fulcher, and Burrus, that can be found in census and birth, marriage, and death certificates, that prove our people…our history…are one.

This past Thursday, two friends and I decided it was time to head to Ocracoke, mainly to enjoy the day and soak up some Ocracoke vibes. Course the day was hot and humid. It was August, after all. But we still enjoyed meeting up with friends, making new ones, and visiting historical sites, as I searched for hints of the ancestral past of those who left Hatteras, a long time ago.

Phillip Howard and Dawn Taylor

Our first stop was at the Village Craftsman, which is owned and operated by Phillip Howard. Phillip is also a published author and local historian who takes villagers and visitors alike, on walking tours of the island. Check out his store’s website and internet journal for more info…

While at the Village Craftsman, Amy, Lesley, and myself, spotted a cemetery across the sand road from the store. Course I couldn’t resist and headed straight for it.

Howard Cemetery

Now any of you that know me, know that the first question I usually ask even before we leave the house is, “Where are we going to eat ?” Due to a friend’s recommendation, we took our chances on eating at the Flying Melon. Loved it. Especially the roosters ;p

The Flying Melon

After a lunch of Creole Shrimp and grits, we headed on over to the Ocracoke Preservation Society’s Museum. Had the pleasure of meeting DeAnna Locke, who is the OPS Administrator. What a wonderful job they have done with preserving the David Williams House. In 1989, it became their home office after they moved it from just north of the Anchorage Inn, to it’s present location.

Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum

Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum

For information on the Ocracoke Preservation Society and visiting their Museum, please follow the link below.

In all, it was a wonderful day spent on the island. For anyone that happens upon our blog and would like to share their Hatteras/Ocracoke family info, please check our group’s Facebook page out, or email HIGPS at the following

Hope you enjoyed the journey.

Dawn F. Taylor


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Buxton Village Books ~ An island’s history in literature

Buxton Village Books ~ Buxton, NC

Buxton Village Books is by far, one of my favorite stops on Hatteras Island. Whenever I find myself wanting to step back in time to an island of yesteryear, all’s I have to do is enter through the door of this enchanting house of books.

Yes, it really is a house of books. Or should I say a kitchen of books ? Recently, I asked Gee Gee Rosell, owner of Buxton Village Books, if she would be willing to answer some questions for our readers. She quickly and excitedly, accepted. Of course, one the first questions I asked was about the building in which her charming book store is housed.

Q: Buxton Village Books, is housed in an old island home. By chance do you know anything about it’s history ?

A: The center two rooms were the detached summer kitchen of a home that burned down years ago. I’ve added the other rooms over the years as my business has grown, but tried to keep the island vernacular architecture in tact.

Q: How long has Buxton Village Books been in business and is it’s current location where it all began ?

A: I started Buxton Village Books in 1984, right here in this building. It was only two rooms then and today there are seven.

So now the questioning had turned to my favorite part of any house…or should I say “home”. The kitchen will always be what I consider to be the heart of it’s existence.

Q: Now most of us islanders love those old recipes that our Mothers and Grandmothers, passed down to us from generation to generation. They are as much a part of our heritage as our brogue or any other trait that makes us Kinnakeeters or Trenters. With that said, what books do you have cooking on those shelves that visitors, locals, and natives alike, can pick up and learn the culinary ways of Hatteras Island, past and present ?

A: “Kinnakeet Kitchens” is one of my favorites. The cover is a lovely painting by Denise Gaskins. Also “Outer Banks Cookbook” by Elizabeth Weigand. Elizabeth isn’t a local but she has done a great job of collecting Outer Banks recipes and the history behind them. Also, Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation, publishes a cookbook titled “Seasonings”. That has contributions from every
village…so it’s full of local food ways too.

Now Gee Gee isn’t a native. But from talking to her, it seems like she should be. I had wondered from where and when she came to this little sandbar. So I asked her…

Q: Where is Gee Gee Rosell originally from and how long have you been on the island ?

A: I moved to Hatteras the day after college graduation in 1974. I went to school at West Virginia University.

In 1974, I was seven years old. Probably playing pick up sticks on my Grandparents wrap around porch in Kinnakeet, when Gee Gee landed on our sandy soil. With all her years spent on Hatteras, there is one thing she has learned…island history. Being a history lover myself, I often stop by to see what is new on the book store’s shelves. I am never disappointed.

Q: You have a wide selection of local and state history, culture, and folk lore books. Would you mind giving our readers a run down of some of your favorite titles and their authors ?

A: There are so many ! So the first thing I’ll do is steer you to our website:, where you’ll find a complete list of local titles under “Hatteras Bookshelf”. Two authors you don’t want to miss are Charles Harry Whedbee and David Stick. Whedbee collected lore and legends during his time as a District Court Judge, in eastern North Carolina. He published 5 books in his lifetime. Stick wrote the definitive history of the Outer Banks in several volumes including a book of essays he edited “Outer Banks Reader”. An author still with us and carrying on the tradition is Kevin Duffus. His “Lost Light” is a great Civil War history centering on the Fresnel lens from the first Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. That just barely skims the surface. Go to our site and take a closer look.

Many times I have been searching through the titles at Buxton Village Books, when in walks a family or couple from as far away as Canada or as close as Manteo. How wonderful it is to see people from far and near, stopping by to learn about the people and culture of Hatteras Island. But often, more so than not, there is a cultural exchange and a friendship begins that will last through years of returned visits to this island bookstore.

Q: I bet Buxton Village Books, has had visitors from all over the world. Do you have any that left a lasting impression and if so, would you mind telling us a little bit about them ?

A: Last winter, Simon Winchester, was here doing research for his book “The Atlantic”. I’ve sold his books for years and love his travel writing. So it was a pleasure and a surprise to meet him. It never fails that an author I hold in high regard will come through the front door on the day I’m grubbing around under the building repairing the wiring ! It’s humbling to say the least to shake the hand of a world traveler when you have your wire cutters in your back pocket and dirt on your face.

Buxton Village Books, has found it’s place among the people of this island. On it’s shelves sits our stories. From ship wrecks, to Civil War heroes born and bred here, to islanders who remember through poetry and family legend…they are all waiting for you to read about them. So why not stop on by. Gee Gee will be waiting for you.

Buxton Village Books ~ local and state history, culture, and folk lore


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An interview with Anne Poole ~ Co-Founder of the Lost Colony Genealogy and DNA Research Group

Anne Poole ~ Lost Colony Genealogy and DNA Research Group

There are few people out there, who have found their calling. Anne Poole, who hails from our own home state of North Carolina, never really went searching for hers. Instead it was dropped right in her lap at a very tender and early age. And I for one, am so glad it was. She and a team of dedicated volunteer researchers, are one a mission to solve one of America’s oldest mysteries. And the answer, may not be any further than our own back yard.

Anne, has become a dear friend of mine. She reminds me of a strong southern woman, who walked right off the pages of one’s favorite book. Recently, I came up with the idea of she and I sitting down for a blog chat. Least that is what I’m going to call it. Here goes…

Q: Anne…I know you are from North Carolina. But where exactly were you born and raised ?
A: I hail from right here in Durham !

Q: Now I know you have two daughters. And recently, we found out that I have a Hatteras/Ocracoke
family tie to both. Would you mind telling everyone a little about their Outer Banks bloodline ?

A: Sure. Susan and Elizabeth have their OBX connections from their great grandmother, who was a Dailey and was born on Ocracoke Island. She is on their daddy’s side. She also looked very, very, native with dark skin and gray eyes…..I used to say that her eyes looked like steel they were so gray !

Q: So what got you interested in researching the LC and about how old were you when you started ?
A: I became interested in The Lost Colony 54 years ago when I was 10 years old ! My parents told me one summer that we were getting ready to go on vacation to a place on the coast where the first English people in America had mysteriously disappeared and no one knew what had happened to them. So, we came down to Manteo and the Outer Banks, saw the drama, The Lost Colony, and I was hooked for life on the mystery ! Sometimes I think that it was actually meant for me to do the research that I am now doing.

Q: What do you find the most interesting part of your research ?
A: I love all aspects of our research, so it’s really hard for me to say which part is the most interesting. However, there’s nothing like the awe I feel when something comes out of the dirt during the archaeological excavations that may have been from the 16th century. On the other hand, uncovering some previously unknown information about the colony that has been hidden for hundreds of years is pretty exciting also.

Q: Do you have a Lost Colonist connection within your own family ?
A: My maiden name is Nichols, and there is a William Nichols on the roster of the 1587 colonists. I do know my family has been here for several hundred years, so until I can prove that the colonist William Nichols was or wasn’t my ancestor, then I like to think that he was ! I have recently found some paternal genetic dna matches in England, and there are three different colonists’ surnames that have surfaced in my line there, so I may have a connection, which is exciting to think about !

Q: Do you actually believe you will find the colonist descendants and if so, why ?
A: Now, as to whether or not we will find the colonists is open to speculation ! I would say that it is at least a 50-50 chance that we find them. If their settlement site is not under water then it is a fair chance that we might can locate the area. There are days that I think we will find the site and then there are the times that I think nobody will. It’s a tiny little needle in a huge number of haystacks.

Q: Will you tell us about some of the speaking engagements you have had on this topic ?
A: My most recent speaking engagement was at The Eastern NC Family History Conference in New Bern back in June. I am available for speaking to groups who are interested in our research.

Anne also spoke at the Hatteras Island Genealogical and Preservation Society’s Potluck/history dinner this past April. She was joined by Roberta Estes, who is the Co-founder with Anne, of the Lost Colony Genealogy and DNA Research Group. Also speaking that night, was Andrew Thomas Powell, retired Mayor of Bideford, England. And Author of Grenville and The Lost Colony of Roanoke.

Two History Hunters

You can learn more about the LCRG’s upcoming projects and research, by checking out their website.


Azariah Dring of Rhode Island and the Drings of Hatteras Island, NC ~ By Baylus Brooks

Azariah Dring of Rhode Island and the Drings of Hatteras Island, NC

Thomas Dring was born in 1666, presumably in Little Compton, Rhode Island. This part of Rhode Island was most certainly a maritime province as can be seen in the picture below.

Thomas married on May 21, 1696 to Mary Butler, born about 1670. Together they had eleven children. In order of appearance, they were John, Mary, Mercy, Thomas, Elizabeth, Priscilla, Asariah, Ruth, Bathsheba, Freelove, and Nathaniel. The naming pattern is common and may indicate that Thomas’ father was John.

Thomas Jr. became a gunner on the sloop “Success,” and was captured by the British during the Revolutionary War (See” Recollections of the Jersey Prison Ship” by Albert G. Greene). He stayed in Little Compton and died there in 1782. His brother, Asariah was born March 28, 1710 and was destined to become a merchant mariner, working between New England and the West Indies for most of his career. On February 28, 1732, Asariah (spelled Azariah later) left Boston harbor for Barbados, according to the New-England Weekly Journal. By June 2nd, the Boston Gazette records him returning to Rhode Island from Antigua. In four days, he was again headed for Barbados, from Boston harbor (New-England Weekly Journal).

By that November, the Rhode-Island Gazette records this news: “ Capt. Dring from Barbados, who sail’d on the 30th of September last, the next Day met with a violent hurricane, which he supposed did considerable Damage in Barbados and the adjacent islands.” The dangers of a Caribbean career revealed themselves in less than a year. The same paper’s December 21st issue showed Dring leaving that port for Jamaica, however, showing quick recovery.

There seems to be a break in Dring’s record until July 4, 1734 when the New-England Weekly Journal records him returning from Jamaica to Rhode Island. It is difficult to say if anything happened to him or his ship during that time. A lack of reporting may be responsible. Still, just prior to Azariah’s departure for Jamaica, trouble began with slaves on Jamaica, to which Major General Hunter, Governor of Jamaica, in mid-1732 passed the “Negro Act,” which tightened restrictions on slaves and passed duties on them, making owners even more protective of their property.

Jamaica has long had a unique history regarding African slaves. Escaped slaves known as “Maroons” established independent communities in the mountainous interior, away from the coast. British authorities were unable to suppress them, despite major attempts in the 1730s and 1790s. African slaves imported during the Spanish period may have provided the first runaways. These Africans apparently mixed with the Native American Taino or Arawak people that remained in the country. Some may have gained liberty when the English attacked Jamaica and took it in 1655. But, many continued to rebel, causing more trouble for the British than on any other Caribbean isle of which there were other Maroon communities. Maroons stubbornly resisted conquest for about 52 years, until the 1737 peace treaty with the British rulers of the island – which is still in force.

Several rebellions had broken out since September 1728, when more troops arrived to upset the balance against the escaped Maroons. A slave rebellion broke out again in 1733, and in June of that year, several attempts were made to enslave the “rebellious negroes” which resulted in Maroons having “driven away the party sent against them.”
1728 Jamaica by Herman Moll

A further attempt was made under General Hunter that August for three raids, all without effect. In November, Jamaica was divided into two districts to facilitate the forces. By December, the Council of Trade and Plantations sent to the Duke of Newcastle a letter stating the following, “which all relate to the ill state of Jamaica with regard to the negroes in rebellion,
weak condition of the inhabitants and the apprehensions they are under of a general insurrection of their slaves.”

Governor Hunter sent to them on December 24th, “I can not without breach of duty conceal my opinion that this island is in a very defenceless condition in case of a war. The slaves in rebellion, who give us work enough, in that event are not the most dangerous ; here are men of desperate fortunes and more desperate principles who have too much influence on the majority, are gaping after change, and if I may judge from their pass’d conduct would readily joyn with any such.” He was concerned for more than just a Negro rebellion, but for a general rebellion as well.

A pamphlet titled, “The State of the Island of Jamaica, addressed to a Member of Parliament” was published in which the writer urges the “necessitty there is, that not only a revenue be settled equal to the annual expence of the Government, but also a provision be made by some new laws for the better recovery of just debts, and the better peopling and settling of the island, at the same time that the body of laws are re-enacted or confirmed by the Crown.” The problem became a fiscal one for the British which resulted in a treaty with the Maroons that lasts until this day.

Two British regiments arrived by 1734, probably relieving conscription of ordinary seamen. Thus, Dring may well have returned to Rhode Island by that time. Did Azariah Dring get caught up in this uneasy state of affairs? Did he fight against the Maroons? Quite possibly, he did. His sons would later demonstrate zero tolerance against escaped slaves in the colony of South Carolina.
Still, Dring’s activities demonstrated a change in his routine toward Jamaica, perhaps supplying the continual effort against the Maroons.

By October of 1734, he left Newport bound again for Jamaica (Weekly Rehearsal of Boston, Mass.). The Boston Post-Boy of October 27, 1735 told of his departure from Rhode Island three days earlier bound again for Jamaica. New-England Weekly Journal of May 18, 1736 shows him arriving in Boston from Jamaica and leaving again on May 24th, bound for Rhode Island (Boston Evening-Post).
On the 3rd of May, 1737, Azariah Dring was made a freeman for the province of Rhode Island by the Proceedings of the General Assembly for Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations. He was again outbound for Jamaica in July 1737, according to the Boston Post-Boy.

The first deviation in the Jamaica pattern occurred in February 1738, when the American Weekly Mercury recorded him as inbound from Honduras, just after the 1737 treaty was signed with Jamaican Maroon rebels. By this time, presumably, the British on Jamaica needed no further supplies from Capt. Dring. Perhaps he carried war materiel.

The next year, in March 1738, Dring cleared out of Boston harbor again for Rhode Island and then left there for the Leeward Islands in April (Boston Gazette). Very few reports reveal his activity after this, for no Dring is recorded as mariner until May 1746, leaving from New Providence, the Bahamas. Only one other notation further, the New-York Mercury records on December 10, 1753, “Novem. 12. (Charlestown, South Carolina) Monday last put into this port a Schooner bound from Winyah for Boston, Dring Master, that had been out three Weeks, and had met with very bad Weather.”

Azariah Dring must have been worn out by his hapless arrival in Charlestown, for there he stayed, dying three years later in Craven Precinct, in 1756 (SC Colonial Probate 464). The year before this, his legal dispute with James Baber occurred.
South Carolina marriage records show a (Mrs.) Margaret “Dringat,” possibly Azariah’s widow marrying on October 30, 1757 to a John Andrews Dehay. Those records also show a Percival Dring (bachelor of Prince George Parish, born about 1741-1744) marrying on March 18, 1761 to Elizabeth Crook(s) (spinster of Prince George Parish) and an Elizabeth Dring marrying May 19, 1764 to Charles Coulbourn.

Percival Dring became a constable in charge of hunting down escaped slaves in South Carolina. In 1765, he earned the most of ten such constables, £56 17 06 for four separate accounts. No one else had more than a single account. Two years later, the number of constables increased and Percival Dring only made £14 15. By January 2, 1771, Percival Dring, a carpenter by trade, had passed away and his personal effects given to his next of kin, Margaret Dring. This note is fascinating since his wife of ten years should have been Elizabeth. Margaret should have been his mother. Indeed, it may have happened this way.

Elizabeth could have passed away between 1761 and 1771, when her husband died. This could easily be accounted for by childbirth, deadly for females in the eighteenth century. It is quite likely that there were two children born to Percival and Elizabeth, Percival Dring Jr. and Azariah. Both of these men appear in the records of Currituck County, North Carolina and on deed records associated with Hatteras Island, remarkably as “free persons of color.” This enigma must be explained somehow. For the children and grandchildren of men who fought fervently against slaves to appear as “colored” individuals in the census records, one or both must have married a black, mulatto, or as the case may be best defined on Hatteras, an Indian… or, Elizabeth was already an Indian. In that case, she may have found herself unable to inherit her husband’s estate. She turns up again.

This interesting will appeared in Abstracts of Currituck Co Wills 1760-1800:

Josiah Basnet, Oct 9 1782, oct 10 1785, will bk 1, planter, son Alexander Scarborough, Jr, Letisby Scarborough. Wit Azariah Dring, William Whidbee.

Azariah Dring… of witness age in 1782? He must have been at least sixteen, which puts his birth at no later than 1762. Following common naming practices of the time, the first male child is usually named for the male’s father… in Percival of SC’s case, Azariah. He very well could have been the first child born to Percival and Elizabeth Dring. Josiah Basnett’s will is interesting enough because it seems to reflect matrilineal naming patterns with Basnett’s children all possessing the mother’s name of Scarborough, a possible indication of Indian heritage. Still, they could be step-children, but Alexander appears to later take the name of Basnett.

The second Dring Hatteras occurrence is 1783, in which Shibboleth Dring (by his father)sues Joseph Stow for “with force and arms he made an assault upon the said Shibboleth Dring and did beat wound and evilly treat so that his life was despaired of.” Who was the father? Percival or Azariah? Unfortunately, none of the court records, lasting until November 1784 tell his name. The only Dring later recorded with children was Percival, but since the 1810 and 1820 census recorded no Drings, the appearance of Azariah and his wife in 1830 at age 50-60 (births 1770-1780) indicate no children. Drings do not seem to last on Hatteras.

The first census for the United States in 1790 recorded a “Price” Dring in Currituck County, on Hatteras Banks. There were four people in his household, all “free persons of color” or FPC. In 1797, Cornelius Howard sells to Percival Dring, two pieces of land that fell to his wife, Elizabeth (Smith?) from the will of John Smith Senr.

One parcel is very close to the land the Elizabeth Dring sells to John Clark in 1798, land on the sound bordering Isaac Brooks. This land is east of Brooks Point and west of Wahab’s new grant. Percival sells 62.5 acres of this same land to Francis Farrow in 1799 while he buys land from Willoughby Basnett (son of another FPC who became “white” in 1800, Robert Basnett) who also obtained property through the John Smith estate the same way as Reuben Burrus. (Currituck County Deed Records).

Then, in 1800, a “Prissilor Dring” is enumerated as a white man with a white family of three male children, born between 1774-1784, four female children born between 1784-1790, a wife the same age as “Prissilor” and an older woman, born before 1755. He himself is born between 1755-1776.

Elizabeth Crook(s) Dring is still alive in 1800 and living with her son and his family on Hatteras Banks in an area known for its peculiar “free persons of color” who suddenly become white by 1800. She is probably the “Elizabeth” who sold John Clark the land in 1798.

Then, in 1809, William Clark sells land bordering Francis Farrow to Percival Dring in about the same area on the sound side of Hatteras Island. Percival had already made his will by 1807, however, naming his brother Azariah and his executors, wife, Amy and friend Willoughby Basnett. Witnesses are Daniel Stow and Sarah Brooks.

As indicated previously, 1810-1820 show no Drings enumerated, but 1830 shows only one, Azariah and his wife, both listed as “white” as expected by 1830. The discrimination against anything other than “white” became unusually strong in North Carolina, finally culminating in the 1835 North Carolina Constitution that made everyone but whites a second-class citizen. It was much more favorable to be white than Indian or black. No other clues exist for what became of the Drings of Hatteras except another Azariah Dring appears in Caswell County, North Carolina, born between 1800-1810, a young lad starting a new family with a wife, a young son and two little girls. At least the name lived on.

The story of Azariah Dring from Rhode Island made a startling turnaround from a mariner who made a name for himself fighting black/Indian Jamaican Maroons in the Caribbean, then crash landed in Charlestown, South Carolina, and died there three years later. Then his son, Percival obviously marries an Indian or black woman in 1761 and has two sons who later come to Hatteras. But, if Elizabeth Crook(s) Dring had been born black or mulatto, her chances of being recognized as “white” in 1798 enough to sell land and in 1800 to be enumerated as “white” are not good. She must have been Indian. Combined with the family’s association with other families known to follow the same change from 1790 when they were found as FPCs until their miraculous transformation in 1800 to “white,” these Hatteras Islanders may very well have collected on Hatteras for the sole purpose of enjoying the anonymity.

Hatteras must have become a home for Native Americans that asked no questions. For many, Hatteras remained a place inured by outside influence, possessing their own unique colloquialisms/language, and preferring a high level of independence. It still is like that today.

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