When Charles Farrell took these photographs, Salter Path was the only settlement of any kind on the western two-thirds of Bogue Banks. Lights were few and far between and on clear nights you felt as if you could see every star in the heavens.
The Mullet Fishermen of Punta Gorda
The first fisherman from Carteret County, N.C., that I found in Punta Gorda, Florida, was a man named John C. Lewis. He was born in Beaufort in 1847 and he was the son of Anson and Irene Lewis, outfitters of sailing ships.
The Mullet Fishermen: A Journey from Carteret County, N.C. to Cortez, Florida
In the 1880s fishermen began to leave Carteret County, N.C., and go to the mullet fishing grounds of Southwest Florida, where they made new homes in places such as Cortez and Punta Gorda.
The Whitehurst Fishery: A Down East Community on Lake Erie
A little more than a century ago, a group of seagoing people from the “Down East” part of Carteret County, N.C., settled on the shores of Lake Erie and began commercial fishing.
Varnamtown’s Fishermen at Bald Head Island, 1938
In the autumn of 1938, the photographer Charles Farrell visited a gang of mullet fishermen from Varnamtown while they hauled their nets on Bald Head Island, down in the far southeast corner of the North Carolina coast.
Remembering Sneads Ferry in the 1930s
Through the eyes of Sneads Ferry's oldest residents, I came to see Charles Farrell's photographs as a window into a time when most of the village's people still made their livings from the sea.
Menhaden Fishing Days
When I was in Southport several years ago, I carried Charles Farrell's photographs to an old menhaden fisherman named Charles “Pete” Joyner. At the time, Mr. Joyner was 93 years old.
The Herring Workers
A few years ago, I carried a box of Charles Farrell's old photographs of the state's great herring fisheries back to one of the communities on the Chowan River where he took them. They are poignant and beautiful, and the herring workers in them are unforgettable, but I also find them a little haunting because they remind me of all that can be lost.
The Barney Slough Fish Camp, 1905
I love this photograph of fishermen at the Barney Slough Fish Camp back in the winter of 1905. They were shad fishermen and you can see them standing with their pound net stakes, just off Hatteras Island.
Goodbye to Cape Lookout
Russell Coles began to say good-bye to Cape Lookout in 1920. He was slowing down. The aging shark hunter, by then 55 years old, increasingly found it difficult to rise before sunrise and go out and do battle with sharks.
The Shark Factory
When I learned about Russell Coles and the shark factory in Morehead City, N.C., I thought immediately of the first pages of Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, when all the fishermen have returned to shore in a Cuban port and are cleaning and packing their catches....
Cape Lookout’s War
The first mention of the First World War at Cape Lookout in Russell Coles’ diary is dated July 28, 1916. On that day, he wrote that he had risen before first light and was “looking for the German submarine” by sunrise.
Teddy Roosevelt at Cape Lookout
Teddy Roosevelt left his home in Oyster Bay, New York, on March 23, 1917 and headed south to join Russell Coles and his crew of fishermen from Morehead City, N.C. to fulfill his dream of killing a giant oceanic manta ray.
Teddy Roosevelt’s Last Dream
For many students of American history, the letters between Russell Coles and Teddy Roosevelt would be the most important historical documents that my daughter Vera and I found at Coles Hill.
The King of the Devil Fishermen
Russell Coles first learned about giant oceanic manta rays in or about 1900, when he began to spend his summers on a houseboat at Cape Lookout and started listening to the local fishermen's stories.
A Ghost in a Phosphorescent Sea
Around midnight on the night of July 1st, 1916, Russell Coles and his crew were returning from Cape Lookout Shoals when what seemed to them to be a strange glowing specter rose up in the sea before them.
The Fate of Sharks
Now, only a century later, those who study sharks-- as with so much of the world's fauna-- seem to spend most of their time like me, a historian: chronicling extinctions and warning of coming extinctions, as if Russell Coles' lust for conquering nature had spread throughout the world.
The Promise Landers
Every summer shark hunter Russell Coles took the train to Morehead City, and the first thing he always did when he arrived at the depot was meet Capt. Charlie W. Willis in the Promise Land.
Shark Hunter: Russell J. Coles at Cape Lookout
A few years ago, a gentleman in Virginia, Walter Coles, Sr., invited my daughter Vera and me to visit his family’s private library of research materials related to his uncle, a world-renowned shark hunter named Russell J. Coles who did the large bulk of his shark hunting at Cape Lookout, N.C., between roughly 1900 and 1925.
A Proggin’ Life
Another lesson that I learned from Mike Alford and Earl Wynn Jr.'s research is this: fishermen used their shad boats for a great deal more than catching shad. In the words of Roanoke Island's old timers, they also did a whole lot of “proggin.”
Earl Willis, Jr.’s Sketch of a Shad Boat
Today in the 6th part of my special series, "The Story of Shad Boats," I just want to share a rough sketch of a shad boat’s interior arrangement that Earl Willis, Jr. drew in the 1980s, based on what Roanoke Island's old timers taught him about the boats.
Shad Boat Country
In this 5th part of my series "The Story of Shad Boats," I am looking at one of the most groundbreaking parts of Earl Willis’s and Mike Alford's research on shad boats—Earl's compilation of a detailed registry of shad boats and shad boat builders-- and exploring what it says about where shad boats were built and used.
The Story of Shad Boats
Today I’m excited to start a special series called "The Story of Shad Boats." Over a dozen posts, I'll be exploring Earl Willis, Jr. and Mike Alford's extraordinary research on the origins, construction and history of those legendary traditional workboats that once graced North Carolina's coastal waters.
Hurricane Hazel: “Nothing left but piling”
Today-- the conclusion to my special series '`The Shrimp Capital of the World'-- Charles Farrell's Photographs of Southport, N.C., 1938" Charles Farrell’s photographs chronicled Southport’s shrimp industry in its heyday, but those days did not last forever. In fact, they came to an end suddenly, on the 15th of October 1954. On that autumn day, … Continue reading Hurricane Hazel: “Nothing left but piling”
Like Pulling Taffy– part 10 of “The Shrimp Capital of the World”
A shrimp house in the 1930s was its own world. When the toil wasn't too wearing, some were almost festive. On some nights, in some shrimp houses, the women sang gospel hymns and popular songs to pass the time and to find the strength to keep going.