Mail-boat vessel Orville G was built by C.G. Gaskill and named for his son, born in 1910. The vessel carried freight and passengers from down east Carteret County to Beaufort until sold and put into service as a mail carrier.
One of the murals in the Beaufort Post Office, by Russian-born artist Simka Simkhovitch, depicts Orville G, the supply and mail boat on its way to nearby Cape Lookout Lighthouse.
Born in Straits to Stephen A. Gaskill and Lydia Ann "Lillie" Whitehurst, Carl Graham Gaskill (1885-1968) began C.G. Gaskill Company on Front Street about 1905. On June 24, 1908, he married Annie Warren Chadwick.
In 1936, R.B. Wheatly sold the circa 1920 house at 709 Ann Street to C.G. Gaskill. The 1940 census noted Carl as a "feed and fertilizer dealer." In the home at the time were Carl 54, wife "Annie" 55, son Orville G. 30, book keeper at "feed and fertilizer house" and daughter-in-law Cleo 27. In 1948, Carl was a North Carolina delegate to the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. The Gaskill family lived in the Ann Street house from 1936 until Carl's death in 1968.
Gaskill's Hardware, located at 900 Live Oak Street for decades, closed in February 2013; the building is now home to "Lennoxberry Commons" and "Hannah's Haus Tavern."
|Capt. David Sabiston House circa 1782 - 124 Ann Street|
|Portion of an 1857 Chart of Beaufort Harbor showing the islands |
and marshes off the west end of town in the early part of 19th century
On July 4, 1811, Capt. David Sabiston was bludgeoned to death with an oar, in the presence of Sabiston's slave Sal, who testified at the trial. The brutal murder was committed by slave Jerry, property of Mary Marshall, widow of Dr. John Marshall, near what was then known as Gabriel's Island, most likely a small island off the west end of Ann Street. Being found guilty at trial, the murderer was hanged at the Beaufort Court House on September 13, 1811.
An excerpt from the court minutes as transcribed by Rebecca W. Sanders in Early Carteret Court Minutes, "The State vs Negro Jerry, Property of Mary Marshall. John Marshall, Executor of John Marshall decd. - Indictment of Murder on the Body of David Sabiston. Justices present of this trial were - Jacob Henry, Josiah Davis, John Roberts, Nathaniel Pinkham, Buckner Hill, Edmund Daily, David Wallace, and Richard Whitehurst. Jury impaneled and sworn were - James Johnson, David Russell Sr., Thomas Reese, Gilbert Rumley, William Temple, David Bell, James Chadwick, William Fisher Sr., Newel Bell Sr., Josiah Bell, and Soloman Ward. Find the Defendant guilty. The sentence and judgement of the court pronounced by Nathaniel Pinkham as Chairman of the Court is - That he be returned back to the Prison from where he was taken and from thence to the place of execution and that he be hung from the neck till he is dead."
Source: The Researcher, Vol.X (No. III), 12-18, Dr. Robert Glenn Lewis,1994
|1713 Map of Beaufort drafted by deputy surveyor Richard Graves|
Click image to enlarge and open photo viewer
The following documentation of the establishment of the township of Beaufort is included in historian Charles L. Paul’sColonial Beaufort: The History of a North Carolina Town, 1965. Images have been added.
▪ ▪ ▪“The Indians who inhabited the Core Sound area before the white settlers arrived were of the Coree tribe. Little is definitely known about the tribe. It may be assumed that they were once a rather numerous group, but by the time of the arrival of settlers into their area, their number had been reduced by intertribal conflicts to the extent that John Lawson, surveyor-general of North Carolina, described them as having only twenty-five fighting men during the first decade of the eighteenth century.
“Before white settlers entered their area, the Coree had two villages. One of these was located on the north side of the Straits of Core Sound which separates Harkers Island from the mainland, a location not more than seven miles east of the present site of Beaufort nor more than eight miles north of Cape Lookout. The other village was located on the west side of Newport River, but the exact spot cannot be given.
|Hondius-Mercator Map - 1609-1610|
The Cwareuuock tribe name, as noted on 17th century maps,
evolved to Coree. In 1701, Lawson referred to the tribe as Coranine
with two villages, Coranine and Raruta.
"Francis and John Shackleford moved into the area from Essex County, Virginia, sometime after 1705. Francis became active in the affairs of the Core Sound area by 1708, as did John by 1709. Both of these men received numerous patents before 1713 but settled on the west side of North River about four miles northeast of the present site of Beaufort. Other names connected with the Core Sound settlement prior to 1713 were John Fulford, Robert Turner, James Keith, William Bartram, Peter Worden (also spelled Wordin), Thomas Blanton, Thomas Lepper, Thomas Sparrow, Lewis Johnson, Richard Graves, Christopher Dawson, Enoch Ward, Thomas Cary, and Thomas Kailoe. Some of these, notably Cary and Lepper, lived elsewhere and were only speculating in land. Fulford, Ward, and Turner, though, were definitely Core Sound residents during that period.
“Indications are that the Core Sound settlement had some importance before 1713. A notation on Christoph von Graffenried’s map of 1710 described Core Sound as being populated almost entirely by Englishmen who furnished seafood of all kinds to the settlers. In 1712 Captain Edward Adlard owned a sloop named the ‘Core Sound Merchant,’ which indicated trade in the area before that date. A third indication of the importance of the Core Sound settlement before 1713 is that in 1712 in the midst of the Tuscarora War, the General Assembly ordered a garrison stationed at Core Sound. The purpose of the garrison, so Governor Thomas Pollock declared in 1713, was ‘to guard the people there from some few of the Core Indians that lurk thereabout....’
“As soon as settlers moved into the Core Sound area, the port potential of the future site of Beaufort was recognized. December 20, 1707, Farnifold Green obtained a patent for the south end of the peninsula that extends between North River and Newport River. One month later, January 21, 1708, Peter Worden, then of Pamlico River, secured a patent for 640 acres on the west side of North River, part of which was included in Green’s patent. By October of that year, Worden recognized Green’s ownership, and on October 30, 1708, he cleared Green’s title by giving him a deed for ‘one certain Messuage or tenement of Land situate lying and being on the South side of North River, near to the Point of Land called Newport Town, with all its rights and privileges....’ In seeking to acquire the land, evidently the two men had its port potential in mind since Topsail Inlet, now known as Beaufort Inlet, penetrated the barrier of the Outer Banks just two miles south. The site was named Newport Town and the name of the river that flows by it on its west side was changed from Core River to Newport River.
|The 1711 Death of John Lawson |
Drawing by Christoph Von Graffenried
Topsail Inlet. Within seven months after the power of the Tuscarora Indians had been broken in March, 1713, a town was laid out on the southwest corner of the tract of land which Farnifold Green had obtained in 1707. In the meantime, Green had sold the land to Robert Turner, a merchant of Craven Precinct.
“Sometime prior to the fall of 1713, permission had been obtained from the Lords Proprietors to lay out a town by the name of Beaufort at this site, and on October 2, 1713, Robert Turner had Deputy Surveyor Richard Graves lay out the town. A plat was made of the town by Graves and recorded in the office of the secretary of the colony. Streets were named; allotments were provided for a church, a town-house, and a market place; and lots were offered for sale. On that date, October 2, 1713, Beaufort came into existence. Though minor alterations were made throughout the Colonial period, the main characteristics of the plan of the town never changed.
|Henry Somerset |
2nd Duke of Beaufort
"The name Beaufort came from Henry [Somerset, the 2nd] Duke of Beaufort, one of the Lords Proprietors, who in 1713 was Palatine of Carolina, the chief position among the Proprietors. Turner Street obtained its name from Robert Turner, the father of the town. Moore Street was probably named for Colonel James Moore, who seven months before had brought an end to the Indian war. Pollock Street was named for Thomas Pollock, acting Governor of the colony from 1712 to 1714. Both Queen and Ann Streets were named in honor of the then reigning monarch of England, while Orange Street honored the memory of William III of Orange who had preceded Queen Anne on the English throne. Craven Street was named in honor of William Lord Craven, another of the Lords Proprietors.
“Though the town of Beaufort was laid out in 1713 with the permission of the Lords Proprietors, it was not officially incorporated by the Colonial government until ten years later. In the meantime, on October 19, 1720, Robert Turner had sold the 780 acres, which included the town lands, to Richard Rustull for 150 pounds sterling and had moved to the Pamlico River area, which might indicate that his investment was not yielding satisfactory returns.
“Numerous lots were sold in Beaufort immediately after it was laid out, but few of the purchasers made their homes in the town. As late as 1765 it was described as a town of not more than twelve houses. About 1765, however, settlement became more substantial, and in the next few years efforts were made to give Beaufort more of the atmosphere of a well-ordered town.
|Carteret Deed Book D, page 91|
In a deed from Robert Turner, Turner wrote, “by a platt taken & made by Richd Graves dept. surveyor, which platt being recorded in ye survey offices, do represent ye form & shape off a certain off lands lying & being in Core Sound layed out by ye sd survayer ye 2d day off October 1713 & by ye permission off ye lords proprietors intended for a township by ye name off Beaufort.”
North Carolina's Five Oldest Towns also includes the 1723 Act of Incorporation.
Charles L. Paul earned his Assoc. of Arts degree at Chowan College, Bachelor of Arts degree at Carson-Newman College, Master of Divinity degree at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a graduate assistantship as well as Masters of Arts Degree at East Carolina University. He was a professor of history at Chowan University for 39 years.
National Register of Historic Places - 1972
|Norcom Plot - Patch Company, Boston 1865|
1970 Photo by Tony P. Wrenn
Introduction to Porchscapes
|1972 Nomination File Photo|
|1972 Nomination File Photo|
The Old Burying Ground, where Beaufort’s citizens have been buried for well over two centuries, is, even for the quiet town of Beaufort, an unusually peaceful, shady place where a sense of the past is especially strong.
The cemetery is located in the block between Ann, Craven and Broad streets and measures at its greatest expanse 440 feet by 266 feet. It is roughly in the shape of a rectangle with an L-shaped extension to the north and a central square projection to the south. Three churches border the cemetery. It is surrounded by a concrete wall, which has recessed panels between posts topped by simple spheres. The burying ground is shaded throughout by many gnarled old trees, notable among which are live oaks whose branches are covered by resurrection ferns, which revive after each rain. Instead of the usual smooth grassy expanse, the ground is covered with fallen leaves, among which grow ivy and other vines. A profusion of azaleas and naturalized daffodils bloom in the spring.
The cemetery is rather crowded with markers, which follow a variety of designs, including table stones, obelisks and official military markers. The best know is that of Otway Burns, a naval hero in the War of 1812. His grave is marked by a large box-like stone, in the top of which is embedded the canon from his privateer Snap Dragon.
Many of the older graves have simple vertical cypress slabs—of some seventeen designs in all, each with a weathered, lichen-spotted texture. Another common grave treatment is the construction, in front of a stone marker, of a sort of grave cover of brick, usually about two feet in height, which protects the grave from being washed out in the sandy soil. Some are rounded and some are of a gabled configuration, but all run approximately the length of the coffin beneath—whether a tall man or a small child—providing a vivid and somber reminder of those who lie buried. These occur singly, but more frequently are lined up in family groups.
Many of the family plots are surrounded by handsome wrought and cast-iron fences. Probably the most outstanding is that enclosing the Norwood [Norcom] plot, which was manufactured by S. Patch of Boston in 1865. Round arches adorned with volutes support the narrow railing. Spiral posts with elaborate finials flank the gate, which features entwined scrolls, flowers and leaf motifs.
Many of the stones, varying from simple ones to elaborate monuments with urns, figures
|Samuel Leffers 1736-1822|
There are some 200 stones from the pre-Civil War era, approximately forty-five from the war period, and about 150 from 1865 to 1900, and a few twentieth-century markers.
Statement of Significance
|Thomas Plot - Contemporary Photo|
|1901 Unveiling at Tomb of Otway Burns|
Photo in 1905 book by
grandson Walter Francis Burns
The cemetery was enlarged in 1731, when Nathanael Taylor, “by and with the consent of Richd Rustull, senr, and Joseph Bell, Esqr, Commissioners,” gave all of lot 81, Old Town (adjacent to lot 91), to the inhabitants of the town for a burying ground. Burials were probably confined to these two lots until 1820, when the Methodists acquired lot 101, Old Town, and erected a church on part of the lot. The cemetery was enlarged again when the Baptists acquired part of lot 72 in 1851, and when the Methodists bought part of lot 71 in 1853 for a new church. In each case the part of the lot not occupied by the church building added to the area of the burial ground. Both Methodist structures still stand, and a new brick church occupies the site of the original Baptist structure. The town lot, lot 81, must have filled up early, for by 1828 the commissioners, recognizing a need for additional space, ordered that a new cemetery be surveyed and laid off. In 1867 the commissioners began the planting of elm trees in front of the churches that border the cemetery.
|Snip from Gray's 1880 Map|
Today the cemetery encompasses part of lots 71, 72, 82, 92, 101 and all of lots 81 and 91. Included are the original burying ground, the Methodist cemetery and the Baptist cemetery.
The whole area with its lichen-encrusted stones shaded by great trees is pervaded by an atmosphere of age, peace and pleasant melancholia that makes it one of the most memorable spots in one of North Carolina’s most picturesque communities—the seaport town of Beaufort.
The range of tombstone design is quite remarkable, from the primitive grace of the simple cypress slabs to the sober functionalism of the long brick grave covers to the ornate memorials of the Victorian period. Particularly notable is the vividly descriptive Otway Burns marker—a cannon atop the grave of a naval hero.
The cemetery is a grant-in-aid project of the Cemetery Association of Beaufort, under the auspices of the Division of Archives and History.
Survey and Planning Unit Staff
State Department of Archives and History
Raleigh, North Carolina
The designated State Liaison Officer for the National Historic Preservation of 1966 officially nominated this property for inclusion in the National Register and certified that it had been evaluated according to the criteria and procedures set forth by the National Park Service—signed by H.G. Jones, director, State Department of Archives and History, 2 February 1972
|After 1945 and before early 1990s|
In The Story of the Methodist in Beaufort, Amy Muse wrote, "He conducted The Beaufort Female Institute in the house in which 'Miss Laura' Duncan lives. His mother 'Miss Frances' Canaday built the house for him—the upper part to be used as his home, the basement rooms for the school. Later she built another for him on the west side of Pollock Street just back of the Inlet Inn where he was conducting a school at the time of his death in 1859."
Miss Henrietta Lea (1840-1929) was one of the young teachers at the school. Daughter of minister Solomon Lea, who became the first President of Greensboro Female College, Henrietta evidently came to Beaufort to teach in Rev. Langdon's school, then met and married minister Marcus Cicero Thomas Jr. (1831-1913) in 1858.
NOTE: In a 1898 report compiled by the Superintendent of Public Instruction of North Carolina, the following were noted in Beaufort: Carteret Academy chartered in 1810 and Beaufort Male & Female Academy chartered 1842. In 1856 W.I. Langdon was principal of a female school at Beaufort; it was afterwards removed to High Point. The Atlantic Military Institute was located in Beaufort about 1860.
What has been called the "Beaufort Academy" and is now plaqued "Carteret Academy" was actually the Beaufort Female Academy. When built, it looked nothing like it does today. On Gray's 1880 Map this lot is noted as the "Duncan Estate." The porches were added after 1898. (See Sanborn maps below) The house was one of the first plaqued in 1963. Purchased in 1989, it was elevated several step higher, supporting pillars replaced with brick and the basement bricked in.
|Thomas Isaac & Laura Duncan 1930s|
|Thomas Isaac Duncan|
|Laura Nelson Duncan|
|1986 News-Times article|
|Laura Mae Duncan Sellers 1986|
Daughter Laura Mae Duncan Sellers (1886-1990) lived to be 104!
|Lena Nelson Duncan (1898-1990)|
Lena's brother John Nelson Duncan Sr. (1896-1986) was the grandfather of current Beaufort resident and realtor John N. Duncan III - Beaufort Realty on Front Street.
|Jean B. Kell Photo circa 1992|
|1970 Tony P. Wrenn |
Archives & History
|Laura and Grace - circa 1900|
By 1857, the island viewed Taylor’s Creek from the downtown waterfront, Town Marsh, was about 3/8 of a mile long. In the early 1900s the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers began dredging the mouth of Taylor's Creek, using Carrot Island and Town Marsh as dredge material deposition areas. Before the dredging, these islands were essentially all tidal marsh with some elevated hammock land. By the 1930s the islands had been built up by the dredge material deposition to the point that they provided protection for the town from high winds, flooding and storm waves.
|1898 Sanborn Map|
|1904 Sanborn Map|
|Portion of 1857 Map of Beaufort Harbor |
Islands were essentially all tidal marsh with some elevated hammock land.
The current structure, 505 Front Street, corner of Front and Craven Streets,
is one of the most photographed in Beaufort.
|Contemporary Photo Courtesy Lisa Margolis|
|Contemporary Photo Courtesy Jeff Pettitt|
The old Beaufort High School was first operated by Ann Street Methodist Church and was a tuition school. The building was originally located on the Carteret County Courthouse grounds, facing Turner Street. Purchased for $1250 in 1907 by the town of Beaufort, the building was moved a short distance to the south side of Broad Street. Images on this post are from a 1960s architectural study done by NC State University. Much more below...
|Broad Street Location circa 1966|
Click an image below to open "light box" and view all.
“In 1885 a Committee of Citizens leased lots 136, 144 and 152 on the northwest side of the Court House Square which had been ‘reserved for an Academy by an Act of the General Assembly in 1816.’ They agreed to pay an annual rental of $6.00 and were to erect upon it a school for white children, the building to cost not less than $1,000. The following were on the Committee: Thomas Thomas, B.L. Jones, W.F. Dill, William Sabiston, J.B. Davis, N.W. Taylor, S.M. Buckman, S.J. Moore, Sarah A. Davis, J.B. Jones, J.C. Davis, W.B. Duncan, B.J. Bell, T.D. Noe, N.L. Carrow, M.R. Geffroy, F. Borden Mace, J.D. Davis, W.S. Chadwick, R.W. Bell, James R. Bell and R.W. Bell Sr.
“This school was built facing Market Street, now Turner, and for fifteen years was operated as the Beaufort High School. In 1900, the Methodists leased the land for ten years with the privilege of renewing for fifty years and operated it as a Methodist school. The records do not show just what the transaction was, but the Methodists seem to have come into possession of the building at this time. A member of the original Committee, with whom I talked, said that those of other denominations who were on the Committee sold their interest in the building to the Methodists who were already in the majority. He says the money received by the Episcopalians was put into St. Paul’s School, and he thinks that the Methodists likewise gave their part in it to their church. As there was no real estate transaction involved, no deed was required.
“Two years before this St. Paul’s School had been founded, and it existed until ‘Miss Nannie’ Geffroy’s death in 1936. In all walks of life and in all denominations are those who were educated there. It was this school which competed with that operated by the Methodists. Apparently the Methodists had some difficulty in selling their school to all of their people, for the Beaufort Bulletin, paper of the school and also of the town, states in one issue, ‘The Episcopalians of Beaufort have their church school and without exception member of that church patronize their own school. This is as it should be. The Methodists of Beaufort have their church school…yet some of our good Methodists patronize the other school. This is as it should not be.’ Incidentally, Misses Grace Duncan and Bernice Hornaday were authorized agents for the paper—price twenty-five cents per year.
“The Methodists never exercised their privilege of renewing their lease for fifty years. Instead in 1907, after operating the school for only seven years, the Church sold a strip of land on Broad Street, back of the A.M.E. Zion Church to the town for $1,250 ‘also that certain school house building now standing on the public Court House Square in the said town of Beaufort and commonly called the Beaufort High School Building.’ The trustees signing the deed were T.M. Thomas, C.P. Day, T.W. Lindsay, H.C. Jones, C.L. Duncan, B.J. Jones, Charles L. Abernethy and W.L. Arrington.
“The town offices were then in a little building on the east side of Craven owned by Mr. Winfield Chadwick—the ‘lock up’ downstairs, the Town Hall upstairs. The old school building was moved across the [Broad] street to the strip of land purchased by the town where, with the removal of the cupola and a few other changes that grew out of the fire that burned the western end shortly after it was acquired, it stands today as our Town Hall.”
|1908 Sanborn Map|
|Another View of Broad Street Location|
|John Williams Shackelford|
4th G-Grandson of
|Moseley's 1733 Map|
noted "Shakelford" on
the west side of North River.
Of the many sons of Roger and Mary Shackelford, John and Francis Shackelford, born in Essex County, Virginia, but made their way to Carteret County by 1708.
Francis Shackelford, born about 1675, married Sarah Virginia Lewis about 1700. They lived in Essex County, Virginia until they relocated to Carteret County, where he died about 1722.
John Shackelford was born about 1668 and died in August 1734 in Carteret County. John married Ann Livingston about 1695, at least the second marriage for him.
In 1708 John and Francis were granted land on the west side of North River. Moseley's 1733 map inset noted "Shakelford" plantation in this area.
In 1713 John Shackelford and Enoch Ward purchased 7000 acres referred to as the “Sea Banks” from John Porter. The two men divided the property in 1723. Shackelford’s western part was later noted on maps as “Shackleford Banks,” the spelling still used today, unlike the family surname or the spelling in Shackelford’s last will and testament.
John Shackelford served in the Militia during from 1712-1733. He is recorded in the Colonial Records, January 9, 1712. "…in ye Garrison at Shackelfords plantation praying Liberty to plant Corne on ye said plantation. Ordered that ye afsd Garrison to have liberty to plant Tend & Gather Corn on ye Said plantation dureing the time they Keep Garrison there as afsd." John was appointed to see "Every ship drawing eight feet of water anchoring at the Banks and Shackelford Banks to charge three shillings six pence per foot."
Shackelford was recorded on the Vestry Book of St John's Parish Vestry Roll from April 1723 thru May 1733. His son, John Shackleford Jr., served in 1747 with the militia when the Spanish invaded the town of Beaufort. John Jr, had four sons to serve in the North Carolina Revolutionary forces.
John Shackelford's Last Will and Testament, dated March, 29, 1734, probated September 1734:
To daughters, Mary, Elizabeth and Ann, a gold ring each at the price of ten shillings. Daughter, Sarah, wife of Joseph Moss [Morse] four cows and calves, and liberty to my son-in-law to build a house and shop in the Island Land whereon I now live.
I give liberty to the aforesaid Joseph Moss to whaile off the Banks he paying yearly to My Beloved wife Ann Shackelford during her life and no longer the rent of two barrels of oil for his share of one half of one single boat and to have liberty of no more boats or part of my boats.
To Grandson, John Roberts, two Cows and Calves at the decease of my wife Ann. To grandson William Roberts two Cows and Calves. Daughter Hannah three Cows and Calves. The large Cedar Cubbard and round table in the outer room. Two pewter dishes, three pewter plates, one feather bead blanket and rug. One pair of cotton sheets, one small iron pot and iron skillet.
After the death of my beloved wife Ann I give my son John all the remainder of goods and Chattle both resale and personal provided my son John does not die without issue, in such case I bequest my estate to my son James and his heirs forever also Island called Carrot.
Witness: Samuel Chadwick, Ephraim Chadwick. Clerk of the Court: Jas. Winright. (Virginia Colonial Abstracts, Vol. 4, by Beverly Fleet, Outer Banks of North Carolina by David Stick, UNC Press, page 33.)
The name Shackelford began to disappear from Carteret County after 1792. Many moved to Onslow and other counties.
US Senator John Williams Shackelford (1844-1883), above, of Richlands, Onslow County, was the 4th G-Grandson of John Shackelford’s brother Francis Shackelford (1665-1722).
Information gathered from various sources including Colonial Records and ancestry.com.
Photo contributed by Reserve volunteer, Robin Newton. Horses are from the same social group or "harem." Left to right: Sugargoot (lead stallion), Trilobite (subordinate stallion), and Beth (female) in the background.
_______________________________________________________________________Horses may have been on the barrier "islands," just south of Beaufort, as early as the mid-eighteenth century when "Carrot Island," just east of town, was made up of many marshes. "Carrot Island" was noted on Moseley's 1733 map of Beaufort. "Horse Island," now part of the Rachel Carson Reserve, was noted on an 1851 Sketch of Beaufort Harbor, administered under the US Coast Survey Office. The island most likely got its name because there were horses there, whether wild or put there to graze.
|Sketch of Beaufort Harbor - US Coast Survey Office - Ordered 1844, Completed 1851|
In the early 1900s the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers began dredging the mouth of Taylor's Creek, using Carrot Island and Town Marsh as dredge material deposition areas. Before the dredging, these islands were essentially all tidal marsh with some elevated hammock land.
A Beaufort resident, Dr. Luther Fulcher, placed horses on the Reserve's islands in 1947. Livestock was also taken over to the islands to graze. With the resident's passing, the horses remained and became feral, reverting from domestication back to the wild. More - An Interview with Cap'n Claude.
During the 1940s, marine biologist and conservationist Rachel Carson did research at what is now the site named in her honor. The Rachel Carson Reserve includes Town Marsh, Bird Shoal, Carrot Island, Horse Island and Middle Marshes.
In 1977, Beaufort residents, civic organizations and environmental groups worked together to prevent the development of a resort on what is now the Rachel Carson Reserve. The N.C. Chapter of The Nature Conservancy purchased 474 acres of Carrot Island that year. The State of North Carolina acquired Town Marsh, Carrot Island, Horse Island and Bird Shoal in 1985, with the addition of Middle Marshes in 1989.
|Smooth Cordgrass |
Despite the harsh conditions the horses have thrived on the reserve. During the late 1980s and early 1990s the population exceeded capacity. This led to massive malnutrition and several deaths. Since the horses are considered a cultural resource, management action was required using a birth control program. This coupled with natural mortality helped the population get near the target number of 30 horses.
The reserve's staff from the Beaufort office oversees the horse management. Individual horses are identified, photographed and maintained. Each horse is tracked for births, general health, social habits and eventually death. Beyond the birth control program, the horse population is treated as a wild herd.
The wild horses, that live on and roam the Rachel Carson Reserve, are beautiful and powerful animals. To many, they represent freedom and wildness for all to enjoy. However, to protect the horses as well as visitors, it is important to give these majestic wild animals their space. Watching them from at least 50 feet, preferably more, will help the horses retain their wild nature and keep visitors out of the way of fighting stallions or a mare protecting her foal.
• Two nature trails can be reached at the northwest beach on Town Marsh. Both trails pass through man-made upland as well as natural marsh habitats.
• Trail lengths and difficulty:
Outer Loop Trail - 1.1 mile, easy, trail only accessible at low tide and may be muddy.
Inner Loop Trail - 0.9 mile, easy.
• Bird Shoal, a 1.5 mile stretch of beach, is a short walk from the southern-most point of both trails.
Carrot Island Boardwalk
• The boardwalk near the eastern end of the site can be reached by boat. It is directly across from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission boating access area at 2370 Lennoxville Road, Beaufort.
• The viewing platform overlooks North River Channel, providing scenic views of Middle
Marshes and Shackleford Banks. This is an excellent place for birding and learning about the estuary environment through interpretive signs.
Rules and Tips for Visitors
• The trails and boardwalk are open year-round.
• Do not remove or disturb plants or wildlife and do not feed the wildlife or horses.
• To protect natural features, please stay on designated trails and leave nothing behind except your footprints.
• Camping, fires and littering are prohibited.
• Leash and clean up after your pets. It is the law and unrestrained dogs are susceptible to potentially fatal horse kicks.
• While observing feral horses, keep a safe distance away (at least 50 feet).
• Canoe and kayak launches are at designated areas along Front Street.
• There are no facilities. Plan ahead and be prepared for changing conditions on this exposed and remote site.
This post was compiled from research by Mary Warshaw and information provided by Rachel Carson Reserve site manager Paula Gillikin. Horse images courtesy Rachel Carson Reserve.