Pirates, Distillers, & Owners of Land

Yesterday we travelled the entire length of the Outer Banks. We ferried to Ocracoke, and had enough time to walk around and discover Howard Road. Many houses had historic plaques naming the Howards who had formerly lived here. We’ve heard and read that Howards played an important part in early maritime security on Ocracoke, though one Howard had joined Blackbeard’s crew, becoming his quartermaster. He was the only one of Blackbeard’s crew not to be executed after the notorious pirate was captured. Is it possible that this family, separated from my Howard family by the Pamlico Sound and a short distance into the Neuse River are unrelated? Could such a relationship explain why I’ve not been able to find much information on the early life of Horton’s father, or of his grandfather’s origins? I don’t know if I’ll ever find the answer to this, but I di think this would be more interesting than the farfetched stories of relationship to the Duke of Norfolk and two of King. Henry’s wives.

Today we were in search of stories that could be substantiated. We spent 2 hours this morning at the New Bern County Registry of Deeds. I have copies of deeds for many sales and purchases of land by Horton Howard and his father, Bartholomew. One joint purchase by Bartholomew, his brother John, and their step-father (father-in-law, in the vernacular of the time) described them as business partners – distillers and merchants. I wondered if they were distilling spiritous liquors, but think it more likely they were distilling turpentine, an important commodity of the time. We also found deeds with more detail for the land that Howard and his brother inherited from their father, and took an exploratory drive through some of that land. Tomorrow or Thursday we’ll walk some of that land and get some photos of the area.


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