Island History

Harkers Island, NC

Most ancestors of Harkers Islanders lived in the Cape Lookout area or on Shackleford Banks ( which had two primary settlements: Diamond City and Wades Shore). These areas had their own school ( 3 months out of the year), and stores. Church meetings were often held near the shore where visiting preachers would come by boat. These banks ancestors primarily fished and whaled for a living, with a few doing some boat building.

There was an abundance of trees and the soil was fertile enough for gardens. Wild Horses, cattle, pigs, sheep and goats roamed the banks from that time up until the 1980's. In the late 1890's and early 1900's the salt from hurricane over wash destroyed the soil. Some homes were dislodged off their foundations from these storms and folks started moving to Harkers Island, Marshallberg and the Promised Land from 1910 - 1920. The Promised Land is part of the Morehead City Waterfront.

In the summer of 1999 all the descendants of these " banks"  folk had an all-day reunion here on the island with 700 to 800 persons attending.

There were only 13 families living on the island when the folks from Shackelford banks started moving over. The banks folk integrated and continued to fish and build boats.

The islanders are known for their dialect which can be traced back to Old Elizabethan English. U.N.C.'s Department of English has published a video on the subject. 

Carmine Prioli has published " Hope For a Good Season" ( featuring the fishermen and folks of Harkers Island).

The Island was accessible only by boat, with mainland supplies coming in that manner up until 1926, at which time a one to two car maximum capacity ferry was started, going from the north side of the island from the Ferry Dock Road over to Gloucester.

The Mail Boat

The first wooden bridge was constructed in 1941 and was replaced by the present structure in 1968. There was only one road through the island until about the mid to late 1950's.

Electricity came in 1939 (REA) and telephone service in 1948. A school was already here on the island which had existed here since 1850.

Wachovia set up the island's first bank in 1972. The first post office was established in1904. The first Fire and Rescue was established in 1972

There are eight churches on the island, the first one established in 1875, a Methodist. All the churches on the island are known for their good singing and capable musicians, some known near and far. The ladies of the churches are also known for their great cooking,  just attend a homecoming dinner.

Harkers Island is about 5 miles long (east and west) and 1 -2 miles wide (north and south). It is 17 miles east of Beaufort, NC, 23 miles east of Morehead City and Atlantic Beach and about 40+ miles from Cedar Island/Ocracoke Ferry Terminal ( down east). The island with it's local population of 1800-2000 persons is located West of Core Banks and North of Shackleford Banks. Both areas are part of the Outer Banks of North Carolina's Coast; these Banks also make up the Cape Lookout National Seashore of which the Cape Lookout Lighthouse is the main attraction.

Cape Lookout Lighthouse

Except for maintained channels, many areas of our waters are shallow, great for swimming, clamming, etc, but a potential problem for the boatman unfamiliar with the local waters.

Though often humid here in summer months, there are usually breezes which make the summer temperatures more bearable.

Winters, though windy and damp, are usually free from ice and snow.

While the island is located far off the beaten path, we are "Unfortunately" (?) being discovered by the outside world. Just to prove this point, some recent visitors have been the actor Paul Newman and former President George Bush.

How will all of this affect our culture in the future? Only Time will tell.