Tag Archives: Outer Banks History Center

Family Traditions of Service: Lifesavers of the Chicamacomico Life Boat Station receiving medals for rescue of British tanker Mirlo crew, July 1930

[This blog post was written by Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

The following description of the 1918 rescue of the crew of the British tanker Mirlo comes from the National Park Service:

“[A] famous surfboat rescue occurred during World War I, when enemy submarines operated in American coastal waters. On August 16, 1918, the British tanker Mirlo struck a German mine a few miles offshore and blew up. Keeper John Allen Midgett and his crew from Chicamacomico [Life Boat] Station launched their surfboat and steered it into a fiery seascape of burning oil, seeking survivors. Maneuvering their way through a hellish environment that blistered paint on their boat, burned their skin, and singed their hair and clothing, the lifesavers emerged with 42 rescued crewmen. Both the United States and Great Britain awarded Keeper Midgett and hiChicamacomico_MirloRescies surfmen medals for their gallantry.” (http://www.nps.gov/caha/learn/historyculture/lifesaving-service.htm)

This is the original photograph of the lifesavers of the Chicamacomico Life Boat Station receiving in July of 1930 “Grand Crosses of the American Cross of Honor” gold medals for their heroic rescue in 1918. Pictured here are: (left to right) Surfmen Leroy Midgett, Prochorus O’Neal, and Zion S. Midgett; [two unidentified civilians]; RADM Frederick C. Billard, Commandant of the Coast Guard; Keeper John Allen Midgett Jr.; and, surfmen Arthur Midgett, and Clarence Midgett.

The tradition of Coast Guard service was so strong in the Midgett family that the service on Hatteras Island was referred to as the “Midgett Navy.”

Credit line: United States Coast Guard and United States Lifesaving Service Portraits Collection, Sarah Owens Collection, Outer Banks History Center.

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This blog post is one in two-week series of posts sharing the items used in the exhibit titled “The Family Traditions of Service:  A Historical Tribute to Veterans.” This exhibit, on display from November 3 to November 13, 2015, at the Dare County Arts Council building in Manteo, N.C., is sponsored by the Friends of the Outer Banks History Center, the exhibit serves as a historical tribute to over 100 years of military service of North Carolina residents and their families, with particular emphasis on coastal North Carolina. The goal of the exhibit is to honor the role of North Carolina veterans and their families during peacetime and war. The items from this exhibit come from the holdings of the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina and the Outer Banks History Center.

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Family Traditions of Service: Paul Gamiel’s Hill Station, 1914

[This blog post was written by Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

In 1848, U.S. federal government funds were committed to limited lifesaving operations along America’s coastline. Volunteers staffed scattered facilities for over twenty years before a professional lifesaving service was created in 1871, as a unit within the U.S. Treasury’s Revenue Marine Bureau. In June 1878, the U.S. Lifesaving Service was made an independent unit of the U.S. Treasury Department. It went on to build an extraordinary history of service and heroism before becoming part of the new U.S. Coast Guard in 1915.

The town PaulGamielHill_Stationof Southern Shores was founded as a resort in 1946, and became incorporated as a municipality in 1979. This area of Dare County included portions of the Kitty Hawk Woods and Duck Woods forests. In 1878, the United States Lifesaving Service constructed and commissioned the Paul Gamiel’s Hill Lifesaving Station in the area. It was reconstructed in 1909, and was operated by the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. The Coast Guard abandoned the station in 1949, and the building burned down in the 1960s.

The following description of the operation of a lifesaving station comes from the National Park Service:

“When a new station was established, the head lifesaver, called the ‘Keeper,’ was selected first and given charge of the station. He would then seek out appropriate candidates, often from the local community, for the other lifesaving positions. These men, called ‘surfmen,’ were given a numerical ranking based on experience, which assigned them specific duties. Surfman #1, for example, was usually a veteran lifesaver and the Keeper’s second in command, while Surfman #8 was often the newest man and given more menial duties. This pecking order was essential to the station’s smooth operation. Training was, by necessity, the lifeblood of the service. Each day of the week was set aside for a particular drill. Without the proper knowledge and skills, the lifesavers would have little control over a rescue attempt and could endanger everyone involved, including themselves. A shipwreck was often a chaotic scene requiring immediate action in severe conditions. Men were better prepared to deal with the merciless ocean, raging storms, and their own fears if they were well-trained.” (http://www.nps.gov/caha/learn/historyculture/lifesaving-service.htm)

This photograph speaks to the role of North Carolina families’ military service in coastal operations and rescue services during World War I. In World War I, Coast Guard service individuals responded to distress calls from ships attacked by German submarines along the North Carolina coast. Pictured here at Paul Gamiel’s Hill Station, located between Kitty Hawk and the village of Duck, North Carolina, in 1914 are: (left to right): Capt. Tom Harris, Andrew Scarborough, John Beacham, P. D. Beals, Alfonzo Tillett, Joe Crank (the cook), Rob Sanderlin, Bannister Hines, and Marshall Nelson.

Credit line: United States Coast Guard and United States Lifesaving Service Portraits Collection, Sarah Owens Collection, Outer Banks History Center.

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This blog post is one in two-week series of posts sharing the items used in the exhibit titled “The Family Traditions of Service:  A Historical Tribute to Veterans.” This exhibit, on display from November 3 to November 13, 2015, at the Dare County Arts Council building in Manteo, N.C., is sponsored by the Friends of the Outer Banks History Center, the exhibit serves as a historical tribute to over 100 years of military service of North Carolina residents and their families, with particular emphasis on coastal North Carolina. The goal of the exhibit is to honor the role of North Carolina veterans and their families during peacetime and war. The items from this exhibit come from the holdings of the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina and the Outer Banks History Center.

Family Traditions of Service: Cape Hatteras Lifesaving Station, ca. 1900

[This blog post was written by Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

In 1848, U.S. federal government funds were committed to limited lifesaving operations along America’s coastline. Volunteers staffed scattered facilities for over twenty years before a professional lifesaving service was created in 1871, as a unit within the U.S. Treasury’s Revenue Marine Bureau. In June 1878, the U.S. Lifesaving Service was made an independent unit of the U.S. Treasury Department. It went on to build an extraordinary history of service and heroism before becoming part of the new U.S. Coast Guard in 1915.

This photograph speaks to the early role of North Carolina families’ military service in coastal operations and rescue services prior to World War I. Construction of a lighthouse at Cape Hatteras was first authorized in 1794 when Congress recognized the danger posed to Atlantic shipping. Construction did not start until 1799. The first lighthouse went into operation in October 1803. This liCapeHatteras_LifesavingStationghthouse was not tall enough to effectively warn ships of the dangerous Diamond Shoals along the North Carolina coast, and in 1853, 60 feet was added to the height of the lighthouse to make it more visible to ships. By the 1860s, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was in dire need of extensive repairs. Instead of repairing the failing structure, a new lighthouse was opened on December 1, 1870. The 1803 lighthouse was demolished in February 1871. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse received its black and white stripe day-mark pattern in 1873. The United States Lifesaving Service established a lifesaving station just one mile south of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, near Cape Point, North Carolina, in 1882.

The following description of the operation of a life-saving station comes from the National Park Service:

“When a new station was established, the head lifesaver, called the ‘Keeper,’ was selected first and given charge of the station. He would then seek out appropriate candidates, often from the local community, for the other lifesaving positions. These men, called ‘surfmen,’ were given a numerical ranking based on experience, which assigned them specific duties. Surfman #1, for example, was usually a veteran lifesaver and the Keeper’s second in command, while Surfman #8 was often the newest man and given more menial duties. This pecking order was essential to the station’s smooth operation. Training was, by necessity, the lifeblood of the service. Each day of the week was set aside for a particular drill. Without the proper knowledge and skills, the lifesavers would have little control over a rescue attempt and could endanger everyone involved, including themselves. A shipwreck was often a chaotic scene requiring immediate action in severe conditions. Men were better prepared to deal with the merciless ocean, raging storms, and their own fears if they were well-trained.” (http://www.nps.gov/caha/learn/historyculture/lifesaving-service.htm)

Pictured here around 1900 at the Cape Hatteras Lifesaving Station are: (left to right) Urias Williams, Edward Midgett, Baxter Miller, John Howard Midgett, Issac [should this be Isaac?] Jennette, Ed Stowe, Dave Barnett, their dog Rover, and Keeper Capt. Pat Etheridge. The two men standing on the porch are Dr. Josh J. Davis and Theodore Meekins. In the background in front of the small outbuilding is the cook, Charlie Olsen.

Credit line: United States Coast Guard and United States Lifesaving Service Portraits Collection, Sarah Owens Collection, Outer Banks History Center.

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This blog post is one in two-week series of posts sharing the items used in the exhibit titled “The Family Traditions of Service:  A Historical Tribute to Veterans.” This exhibit, on display from November 3 to November 13, 2015, at the Dare County Arts Council building in Manteo, N.C., is sponsored by the Friends of the Outer Banks History Center, the exhibit serves as a historical tribute to over 100 years of military service of North Carolina residents and their families, with particular emphasis on coastal North Carolina. The goal of the exhibit is to honor the role of North Carolina veterans and their families during peacetime and war. The items from this exhibit come from the holdings of the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina and the Outer Banks History Center.

 

Family Traditions of Service: Cape Lookout Teletype Roll Section [Roll 8], February 29, 1944

[This blog post was written by Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Cape Lookout Teletype Roll section [Roll 4], Date: February 29, 1944

Cape Lookout Teletype Roll section [Roll 4], Date: February 29, 1944

The Cape Lookout Life-Saving Station Teletype Rolls consist of more than 65 original brittle, rolled, brown paper teletype rolls that were found at the U.S. Coast Guard Cape Lookout Life-Saving Station boathouse on Harkers Island, North Carolina. The rolls were created between 1938 and 1945. In 1957, the U.S. Coast Guard sold the Cape Lookout Life-Saving Station boathouse to a family, who discovered these teletype rolls in the boathouse. The rolls had suffered from water, rat and mice chewing, and mold damage. The family donated them to the State Archives in 2010.

Teletypewriters or teletype machines are electro-mechanical typewriters that were used to send and receive typed messages over radio signals and telephone landlines among communication stations and ships. In World War II, the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard used these machines for military communication, monitoring potential enemy submarine communications and vessels in distress along the U.S. coastline. Finding this many original mostly intact teletype rolls from WWII is very rare. Usually, teletype operators tore off messages from the roll after a communication was received.

This section contains communications among teletype operators along the East Coast about an intercepted SOS distress call for a ship 78 miles off Montauk Point Lighthouse on Long Island, New York City, which was in a collision and required assistance. The teletype operators are trying to verify the legitimacy of the call, fearing it might be a fake distress call from a German submarine setting a trap. The operators share information about authorities forwarding the distress call to the appropriate authorities. This undated roll covers two days from 12:00 A.M. to 8:00 A.M.

Close-up, Cape Lookout Teletype Roll section [Roll 4], Date: February 29, 1944

Close-up, Cape Lookout Teletype Roll section [Roll 4], Date: February 29, 1944

This roll section contains a phrase repeated throughout all of the teletype rolls: “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party.” This phrase is from a Patrick Henry quote. In 1867, the phrase was first proposed as a typing drill by instructor Charles E. Weller. The phrase was a typing test for speed and accuracy, which is why it appears in the teletype rolls during teletype operators’ testing their communication systems.

The Military Collection is working on an ambitious landmark 3 to 5 year project to preserve the informational content of the teletype rolls through in-house digitization. Digitization is challenging due to the rolls’ length: the shortest teletype roll is 1½ feet, and the longest is 54 feet. The paper the rolls were printed on is very acidic, and was never meant to last. Digitization is the only way to save the information, and will allow the Military Collection to read the rolls’ content. Once the rolls have been digitized in-house, the Military Collection Archivist will try to determine the best means to make them available to the public—either onsite at the State Archives or online. If you or someone you know worked with the radio communications or teletype machines in the 1940s or 1950s, and might be able to help identify the content of the rolls, please contact the Military Collection Archivist at the State Archives of North Carolina.

Credit line: Cape Lookout Teletype Rolls Collection, Acc. # 2015.4.43, Military Collection, State Archives of North Carolina

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This blog post is one in two-week series of posts sharing the items used in the exhibit titled “The Family Traditions of Service:  A Historical Tribute to Veterans.” This exhibit, on display from November 3 to November 13, 2015, at the Dare County Arts Council building in Manteo, N.C., is sponsored by the Friends of the Outer Banks History Center, the exhibit serves as a historical tribute to over 100 years of military service of North Carolina residents and their families, with particular emphasis on coastal North Carolina. The goal of the exhibit is to honor the role of North Carolina veterans and their families during peacetime and war. The items from this exhibit come from the holdings of the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina and the Outer Banks History Center.

Family Traditions of Service: Cape Lookout Teletype Roll Section [Roll 4], October 17, 1944

[This blog post was written by Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Cape Lookout Teletype Roll section [Roll 4], Date: October 17, 1944

Cape Lookout Teletype Roll section [Roll 4], Date: October 17, 1944

The Cape Lookout Life-Saving Station Teletype Rolls consist of more than 65 original brittle, rolled, brown paper teletype rolls that were found at the U.S. Coast Guard Cape Lookout Life-Saving Station boathouse on Harkers Island, North Carolina. The rolls were created between 1938 and 1945. In 1957, the U.S. Coast Guard sold the Cape Lookout Life-Saving Station boathouse to a family, who discovered these teletype rolls in the boathouse. The rolls had suffered from water, rat and mice chewing, and mold damage. The family donated them to the State Archives in 2010.

Teletypewriters or teletype machines are electro-mechanical typewriters that were used to send and receive typed messages over radio signals and telephone landlines among communication stations and ships. In World War II, the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard used these machines for military communication, monitoring potential enemy submarine communications and vessels in distress along the U.S. coastline. Finding this many original mostly intact teletype rolls from WWII is very rare. Usually, teletype operators tore off messages from the roll after a communication was received.

This section of one of the teletype rolls (temporarily numbered Roll 4) contains communications among various teletype operators who apparently are along the East Coast. Near the top of this section, there was apparently a signal received by several teletype operators of a radio signal from around the Pungo River area in North Carolina, near the Pamlico Sound. The signal appears to have been a mistake, as the person sending the signal “has a rough note”—meaning the radio operator was using the wrong buttons or code to transmit. The roll section also contains weather reports from various locations.

Close-up, Cape Lookout Teletype Roll section [Roll 4], Date: October 17, 1944

Close-up, Cape Lookout Teletype Roll section [Roll 4], Date: October 17, 1944

The Military Collection is working on an ambitious landmark 3 to 5 year project to preserve the informational content of the teletype rolls through in-house digitization. Digitization is challenging due to the rolls’ length: the shortest teletype roll is 1½ feet, and the longest is 54 feet. The paper the rolls were printed on is very acidic, and was never meant to last. Digitization is the only way to save the information, and will allow the Military Collection to read the rolls’ content. Once the rolls have been digitized in-house, the Military Collection Archivist will try to determine the best means to make them available to the public—either onsite at the State Archives or online. If you or someone you know worked with the radio communications or teletype machines in the 1940s or 1950s, and might be able to help identify the content of the rolls, please contact the Military Collection Archivist at the State Archives of North Carolina

Credit line: Cape Lookout Teletype Rolls Collection, Acc. # 2015.4.43, Military Collection, State Archives of North Carolina

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This blog post is one in two-week series of posts sharing the items used in the exhibit titled “The Family Traditions of Service:  A Historical Tribute to Veterans.” This exhibit, on display from November 3 to November 13, 2015, at the Dare County Arts Council building in Manteo, N.C., is sponsored by the Friends of the Outer Banks History Center, the exhibit serves as a historical tribute to over 100 years of military service of North Carolina residents and their families, with particular emphasis on coastal North Carolina. The goal of the exhibit is to honor the role of North Carolina veterans and their families during peacetime and war. The items from this exhibit come from the holdings of the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina and the Outer Banks History Center.

Family Traditions of Service: Cape Lookout Teletype Roll Section [Roll 4], October 17, 1944

[This blog post was written by Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Cape Lookout Teletype Roll section [Roll 4], Date: October 17, 1944

Cape Lookout Teletype Roll section [Roll 4], Date: October 17, 1944


The Cape Lookout Life-Saving Station Teletype Rolls consist of more than 65 original brittle, rolled, brown paper teletype rolls that were found at the U.S. Coast Guard Cape Lookout Life-Saving Station boathouse on Harkers Island, North Carolina. The rolls were created between 1938 and 1945. In 1957, the U.S. Coast Guard sold the Cape Lookout Life-Saving Station boathouse to a family, who discovered these teletype rolls in the boathouse. The rolls had suffered from water, rat and mice chewing, and mold damage. The family donated them to the State Archives in 2010.

Teletypewriters or teletype machines are electro-mechanical typewriters that were used to send and receive typed messages over radio signals and telephone landlines among communication stations and ships. In World War II, the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard used these machines for military communication, monitoring potential enemy submarine communications and vessels in distress along the U.S. coastline. Finding this many original mostly intact teletype rolls from WWII is very rare. Usually, teletype operators tore off messages from the roll after a communication was received.

This section of one of the teletype rolls (temporarily numbered Roll 4) contains communications among various teletype operators who apparently are along the East Coast. The roll section discusses issues with teletype machines; asking whether different operators are using the correct signals or buttons to communicate; and discussion of call tests being done on various teletype machines. At the bottom of this section, one teletype operator notes that he cannot read the messages from the Cape Lookout teletype machine, and Cape Lookout responds by sending a test message. This section covers the period on October 17, 1944, from 11:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M., and the Cape Lookout teletype operator for that period is identified as “Mylo.”

Close-up, Cape Lookout Teletype Roll section [Roll 4], Date: October 17, 1944

Close-up, Cape Lookout Teletype Roll section [Roll 4], Date: October 17, 1944

The Military Collection is working on an ambitious landmark 3 to 5 year project to preserve the informational content of the teletype rolls through in-house digitization. Digitization is challenging due to the rolls’ length: the shortest teletype roll is 1½ feet, and the longest is 54 feet. The paper the rolls were printed on is very acidic, and was never meant to last. Digitization is the only way to save the information, and will allow the Military Collection to read the rolls’ content. Once the rolls have been digitized in-house, the Military Collection Archivist will try to determine the best means to make them available to the public—either onsite at the State Archives or online. If you or someone you know worked with the radio communications or teletype machines in the 1940s or 1950s, and might be able to help identify the content of the rolls, please contact the Military Collection Archivist at the State Archives of North Carolina.

Credit line: Cape Lookout Teletype Rolls Collection, Acc. # 2015.4.43, Military Collection, State Archives of North Carolina

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This blog post is one in two-week series of posts sharing the items used in the exhibit titled “The Family Traditions of Service:  A Historical Tribute to Veterans.” This exhibit, on display from November 3 to November 13, 2015, at the Dare County Arts Council building in Manteo, N.C., is sponsored by the Friends of the Outer Banks History Center, the exhibit serves as a historical tribute to over 100 years of military service of North Carolina residents and their families, with particular emphasis on coastal North Carolina. The goal of the exhibit is to honor the role of North Carolina veterans and their families during peacetime and war. The items from this exhibit come from the holdings of the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina and the Outer Banks History Center.

Family Traditions of Service: Proposed Bombing Locations, Albemarle Sound Map

[This blog post was written by Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Map: Locations of Proposed Bombing Location, Albemarle Sound, Date: Undated [ca. 1940s]

Map: Locations of Proposed Bombing Location, Albemarle Sound, Date: Undated [ca. 1940s]

As German submarines harassed the North Carolina and Atlantic coastlines in 1942 and 1943, the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard expanded training programs, coastal patrols, and communications systems to build up American forces’ efforts to protect the home front. Many coastal North Carolinians joined the Coast Guard, or traveled to Norfolk, Virginia, to enlist in the Navy.

This undated small, discolored map shows the location of bombing targets in the Albemarle Sound of coastal North Carolina as proposed by the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Naval District, based out of the Norfolk Navy Yard in Norfolk, Virginia. These sites appear to be bombing target practice, possibly for Navy ships, submarines, or aircraft. Its exact purpose is unknown, but it was produced during World War II as part of the increase in naval training and coastal protection around North Carolina.

To see this and other documents from the U.S. Coast Guard’s operations along coastal North Carolina, check out the County War Records collection in the WWII Papers, found in the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina.

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This blog post is one in two-week series of posts sharing the items used in the exhibit titled “The Family Traditions of Service:  A Historical Tribute to Veterans.” This exhibit, on display from November 3 to November 13, 2015, at the Dare County Arts Council building in Manteo, N.C., is sponsored by the Friends of the Outer Banks History Center, the exhibit serves as a historical tribute to over 100 years of military service of North Carolina residents and their families, with particular emphasis on coastal North Carolina. The goal of the exhibit is to honor the role of North Carolina veterans and their families during peacetime and war. The items from this exhibit come from the holdings of the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina and the Outer Banks History Center.