Atlantic, NC History of Hunting Quarters

Hunting Quarters (Atlantic)

By Elmo Gaskill, Jr.

The earliest recorded deed in the present day Town of Atlantic was recorded to a John Styron in 1740. There were also deeds to a John Hamilton (1754), Joseph Robinson (1777), and Robert Gaskill (1767). There may have been earlier transactions, when what was is now Carteret was part of Bath. This is also the time when land grants were granted through the eight Lord Proprietors.

In the 1800 census, the population of Hunting Quarters (from Halls Point to Glovers Creek) was Hamilton, Gaskins, Robinson, Hill, Dickson (Dixon) and Wallace. The 1810 census added the following family names: Mason, Roberts, Rose and Gaskill.

The boundary line for Atlantic has stayed consistent from Halls Point to Glovers Creek (Styrons Creek) till today. We need to remember that Atlantic, Sea Level, and Stacy were in the Hunting Quarters Township during this period of time.

The majority eked out an existence by fishing, oystering, planting gardens, and having hogs, sheep, cattle and eating game. Oysters were carried to New Bern and Little Washington to sell so that the fishermen could buy barrels of flour, sugar, salt and molasses and other staples.

During the Civil War, several men joined the Confederate Army but not much else took place. Not much happened in the town until the turn of the Twentieth Centaury. In 1900, Joe Mason, Sr. was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly. This was indeed remarkable when you realize that there were no bridges Down East and each little community was sort of on its own.

In 1905 Joe Mason went before the Carteret County Commissioners and received permission for Atlantic’s 500 citizens to tax themselves for the County’s first public High School (the people voted to tax themselves). They secured a loan of $1,000 from the state to erect a large building (40 x 70 feet).

In 1905, a NC House of Representatives member from Morehead City named Arendell and the Senator from the county, a Mr. Webb, sponsored a bill to incorporate the community of Atlantic. This Act was passed on February 17, 1905. It seems that Messrs. S.E. Hamilton, Jim D. Morris, Thomas Hamilton and Willie Mason were selected to be the officers of the town in 1905. Not much else is known about the town’s incorporation. I have been told by several Aunts that my grandfather John Daniel Smith was the last mayor.

There were numerous men in the community who enlisted in the military for World War I. It was said toward the war’s end that there were no more eligible men in the town to draft since everyone had already volunteered.

This was also the time period when Atlantic got the reputation of having more students in college (percentage wise) than any other town of its size in the state.

The next big event for our town was World War II. The town grew during the 1940s when a Marine Base was built, an Army base was built, a Navy dock for crash boats were built and the US Coast Guard Station on Core Banks became more important. The population grew to about 1,000 very quickly. Spare bedrooms, upstairs, and garages became instant housing for the influx of wives and children of the Marines, Navy, and Army personnel assigned to Atlantic Field and Camp Happy.

Entertainment during the years consisted of a movie theater run by Sterling Robinson, Bill’s Place (a local dance hall, where the only drink you could buy was a Coca-Cola), a hot dog at Thelma’s Hot Dog Stand, a peck of steamed oysters at Avon’s Oyster Bar and you could frequent Melvin Robinson’s, Luther Smith’s, D. Mason’s, Winston Hill’s or J.R. Morris’ stores. Another form of entertainment was watching who came and went on the mailboat “Aleta” to Ocracoke.

After World War II ended and the base closed, some government employees began working at Cherry Point. Fishing was still big and the fish dealers began getting bigger and bigger boats to go to sea in. Shrimping began to be a big chunk of the fishing as long-hauling started declining.

Education is still number one in the hearts of many of Atlantic’s citizens. The old adage of “Get an education and if everything doesn’t work out, you can always come back to fishing,” was pushed during the 1950s. Today as we stand on the threshold of the twenty-first Century, many things have changed yet many things remain the same. Television, the automobile, and the computer have changed things forever but education and a better standard of living still rank as number one to many of our citizens in our community.

Miss Fannie Robinson, a teacher of fifty years, put on the sign for the Atlantic School a brass plaque that quotes Proverbs, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” I believe that a better education for everyone is reachable and we all need to support that idea.

Source: Mr. Elmo Gaskill, Jr., Atlantic, NC

Down East Community Tour
Core Sound Waterfowl Museum