Diamond City, NC History

Diamond City - One of Carteret County’s Ghost Towns

Reprinted from Carteret County Heritage, Volume I

…No one knows for sure when the first Europeans looked upon Carteret’s barrier islands. However, an Italian explorer named Giovanni da Verrazzano who was fired by the Friend to explore left what most consider to be the first written description of Core Banks. Sailing northeast from Cape Fear his part of explorers reached the area of Carteret County in 1524. He tried to send a party ashore but the wave action along the beach made this impossible. However, a single sailor did reach the shore where he was greeted by natives who carried him a distance from the surf. The frightened man is reported to have screamed in dismay at this turn of events. He became even more upset when he saw them prepare a large fire. But as soon as he recovered his strength these natives let him return to Verrazzano’s ships.

Over the years, from Verrazzanno’s report until English settlement in the late 1600s, the Indians reported that there were several shipwrecks along the coast and that some Europeans (probably Spanish) did make it to safety where they lived with the Indians.

In 1713 an estimated seven thousand acres, all of Core and Shackleford Banks, was given by the English to a man named John Porter. He held the land only a few years and in 1723 sold it to Enoch Ward and John Shackleford. Known as the Sea Banks, this narrow piece of land stretching from Beaufort Inlet northeastward to Ocracoke Inlet was divided between Shackleford and Ward. Ward got the area north of Cape Lookout, known today as Core Banks while Shackleford gave his name to the area southwest of Lookout to Beaufort Inlet, Shackleford Banks.

The will of Enoch Ward and other papers give almost definite proof that Enoch Ward was married to May, the daughter of John Shackleford. According to Mrs. Earl C. Davis, the first Shacklefords came to Essex County, Virginia from Essex County in England. As early as 1675, Roger Shackleford was granted land in Essex County, Virginia and in 1705 Francis Shackleford was granted land in the same area.

Francis then moved to Carteret County and was granted land there in 1708. It would be logical to believe that John Shackleford came to this county with Francis or shortly thereafter.

After John Shackleford’s death in 1734 the land on the Outer Banks owned by his family was further divided. There is no proof of people living on Core and Shackleford Banks at this time. Although, it is known that early in the county’s history, the Outer Banks areas from Ocracoke Inlet to Cape Lookout were used by fishermen and whalers. Also, stock raising was important on these islands.

As early as 1715 an attempt was made to get New England whalers to settle in the area. In 1726 a New England whaler by the name of Samuel Chadwick was granted permission to fish the seas in the area for "whales or other royal fish ..." Ephraim Chadwick and Ebenezer Chadwick, obviously relatives, soon joined Samuel Chadwick and so began a whaling industry which would continue in the Cape Lookout area for the next one hundred and fifty years.

From "Our Shared Past" prepared for the Diamond City & Ca'e Bankers Reunion, August 1999 as a collection of writings, research and recollections to tell the story of the Banks communities. Copyright 1995, Core Sound Waterfowl Museum All rights reserved.

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