Diamond City, NC History
From an interview with Mrs.
Stella “Stellie” Yeomans, Harkers Island
The 1880 Federal Census - Carteret County Historical Society Records, lists 482+ people residing at Shackleford. This does not include Cape Lookout and the rest of “Great Island” (Core Banks). Davis Island and Hunting Quarters (area of Banks near Atlantic).
Before the two major storms (now classified as hurricanes) of 1989 and 1899, several small but damaging weather fronts were beginning play a deadly hand in the future of the Diamond City, Ca’Banks people. Ecology was a word to be used in future generations whose survival would be as dependent on local weather and the land for daily food and water. Over foresting along with damaging tides, wind and rain led to irreversible vegetation damage. With little or not root structure to hold sand dunes in place, the hills began their ravenous dissent upon the already weather weary Ca’ Banks weathered and strong inhabitants.
By the year 1890 some folks hoping for a easier life or a better (more promising land) began migrating to places like Salter Path, Promised Land / Morehead City, Harkers Island, Marshallberg and other mainland coastal areas.
The final weather (hurricane) of 1898-1899 was the deadly blow that the banks and Mother Nature could not recover. Trees were no longer a luxury to be cut for the wood needed for stoves or the fires for iron pots used for boiling whale blubber to obtain oil.
Migration was in full force by 1902 and some tough, die-hard families not wishing to admit Mother Nature’s defeat, moved next door to Cape Lookout from Diamond City and Shackleford. But, by 1920 very few if any permanent residents were left on the Ca’Banks.
Mrs. Stella Guthrie Yeomans (b. 1904 - Shackleford Banks) tells a very interesting story of a her maternal grandfather, Joe Lane Lewis. Loving home (Shackleford), he spent most of his time living there after others had abandoned land and homes. Many had dismantled their homes board by board, loaded on dories (fishing boats were plentiful) and reassembled at other locations less vulnerable to the harsh elements of the Banks. Still, Joe Lane Lewis stayed on to the Banks.
With only nature’s tell-tale warning signs such as bird migration, sun, sky and moon color changes, and other local weather watching practices, the storm of 1933 came. With tides washing over almost all the Banks and winds having been clocked at 103+ miles an hour, Mr. Joe was sure his time had come to meet the Master. Having resolved to his fate and wishing family members to have his body to bury, his plan began. Retrieving a rope, Mr. Joe fought his way to the highest hill on the Banks with the strongest and largest cedar tree. There he tied himself securely to await what he knew would be a visit from the “grim reaper.” By God’s grace and a little sympathy from Mother Nature, his life was spared. He was later rescued by family members.
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.
|Down East Community Tour|