GAWARE-L ArchivesArchiver > GAWARE > 2004-12 > 1102002527
From: Kay Music <>
Subject: Re: [GAWARE] John W. Rollinson's (RAULERSON) Journal
Date: Thu, 2 Dec 2004 07:48:47 -0800 (PST)
Thank you very much for taking the time to share this
with all of us.
--- GREY FOX <> wrote:
> ROLLINSON is another variant spelling of the surname
> John W. Rollinson's Journal: A Look At Life A
> Century Ago
> (January 5, 1827 - July 5, 1906)
> (originally written for The Island Breeze in April
> 1993 by Daniel C. Couch)
> Few resources exist that provide insight to the
> early history of Hatteras and Ocracoke islands. This
> fact is frustrating for families tracing their
> roots, but equally discouraging for people who enjoy
> looking into the past. For many years their efforts
> often stopped cold simply because no authoriatative
> record was available. Fortunately, such a document
> surfaced in 1954 in the form of John W. Rollinson's
> journal from the years 1845 - 1906. It passed to
> Rollinson's granddaughter, who lent it to author Ben
> Dixon MacNeill. He covered the journal's contents in
> his book The Hatterasman and also in a feature
> article in the Raleigh News & Observer on November
> 21, 1954.
> John Rollinson's journal is still in the hands of
> his family. The pages are 19th century rag paper,
> which was a prized shipwreck salvage item during his
> day. The covers are heavy canvas sail cloth
> preserved and stiffened with a hardened coating that
> gives it the toughness and flexibility of leather.
> It is bound with sail stitching.
> The author was not consciously writing a history of
> Hatteras Village. He knew, however, that the events
> of his life were worth preserving, and he left this
> message for the future readers of his journal:
> "Remember me when this you see, and bear me in your
> Let others say what they may of me, should anger
> pass in time."
> John W. Rollinson was born in Trent (now Frisco) on
> January 5, 1827. He was one of several sons born to
> Christopher and Lidia Rollinson, and he grew up in
> the soundside area now called Sunset Strip with
> brothers Sylvester, Josiah, Benjamin F., Christopher
> and William Rollinson. He was named after John
> Wallace, a late 1700's Ocracoke entrepreneur who
> built the wharves at Shell Castle in Ocracoke Inlet
> and also Ocracoke's first lighthouse. His father,
> Christopher, was an Ocracoke Inlet pilot (Ocracoke
> and Hatteras were one island from 1760-1846). The
> Rollinsons are descended from William Rollinson, an
> Irishman, who is documented on the island as early
> as 1716.
> In 1842, 15 year-old John began his schooling. He
> showed a talent for mathematics and his
> schoolmaster, George Stowe, helped him put together
> a math textbook, which became the journal. Three
> quarters of Rollinson's journal is actually the
> textbook. On a page entitled Rudiments of Navigation
> and Vulgar Fractions, John Rollinson wrote his first
> "John W. Rollinson, my hand and pen. Wrote on Cape
> Hatteras Banks, Hyde County, NC August the 28th day
> 1845. Going to scool to Trent at Mr. Geo. Stowe &
> A year later, Rollinson relocated to Hatteras
> Village, where he continued tutelage as a
> schoolmaster under James R. Credle of Edenton.
> Rollinson worked faithfully on his journal, writing
> down occurrences in open spaces and margins next to
> math problems, including his contract to teach
> school at Hatteras schoolhouse for the years
> "June 8th 1849: Articles made between John W.
> Rollinson on the one hand and the people on the
> that I the said J.W. Rollinson will teach three
> schooling for two dollars and 50 cts. per head and
> do everything that he can for ther benefit. Sickness
> will be excepted, no other reductions will be made
> time lost."
> Meanwhile, as Rollinson laid down the lessons at the
> schoohouse, Hatteras Village began to prosper.
> Ocracoke Inlet shoaled up and commercial shipping
> shifted to the newly-formed Hatteras Inlet.
> "Hatteras Inlet," he writes, "was cut out by a
> Norwest gale of wind on the 7th of September 1846."
> Ocean-going sailing ships bound to the Caribbean
> from New Bern, Washington and Edenton were required
> to take on a pilot to navigate the inlet. Rollinson,
> along with Redding R. Quidley, became prominent as
> pilots. He writes fondly of his pilot boat, which he
> towed behind piloted schooners:
> "John W. Rollinson bought off A.J. Stowe one pilot
> boat for forty dollars. Traded her and two horses to
> Bill Smith for his boat. I put her on the beach
> 10th and lost my pilot boat July 30th towing her
> Hatteras Bar behind Schooner Champion."
> He married Achsah "Achsie" Quidley, daughter of
> Redding Quidley, Sr., in 1853 and built a house, the
> jump and a half style prevalent in eastern North
> Carolina prior to the Civil War, on a small hill
> behind what is now the old Hatteras weather station,
> next to Burrus Red & White Supermarket. In 1857 his
> neighbors elected him magistrate.
> "I qualified as Justice of the Peace for term
> beginning May 30th".
> In 1859, he was appointed Collector of the Port of
> Hatteras by the state legislature, which taxed
> shipping traffic through the inlet. Through August
> 1861 Rollinson kept a record in his journal of "all
> ships from the West and East." The list occupies
> several pages. A typical example is:
> "March 1st, 1860. Sch. George Henry, James Field
> master. Tonnage 162 from Antigua and St. Martins
> bound to New Bern. Cargo 656 Barrels of Salt, 11
> casks Molasses, ship stores, 8 Bbl. of flower, 1
> of Sugar, 4 Bags Peas, 1 Barrel Beef, 4000 oranges,
> tons ballast, $1,500 in gold. Sundry stores."
> Near the end of his list of ships, Rollinson
> recorded events about to have a tremendous impact on
> Hatteras and Ocracoke islands and his own life:
> "The Troops arrived at Hatteras Inlet to gard
> the Inlet on Thursday 9th of May 1861."
> Nearly 1,000 Confederate soldiers and slave laborers
> from eastern North Carolina began construction of
> Fort Hatteras and Fort Clark and finished in
> mid-July. His next entry reads:
> "Hatteras July 4th 1861. John W. Rollinson, wife
> and daughter Missouri were at the Fort and went over
> the camps and took dinner with Colonel Stark. The
> Battle at Hatteras was fot by a northern steamer.
> commence bombarding the Fort about 3 o'clock on
> Wednesday July 10th 1861. The first guns were fired
> the Fort by Capt. Cahoon, commander. There was no
> damage done to the Fort. J W Rollinson."
> However, the next entry records in just 13 words
> what is one of the most influential (yet
> unrecognized) events of the Civil War:
> "The Bombardment of Fort Hatteras commence
> August 28th and Surrendered August 29th 1861."
> At dawn Aug. 28, Union warships began the most
> intense naval bombardment yet known to mankind on
> Fort Hatteras. It is estimated a 100-lb. shell
> exploded on the fort every 6 seconds for nearly 4
> hours, and the overwhelmed Confederate force
> abandoned it, escaping along the soundside.
> The importance of Fort Hatteras' capture was
> underscored after the Civil War by the comments of
> Admiral David D. Porter, an advisor to President
> Lincoln and a member along with Grant and Sherman of
> Lincoln's infamous War Council. "The Bombardment of
> Fort Hatteras," Porter said, "was our first victory
> of any kind, and ultimately proved one of the most
> important events of the war, giving us a foothold on
> southern soil."
> Meanwhile, John W. Rollinson was far from enthused
> about the surrender. The government of North
> Carolina had seceded from the Union and was
> therefore an outlaw government. As magistrate,
> Collector of the Port and Hatteras' representative
> to the state legislature, he was subject to
> immediate arrest and ill treatment. His sympathies
> at that time lay with the South, not so much over
> slavery but over his allegiance to North Carolina.
> He realized his family's peril and fled, along with
> perhaps 100 others from Hatteras, Trent and the
> Cape, who faced hostilities. The Rollinsons packed
> their essentials in his sharpie and began a 2 1/2
> year exile.
> "John W. Rollinson and wife and three children left
> home on the 28th of
> August and went to Bate Williams (his wife's uncle)
> on the Cape on the 29th.
> Went to Kinnakeet and then to Middlecreek (Hyde
> County) and landed
> there the 30th. Stade there about three weeks in the
> House known by the
> name of Kit Spencer. From there mooved to Wysoken
> (Engelhard) to the
> House belonging to D.M. Selby cald the Midgett
> House. Stade there untell
> January 11th 1862 and mooved to Dr. Selby's
> overseers House. Stade there
> untell the 14 of March 1862 then moved back to
> Middlecreek to the Ben M.
> Gibbs House and was there March 19th 1864. I left
> Wysocken May 16th 1864
> and came to Ocracoke and on the 20th of May I came
> to Hatteras and on the
> 8 of June Christopher Rollinson Sen. and Redding R.
> Quidley Esq. moved my
> family back to Hatteras and we moved in with my
> wife's Father (Quidley) and
> Mother and staded there untell July 12th 1864 when I
> mooved back to the
> House that I formaly lived at (after evicting two
> carpetbaggers/political opportunists
> from New York) and on the 13th of September my wife
> had a son born and we cald
> his name Samuel Milton Selby Rollinson. A Charge to
> keep have I, a God to Glorify.
> Sept. 13th 1864. J.W. Rollinson."
> On the Hyde Co. mainland, John Rollinson added
> another dimension to life full of skills - farming:
> "I planted my westard cut of corn April 21, my
> cut and upper cut of corn April 22. Planted my lower
> cut of
> corn April 27th 1864."
> After he returned to Hatteras, Rollinson resumed
> piloting and further ensured the secutiry of his
> family by fishing:
> "December 19th 1870. I caught 119 Big Talors
> on the same day the Steamer Birbank came in at
> Inlet and was burned up."
> "Commence freezing Jan. 23, 1867. Froze nearly to
> the reef.
> Plenty of little mullets frozen in the slash. I got
> about 600."
> "The grates run of Trouts along the sea beach ever
> known was
> on Saturday December 12th 1876. They onley got down
> to Trent
> at Sundown. At Trent we cought five or six
> In 1885 Rollinson began a fishery that no longer
> "I commence Porposing for Colonel Wainwright
> 16th 1885 at $30 per month for myself as Boss and
> $15 per
> month for my boat and I have charge of the cru. Raze
> at the Factory November the 28. J.W. Rollinson,
> Col. Jonathan P. Wainwright was a Union officer at
> Fort Hatteras in 1863-1864. He returned to Hatteras
> in 1885 with the intentions of making a profit for
> the porpoises' leather-like skins were in demand for
> shoes and apparel and the oil produced was used for
> lamps and as an ointment. The factory stood on the
> beach out in front of what is now the foot of Austin
> "Stop fishing for porposes May 31th [May 30th?]
> 1886. Whole
> number caught 1295. J.W. Rollinson superintendent."
> The next season saw 1313 porpoises taken, but at the
> start of the third season, there was trouble with
> "John W. Rollinson commence fishing for Col.
> Oct. 19th 1887 and fished untell December 14, one
> month and
> 17 days on pay and then he wanted to put the whole
> cru on
> shares but they refused."
> Rollinson's journal also shows an emotional and
> personal side. A letter he wrote to Miss Achsie
> while he was away to Portsmouth on state business in
> 1858 is recopied near an account of a shipwreck
> "My Dear Wife - I have taken the oppertunity to
> inform you
> that I am in good health and i hope that these few
> lines may
> find you injoy the same good health. When I left
> Cape Hatteras
> it was hartbraking to part with you, however, pore
> people must
> Occasionally, tragedy struck the village. The impact
> was often emotionally overwhelming, and one entry
> describes an incident that is not forgotten today:
> "October 8th 1880 - Capt. Dick Burrus of the Sch.
> Cox bound to Wilmington
> passed Hatteras Bar, the wind lite to the eastard.
> That night came a terrible
> gale from the northeast and was never heard of
> anymore. Cru William A. Ballance,
> Litchfield Stron, George L. Styron, Russel Austin,
> Walter Gaskins."
> Good times at the Rollinson household are also
> mentioned. He writes affectionately of his children,
> often mentioning his boy S.M.S. Rollinson, who would
> later serve in the state legislature.
> "Hatteras, December 12th 1897. Brother L.O. Wyche
> preach at this place today. I and
> my children attended church, namely Wm. H.
> Rollinson, SMS Rollinson, Missouri W.
> Rollinson, and Alleva C. Rollinson. They all went
> Home with me and got dinner and
> on the 16th day of said month Sammy and wife and
> fore children moved to Elizabeth
> City, NC. His wife's name was Betty A. Fulcher. His
> children's names were John W.
> Rollinson, Rondal G. Rollinson, Missouri W.
> Rollinson (married Harry Kramer of
> Elizabeth City) and Mary W. Rollinson. SMS marred
> the daughter of George C.
> Fulcher and Dorothy his wife, daughter of Caleb
> Stowe. My daughter Missouri W.
> Rollinson marred Charles Willis by whom she had four
> children when they moved to
> Carteret County: Wm. T. Willis, George H. Willis,
> Lenora Willis and Eliza Willis.
> My daughter Alleva marred A.J. Stowe, the son of
> Caleb Stowe by whom she had one
> daughter named Lucy A. Stowe. Wm. H. Rollinson is
> still living with me and his
> Mother at the old Home Sted and is not marred this
> December 16th 1897. J.W.
> By the late 1890's, John Rollinson's aging was
> starting to show in his journal. He and Miss Achsie
> took delight in their grandchildren, but in the fall
> of 1905 she died. His tribute to her, written by
> S.M.S. Rollinson, but straight from the heart and
> soul of John W. Rollinson:
> "My beloved wife Acsah W. Rollinson, passed
> suddenly, yet peacefully away at
> 11:30 p.m. Thursday the 16th day of November AD
> 1905. After fifty-two years of
> happy and faithful married life separation has come,
> but will not endure for we
> shall soon join hands again where no change, neither
> sorrow, nor pain, nor
> sickness nor death shall ever come. John W.
> Rollinson Nov. 19th, 1905."
> Throughout his life John W. Rollinson was a man of
> intense activity. From teaching school, piloting
> craft through the inlet, fleeing for the safety of
> his family before the Union invaders, farming,
> porpoise fishing, serving as a magistrate, church
> elder and being a devoted husband and father, he set
> an example in the continuing tradition of Hatteras
> and Ocracoke Islands. His own death goes unrecorded
> in his journal (Sammy Rollinson was living in
> Pasquotank County where he served as representative
> in the NC General Assembly when his father died). So
> he lives on - in his journal. The essence of his
> life and his journal is captured in a poem he wrote
> in honor of the newly erected (Feb. 7th 1880)
> Hatteras Methodist Episcopal Church South, for which
> he donated the land and gave many years of devoted
> "Sweet birds may sing melodious songs, and fame may
> tell their story
> I envy not their fading flags, I hope to sing in
> For heaps of gold let others toil, life's blooming
> flowers they hoard
> Nor will they corrupt nor thieves will spoil my
> treasured home in glory.
> Let bannered hearts in mortal strife, their deeds
> others embroil
> Signing heart-bound lies not seeking life, I seek a
> crown in glory.
> No city here I have as home, where all is
> On this earth I have life's roam, I will have my
> home in glory."
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|Re: [GAWARE] John W. Rollinson's (RAULERSON) Journal by Kay Music <>|