A century-old sign linked to the notorious pirate Blackbeard is missing from North Carolina’s Ocracoke Island, sparking both outrage and a mounting reward for its return.
The battered sign — which says simply “Howard Street” — is revered by islanders and loved by tourists because it was nailed up 100 years ago by Stacy Howard, who is believed to be a descendant of Blackbeard’s quartermaster, reports the Coastland Times.
“Please keep a look out for this important piece of history,” the Ocracoke Preservation Society posted this week on Facebook. “Look in the bushes, behind houses, resale sites, social media posts... Howard Street isn’t the same without its sign!”
Martha Garrish, a member of the Howard family, first alerted the community to the missing sign on August 5 and she has begged for its return to their property.
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“I could cry,” Garrish posted on Facebook. “Please return the Howard Street sign, I will give you $100 and no questions asked....I will mail you a check.”
The Ocracoke Current reported Monday that Stacy Howard — who was born in 1885 — “made the sign longer ago than anyone can remember and nailed it to the huge live oak” near his home.
His ancestor, William Howard, is believed be among the pirates who escaped capture when Blackbeard (Edward Teach) came under attack at Ocracoke Inlet on the morning of Nov. 22, 1718, according to The Way of the Pirates. Blackbeard died in the “epic hand-to-hand conflict,” reports the site.
Martha Garrish says on Facebook that she continues to hope the sign will be returned. But in the mean time, she writes that a growing number of islanders are offering to create a new one to replace it.
“If the sign is not returned,” she wrote Wednesday, “I’m going to ask everyone who has offered to make a sign (to) send it to me. I’m going to hang every one of them on the tree so the person/persons who stole it can see that there are more good people in the world than bad. Even if the whole tree is covered!”