Love Begins at Home


The Lola and Zinie Williams house was built of heart pine by Mr. Tom Neale (O'Neal) in 1910 for the Martin Dixon family.  

Lola Wahab Williams, shortly after she married Zinie in 1913, bought the house and land which included the water front for seven hundred dollars while her husband, Zinie S. Williams, captain with Engineer Department, was working on a dredge in Wilmington, Delaware.

Love Begins at Home
The house, the second tallest building on Ocracoke (not including the lighthouse), was painted a pale tan-orange. The first floor was divided by a hall. There were two doors at the rear end of the hall.  Both opened into the ell of the house. One opened into the dining room and the other onto a porch that ran the length of the ell.
The style of the house was very ordinary for the seacoast of the early 1900's.  Yet, there were two very modern features of the house that made it stand out on Ocracoke.  It was one of the few that had a sink and hand pump in the kitchen where water could actually be pumped into the house from a round, whitewashed brick and cement cistern just behind the kitchen.  The other modern feature was the hall door that opened into the dining room.  Most other houses on the island either had a kitchen built away from the main house or a door led to an open porch and then the kitchen.  Therefore, the Ocracoke expression after an evening meal eaten in the kitchen, "Now let's go in the house."
Another luxury was a second hand pump and agate pan on the long porch so wash-up could take place outside.  An enamel bucket of fresh rain water with a community dipper was also kept beside the hand pump.
To help make the payments, Lola had the upstairs finished into a kitchen and living room-bedroom and rented it to the island doctor and his wife.  An outside toilet was shared by both parties.
Due to the cold northern winters, Zinie would return to Ocracoke for the three cold months (the dredge would tie up), where he fished and oystered, while Lola planned fudge and pull-candy parties for Ocracoke's young. The small living room became a place where young couples chose to marry.  Beulah O'Neal and Clyde Willis,  Mattie Williams and John N. Midgette, Gertie O'Neal and Tom Howard all vowed "until death do us part"; and they did.
Back Row L to R:  Melba, Dallas Kemp, Larry and Troy Sheldon.  Front Row L to R:  Zini, Stanley Russell, Janis and Lola Wahab.  This family photo was taken on the front porch of the home sometime before 1970.
Back Row L to R: Melba, Dallas Kemp, Larry and Troy Sheldon. Front Row L to R: Zini, Stanley Russell, Janis and Lola Wahab. This family photo was taken on the front porch of the home sometime before 1970.
Photo reproduction courtesy of Earl O'Neal.
From 1913 to 1930 Lola and Zinie became proliferous [sic].  Seven babies were born.  The first son was born prematurely, weighing a little over two pounds.  He survived!   The second child was born in the house and her death, after month, was the only death in the house.  Four other babies were born off island.  The last baby was born in the down stairs bedroom on Thursday, January 14, 1930, at 7:00 P.M. and was delivered by midwife Miss Jolly and Dr. Pierce.  Cost was ten dollars.
The house was heated by a coal stove in the living room, a wood stove in the dining room, a Keen heater (a tin wood stove) in the west upstairs bedroom, which became the place for winter Saturday afternoon baths for the family, and a kerosene cook stove and wood cook stove were in the kitchen.  Romantic lighting was provided--until 1937, when the house was wired for electricity--by mantle kerosene lamps which created family chores of wick trimming and daily washing of the lamp chimneys.
During the 1930's a wind-up Victrola could be heard singing The One Rose, Alice Blue Gown, and Harbor Lights while the oldest daughter Janice and her cousin Eleanor Nell made chocolate fudge and entertained their Core Sound fishermen boy friends.
From the rocking chairs and swing on the front porch the mail boat, with Capt. Wilber Nelson at the wheel, could be seen churning its way down Pamlico Sound.  There were no trees or obstructions across the creek to the sound.  Across the sand car-track road (two cars on the island) was Zinie's clam bed and soft shell crab crates.  On still summer nights Kerosene lanterns could be seen all around the creeks edge while people were flounder gigging.  Some nights, when the wind was quiet and everyone had lit their mosquito pots on their front porches, hymn singing could be heard, led by Miss Eliza Thomas who lived across the creek.
In 1944 Charlie MacWilliams closed the back porch to make the dining room larger, evidenced by the two different tongue and groove ceilings.  In 1951 Wahab Howard added the bathroom.
Important, was the tall cedar tree that stood as tall as the house in the east corner of the front yard. From one limb hung a swing. From another hung an inflated pig's blatter containing shot, a Christmas gift, which was used as a punching bag for the children.  In summer the tree was decorated with island boys' bathing suits, mostly cut off pants, hung out to dry after a swim in the creek.
So the house stood as HOME, odoriferous with pineapple cake, banana pudding, Lady Baltimore cake, great northern beans, fried chicken, light rolls,  fig preserves, clam fritters, fried fish, fried fish, and fried fish.  A gathering place it was.

The vibes are good.  Enjoy!

Larry Williams was Miss Lola and Zinie's seventh child, the one born in the family home in 1930 at a cost of ten dollars.   Julia Hutcherson, who currently owns the property, shared this essay of Larry's remembrances with Ocracoke Foundation, Inc.  He may have written it as a welcome to the guests who stayed at Miss Lola's when it was a weekly rental in the 1980s.   Larry passed away in 2009.  OFI is looking for any old photos or stories of the Williams' home.

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