Island Classic. Long Out of Print. Once Again Available!
In this affectionate and carefully documented “Portrait of the Kinnakeeter,” Charles T Williams II, a Kinnakeeter himself, introduces us to a remarkable breed of American who, while friendly and Christian(in the highest sense of that ill-used term), is jealously protective of his independence. A search of the dictionary or the gazetteer will not reveal the word itself, but there is a word, kinnikinnick, which is derived from an Algonquian word which means “that which is mixed.” And so, ages before Israel Zangwill thought of America as a “melting pot,” the Indians of Hatteras Island and thereabouts had a word for it. And the mixture, as Mr. Williams tells us, began with shipwrecked sailors, victims of the treacherous waters of the “graveyard of the Atlantic,” and their hospitable Algonquian Indian rescuers, way back in the 1500’s.
This little taste of history should send us looking for further information on the efforts at colonization by Sir Walter Raleigh and others, especially theories on the “Lost Colony,” but Mr. Williams’s chief concern is with today’s Kinnakeeter.
Naturally, the chief occupations are concerned with the sea. From the earliest days, the Kinnakeeter was aware of the riches to be wrested from the waters-not only from the abundant and varied fishes to be netted or hooked but also from salvaged vessels, hopefully after the human cargo had been, in most cases, heroically rescued at the risk of the Kinnakeeters’ lives. In more recent times, a chief support of the area has been employment but the United States Coast Guard, which found a rich pool of recruits among the veterans of the earlier Lifesaving Service. In the 1800’s a man with the unlikely name of Pharaoh Farrow made a fortune in timber on the islands-a fortune, incidentally, reputed to be buried somewhere. Mr. Williams tells a charming story of how God helped the Kinnakeeters to build a church by seeding the mudflats with oysters-which brought premium prices on the mainland.
Mr. Williams tells us about the natural resources, especially the wild waterfowl that nest there. He tells about the church, education, the recreation-but the proudest thing is the community spirit, a resource sorely needed in this tired world.