“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Knotts Island in Currituck County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)

Knotts Island

Salts Works Center

Knotts Island Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, August 11, 2014
1. Knotts Island Marker
Inscription.  During the Civil War, salt—essential for the preservation of meat—was vitally important to the massive Union and Confederate armies. Currituck County's location was ideal for salt works, and Knotts Island's residents made salt both here and across the sound on the Outer Banks. Local resident Henry Ansell wrote of accompanying his uncle, John Beasley, to recover two salt pans that a storm had buried and later uncovered. Beasley claimed that he had boiled salt under the islands cedar trees since the War of 1812. Federal raids targeted Southern salt works such as those here. Jonathan Worth, State Salt Commissioner, wrote in 1862, “The taking of Roanoke island will cut off Salt making in Currituck… the best place yet discovered on our Coast for making Salt.”

In February 1862 U.S. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside's expedition occupied the Outer Banks. U.S. Navy Lt. William N. Jeffers, commander of USS Underwriter, wrote “The ultimate destination of this force was to the destruction of some salt works, said near Old Currituck Inlet.” After talking to residents on both sides of the sound, however, he decided
Knotts Island Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, August 11, 2014
2. Knotts Island Marker
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that “the capacity of salt-making establishments had been greatly exaggerated; in fact, that no works existed. A few shed and hovels sheltered some kettles in which the people make a small supply, principally for their own use.” Because many salt works were small, family-operated enterprises rather than large factories, Jeffers probably underestimated their effect. Confederate prisoners who escaped from the transport Maple Leaf in 1863 noted salt works here. Other salt works were established in Carteret County (then destroyed by the Federals) and in New Hanover County.

In December 1863, Union Gen. Edward Wild led an expedition from Virginia into Currituck County. He took hostages in retaliation for alleged Confederate mistreatment of Federal prisoners and ordered that houses of Confederate “guerillas” be destroyed. Union Col. Alonzo G. Draper burned several dwellings here on Knotts Island including that of William White. When White's wife told Draper that “there will be no houses left standing on this island,” Draper deduced that she was threatening Unionists' houses. He was dissuaded from taking her prisoner because she was about to give birth. He took her daughter 23-yer old Nancy White, instead, and transported her to Pongo Bridge, Va., where he got in a jurisdictional dispute with Lt. Col. Frederick
Knotts Island Ruritan Park image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, August 11, 2014
3. Knotts Island Ruritan Park
F. Wead. Words were exchanged, Wead filed charges against Draper, and a court martial was held. On January 16, 1864, Gen. Benjamin F. Butler settled the case, and soon released Nancy White. Her grave is a mile south of here.

(lower left) View of saltworks, Harper's Weekly, January 14, 1865
(upper center) Plan of saltworks, from Salt: That Necessary Article (1973)
(lower right) Col. Alonzo G. Drper Courtesy U.S. Army Military History Institute
Erected by North Carolina Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the North Carolina Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical month for this entry is January 1863.
Location. 36° 30.486′ N, 75° 55.248′ W. Marker is in Knotts Island, North Carolina, in Currituck County. Marker can be reached from Brumley Road, 0.2 miles east of South End Road (North Carolina Highway 615), on the right when traveling east. The marker is located on the grounds of the Knotts Island Ruritan Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 126 Brumley Road, Knotts Island NC 27950, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 11 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Dividing Line (approx. 2 miles away); Currituck County Old Jail
Knotts Island image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, August 11, 2014
4. Knotts Island
(approx. 6.7 miles away); Currituck County Courthouse (approx. 6.7 miles away); Joseph Pilmoor (approx. 6.7 miles away); Hijacking Maple Leaf (approx. 8 miles away); Life on Currituck Sound (approx. 9.4 miles away); Corolla Chapel (approx. 10.2 miles away); Corolla Schoolhouse (approx. 10.2 miles away).
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on August 26, 2014, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 744 times since then and 118 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 26, 2014, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Dec. 5, 2022