11 Mar 2016
Ocracoke Island is full of history! Please visit our events page for more up-to-date information on local events. You can also visit our blog page to learn more about our history. Be sure to read our latest blog on Ocracoke History while you're there.
To talk about the The Castle on Silver Lake you have to begin with the story of the man behind the building. Samuel G Jones was born in the year 1893, on the mainland in Hyde County a native of Swan Quarter. He dropped out of school in the sixth grade, and left home at the age of 13. (1906). Not much has been documented about his early years but we know that after working in coastal Carolina for a while, he settled in Virginia. During this time he managed to finish high school and secured a job at Berkeley Machine Works and Foundry in 1915 at the young age of 21. Six years later he bought the foundry. (At the approximate age of 26). In 1926 he bought 260 acres in Virginia and called it SaJo Farms (“Sam Jones” shortened). It was during this time he invented a “stoker” that was a machine to feed coal into the engines of locomotives. Some say he stole the patent but …he still made his first million from this marvelous invention.
He came to Ocracoke in 1939 with his first wife Mary Ruth Kelly who lived in Belhaven at the time but was originally from Ocracoke and related to the Howard family. Mary Ruth died in 1957 and they had four sons and a daughter. For Sam the island of Ocracoke was love at first sight. For a while he stayed on Howard Street in the George Howard house where he entertained business associates. His love of entertaining outgrew the house on Howard Street and so started the building of the Berkeley Manor where friends and business associates would be able to stay when invited by Sam. On this property at the Southern end of Ocracoke he also had a huge horse paddock and a series of surrounding buildings. He loved Colonial revival architecture and shingle construction such as what he saw in Williamsburg. He built three buildings with this style in mind during the 50’s and 60’s. These were all built by local craftsman right here on the island. With all this building, Sam put many of the islanders to work on various projects. He would come up to someone and say “What is your name and what can you do?” and then put them to work. Ocracokers were caretakers, maids, cooks, and hunting and fishing guides. Roy Parsons, (a true Ocracoker) and Sam, became friends and had a close solid relationship. Roy became the caretaker of Sam’s property. When Sam ran out of room for his many guests in the Manor, he decided to build the Berkeley Castle (as it was known back then), and used the Manor for storage mainly for the overflow of everything he would buy and accumulate. If Sam liked something he would purchase not one but many of the same. He would buy recliners and hand them out to the islanders. His love of Oriental rugs would mean he would sometimes layer them one on top of the other. At the same time of building the Castle he also built a family vacation home, and the Green Island Gunning and Fishing Club at the end of the island towards the Hatteras ferry terminal, which is now Park Service land.
Getting back to the Castle...to be continued