explorersThe Explorer Years (1524 to 1699) at Ocean Isle Beach In March 1524, the Cape Fear Indians watched Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazano anchor his ship near Ocean Isle Beach and come ashore. Verrazano spent a few weeks exploring. He found the local Indians to be friendly. He wrote in his diary that “the natives go nude except at the private parts where they wear skins of animals; some natives wear garlands of bird feathers.” Verrazano described the Indians as “russet colored and somewhat larger than Europeans, with well-proportioned bodies clothed in animal skins and feathers.” In 1526, several Spanish ships captained by Lucas Vasdquez de Alyllon arrived near Ocean Isle Beach. Alyllon had orders from the king of Spain to establish a Spanish Colony in the New World. His ships anchored up and all 600 of his settlers came ashore and began building a permanent home. Alyllon’s Spanish colony near Ocean Isle however lasted only a few months and the exact location has not yet been identified. In 1661, the first English settlers arrived in ships to the Ocean Isle Beach area. When these settlers came ashore, they found about 1,000 Cape Fear Indians residing in the Ocean Isle Beach area. The Indian village here was named Necoes and the Indian chief was named Wat-Coosa. These English settlers were mostly devoutly religious Puritans seeking religious freedom from the British government. Unfortunately however, these English settlers began seizing Indian children under the pretense of teaching them about Christianity. Early white settlers in the Ocean Isle Beach area (and all along the US East Coast) became hungry and were almost starving within weeks or months of arriving here, so, they began to steal food from the Indians. They stole the Indian’s livestock and vegetables in addition to seizing their children. The Cape Fear Indians resisted and resented the white man almost from day one because the new settlers were 1) enslaving their children, 2) stealing their food, and 3) bringing in new diseases. Explorer William Hilton in 1662 arrived in the Ocean Isle Beach area. He found many Indians on Smith Island (Baldhead Island) and in Necoes. The Indian Chief offered two young Indian women to Hilton as a peace offering gift. Hilton did not want to offend the Indians, but he also did not want the gift. So, Hilton pacified the natives with presents of beads and other trinkets and a promise to return, while the Indian ladies were left behind to find happiness among their own people. On May 29, 1664, John Vassal arrived in the OIB area and established what some historians consider to be the first European settlement in Brunswick County. John Vassal gave this area the name Clarendon in November 1664. In spite of Vassal’s efforts to moderate colonist/Indian clashes, the fighting grew so intense that all settlers abandoned Clarendon County (and the name) in 1667.
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