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Albert Monroe Styron,
February 3, 1893 - March 6, 1956
son of Daniel J. Styron and Mary F. Day
Albert M. Styron spent most of his life in the fishing business, either catching, buying, or selling. He was born down in Carteret County in what used to be the village of Lupton on Hog Island. His father Daniel Styron was a fisherman and young Albert and his brothers took to the trade when they were teenagers.
Young Albert soon found Lupton a somewhat dull town, so at the age of fifteen he headed south for fishing off the Florida coast and in Cuban waters. Wanderlust over at the end of four years, he came back home to Lupton, and it was that summer that he met Mamie Spencer, who had come to Hog Island from Ocracoke to visit her married sister. In October, Mamie and Albert were married and the young fisherman settled down to earn a living for his family.
Albert & Mamie Styron with granddaughter, Betsy O'Neal
Meanwhile the population of Lupton was diminishing-fishing was better elsewhere, markets were more available elsewhere--finally only about eight families were left. So in 1920 Mamie suggested Ocracoke--once an Ocracoker, always an Ocracoker! Albert liked the idea; so the family moved to Ocracoke where they have lived ever since.
First and foremost Albert Styron was a fisherman. During his lifetime he owned as many as seven or eight fishing boats. He did pound net fishing, gill net fishing, flounder and mullet hauling, and shrimping. But he believed in that wise old adage, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket." When he first moved to Ocracoke he built a store next door to his home. For a while he himself operated the business, but the urge to be out-of- doors and at more strenuous work took him back to fishing.
The mother and her growing daughters were left to run the store until the youngest son, Albert Jr., graduated from high school and took over his family responsibility. Albert and his two oldest sons, Bud and Norman, did the fishing and shrimping.
At one time Mr. Styron operated a fish market, buying and selling at his fish house out at the channel's edge in Pamlico Sound. Later, when hurricane storms demolished this fish house, he built another one in the harbor. During World War II he got his second siege of wanderlust and left the island for about three years to work on government boats up in Delaware Bay. The boys, Bud and Norman, served in the armed forces, one in the Coast Guard, the other in the Army. When "Big Albert", as he was similarly called, came back home in 1947, he again took up fishing, though this time he chose shrimping which was more profitable. He built the "Silver Lake" the largest boat he had owned thus far.
When the shrimping season was over in early December, "Big Albert" and his two boys, Bud and Norman, would then turn to outside fishing, that is hauling for flounder, puppy drum, mullet, trout, etc., offshore in the Atlantic Ocean. Starting up around Oregon Inlet and Manteo in December they worked southwards to Bogue Inlet and Beaufort by early May. It was while he and his boys were shrimping in the Beaufort area that "Big Albert" who had worked too strenuously, toppled over unconscious in his boat. He found himself with doctor's orders to "Take life easy, or else ......". Dull life for an erstwhile fisherman!
And for a while "Big Albert" did take life easy, following his doctor's orders. But back home at Ocracoke he gradually got better. Tuning in on the short wave radio he could listen to the shrimpers in the sound talking to one another about their catches, and often Bud or Norman's voices could be heard among the others. This made Big Albert restless. Soon he was out for part of the day, mending nets on the store porch.
During this time it was interesting to get him started on "fish stories" and tales of his experiences. He told of a time at Cocoanut Grove, Florida, when he was caught with others in one of the hurricanes, and how they had to climb high into a mango tree for shelter. He told of getting lost in snowstorms off Oregon Inlet when visibility at sea was zero. He told of close escapes from boats, which for one reason or another, blew up. And of other exciting experiences.
As he began to get better, "Big Albert" would now and then slip away from the watchful eyes of Mrs. Styron and the children and go down to the fish house. And it wasn't long before he was sneaking away to do a little mulleting with some of the older fishermen. On the morning of March 6, 1956, "Big Albert" went out in Pamlico Sound in his 18-foot motor boat, towing a small skiff, to plant oysters. He never returned.
Ocracoke-March 11, 1956
- One of the most extensive searches ever made of Pamlico Sound was called off today after the five-day ef fort to find a missing Ocracoke fisherman failed. Coast Guard planes and boats and volunteers scoured the 2,000 square miles of the sound looking for veteran fisherman Albert Styron, who failed to return Tuesday afternoon after going out to plant an oyster bed. Eighteen Ocracoke Boy Scouts mounted on Banker ponies also participated, along with the volunteers on foot and in vehicles. The search lasted one hundred and twenty hours.
A Cape Hatteras Flying Service Pilot discovered his eighteen-foot motor powered fishing boat at Terrapin Shoals four miles south of Hatteras Inlet. The boat contained his wallet, social security card, and wrist watch. Searchers theorized that the items had been placed in the boat by Styron to protect them from water.
(Photo and information from Hyde County History published by the Hyde County Historical Society in 1976.)
McGowan / Sheppard