The Hatteras Realty Waves office has quite a story behind its walls. Recently restored, the circa 1849 home, is now listed in the National Historic Registry. This structure was once the home and birthplace of a famous surfman known as Rasmus Midgett, a true American hero.
Rasmus Midgett, one of a long line of North Carolina surfmen known as the Mighty Midgetts, was on the horseback south patrol for the Gull Shoals Lifesaving Station on August 18, 1899. Approximately three-fourths of a mile from the station, he came across items newly washed ashore, which indicated a shipwreck. He traveled two more miles and found much more debris and sounds of sails frapping and then faint voices. In the darkness Midgett managed to make out the remains of a shipwrecked vessel that had run aground, with men clutching to remaining wood approximately 100 yards from him.
The vessel that was aground was the Priscilla, a 643 ton barkentine out of Baltimore, MD on August 12, 1899. Knowing that it would take too much time to return to the station and bring back a life-saving crew, Midgett began retrieving men from the waters alone. One by one he assisted each of the 10 men back to shore and eventually to the safety of the station.
For this Rasmus Midgett was awarded the Gold Medal of Honor for Lifesaving. Midgett, was subsequently awarded a Gold Lifesaving Medal by the Secretary of the Treasury. With the award the Secretary transmitted a highly commendatory letter reciting the story of the brave man’s heroism. The inscription read on one side: “To Rasmus Midgett for rescuing singlehanded ten men from the Priscilla, August 18, 1899” and on the other: “In Testimony of Heroic Deeds in the Saving of Life from the Perils of the Sea.