Updated August 12, 2010.
A Loan From Mr. Knapp. By Sue Fentress Austin
Prior to 1932 the Knotts Island menfolk often guided for wealthy sportsmen to support their families. My grandfather, Edgar Wright Brumley, was one such individual. He had five children - Nita, Adell, Ruth, Edgar and Paul. During that particular time, it was decided by the "powers that be" that to legally operate your Battery (a type of boat, outfitted to be used like the duck hunting blinds of today) a special license would be necessary. However, only so many licenses were to be made available to the Currituck County guides and Papa Ed did not receive one. He, however, took his Battery out and was promptly issued a citation, which resulted in a trip over to the Courthouse. Mr. Joseph Knapp was also there that day, as apparently were a lot of Knotts Islanders upset over the latest methods to keep the poor folk from earning a living off the water. Apparently my Grandfather had to pay a fine because Mr. Knapp came up to Papa Ed and spoke these words, "Mr. Brumley, it is not fair that someone like you who is trying to feed your family is denied a license and someone like me without a large family to feed, is given a license. If you ever need any help for your family, come and see me." My grandfather did not forget that friendly offer which came from Knotts Island's most wealthy part-time resident/sportsman.
In 1932 his two daughters, Nita and Adell, expressed a wish to go away to college and become teachers. The money was not available, but my grandfather remembered Mr. Knapp's offer. He hitched the old mule up, set off with his lantern swinging from the wagon and went to Mackay Island where the beautiful estate of Mr. and Mrs. Knapp was located. He went up to the Clubhouse entrance, was received politely and invited inside. He came away with a promise of a loan for whatever was needed for both girls to receive two years of college instruction. In those years, young unmarried women were allowed to teach with a 2-year certificate. The very next day their father took them to Norfolk where a cardboard suitcase apiece was purchased, and one trunk to be shared between them for their clothing. There would be no trips home for these two until the Christmas break. This was a loan and both girls were to repay it after they became teachers. Both did complete the two years required at East Carolina Teacher's College and both became elementary teachers. My mother, Adell Brumley Fentress, ended her teaching career in the late 60's teaching "little folks" at the same school in which she herself attended as a young child - Knotts Island School. I grew up hearing her repeatedly mention this wonderfully kind benefactor who made her dream of teaching become a reality. That she was able to share her love of teaching at the school which first nurtured her was, I think, a fitting closure to her 30 years of teaching. Mr. Knapp would have smiled at having been the instrument that made it all possible so many years ago.