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Dunbar John Davis (June 30, 1843 – March 30, 1923) was a Keeper in the United States Life-Saving Service. During his service he was the Keeper at the Cape Fear Station and was later transferred to the Oak Island Station in 1892. Davis is known for his numerous rescues at sea, but is most famous for his daring rescue during a hurricane in 1893. In August 1893 the infamous Sea Islands Hurricane hit the Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina coasts. By today's standards it would have been a Category 3 with sustained wind speeds of 120 miles per hour (190 km/h). However, the hurricane had an unusually low pressure at 931 mbar making it one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the East Coast of the United States.
Davis, who was the Keeper of the Oak Island Station, gathered his few crewman and set off. Braving the storm and the treacherous waters of the Graveyard of the Atlantic, he and his crew rescued all crewmembers aboard the four ships: Three Sisters, Kate Giffor, Wustrow, and Enchantress.
This seaman’s final resting place is the Old Morse Cemetery in a quiet corner of Southport. There, a row of simple granite tombstones marks the births and deaths of most of the Davis family. Standing the tallest, however, is that of Dunbar Davis. Numerous books tell of the many rescues Davis had over his career. There is even a song about his famous rescue called "The Long Day of Dunbar Davis" by the band Scearce & Ketner.
Notable books that feature stories of Dunbar Davis:
- Bald Head: A History of Smith Island and Cape Fear
- "A Day in the Life of Dunbar Davis" from Graveyard of the Atlantic
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