I recently went on a short trip to the outer banks of North Carolina. At the Cape Hatteras lighthouse visitor center I picked up a book by a somewhat local author and endeavored to read it. I mostly read this book on the ferry from Hatteras island to Ocracoke island. Ocracoke totally being where Blackbeard liked to hang out, maybe I’ll write about that later. Yes, the real Blackbeard, for real, liked to hang out there.
This is a collection of local ghost stories. The ghost stories are both from North Carolina and South Carolina. They mainly concern the coasts, as mentioned, but some of the areas mentioned in the stories are further inland.
There is an important thing you must know about books like this. You may not believe in ghosts, whatever, it’s your choice, but that doesn’t mean these stories don’t have merit. These stories are about history. Most of these stories surround a real-life event and the aftermath of that event. There would have been a record of a man burning down a saloon because he felt jilted. The story that happens afterwards may be real or it may not be real. These stories have ingrained themselves into the local lore of the areas they concern. They’re retold for their shock value and creep value, but the history of the story gets transported right along with the creepy.
Terrance has written a few of these books, but I chose this one, primarily because it was the cheapest. Unfortunately, unlike The Carl Sandburg Home, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse visitor center doesn’t have a book stamp that says you bought the book there. I was a bit disappointed.
I also bought this book because I like ghost stories.
One of the more memorable tales in this book was about Blackbeard. Supposedly, he fell for a young woman in the area. He liked her; she didn’t like him. She said she was about to be married and she loved her fiance just so much. Blackbeard was kind if irritated about this, so he cut off the fiance’s finger and gave it to this woman. The fiance was never found. The bride was upset and would wait on the docks for her fiance to see if she could see him. Later, supposedly, she did marry Blackbeard, I guess because he was there, Ocracoke island only has about 900 residents these days, I’m sure there were less back then, there probably wasn’t much of a choice. Supposedly, you can see her ghost waiting on Blackbeard or her fiance to return, sometimes.
Another story concerned the area I was staying in. The area is called Buxton and it’s on Hatteras island. The story goes that a young man went to a voodoo woman for a love potion, but he didn’t follow directions and the girl became obsessed with him. He wanted out; he told her so, but she killed herself. He became distraught and lived in the empty house of the voodoo woman for the rest of his life.
There was another story concerning the Hilton Head lighthouse. A lighthouse keeper lived there with his daughter. He got caught in a storm one night and suffered a heart attack on the steps of the lighthouse. His daughter went looking for him and also died in the storm due to exposure. The story goes that a man and a little girl can be seen on the island from time to time.
The story of Roanoke was also in the book. No one knows what happened to those people. We can guess, but no one knows. The first English child born in what is now the United States, Virginia Dare, was born on Roanoke island and subsequently disappeared with the rest of the colony. I think that’s kind of sad. Roanoke has spawned many tales and stories over the years. It’s definitely one of history’s mysteries.
What I liked
Despite the fact that this is a ghost story book, it contains a lot of history, just as I mentioned before. I liked that I was able to learn so much about the area from one little book. I could have learned more. I passed up a few books on Blackbeard. You have to consider that an area like the outer banks of North and South Carolina have been populated for a very, very long time. There are going to be strange bumps in the night and history upon history. There are secrets upon secret.
I don’t care who you are, an entire colony of people just disappearing is weird. What happened to them? Were they murdered? Did they turn native? Did aliens abduct them? Who knows? They didn’t leave a lot of clues besides the word “Croatoan,” carved in a tree. That’s it. It’s highly fascinating.
What I didn’t like
I can’t really say there was anything I didn’t like about the book. It was short, so maybe that was something I didn’t like. It didn’t have pictures, well, it did, but I was hoping for actual photographs, it has a few, but not for every story. I would like to have seen pictures of some of these areas spoken of in the stories. Like I said, a few of the stories had photographs, but not all of them. I think it would be really neat to see a picture of this place or that place, this coast line, this dock, this bay and so on.
Here is a hint for you… if you want to learn about an area you’re traveling to, buy a local ghost story book by a local author. You’ll get the local history as well as the local lore and you won’t have to spend a ton of money doing so.
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Collected Works, History, Non-Fiction, True strange Happenings, Zepke-Terrance