Boo! North Carolina Ghost Stories in NCpedia & at the GHL
It’s that time of year again — Halloween. And I confess it’s my favorite holiday: a chance to be someone (or something) you’re not for a few hours or a day and have some fun with spooky stuff. If you’re in the mood for dressing up, pick your favorite historical North Carolina character and see if your friends can guess. Perhaps Blackbeard (when are pirates NOT in fashion?), Tiny Broadwick (my personal favorite), Wilbur and Orville, Anthony Cooper (or any of the Lords Proprietors for wigs and BIG hair), Daniel Boone, and a vast number of Revolutionary War heroes and Civil War soldiers. You might get so excited researching North Carolina biographies you miss Halloween!
It’s also a good opportunity to dig into the collections to see what folk traditions and local history have to share to enrich the holiday and provide connections across time and space. And North Carolina has more than a few legends to raise your hair and give you a cold chill. For starters, there are the reports of the supernatural right in our midst here in Raleigh, at the State Capitol building and at the historic Mordecai house.
Eternal Hoofprints or the Devil’s Horse’s Hoofprints. Image from the 1927 “North Carolina Today.” From the North Carolina Dept. of Conservation and Development.
A little deeper down are the real life historical events (often tragedies) that have gathered connections to the supernatural. Here are just a few from the NCpedia “archives” (no spoiler on the endings):
The Ghost Train of Bostian’s Bridge – train wreck in 1891 in Statesville, a legendary re-sighting in 1941, with a new event in 2010.
The Maco Light – from the fatal train wreck in Brunswick County in 1867 and siting of the lights by a U.S. president.
The Devil’s Horse’s Hoof Prints – ghostly holes in the ground near Bath since 1813.
The Devil’s Tramping Ground – in western Chatham County, an eerie circle in the woods where nothing will grow.
The Brown Mountain Lights – mysterious, unexplained light phenomena on the Burke-Caldwell County line.
To dig deeper and explore more of North Carolina’s folk and ghost legends from the local and regional perspective, check out these published works from our collections at the GHL (with links to local North Carolina library holdings):
Tanenbaum, Linda Duck, and Barry McGee. 2002. Ghost tales from the North Carolina Piedmont. Winston-Salem, N.C.: Bandit Books.
Williams, Stephanie Burt. 2003. Ghost stories of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County: remnants of the past in a new South. Winston-Salem, N.C.: Bandit Books.
Russell, Randy, and Janet Barnett. 1988. Mountain ghost stories and curious tales of western North Carolina. Winston-Salem, N.C.: J.F. Blair.
Morgan, Fred T. 1992. Haunted Uwharries: ghost stories, witch tales and other strange happenings from North America’s oldest mountains. Asheboro, N.C.: Down Home Press.
Starbuck, Richard W., and Lu Newman. 2002. Ghosts of Salem and other tales. Winston-Salem, N.C.: Moravian Archives.
Happy reading and Happy Halloween!
– Kelly Agan, GHL Digital Media Librarian