Off the Coastal Plains of North Carolina is an isolated island along the Outer Banks. This last Memorial Weekend, I took my first car-carrying ferry in my life to Ocracoke Island. Okay, at first I was scared. Passenger ferries have been one thing, but lugging my car over water – yeah, I had nightmares. But when I got out on the water, I could already feel at one with island life. The Pamlico Sound was beautiful, and watching the sand bars and waving at the motorboats passing by, I had the feeling of being welcomed home.
But the ferry wasn’t the best part of the trip. No, exploring the village was. The island is small enough; you can either get around by walking, golf cart, or bicycle. I opted for walking. There are so many great unique shops to pillage and plunder (your budget, I mean – LOL) and amazing restaurants. However, when I wasn’t exploring the island, I was sitting on the hotel porch reading my nook with Lord Grantham of the Ocracoke Harbor Inn. Well, that’s at least what I dubbed the local cat that wandered the grounds. He has the best life, lounging on the Inn’s front porch and hanging near the harbor. He would curl up near my chair and just sleep as I read throughout the day in the shade. But don’t tell my cats – they might think I’m cheating on them. Shh.
LOL. Yeah, it really was kind of just a lazy weekend. But I did make sure to sign up for the Ghost Walk of Down Point, which included the ghost of the Island Inn; the 1837 wreck of the steamboat, “Home;” and the history of the Ocracoke Lighthouse. My favorites, however, where about the Bearded Man in Springer’s Point Preserve and “Dream of Death.” What I was disappointed about the tour, however, was the fact that our guide never took the group even near the actual sites. So, the next day, I decided to go investigate myself.
After a morning hike along the beach, I first headed to Springer’s Point. Now this is a very interesting area: beautiful scenery with shady trees; sightings of white ibises; beach along the sound; a view of Teach’s hole; a large, boarded-up well; a little cemetery with a man and his dead horse buried in it – What?
Yeah, I’m not kidding. A man named Samuel Jones (1893 – 1977), the only headstone in the entire cemetery, was buried not with his first wife, not with his second wife, but with his horse! And this cemetery is where the ghost story takes place. Now, there is no story of Mr. Jones or about his horse (that I’m aware of), but there was another event that occurred near here – the beheading of Black Beard, which took place in Ocracoke Inlet near Teach’s Hole.
Well, the grounds keeper of the small cemetery was coming by to tend the site as he usually does. It was dusk, and when he came up to the grave, he found a man with a long, old coat and gray beard sitting on the boarded-up well. He called out, but the bearded man didn’t respond. Not feeling comfortable, the keeper decided to leave, but the bearded man suddenly began to follow him. The keeper then started to run and jumped into his little skiff. As he paddled out into the waters, the bearded man stopped in the water and just evaporated into the haze.
Yeah – cool, right? There are other stories, but this really piqued my interest. I was even tempted to head over at dusk with a bottle of rum to leave for the ghost, but I didn’t quiet have the guts. Besides, I doubted the Preserve would have liked the idea anyway. But I did head over for a hike. No ghost encounter of any kind, unfortunately. Oh, but plenty of biting bugs – so do bring bug repellant!
For the “Dream of Death,” I did actually head over to the John MacWilliams’ house after dusk, just like the guide had instructed.
So, here’s the short version of what happened: Fannie Pearl, John’s daughter, was pregnant and had woken from a very disturbing dream just after returning to stay in Martha Ann’s house. She told Martha that in her dream Fannie had died! Well, not only did she die – she could see herself. She was dressed in white, lying in a white casket, sailing at night in a white skiff. Up in the sky was the light of the full moon rising above the horizon. Yeah – creepy enough, right? But what was creepier was the fact that she did die the very next night! Apparently, her unborn child had died in utero and poisoned her.
Well, her husband was off in Norfolk, so he didn’t know anything about the dream. But when he heard the news, he began to make arrangements. He purchased a beautiful white casket and returned to Ocracoke by mailboat. Having died at Martha Ann’s house and Fannie’s family cemetery being in Down Point, they decided to put the casket in a skiff to take Fannie’s body across the harbor for the burial.
Martha was in the rowboat behind the skiff, and half way across, she noticed the brand new white casket lying across the planks in the white skiff. The water was slick as glass, and in the sky, there was a full moon rising above the horizon.
Talk about foresight. *shivers* But wait, there’s more! According to our guide, if you try to take a photo of Silver Lake Harbor in front of John MacWilliams’ house, you could get a silver orb (the ghostly image of the Fannie’s full moon) in the corner. I took about twenty photos and didn’t get any orb, but I tried. Ugh – just wasn’t my day for ghostly experiences. But as a consolation prize, I got to watch as the Ocracoke Lighthouse beam turned on.
I have to say this was one of the best vacations I have had in a while! If I could afford it, I would by a house there and write my novels along the harbor side. But I would need big bucks for that – LOL. I guess I’ll have to settle for brief visits.