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ocracoke haunted tales + history

This story seems timely, in the wake of a spooky halloween season. Ocracoke is one of the oldest towns in North Carolina, and the long history of the village is filled with the stories of islanders who have passed on. Lee Zacharias, writing for Our State Magazine, takes us inside delightful tales of haunts and the odd realities of island life in this affectionately written piece.

ocracoke lighthouse

Ocracoke Light stands watch over the village. Photo courtesy Ocracoke Preservation Society

“The ghost didn’t come the way you might imagine. No shrieking, no moaning, no shadowy specters.

Nor was it exactly the way Philip Howard told it in Digging Up Uncle Evans: History, Ghost Tales, & Stories From Ocracoke Island. Though she likes to rearrange women’s cosmetics, she left mine undisturbed. Instead, all that uneasy night I felt the steady pressure of her hand on my foot. I might’ve dismissed it as imagination if the desk clerk at the Island Inn hadn’t glanced at my face in the morning and said, “Would you like to change rooms?” That was how I learned that Mrs. Godfrey, one of Ocracoke’s best-known ghosts, had paid me a visit.

What better place to meet a ghost than Ocracoke, where the dead aren’t banished to their own city, but are tucked here and there through the village, beside a chicken coop, behind the lighthouse, 81 cemeteries in all, and those don’t include the many unmarked graves of pirates, shipwrecked sailors, and slaves. Don’t believe in ghosts? Spend a night in room 23 at the Island Inn. Book the cottage on Lighthouse Road, where two tots’ wooden grave markers have since rotted, and whose eternal sleep was disturbed by a new septic field. Take an evening stroll near the community cemetery in Sunset Village, where you might happen upon an elderly couple in 19th-century garb.”

The spirits of years past still roam Ocracoke Village. Read the rest of the story on Our State Magazine.

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