Any history and legend buffs out there? I love ghost stories and legends. I think it’s because there is a certain mystique that has never been resolved among their spirit. Maybe it’s just because it’s an unknown force that makes for interesting story telling and quite possibly it could be just because legends often have a grain of truth in them.
I’m from the Greensboro/High Point/Jamestown/Winston Salem, NC area. There are a lot of ghost stories and legends in this area. One of my absolute favorites is the story of Lydia. Lydia was a young girl who in 1923 was killed in an accident trying to come home from a dance. Since that time on rainy nights, Lydia has been seen on numerous occassions. She has hitched hike with a lot of different drivers, given them an address, and once they get her home, the men have opened the door, only to find she vanished. According to the legend, when they went to the front door to see if she got home safely, the mother opens the door only to show them the picture of her daughter that passed. The mother is no longer living now but if you research the legend, there are articles that show that Lydia wasn’t really the girl’s name. It was Annie. The legend has been passed down to where different versions are out there. It’s all depending on what you read.
Another legend is from Western North Carolina. It’s about the cat. Apparently, there was once an old man who was wandering from town to town seeking employment. Eventually he stumbled upon a road far from town deep rooted among the hills on a blistery cold night. As he walked down the road, he heard someone whistling. He turned around and saw an old man, so he asked him if he knew where he might lay his head to get out of the cold. The old man looked at him and said that unfortunately he didn’t have somewhere for him to sleep because he had thirteen children and a wife and there was no room in the house and the barn wasn’t a good place because there was no way to stay warm in there. He told him about a local shack just up the road and said that he needed to understand that the shack was haunted. The man looked at him and said he just needed a place to get out of the cold and get a little sleep. So he went about his way and headed for the shack. The man saw that the shack was really run down. There was no furniture, the house had started falling apart but there was a way to build a fire and at least get a little rest. As he got the fire together, he noticed a box beside the fireplace that contained animal bones. He left the bones alone and went about the fire. He kicked off his shoes and then just a short while later, he heard a strange scratching sound coming from behind him. As he turned around, he noticed that those same bones that he left in the box were coming alive and forming themselves into the outline of a cat. The skeletal cat walked over to the man, attempting to lick what it thought to have been it’s fur. With no tongue, the cat couldn’t lick itself but it didn’t keep it from trying. The cat looked at the man with a strange light luminating out of its socket. In a hauntingly and eerie voice, the cat said, “Well, I reckon there ain’t nobody here but you and me.” The man then replied, “I reckon ain’t no time before there ain’t gonna be nobody here but just you!” With that being said, the man didn’t grab his shoes. He ran quickly out the door. About a mile later, the man ran into the old man who had been whistling. The old man asked what had happened. When the man told him, the old man shook his head and said that he figured that was going to happen. He asked him about his shoes and would he return to retrieve them. The man said “nope.” He was going to leave them along with about the other hundred shoes that had been there. The cat is a story that leaves a few shivers up and down my spine. In all the years I’ve owned cats, I think I would freak if my cat did that to me.
Then there’s the story of the Pink Lady at Grove’s Park Inn in Asheville, NC. This one makes me want to go to the inn to see if I can see her. Apparently, in the 1920’s there was a young woman who stayed there. She was either the mistress of a married man or a debutante who accidentally slipped and fell to her death. Regardless, she is a kind phantom. She adores children and likes to tickle some of the guests feet while they sleep. She usually shows herself in the form of a mist, sometimes she shows herself as a full apparition in a pink ball gown dress. Children often see her more than adults do. She is known to be kind. It even has seemed that she likes to be somewhat of a prankster. She seems to like to mess with electrical circuitry with air conditioners and other devices. While she has been known to haunt the entire inn, she is partial to room 545. Apparently, it was from that balcony in that room that she fell to her death.
Another one of my favorite legends is the Devil’s Tramping Ground. Supposedly, in the rolling hills of Chatham County, which is south of Siler City, there is a place located in the woods called the Devils Tramping Ground. It’s called this for a few reasons. The Devil’s Tramping Ground is a mysterious, perfectly round and absolutely barren circle about forty feet in diameter in the pine woods of Chatham County. Nothing will grow in the limits of the circle. It doesn’t matter if it’s grass, trees, flowers, weeds, or anything. Seed sowed there refuses to sprout. Any vegetation transplanted there will wither and die. And, what’s even more strange, any object left in the circle before dusk will have been moved outside its bounds by dawn. Dogs won’t even go near it. Anyone who has tried to spend the night in the circle has not been able to maintain their sanity. The legend says that the devil walks that circle every single night. According to the folklore, in his Tramping Ground, The Devil spends his nights pacing around and around in a circle and contemplates ways to bring human souls to damnation. “It’s the scorching heat of his cloven hoofprints that kills the vegetation and has rendered the soil barren. He angrily brushes aside anything left in his path, his great strength easily able to toss aside even the heaviest objects. When he walks in his private spot on earth, The Devil drops the illusions with which he disguises himself when he appears to men. In his natural state the face of this fallen angel is so horrible that no man can see it and remain sane.” (Reference Northcarolinaghosts.com)
If there’s one thing that fascinates me, it’s these kinds of stories. Legends and folklore are something that’s a part of us. Whether there is truth in these legends and ghost stories remains to be seen. Whatever the case, it really makes for great stories. Do I believe in ghosts? Well, I believe that anything is possible in this world. I also believe that there are such things as restless spirits. The question is not are they real, but will we allow them to be real to us? Just enjoy the stories for what they are. Legends. And as such, they deserve to stay legends. Without those types of legends, we are less likely to find interest in different areas. What types of legends interest you? Whatever they are, keep the stories going. It makes for very interesting reading!