North Carolina Ghosts

Nell Cropsey

At the turn of the 20th century in Elizabeth City, the beautiful Nell Cropsey lived with her family in a white Victorian house on the banks of the Pasquotank River. Jim Wilcox courted her, the son of the county sheriff, but they argued and became estranged. Nevertheless he continued to visit and at first she ignored him, but later openly insulted him, at one point calling him "Squatty," a reference to his height. Jim asked if he could see her alone in the front hall, and that was the last anyone ever saw her.

Several weeks later her body was found 50 yards offshore in front of her house, tied to a stake and floating face down. Jim went to prison, steadfastly maintaining his innocence, and later committed suicide. Nell's ghost must have reason to believe him, because she continuous to approach the family that now occupies her house and ask, "Can you tell me who killed me?"

Aunt Nora

Poplar Grove is a historic estate north of Wilmington near Hampstead, where costumed docents conduct tours of the mansion, the outbuildings and the grounds. After the Civil War it became a peanut plantation and operated as such through the mid-20th century. Its ghost is Nora Frazier Foy, who lived in the house from 1850 until her death in 1923.

She is known as Aunt Nora and staff members have heard her play music, flush toilets, turn on lights, and tamper with their work. Aunt Nora has flipped through steno pads in the office and ripped down pots and pans in the kitchen. One visitor claimed he saw and heard her and what must have been none other than the great Joseph Mumford Foy himself arriving in the gravel driveway via horse and buggy.

Miss Mary

The Second Marine Aircraft Wing at Cherry Point has an unworldly presence known as Miss Mary. For an elderly woman, she has an amazing ability to infiltrate even the most fiercely defended top-security areas of the military base. In 1975 a guard stationed in an area surrounded by double-mesh fences and floodlights held a brief conversation with a white-haired woman wearing a 19th-century calico dress.

She asked him what his name was and told him her name was Mary, and that she lived on a nearby chicken farm but would soon be forced out. Others have reported similar experiences and, as it turns out, the air station really did displace chicken farms in the area during the 1890s.

The Ghost of Lewiston

Lewiston is not far from Tarboro and Rocky Mount, and the ghost that ran a young couple out of his house in that rural community was a mid-20th century mortal with no known motive for his actions. Neighbors recall he sat in a rocker on his front porch cheerfully waving at passing traffic during the 1970s.

The abnormal occurrences started with the rocking chair that had worn deep grooves in the wooden porch, and progressively escalated from there—footsteps, door slams, your typical fright night stuff—and escalated to the point where the young couple was constantly awakened, leading up to the final episode that sent them climbing out of the bathroom window in the middle of the night. A deep chill pervaded their bedroom and a dark figure stood at the foot of their bed, slowly pulling off their blankets and piling them on the floor.

The Helpful Ghost of Bertie County

A couple in Bertie County struggled to hang onto the family farm during the Great Depression. In their yard stood a great oak tree, probably growing there since the family acquired the farm a century before, and during a flash of lightning the wife saw a man with a shovel digging around the base of the tree. The husband saw the same apparition under the same set of circumstances on two other occasions.

A property tax bill arrived informing the couple they would be evicted if they didn't come up with $47, and an electrical storm moved through the area that same week. The husband marched outside with a shovel and in the pouring rain he dug around the tree where he'd seen the specter digging. Ultimately he split the tree trunk open with a pick ax and inside it he found a Mason jar filled with money.

Tony Casseletta

A musical trio was cruising down the coast when the ship's captain discovered they had no means to pay for their passage. He put them out at the nearest port, which happened to be Southport, at the mouth of the Cape Fear River near Bald Head Island. They made their way to the Old Brunswick Inn at 301 East Bay Street, and offered their musical services to the proprietor, who accepted. Soon the group played at gigs throughout the vicinity.

Then they decided they wanted to learn to sail, and they hadn't gotten far when their borrowed craft flipped over and the harpist, a fellow named Tony Casseletta, hit his head on the bow. He drowned before anyone could save him and was buried at Smithville Burial Ground.

Yet the musical stylings of what sounds like a harp persist, well after the inn was converted to a private residence.

These stories have been "scared up" as it were from various references, including "Ghosts of the North Carolina Shores" by Micheal Rivers—this is the one obsessed with Hertford County—"Ghosts of the Carolina Coasts" by Terrance Zepke, "Ghosts from the Coast" by Nancy Roberts, and "North Carolina Ghosts & Legends" by Nancy Roberts.

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