North Carolina is home to some pretty famous ghosts. From the wealthy, to the authors, to the poor souls who left this earth too soon. But it’s safe to say some of these ghosts, in fact, haven’t gone anywhere. Actually, their souls supposedly still haunt their home, North Carolina, and here are their stories.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Joe Baldwin
Poor Joe Baldwin. One minute he's sleeping soundly in his caboose, the next it becomes detached from the train. Knowing another train would soon be approaching, Joe stood on the back of the caboose and waved his light back and forth. The engineer of the approaching train saw the frantic Joe, and his waving light but it was too late. Tons and tons of steel were no match for Joe, and his head was decapitated, tumbling down into the swamps never to be found again. The Maco Lights, thought to be ghost Joe searching for his head, are a real NC legend and passed down through generations of native families.
2. George and Edith Vanderbilt
At age twenty-six, George Vanderbilt decided he wanted a vacation home in the North Carolina Mountains. So, he built the largest privately-owned home in America. To this day, he and his wife, Edith have never wanted to leave. The swimming pool is supposedly the most haunted room in the Biltmore Estate, and also where Edith threw some killer pool parties. Laughing, splashing, and yelling are frequently heard from this room.
George would often retreat to his library before a big storm; and it was his favorite room in the house. His spirit seems tied to the library. Visitors have heard Edith calling for ‘George.” The estate has been passed down through the family and eventually became open to the public. As North Carolina’s wealthiest ghosts, can you really blame them for never wanting to leave?
The Governor of Virginia had had enough of Blackbeard, AKA, Edward Teach. Between the murders, pillaging, and robbery, something had to be done. So Lieutenant Robert Maynard was sent to put an end to him. After a gruesome, bloody battle well fought on both sides, Maynard was victorious and beheaded Blackbeard then tossed his body overboard. Blackbeard’s ghost returned to Teach’s Hole, his favorite hideaway, where he is still seen searching for his head. And he’s not quite over that defeat.
4. Andreas Kesmer
The Little Red Man is one of Winston-Salem’s most beloved ghosts. The tale starts in Old Salem, when this house was used as a communal house for single men, known as the Single Brothers House. Andreas Kesmer was excavating a new foundation for an addition when he was caught under a falling bank of earth and died. The Little Red Man got his name from appearing in a red cap; similar to the one Brother Kesmer was wearing at the time of his death. For years afterward, a tap would be heard that resembled the sound of his hammer. Several people report coming into contact with The Little Red Man, including the minister that summoned him to leave the house. He has not been seen since.
5. Jesse Elliot
A mysterious man challenged the overconfident and undefeated Jesse Elliot to a horse race one day. His wife was appalled he was racing on a Sunday, but Jesse was determined to win. As the race began, the stranger, who was riding a large black stallion, stayed back the majority of the race. As Jesse neared the finish line, confident in his victory, the other horse flew with evil speed past Jesse. Jesse’s horse, frightened, dug its hoofs into the ground and threw Jesse into a tree, killing him instantly. To this day, the hoof prints can still be seen in the town of Bath. Nothing will grow here. Legend says the mysterious ‘rider’ carried Jesse’s soul to hell.
6. The Pink Lady
Perhaps a debutante, perhaps a scorned secret lover, this young woman fell to her death from a 5th floor overlook at the Grove Park Inn. She is said to appear in a pink ball gown. Or, sometimes with a pink ‘aura.’ The pink lady is said to be good-natured and takes kindly to children. Hotel employees initially decided her spirit was here to stay after receiving a curious note from a hotel guest. Left at the front desk, the man who wrote the note wanted to say thank you to the ‘lady in pink’ who played with his children during his stay. Today, employees treat the pink lady like she is one of them. Her laid back, fun spirit, is known to play a few pranks and take a particular fascination with room 545.
After her daughter died in a fire, the inconsolable and grief-stricken Helen hung herself from a bridge at Beaucatcher Mountain near Asheville. She appears in a long gown asking the whereabouts of her child. The strangest part is that there are multiple reports of car trouble at the bridge. Maybe it's a battery dying on the bridge, or days after. People who have experienced Helen's bridge find looming car issues during or soon after their visit. It's not just Helen, but strange and dark apparitions cited around the area. The high volume of paranormal activity around this bridge fuels much of the legend. People have described seeing monster-like figures lurking behind the dense brush. Even slaps, punches, and scratches have been reported.
8. Peter Dromgoole
No one quite knows what happened to UNC Chapel Hill Student Peter Dromgoole. The most common story is that Peter and another student were both in love with a young girl named Fannie. Like boys do, they decided a duel would be the ultimate way to see who would truly win Fannie's heart. Sadly, Fannie's true love Peter, was said to have been murdered and buried beneath a rock that Fannie and Peter would secretly meet at. His blood stain is said to still be seen upon the rock. Fannie died the summer after from a broken heart. Legend says she and Peter haunt the area and Gimgoul Castle. A stranger story is that before Peter's "death" he sent a bizarre letter to his family in Virginia claiming he was going to do something horrible, that would cause them great sorrow, and in the event this happened, they would never hear from him again. Peter's Uncle fled to UNC to check on the young man, but when arriving he found Peter to be nowhere. He had vanished, with only a few of his clothes left behind. Perhaps this is tied in with the lover's quarrel, but either way, its a legend that still haunts UNC Chapel Hill.
9. Lydia Jones
What should have been a lovely prom night ended abruptly as Lydia Jones's date crashed his car after losing control on a sharp curve. Lydia’s date died instantly, but she managed to pry herself out of the car and in the pouring rain and a blood-soaked prom dress, begged and pleaded for passerby’s to help. She died shortly after the wreck. Locals were furious and demanded a bridge be constructed to prevent another wreck on the curve. And so became Lydia’s Bridge in Jamestown. To this day, on a rainy night beneath a full moon, if you travel down to the tunnel you will see Lydia trying to flag down a ride. The phantom hitchhiker has even been said to get in the backseat of people’s cars, trying to finally make it to her prom.
10. Zelda Fitzgerald
At the Highland Hospital, a mental ward in Asheville, lived the wife of one of the greatest American authors. At the time of Zelda's appearance at Highlands, her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald, had long lived the days of his Great Gatsby fame. As a struggling writer pushing through years of bland storytelling, F. Scott Fitzgerald spent two summers at the Grove Park Inn while his wife was just down the road, in and out for 12 years, at the Highland Mental Hospital. Zelda was diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia, but suffered bouts of extreme depression and mania, linking her disorder more to bipolar tendencies. The nurses often loved Zelda, she was said to be a sensation around the hospital. Before her fall into poor mental health, Zelda was actually a genius writer. Much like her husband, her writing style was pioneering, brave, and romantic. Yet, she was stuck in her husband's shadow. It's easy to wonder just how amazing Zelda, and her writing, could have been had her illness not worsened. The North Carolina Mountains, and Highland Hospital, became a home for Zelda as her husband moved out west, eventually passing away. One night, the hospital caught fire. Rumors spread there were patients left sedated, some chained in their rooms, as a vengeful nurse set the hospital ablaze. The fire tore through the building, leaving firefighters barely anything to salvage. Zelda, and eight others, died that night. Nothing was ever built in the place of the hospital, in memory of those who lost their lives. A grassy knoll now rests quietly on a land that has seen so much death and destruction. Go to the area on a dark night, and you might just run into Zelda herself.
What did you think of our ghost stories? Are you a believer? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!