Most people love a safe fright. Like the kind that you experience while sitting safely at home munching popcorn from a large bowl and viewing a horror flick. Or the kind that cause you to emit a high piercing scream while riding a towering, swirling rollercoaster that has been certified safe. You experience a frightfully good time knowing for certain that you were never really at risk of harm.
Now let me tell you a story. I do hope that you find it a harrowing tale.
Once upon a time on a moonless Halloween when I was a child, a friend of I sit alone by the only highway that carried travelers too and from our no-stop-light-town. We were telling each other scaring stories from the Book of Revelations when the sound of tin cans greeting the pavement drew our attention to the darken highway. The maker of the sound was obscured in the blackness – the song the cans sing echoed toward us. Afraid but curious we stood our ground – “nobody knows the trouble ahead,” we spoke in unison. “Nobody knows the sorry it may bring.”
The man the darkness birthed was raggedy and tattered. He was tall, slim and the same color as the night. He walked with a straight back and head held high. His clothes were the different variations of gray displayed in black and white movies. The oversized and floppy hat he wore obscured his face and eyes. On his hands were knit gloves that had been cut to free his long fingers. His well worn brogan boots made not a sound when they touched the pavement. The only sound that spoke of his existence was made by the six tin cans tied to a rope secured to the belt that kept his too large pants from freeing themselves. He did not look at us but we could not remove our gaze from him until the darkness reclaimed him as its own again. Then all that was left was the sound of the tumbling cans until it too melted away.
Was he a ghost – an apparition – or just a shared image created by our youthful imaginations? We will never know. But what we do know is that we lived in a town where everyone knew each other and not a single soul knew him.
Some might surmise that a Halloween with this type of happening is magical. Others still might journey to a place famous for its ghostly inhabitants. Supposedly haunted lands and dwellings are plentiful. Here is a few in the Triangle area that you might want to visit:
Constructed in 1785 by Joel Lane for his son Henry, Mordecai Manor is a two-storey mansion located on Mordecai Square in Ole Raleigh. Henry willed the mansion to his daughter Margaret who will later marry Moses Mordecai. At an early age, and after delivering two heirs for Moses, Margaret’s life ended. Yet it is believe that she walks amongst the living keeping watch over the Manor. If you ever visit Mordecai Manor and see a woman dressed in a long black skirt, a white blouse and tie, and if you are brave enough, walk quickly and quietly up to her and whisper, “Hello Margaret.”
The Legend of Peter Dromgoole itself reads as a cautionary tale of how not to become a ghost. In 1832 while attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, it is said that Dromgoole fell in love with a young woman named Fannie. During this era in history many young women in Chapel Hill had more than one suitor due to the high female to male ratio within the community. So too was the case for Fannie. Dromgoole and his rival meet one day to actually “duel” it out over her. Peter died in the pistol duel and is said that his grave lies beneath a stone known as Dromgoole Rock. The very rock on which his head landed — splatting his blood — when he fell dead. As dueling was frown upon by UNC, the murder, along with other witnesses hurriedly buried Peter’s body in a shallow grave in order to conceal what had occurred.
Fannie, heart broken and grief stricken, died later that summer. Prior to leaving this earth she would speak of Peter’s loneliness and her plans for meeting him.
Adding credence to the legend of Peter Dromgoole is the fact that Dromgoole Rock is located at Piney Point, home of Gimgoul Castle which houses the Gimgoul Society, UNC’s answer to Skull and Bones
So if while visiting Gimgoul you happen to spot two ghostly figures strolling through the woods, do not disturb them. Peter and Fannie’s love for each other keep their spirits eternally bound as they wander the woods of Piney Point.
If you do not want to spend your evening hoping that a finicky ghosts are two might appear on haunted grounds then head over to Woods of Terror in Greensboro. Ticket prices are $15.00 to $35.00 but it is guaranteed that you will see ghosts, ghouls and goblins. They will not harm you but they do plan to scare the bejesus out of you.