Tuesday, October 21, 2014


A few traditional Outer Banks superstitions:
  • If you wear socks to bed you will wake up with a sore throat (as a teenager I often went to bed with socks on because I'd go out barefooted in the evening and come home late, too tired to wash my feet...but I never remember waking up with a sore throat).
  • If you sweep after sundown, you will sweep a member out of your family (seems like a creative justification for not working at night).
  • If you go in the front door, and out the back door, you will have bad luck (Blanche often reminds me of this when I visit her).
  • If a bird gets in the house, it means bad luck (a house wren once found an opening, and built a nest in my screen porch; when the eggs hatched the baby birds flew all around the porch, pooping on everything. It was definitely bad luck!). 
When I was a teenager I came across this quotation by Francis Bacon (1561-1626): "The general root of superstition is that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss, and commit to memory the one, and forget and pass over the other."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is about the Unionist North Carolina State Government established at Hatteras in 1861. You can read all about it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092114.htm.  


  1. I just noticed that Jacob Gaskill shot and killed his cousin, Willis Williams in 1837. Do you know the story behind this? Killing a family member must be a rare event on Ocracoke.

    1. Bob, I do know the story. It is a bit complicated, and fascinating. Send me an email, and I will reply with a digital copy of my 2002 article about the murder.

  2. Anonymous11:52 AM

    "My mother believed in all superstitions
    plus she made some up."
    Donald E. Westlake (writer)

  3. Anonymous1:25 PM

    This question has nothing to do with superstitions.
    On Sunday, Oct 12, Charles and I caught the 7am ferry to Swan Quarter. As we were driving off the ferry there was a dump truck full of SAND waiting to board the return ferry to Ocracoke. We found that rather strange. Could you possibly shed some light as to why sand would be delivered to Ocracoke?
    Thanks for your posts.
    Sarah in Gastonia NC

    1. Virtually all of the sand on Ocracoke Island is owned by the National Park Service, and it is illegal to get sand from the beach. As you might guess, if everyone who wanted sand (e.g. to fill in their land) could go to the beach and take what they wanted, the park would soon be pocked with huge holes and churned up by heavy equipment.

  4. Anonymous4:02 PM

    Thanks for the update.

    1. You are welcome. Thanks for the question. It is not unusual for folks to think it's very strange that it's difficult to get sand on Ocracoke!