Ghosts of Brunswick
Welcome to North Carolina,
home to sunny beaches, historical landmarks and wayward ghosts.
Ghosts? If the legends have it right, North Carolina is divided into
two worlds; the living world where residents and tourists sun
themselves on the beach, eat, drink and generally go about the
business of living, and the other world - the spirit world, where
the souls of the dead who could not cross over to eternity remain,
locked in limbo and doomed to walk the world forever, frequently
colliding with the still living. According to believers in the
paranormal, North Carolina has more ghosts and hauntings than you
can say boo to, and Brunswick County is no exception. Here are a few
Brunswick County celebrities of the spirit world.
Mt. Misery Road
in Brunswick County
Moans of Misery
If you are ever driving down Mt. Misery Road you might want to
roll up the windows and drive a little bit faster. Aptly named,
during the days of slavery this long stretch of road used to be a
disembarking point for newly minted slaves; the spot where those
fortunate enough to have survived their brutal voyage were forced to
embark on a ninety mile walk to Fayetteville, only to perish along
the way from heat exhaustion. Here countless slaves took their first
agonizing steps in a long line of many more to come.
Many motorists claim to feel
overcome by dread as they drive along Mt. Misery Road. Could it be
the terror felt by those slaves facing the unknown still poisons the
air, long after their bodies have ceased to exist, continuing to
infect others decade after decade later? Others passing through
swear they have heard the sounds of clanking chains and moaning
slaves still marching to their tragic fate, unaware their time of
bondage ended well over a century ago. Perhaps the pain and
suffering endured by some while living is so great that it takes on
a life of its own, that long after the body is gone the agony that
was felt continues to linger and manifests itself as a spirit. If
so, this area that was once the site of unspeakable suffering is
ripe for haunting.
The Helpful Harpist
One of the more benign spirits of Brunswick County is the ghost
of The Brunswick Inn in
Southport, NC, believed to be the spirit of Antonio (Tony)
Caselleta, a young man and avid harpist who drowned in a freak
boating accident on April 23, 1882.
One day, with time on his
hands before an evening dance at the Inn, nineteen year old Tony
decided to take a boating trip around
Bald Head Island. He kissed his wife and child goodbye at the
dock of Wilmington, waved from the deck of the Passport and sailed
straight into North Carolina legend. The weather that day was
gorgeous, the waters pristine, yet inexplicably the boat sank like a
rock. All escaped but the unfortunate Tony. His stone monument can
still be seen today in the
Old Smithville Burying Ground in Southport.
The Brunswick Inn
Today visitors claim to hear
him walking around and playing his beloved harp in the old Brunswick
Inn, owned by Mary Stuart Callari and her family since 1949. Mary
describes the sound of his harp as melodic, if rather metallic, and
notes that it sounds as if it is coming from a great distance. She
also claims when her children were young she would head upstairs to
tuck their covers around them, only to find Tony had beaten her to
it. Her mother, Alice Harrington, also claimed to hear the ghost of
Tony playing his harp. She loved to entertain visitors to the Inn
with tales of Tony’s antics, such as his helpful habit of closing
the windows during storms before she could get to them herself.
Could it be that Tony’s youth
and new family made him reluctant to leave the world of the living,
or was his attachment to his beloved harp so great that it held him
here, to play throughout the decades, oblivious to the changing
world around him and his own death over one hundred years ago?
Whatever the reasons, Tony seems to have taken up permanent lodging
at The Brunswick Inn.
Train Tracks in
The Lingering Light
In the town of Maco, at the Maco Station, a light flickers across
the nearby railway crossing, its basis a mystery that has baffled
both scientists and witnesses for over a hundred years. If its
origins are open to speculation however its existence is not.
Hundreds, if not thousands have witnessed the eerie light, and at
one point a machine gun attachment from Fort Bragg was even encamped
at the site to observe the phenomenon. The mission failed to resolve
the mystery, and the light continued.
The story of the Maco light
dates back to 1867 when a man named Joe Baldwin, a conductor for the
Atlantic Line, noticed his car, the last one on the train, was
slowing down; it had become uncoupled. Joe frantically ran out onto
the rear platform and waved his signal lantern to get the attention
of the engineer of the train behind him, who, oblivious, crashed
into Joe’s car anyway, decapitating him and sending his head flying
into a nearby swamp along the tracks. A witness to the accident
claimed Joe stood fast, waving his lantern right up to the moment of
impact, until it was inexplicably torn from his grasp and hurled to
the ground. It rolled over several times until it came to rest right
side up, on the opposite side of the track from Joe’s head.
Shortly after Joe’s death, the
Maco light began to appear regularly along the train tracks and
since then has been witnessed by thousands, including former
president Grover Cleveland. Observers often note that the light
frequently appears to be very small initially and then grows to the
size of the lantern that Joe Baldwin had been carrying. Could this
ghostly light be the beam from his lantern, still burning after all
these years in a desperate but futile attempt to ward off a tragedy
that happened almost one hundred and fifty years ago?
Whether they are real or the
products of over active imaginations, ghosts and the stories they
engender are a vital part of North Carolina and Brunswick County
legend and American folk lore as a whole. Fact or fiction, they have
added color to our literature and traditions. What would Halloween
be without the tale of the Headless Horseman? So the next time you
are traveling along a long dark stretch of road or touring the
hallways of an ancient Inn, or perhaps waiting for a train in a
rusty railway station, stop and listen for a moment, you might not
be as alone as you think, you might be walking with ghosts.
2007. All Rights Reserved.
Southport, NC Hotel