: “The Grey Man Ghost” 6

Chapter 2: The Conquistador Ghost 8

Chapter 3: “The “SAM” Ghost” 10

Chapter 4: The Dunbar-Davis Ghost 12

Chapter 5: The Apricot Creek Ghosts 14

Chapter 6: The Indian Ghosts 16

Chapter 7: The Mt. Misery Road Ghosts 18

Chapter 8: The Tony Caselleta Ghost 20

Chapter 9: The Seneca Guns Mystery 22


assembled recollections, myths and legends of the

Ocean Isle Beach area to give a unique perspective of

our place in American folklore.

The Ghosts in the following pages have especially

earned our fascination, fear, sympathy, and respect.


Table Of Contents

An Introduction 2

Table Of Contents 3

Chapter 1

Bald Head Island Gazette, I have

web page, and the

, The Brunswick Beacon, Ghosts of America


The Star


, The News and Observer, The Southport

In this collection of stories reported by


“ Phantoms, Ghosts, Spectres, and

Unsolved Mysteries await...”

G h o s t s

of the

C a r o l i n a C o a s t

Ocean Isle Beach Area Legends


W i l b u r n “W ill” S m i t h


An Introduction to:

“Ghosts of the Carolina Coast”

The Ocean Isle Beach area has had a rich history

of Spanish conquistadors, ante-bellum plantations,

Indian wars, pirates, shipwrecks, slave ships, civil

war battles, smugglers, speakeasies, man-made

calamities and natural disasters.

This coastal region is also home to a rich diversity

of mysteries, myths, phantoms, specters, and

apparitions that span our distant past to our current

headlines. Each of these paranormal events create a

tapestry of stories and legends that reach into our

imagination, touching on our greatest fears,

confirming our strongest beliefs, demonstrating the

depth of honor and duty, and yet confounding our


The Gray Man has long been famous as a specter at

Pawley's Island, South Carolina warning residents of

approaching storms, but the Gray Man has also been

seen at Ocean Isle Beach and as far north as Oak


It is said that the Gray Man walks along the beaches

right before a terrible storm or great tragedy. It is

said that those who see him know that they should

leave at once or face disaster.


It is also reported that ,amazingly, the Gray Man is a

supernatural warning sign that when heeded offers

safety and salvation.

A few days after the tragic October 29, 2007 fire at

Ocean Isle Beach, a local lady named Lisa reported

that she saw the Gray Man a few days after the fire

in the early morning cross Scotland Street in front of

the destroyed house.

No one is quite sure who or what the Gray Man is,

but all indications are that he means good. Quite a

few people report to have seen the Gray Man along

the southeastern North Carolina coast.

“The Grey Man Ghost


Chapter 1:

Please visit:


In the earliest days of our young nation, the

mysterious booms that the great American author

James Fennimore Cooper termed the “Seneca Guns”

have plagued us.

Early white settlers were told by the native

Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) that the booms were the

sound of the Great Spirit continuing his work of

shaping the earth. Yet others have told that the

sounds are the echoes of thunder called down by

Indian ancestors as a warning to the living. Still

others say they are the ghosts of native Indians

making the noise of naval cannon fire like that which

drove them from their lands to drive us away from

sacred land.

Whatever the source, since the 1850’s mysterious

booms have left the upstate lakes of New York and

now regularly rattle coastal areas on and near Ocean

Isle Beach. For 150 years, researchers have been

unable to agree on their source as residents of


Brunswick County have become accustomed to their


Veteran sailors of World War II say that it sounds

exactly like the noise from the firing of naval

cannon. Scientific explanations range from UFOs, to

supersonic aircraft, to earthquakes, to ocean

methane, to continental shelf slippage, and yet none

can explain why there has never been a recorded

occurrence on a Sunday.

Also interesting is that the Seneca Guns started

about the same time Brunswick County got it first

permanent towns. Our coastal towns are almost all

built on sacred Indian burial grounds. Science may

yet find an answer or perhaps they really are the

ghostly warnings from the long dead Cape Fear

Indians reminding the living to appreciate what they

have now before it is all gone.

No matter the source of the mysterious sounds,

their spiritual connections and ghostly warnings have

boomed their way into our local Ocean Isle Beach


Unpublished work © 2008 Wilburn Smith

Fred R. David and Vern J. Bender, co-authors of “The

History of Ocean Isle Beach”, would like to express their

appreciation and gratitude to Wilburn “Will” Smith for

allowing us to include these stories in our book, and to make

them available to you, our readers.

Please visit:

The Seneca Guns Mystery


Chapter 9:

Some spirits are mischievous, some are benign

and some are entertaining. One of the more

thoughtful and entertaining spirits of this area

resides at the Brunswick Inn in Southport.

The resident spirit of Southport is Antonio (Tony)


In the 1880’s, Tony was an accomplished harpist

and musician who regularly played at locations

around Southport and especially at the Brunswick

Inn. Tony was nineteen, talented and well liked with

a young wife and children.


On a clear day in April 1882, Tony decided to

take a boating trip around Bald Head Island. Even in

calm seas, his ship, The Passport, sank and he


Since that day however, Tony has made the

Brunswick Inn his home, helping with household

chores, tucking in children, closing windows before

storms and amusing the residents with music from

his harp.

Visitors so often claim to hear Tony walking

around and playing his beloved harp that his antics

are now part of the lore of Southport, making the

Brunswick Inn a true tourist attraction.

Tony Caselleta is a bona fide North Carolina

legend. What holds Tony’s spirit to this earthly

plane? Was Tony’s attachment to his beloved harp so

great that it holds him here or does he play it

throughout time hoping the melodic tones might

touch the souls of his young wife and children,

reassuring them of his presence?

Whatever his reasons, Tony has made a home at

the Brunswick Inn and still entertains an audience.

Please visit:

The Tony Caselleta Ghost


Chapter 8:

Some places retain a memory of the events of the

past, forever marking a tragic point in time and

staining the land with grief and sorrow. Sometimes a

place can become a living memory of past injustices

and human suffering that will cry out to the living.

If you are ever driving through Leland down Mt.

Misery Road, you might want to roll up the windows

and drive a little bit faster because if you listen

closely, the spirits of Leland may call to your very



In the 1700’s and 1800’s, slave ships would dock

along the Cape Fear River and the unwillingly cargo

would be marched up Mt. Misery Road 90 miles to

Fayetteville which was a major slave trade center.

In a time when man’s inhumanity to man stained

the American psyche, many of those marched into

slavery died of heat exhaustion on a lonely stretch of

road in an unfamiliar land far from home. To this

day, many motorists passing through Leland swear

they have heard the sounds of clanking chains and

moaning slaves still marching to their tragic fate,

unaware of the passage of time, and doomed to

repeat their march night after night.

Do these poor souls continue to walk the back

roads of our area to remind us of our dark past or to

warn us of a dark future?

Please visit:

The Mt. Misery Road Ghosts


Chapter 7:

Indians inhabited the Ocean Isle Beach area for

hundreds of years before the first European settlers

arrived here. Nearly every town in Brunswick County

has a report of an apparition of an Indian, sometimes

young and sometimes old, but always trying to


In Ash the ghost of a youthful Indian warrior can

be seen often in Waccamaw Township District Park.

In Calabash, the ghost of a young-looking Indian


warrior materialized outside the entrance to the

Park attempting to articulate something. In Bolivia,

the spirit of an aged Indian chief emerged gazing at

folks in a mobile home through a peephole. In Oak

Island, the ghost of an elderly Indian chief has been

seen hurling chunks of concrete at Caswell Beach

saying something unintelligible.

What holds these spirits to the land, what lessons

are they so desperate to pass to the living, and what

are they still searching for?

Little is known for sure, but what is historically

known is that in 1521 the Spanish captured over 100

Indians from the Ocean Isle Beach area including one

they taught to be an interpreter and gave him the

name Francisco de Chicora. By 1526 Francisco De

Chicora had convinced the Spanish that the Carolina

Coast was rich in gold and easy to colonize. A few

months later the Spanish gave up entirely on North

Carolina, even abandoning their attempted

settlement in the mountains all the while De Chicora

managed to escape with all the slaves of the


Perhaps it is wishful thinking, but I tend to

believe that the Indian spirits on and near Ocean Isle

Beach may be apparitions of Francisco De Chicora’s

band Indians who managed to outsmart the Spanish


Please visit:

The Indian Ghosts

During the 1920’s, Ocean Isle Beach had a

reputation as the place to go for a good time. Ocean

Isle was connected to the mainland prior to 1934. In

those days, there was road where the bridge is

today; the road ran along the shore of Apricot Creek.

Also on Apricot Creek was a speakeasy or honky tonk

that entertained visitors from as far away as


In the 1920’s, Apricot Creek was a wandering

tidal creek that ran from Ocean Isle Beach to Sunset

Beach and ended at Bird Island. Apricot Creek and

the tidal area off of Ocean Isle Beach was also known

for liquor smuggling and the road running past Ocean

Isle Beach from Georgetown to Wilmington was

considered one of the most dangerous in the United


Multiple apparitions have been seen along Apricot

Creek but four recurring phantoms have been seen

apparently reliving a tragic set of events. The first is

the spirit of a pregnant lady who has been observed

very late at night attempting to conceal a cadaver.


The second is a female without a head. The third is

a man with a sizeable hole through his torso at the

stroke of midnight attempting to hide a dead body.

The fourth is a luminous human form regularly seen

before dawn crawling out of Apricot Creek covered

in mud.

What is the story that these apparitions are

reliving? Are these phantoms the ghostly images of

tragic lovers reenacting a triangle gone horribly

wrong? Whatever the events they are doomed to

relive, they have imprinted their tragic story on the

very banks of the Apricot Creek and now wind

through our imaginations. The mystery of these poor

doomed souls places them in the mist of legend of

Ocean Isle Beach.


Chapter 6:

The Apricot Creek Ghosts


Chapter 5:

Often the living must make accommodations for past


For almost 100 years, the Oak Island Life-saving

Station served as a quiet sentinel guarding the waters off

of Oak Island, N.C. The keepers of this station served to

protect ships, crews, fisherman, and seaman during two

world wars and countless hurricanes and storms.

One of the bravest and most famous keepers of the

Oak Island station was Dunbar Davis. In 1893, the

infamous South Seas Hurricane struck the North Carolina

Coast and Dunbar and his crew rescued the crews of four


ships at sea in a Category 3 storm, a herculean feat

unmatched to this day.

After honorable and heroic service, keeper Davis died

in 1923. However he has seen fit to resume his duties.

When the Oak Island Life-Saving station was bought

and renovated, the new owners found that Dunbar Davis

had resumed his post. The current owners have restored

the station and with a few exceptions, they have found

accommodating this dutiful spirit rather easy. In fact it is

said that guests who stay in his bedroom go unharmed

but will often find the door opening all night long no

matter how many times they close it.

For duty, perseverance and not leaving his post

regardless of his personal circumstances, keeper Dunbar

Davis earns a place in history as a ghost near Ocean Isle


Please visit:

The Dunbar-Davis Ghost


Chapter 4:

In the 1970’s, Miller Pope built the Winds Beach

Resort. This resort has grown over the years and with

each addition it has become more comfortable,

accommodating and enjoyable to families of tourist for

over three decades.

The Winds also has the distinction of being a

preferred resort for the supernatural as well.

According to many reports, in one of the guest

cottages one street back from the beach a man named

Sam died of a heart attack while on vacation at the

Winds. Apparently Sam was satisfied with his

accommodations because since that time employees and

guests have reportedly noticed strange happenings in the


cottage, including cold spots as well as the shades

opening on their own. In a few rare instances people

have reported an actual manifestation of Sam.

Is Sam simply a lost soul trying to remain in the one

place he found happiness?

Whatever the reason, Sam is content to remain and

his ethereal imprint is now a permanent fixture in the

folklore of Ocean Isle Beach.

Please visit:

“The “SAM” Ghost”


Chapter 3:

Please visit:


The earliest European explorers landed on or

near Ocean Isle Beach in the 1520’s. In 1526, the

Spanish attempted to settle present day Brunswick

County. In the summer of 1526, Lucas Vásquez de

Ayllón led a group of 500 Spanish settlers to the

mouth of the Cape Fear River. As their provisions

ran out, these would be conquerors were forced to

move south and steal food from the natives.

By October of that year, only 150 of the original

500 survived, forcing the Spanish to give up and

evacuate to Santo Domingo. Local historians believe

that the Spanish foraged the Ocean Isle Beach area

and perhaps as far south as the Little River in their

attempt to find food and shelter. The wanderings of

these first settlers may help explain an odd sighting

of an observer in Ash, North Carolina (9 miles from


OIB) of a creepy ghost of a conquistador that can

regularly be distinguished in the middle of Bay

Branch trying to capture something to eat, as well as

the strangely dressed European warrior seen hunting

in the early morning fog at Sunset beach.

Did the ragged remnants of a past group of

starving settlers become forever etched into the

ethereal fabric of the OIB area? Whatever the ghostly

source, perhaps it demonstrates that while time and

starvation may have driven the Spanish from our

shores, some faint echo of the poor souls that tried

to become our first settlers still resonates in the

winds of our coastal plains

The Conquistador Ghost


Chapter 2:

Please visit: