Sometime between 1000 and 500 years ago, Native Americans settled in what is now eastern North Carolina, and began frequenting Ocracoke to fish and gather shellfish in the waters of Pamlico Sound, especially near Springer’s Point. In 1607, the English monarchy ignored the original inhabitants, and laid claim to “Virginia” (originally much of the east coast of North America, including what is now North Carolina) with the establishment of the Jamestown colony. 

In the mid-1660s, King Charles II granted the territory of Carolina, including Ocracoke Island, to eight Lords Proprietors, supporters who had remained loyal to the crown during the English Civil War.

In 1719, the Lords Proprietors, none of whom ever set foot on Ocracoke, granted the island to John Lovick, Secretary of the Colony of North Carolina. Within just a few years, Lovick sold “Ye Island of Ocreecock,” consisting of 2,110 acres, to Richard Sanderson, a North Carolina councilman and justice, who utilized the island to graze a considerable “stock of horses, sheep, cattle and hoggs.” At Sanderson’s death in 1733 ownership of the island passed to another Richard Sanderson (the elder Sanderson’s son or nephew) who sold his holding to William Howard, Sr. in 1759. Howard and his family, who were probably already living on the island with a dozen or so other families, none of whom were originally land owners, was the first owner to make his home on the island, and the last of the colonial owners to own the entire island (or what was considered the entire island in 1759).

William Howard paid £105 (equivalent to about $185, or about $7,000 of buying power in 2022) for the 2,110 acres of Ocracoke Island.

Less than two months after he bought Ocracoke, Howard sold ½ of the island (including the Point, today known as Springer’s Point, a heavily wooded point of land on the western edge of Ocracoke village) to his friend, John Williams.

Springer's Point
Springer’s Point

The Outer Banks (including Ocracoke Island) has always been a dynamic, evolving place. As testimony, Ocracoke Inlet is the only Outer Banks inlet that has been continuously open since Europeans began keeping records. Since the 1580s, storms and hurricanes have routinely opened and closed other inlets, and with every storm the islands of the Outer Banks changed size and shape.

In 1795, Jonathan Price, an early cartographer who surveyed Ocracoke Inlet wrote that “Occacock was heretofore, and still retains the name of, an island. It is now a peninsula; a heap of sand having gradually filled up the space which divided it from the bank. It continues to have its former appearance from the sea; the green trees, that cover it, strikingly distinguishing it from the sandy bank to which it has been joined. Its length is three miles, and its breadth two and one half [about 7.5 square miles, or 4,800 acres].” 

Clearly, Price is using “Occacock” to describe, not the entire island we know today, but a separate, smaller island that includes the present-day village of Ocracoke. As the Outer Banks migrated to the west with rising sea levels, the banks bumped up against this small island, and fused the two, creating what Price referred to as a peninsula attached to the sandy banks. Interestingly, in 1719, “Ye Island of Ocreecock” consisted of only 2,110 acres (just over three square miles). This must have been that separate inside island (including the “Point”), a geological formation distinct from the “sandy banks.” The modern village of Ocracoke comprises about 2,500 acres (just under 4 square miles), while the entire island as we know it today is about 9.6 square miles (over 6,000 acres).

The Point has played a significant role in the history of Ocracoke Island since the early 1700s.  Although many people imagine Ocracoke as originally a traditional fishing village, the reality is much more complex. Trade and commerce brought the first settlers to the island.

In 1715 the North Carolina Colonial Assembly passed an act to settle inlet pilots at Ocracoke. The pilots’ task was to guide ships through Ocracoke Inlet and across the bar in order to bring vessels safely into Pamlico Sound, and across to mainland North Carolina ports, including Bath, Washington, Plymouth, Belhaven, and New Bern. Individuals who knew the waters well were granted licenses or certificates of competency, known as branches. These individuals (there was at least one female pilot, Patsey Caraway) were known as Branch Pilots, and were situated at the Point (originally called Williams’ Point.).

In spite of the act of 1715, there is no record of settlement on the island until the mid-1730s. Presumably, the periodic presence of sea dogs, buccaneers, and pirates, including the notorious Blackbeard, kept law-abiding citizens at bay. Ocracoke, in fact, was one of Blackbeard’s favorite anchorages. In the fall of 1718, he hosted a memorable gathering of buccaneers on the beach, and soon after was killed in a naval battle with the British Royal Navy just offshore of the Point.

With the eventual settlement of pilots at the Point, public land there came to be known as Pilot Town. By the end of the 18th century, much of this public land had eroded away. In 1801 another 6 ½ acres of the Point was set aside to expand Pilot Town. The pilots were permitted to build houses and other structures, but the land was not privately owned. Eventually, storehouses, kitchens, smoke houses, wharves, warehouses, a store, a blacksmith shop, and a windmill, as well as private homes, were constructed on the Point.  

At this time only one public road had been laid out on the island. This sandy path went from the Point to approximately where the Methodist Church is today, and from there continued to Hatteras Inlet. This road was said to have “served the purpose of all the inhabitants” of Ocracoke village.  However, by 1835 the population of Ocracoke had increased to almost 500 people, many of whom were now living on the northeast side of Cockle Creek (today known as Silver Lake Harbor). A new road was laid out, connecting the area of the present-day Methodist Church to the shoreline of Pamlico Sound. This road, the eastern end of which was later dubbed “East Howard Street” (now, just “Howard Street”), became the main thoroughfare through the village. 

Two small tidal streams (the “Big Gut” and the “Little Gut”) flowed from Cockle Creek. They effectively divided the growing village into two sections. “Creekers” lived “around creek”, along the northeast side of the harbor, while “Pointers” lived  “down point,” on the southwest side of the harbor. A friendly rivalry developed, and has persisted even after the two guts were filled in when the Navy dredged the harbor during World War II.

Bridge over the Gut
Bridge over the Gut

By 1840, more than 1,400 sailing vessels were passing through Ocracoke Inlet annually, aided by more than 40 or 50 pilots, most living on the Point. In 1846 a violent hurricane opened both Oregon Inlet and Hatteras Inlet. As it turned out, Hatteras Inlet was now much more navigable than Ocracoke Inlet. Over the next decade or so most of the ships sailing to and from mainland North Carolina opted to use Hatteras Inlet, and piloting became a dying enterprise on Ocracoke. By 1850, the number of pilots working at Ocracoke had declined to 27. In 1860, there were only 13. By 1870 the number was reduced to four, and only one pilot remained in 1880. 

After Hatteras Inlet opened, a few Ocracoke pilots moved to Hatteras, but most young men who remained at Ocracoke shipped out on 2, 3, or 4-masted coastal schooners carrying lumber, shingles, cotton, molasses, rum, and other goods between Nova Scotia, and the West Indies. The census record of 1880 lists 66 mariners based on Ocracoke.  

In 1855, nine years after Hatteras Inlet opened, the Point was sold to Daniel Tolson, who moved into a large house with an observation tower. This house, which may have been built by John Williams or another of the early pilots, was one of the oldest houses on the island, and had been used to look for ships waiting to cross the bar at Ocracoke Inlet. 

House at Springer's Point
House at Springer’s Point

In 1882, three years after Daniel Tolson died, his widow sold the Point and house to E.D. and Clara Springer, of South Creek, NC. Although the Springers enjoyed spending summers on Ocracoke, they never made it their permanent home. The Springers maintained the house as well as they were able, even constructing a new round brick cistern in 1899.

Springers Cistern
Springers Cistern

In 1923 the Springers sold the property, including the house which by then was badly in need of repair, to their son, Wallace Springer. In 1941 Wallace Springer sold the Point to the wealthy and mercurial entrepreneur, Sam Jones. Although Sam embarked on major development projects on Ocracoke in the 1950s (including Berkley Castle, Berkley Manor, the Homeplace, and the Whittlers’ Gathering Place), he never developed Springer’s Point. Sam died in 1977, and was buried on the property alongside his favorite horse, Ikey D.  Daniel Tolson is buried some distance away, surrounded by a tangle of cedars, vines, shrubs, and briars.  

By the mid-1800s, railroads were replacing schooners for transporting goods up and down the east coast. Recognizing that their livelihoods were threatened, many young Ocracoke seafarers moved north looking for work, and many others followed. Several dozen ended up working on dredges and tugboats with the US Army Corps of Engineers in the Philadelphia area. Others who remained on the island enlisted in the United States Life Saving Service, the precursor to the US Coast Guard, which established a station on Ocracoke in 1883. This began a long and meritorious tradition of islanders’ service, especially to mariners shipwrecked along our coast. 

During this time, railroads in eastern North Carolina began partnering with steamship companies to take visitors to the developing tourist destinations in Nags Head. Enterprising businessmen from near Morehead City, North Carolina, recognized Ocracoke’s potential, and built a large Victorian hotel where the old US Coast Guard Station/NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching building stands today. From 1885 until 1900, the Ponder Hotel hosted well-heeled eastern North Carolinians with lavish seafood dinners, parties, and square dances nearly every evening. When the hotel burned down in 1900, elite tourism came to an end. Islanders continued to cater to visitors, but now as guides for hunters and fishermen who stayed in modest rooming houses or in one or two small hotels.  

At about this same time, the New York-based Doxsee Clam Company built a plant on the southwest side of the Ditch (the opening that connects Pamlico Sound to Silver Lake harbor). For several years, island men harvested clams while many of the island women worked opening the clams and processing them. After the Doxsee Clam Company depleted most of the clams in Pamlico Sound and moved to Florida, islanders who remained made their livings as life-savers, hunting and fishing guides, or by selling a few fish or home-grown vegetables to neighbors. 

In 1938, a community electric generator was installed in the building that today houses Kitty Hawk Kites. Ocracokers could now illuminate their homes with incandescent lights and purchase newfangled electric gadgets like washing machines and vacuum cleaners . The generating plant served also as the island’s ice plant. Ice meant fishermen could now easily preserve fish long enough to transport them to markets on the mainland. By replacing masts and sails in their skiffs with engines from old Model T’s it meant they could also transport their fish to markets on the mainland more quickly, more safely, and more conveniently.  

Electricity was just the beginning of major change on the island. During WWII, the Navy built a 600-personnel Base along the shore of the newly dredged harbor. While many island men found wives while working up north, the new pool of Navy and Coast Guard sailors provided husbands for a number of young island ladies left behind. Ocracoke’s concentrated gene pool was much enriched.

Ferries and hard-surface roads followed in the 1950s, along with the creation of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Increased visitation followed a 1969 issue of “National Geographic” magazine that featured an article about Ocracoke with beautiful color photographs. A municipal water system was established in the 1970s. By the latter part of the 20th century, new hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops were opening every year. Modern tourism was off and running, and the population of the island steadily increased.  

At the turn of the 21st century, a number of far-sighted individuals, including Camilla Herlevich, Executive Director and Founder of the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust, recognized the cultural, historical, and environmental significance of Springer’s Point. No one had lived on the Point for more than half a century, and stately old live oaks, red cedars, yaupons, birds and other wildlife were flourishing there in one of the last remaining areas in Ocracoke village untouched by modern development.  

In 2002, the North Carolina Coast Land Trust, with help from individuals and organizations, purchased the first 31 acres of Springer’s Point. Another 91 acres was added in 2006, the year Springer’s Point Nature Preserve was officially opened to the public. Today, the Preserve includes more than 130 acres of maritime forest, tidal red cedar forest, salt marsh, wet grasslands and a sound-front beach. The only remaining artifact from the Point’s human inhabitants is the brick cistern built by E. D. Springer in 1899. Just offshore is Teach’s Hole, where the pirate Blackbeard was killed in November, 1718.  

Residents and visitors alike, all value the pristine natural beauty of the forest, the tranquil waters gently lapping at the beach, and the rich cultural significance of Springer’s Point.


The Ghosts of Springer’s Point
© Philip Howard, 2003

With 42 acres of maritime forest, Springer’s Point remains one of the last undeveloped treasures in Ocracoke village.  Although that will likely change somewhat with the construction of homesites on two large lots in the southwest corner of this tract, and the potential development of eight additional acres on the edge of existing development, the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust has succeeded in purchasing the core 31 acres of this remarkable area.

(Click here to learn how you can make a donation to help preserve Springer’s Point.)

Springer’s Point

The preservation of a substantial portion of Springer’s Point highlights the natural and historic significance of this area of Ocracoke village.  For some years, in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the island was used chiefly by mainland colonists for raising cattle, sheep, and other livestock. In addition, a navigable, deep water channel passes close to the southwest shoreline, near Springer’s Point.

It was in this area that some of the first permanent residents built modest homes.  As early as 1715 the colonial assembly recognized the need for establishing pilots on Ocracoke Island.  The pilots were to be responsible for seeing that vessels bound for the mainland were guided through the narrow channels between the numerous shoals.  The assembly therefore passed an act for “settling and maintaining Pilots at.….Ocacock Inlett.”  The settlement was dubbed “Pilot Town” but there is no evidence that pilots actually settled there until sometime in the 1730’s.

Although much of the low-lying shoreline has succumbed to significant erosion over the years, today Springer’s Point is thickly covered with ancient, gnarled live oak trees, English Ivy, and numerous other trees and plants indigenous to Ocracoke and the Outer Banks.  Standing underneath the canopy of branches and year-round foliage, especially at daybreak or dusk, leaves one with a sense of quiet awe and timeless wonder.

Live Oaks at Springer’s Point

Following one of the narrow paths through a tunnel of thick growth leads onto a narrow, sandy beach where gentle waves from Pamlico Sound lap against the seaweed-strewn shoreline.  The sky is bright here, as one looks out towards the distant horizon. Just under the breaking waves lie numerous pieces of broken shell.

Tunnel Through the Woods at Springer’s

Sometimes a stroller is rewarded by spying a piece of broken crockery, or other man-made artifact. I once retrieved a small, primitive clay pipe bowl from the water along Springer’s Point.  Others have reported finding arrowheads left behind by Ocracoke’s earliest adventurers.  No evidence exists to indicate that Native Americans ever established a permanent settlement on Ocracoke Island.  However, they must have frequented the island, especially the area around Springer’s Point, gathering clams, oysters, crabs and fish, all of which are abundant in the nearby waters

Old Stone Pipe Bowl

Just offshore, hardly more than a clamshell’s throw away, is “Teach’s Hole.”  This channel connects the Atlantic Ocean and Ocracoke Inlet with the deeper waters of Pamlico Sound.  Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard the Pirate, frequented these waters during his brief career.  This was, in fact, Blackbeard’s favorite anchorage.  From one of the higher dunes, or from one of the trees on shore, it would have been possible to spy any ships approaching Ocracoke Inlet.

In October of 1718, in the vicinity of Springer’s Point, Captain Blackbeard hosted one of the largest gatherings of pirates ever to be held.  Teach, along with pirate captains Israel Hands, Charles Vane, Robert Deal, and John Rackham, partied for “some days,” along with their motley crews.  Rum flowed freely and hogs and cows were butchered and barbecued on the open beach.

It was also at Teach’s Hole channel, only one month later, on November 22, 1718, that Blackbeard met his fate in a fierce battle with Lt. Robert Maynard of the Royal Navy. The decks were running with blood and the air was thick with gunpowder smoke. Blackbeard, himself, was wounded twenty-five times.  Towards the end of the battle, Blackbeard nearly dispatched his adversary.  A mighty blow from Teach’s cutlass severed Maynard’s sword at the hilt.  As Maynard stepped back to regain some advantage, Blackbeard moved in for the kill.  At that fateful moment, one of Maynard’s sailors, a Scotsman, approached the villain from behind and, with a mighty slice of his sword, severed the buccaneer’s fearsome head from his powerful body.

Blackbeard’s disembodied head was tied to the bowsprit of Maynard’s sloop.  The gruesome trophy was carried to Williamsburg, Virginia, where it was stuck on a pole at the entrance to the harbor, a grim warning to Teach’s “Brethren of the Coast.”  Before departing from Pamlico Sound, however, Maynard and his men tossed Blackbeard’s body over the side of his boat.  Legend has it that Teach swam around the vessel seven times as an eerie reminder that he was bigger than life itself.

Even today, the spirit of Edward Teach lives on in the consciousness of those brave enough to visit the area near his watery grave, especially after dark. It is not uncommon for visitors to Springer’s Point to report seeing unusual lights on the water, or among the trees and bushes nearby.  Rustling of the tree limbs and other odd movements and unidentified sounds often seem to emanate from within the otherwise protected confines of Springer’s Point.  More than one person has reported feeling the presence of the ghost of Blackbeard, searching in vain for his head.

View of Teach’s Hole

The existence of a graveyard at Springer’s Point only adds to the uneasiness people feel there.  Although this area was quite busy during the early history of Ocracoke Island, today it holds mainly memories.  Other graves are likely located in the area, but only one stone marker remains from the early period, that of Daniel Tolson who died in 1879.  Located on a narrow ridge, the gravesite is extremely difficult to find.  After trudging through wet, marshy lowland and then pushing through thorns, briars and thick underbrush one is finally rewarded with the sight of a single, prominent marble headstone on the edge of a small grassy clearing.

Grave Marker for Daniel Tolson (1816-1879)

William Howard, Sr. purchased Ocracoke on July 30, 1759.  He was the last person to own the entire island, and the first of the colonial owners to make his residence there.  Less than two months later, on September 26, 1759, William Howard sold one half of the island to his friend, John Williams.

John Williams’ portion of Ocracoke included what is now known as Springer’s Point.  In June of 1787 John Williams sold a sizeable section of his holdings, including Springer’s Point, to his son, William Williams.  William Williams (born 1745/50) died in testate in 1799.  At the time of his death he owned land extending from the mouth of Cockle Creek (now known as the “Ditch”), around the western edge of the Creek (now known as Silver Lake), and from there, south, all the way to the ocean and back around the Sound shore to the Ditch.

During the period of Ocracoke’s colonial history the north shore of Ocracoke Inlet was much closer to the area referred to as the First Grass.  It was only later, after William Williams purchased the land from his father, that the South Point built out in the vicinity of the present-day inlet.

In 1801 William Williams’ holdings were divided among his heirs by court-appointees.  Six plats were designated, one each going to the following:

  • Comfort Williams, daughter (and her husband, George Dixon from Portsmouth Island)
  • Elizabeth Williams, daughter
  • William Williams, son
  • Delancy Williams, minor daughter
  • Thomas Wahab, guardian to Delancy Williams (Thomas Wahab was William Williams’ first cousin, the son of Job Wahab and Jane Williams, William Williams’ sister.)
  • Six and one half acres of Comfort Williams’ portion was conveyed for the use of the public pilots.  This was set aside to compensate for the loss of other land due to erosion..

As mentioned, many of the earliest permanent settlements in Ocracoke Village were situated there, on the southwest side of Cockle Creek (Silver Lake).  According to a legal petition and map from 1835 only one public road had by then been laid out on Ocracoke Island. It began at the Sound (near Springer’s Point), went by the lighthouse (built in 1823), then continued past where the present-day Methodist church and school are situated.  From there it passed the original Methodist Church (which was established in 1828, and was located near the present day firehouse), all the way north to Hatteras Inlet. The petition averred that this one road, from its establishment until 1835, had “served the purpose of all the inhabitants” of the village of Ocracoke.

The map below shows the approximate location of Ocracoke’s first road (in red).  Springer’s Point is shown on the left.  (The two present-day churches and the US Coast Guard Station are indicated for reference.)  The blue line shows the new road that was laid out in 1835.  This eventually was called the Main Road and included present-day Howard Street and that portion of Highway 12 that runs past the Community Store to the Cedar Island/Swan Quarter ferry landing.


According to the tax lists from 1802, 1805, 1806, and 1814, we know that William Howard, grandson of William Howard, Sr., and son of George Howard, owned 28 acres, 78 acres, 103 acres, and 183 acres, respectively.

William and Agnes Howard

It was not until after 1814, however, that he acquired any land in the area now referred to as Springer’s Point. On May 25, 1820 William Howard purchased a house on Ocracoke, situated in a part of the village known then simply as the “Point.”  He purchased this two-story dwelling house, along with a storehouse, from a Mary Cabarrus who acquired the buildings from her uncle, Augustus Cabarrus, one of the early pilots. These individuals owned only the structures, not the land, as this six and one half acres was an expansion of Pilot Town and was set aside for public use.

The Old House with Tower

Another deed from July 23, 1820 indicates that William Howard purchased one half of an additional store house and lot adjoining the public lands.

By 1832 William Howard was ready to sell part of his real estate to his son-in-law, Elisha Chase.  According to a deed dated May 13, 1832, William Howard sold to Elisha one half of an additional piece of land which he had purchased from Comfort Dixon on January 15, 1831.  Although the description of this parcel of land is somewhat unclear, it  includes the area of large live oak trees commonly known today as Springer’s Point. William Howard mentions several buildings on his property (including “two old kitchens,” a “smokehouse,” a “new kitchen” an “old stone house,” a “wharf,” a “new wharehouse,” a “store,” two other “houses,” a “blacksmith shop,” and even a “windmill,” as well as his own home, which he describes as “two dwellings attached together” ).  All of these, he says, “are now, and have long been the property of the said William Howard.”  Most of these structures, however, were built on the six and one half acres of Pilot Town, which was not private property.

Outer Banks Windmill Similar to the One at Springer’s Point

William Howard’s dwelling place was the two-story house purchased from Mary Cabarrus in 1820.  This house, as previously mentioned, was actually two houses joined together.  Constructed sometime before 1800, part of it may actually have been built John Williams or his immediate heirs.  Legend suggests that this building may have originally belonged to Edward Teach himself, although this is highly unlikely. The pirate captain probably had nothing more than a temporary campsite on Ocracoke Island.

For many years this large tract of land was called Williams’ Point, and later, Howard’s Point.  At William Howard’s death on August 30, 1851, his son, William Hatton Howard, inherited a sizeable portion of the property, including the “Point.”  Fours year later, in 1855, he sold his inheritance to Daniel Tolson, and moved to Florida where he died after being thrown from a runaway horse. The Howard family had owned the Point for only twenty-four years (1831-1855).

Daniel Tolson made his home on the Point.  He was married twice, first to Cynthia Williams, Thomas Wahab’s granddaughter, then to Sidney Ross (widow of Abner Bennett Howard, Sr.).

A prominent feature of the house at the Point was a distinctive observation tower that rose above the tops of the trees.  This tower was a later addition, possibly built by Daniel Tolson, and from there the occupants of the house had a commanding view of the Atlantic Ocean and Pamlico Sound.  Any ships approaching Ocracoke Island would have been easily spotted by a lookout in this tower. If pirates had ever inhabited this dwelling their spirits would have welcomed the addition of the tower.

After Daniel Tolson’s death, Sidney Ross inherited the property and then married John Small McWilliams.  Before her death in 1883 from complications of childbirth, Sidney McWilliams sold her land and buildings to E. D. and Clara Springer, from South Creek, North Carolina. Although the Springers enjoyed spending time on Ocracoke they never made this their permanent home.
Old House with Tower

My father, Lawton Howard, was born in 1911.  As a young boy he remembers his parents taking him down to Springer’s Point to visit “old man Springer.”   In 1923 the elder Springers sold their property to their son, Wallace.  He was the last person to live in the house, but only for a short while longer.

Wallace, who never married, continued to stay on Ocracoke for some years.  Instead of remaining in the old house, he eventually moved in with Mr. Jamie Styron and other island friends. Wallace Springer died March 13, 1963.  My father left the island in 1927, but he remembers exploring the abandoned house with playmates, and hearing strange noises inside.

In 1941 Sam Jones purchased Springer’s Point.  By then little was left standing that was not badly in need of repair.  Ocracokers remember the dilapidated old house and a smaller structure (a smokehouse or jail) with barred windows, as well as a long-abandoned stable.

When I was a small boy, in the very early 1950’s, the house was nothing more than collapsed walls and piles of old lumber. Sam Jones contracted with Mr. Walter O’Neal to dismantle the old dwelling.  Mr. Walter used some of the lumber when building “Miss Dicey’s” house on Howard Street.  Other timbers were taken by Sam Jones for use as sills in “Berkley Castle” and a small house for Eleanor Gaskins. People familiar with the “Castle” claim that five ghosts — two women and three men — wander the halls and rooms there. Could they be the spirits of the Williamses, or the Howards, or the Tolsons, or even some of the pirate crews?

Sam Jones died September 27, 1977, and is buried at Springer’s Point, next to his favorite horse, Ikey D.

Sam Jones’ Grave

No remnant of any of the structures remains, with the exception of the base of an old brick cistern, now overgrown with ivy.  Few people visit this area of the village anymore.  Those who do often report strange phenomena there.

Old Cistern at Springer’s Point

Roy Parsons worked for Sam Jones for many years.  For a while after Sam’s death, Roy would visit his grave periodically to pay his respects.  Today, gesturing with his thumb and forefinger as if measuring a think stack of banknotes, he opines, “If someone offered me a pile of one hundred dollar bills this thick to go down there to Springer’s of an evening after dark, I’d tell him to keep his money.”

Roy remembers fishing from his skiff near Teach’s Hole one evening.  It was near sunset and the western sky was on fire.  “It was then that I noticed five men standing out in the water.  I wondered what they were up to.  They each had broom handles, buckets, and lanterns.  They seemed to be gigging for flounder, but they were acting mighty peculiar.  Then, without warning, they walked up onto the shore and headed straight through the woods towards the grave.  Í don’t know who they were, or what they were up to, but I didn’t want to stick around and find out,” Roy says.  “For all I know, they could have been ghosts!”

On another occasion Roy was visiting Sam’s grave just before daybreak.  He had run his skiff up onto the shore, and walked through the underbrush into the protective enclosure that is Springer’s Point. The sun was just beginning to lighten up the sky out on the water; under the canopy of trees Roy could barely see to find the path.  No sooner had his eyes adjusted when he noticed a figure standing near the grave site “He had on a white shirt,” Roy offers.  Then Roy runs his open palms along the sides of his head; his eyes open wide.  “His hair was all slicked back,” he adds.  “The oddest thing about him,” Roy continues, “is that there weren’t nothin’ to him below the waist!  I could see him fine from the waist up, but that was all.  I high-tailed it out of there, I did.”

Roy ran back to his skiff as fast as he could, tripping over roots and scraping his arms and legs against the thick undergrowth.  ”I jumped right into my skiff,” Roy explains.  “I never even tried to pull that string to start the motor.  There weren’t enough time.  I just pushed off with my oar.”  Once out into the safety of the channel Roy ventured a look back.  He was just in time to see the figure moving out onto the water.  “He just disappeared.  Went right on down like smoke,” Roy relates, obviously still spooked by his encounter.

Once more Roy ventured down to Springer’s.  This time it was dusk again.  He was approaching the abandoned cistern, not far from Sam Jones’ grave.  Like  before, Roy noticed another figure standing by the graveyard.  “It was a tall man,” Roy explains.  “He was wearing a black straw hat, a white shirt, a necktie, and sunglasses.  I turned around and started to walk back out.”  Roy felt a presence behind him, and he turned back to look.  The figure was walking toward him, not saying anything.  Roy turned around and began to walk faster.  The figure matched Roy’s pace.  “By that time I was running,” says Roy.  “But he was like a vapor.  I turned around again and he just faded out.  I never saw him again.”

Roy shakes his head from side to side, raises his eyebrows and looks me straight in the eye.  “I’m telling you,” he says, “there’s a difference between imagining something in your head and seeing it with your own eyes.  I saw these things I’m telling you about just as surely as I see you right now.”  Roy insists that he will never go back down to Springer’s Point again, especially after dark.  “And,” he continues, “you’d be wise to take my advice and stay away from there yourself.”

Ancient Live Oak at Springers

Special thanks to Ellen Marie Cloud; Earl O’Neal, Jr.; Mildred and John O’Neal; Roy Parsons; Ward Garrish; Blanche Howard Jolliff; Chester Lynn; and Julie Howard for sharing their research and recollections.

Donate Now to Help Preserve Springer’s Point!
As noted above, the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust  is purchasing 31 acres of Springer’s Point.  The area most beloved by residents and visitors, including most of the ancient live oak trees, the old brick cistern, two small graveyards, and much of the shoreline will now be protected from development.

Additional funds are needed to help pay for the purchase, to fulfill a financial obligation to Hyde County, and to manage the site for future educational and environmental purposes.

For more information about their work, you can read the Coastal Land Trust’s Campaign to protect Springer’s Point.

On-line donations can be made through “Network for Good.” For more information visit the NC Coastal Lant Trust site at

Once on their site click on the “Join Us” link and then the “Donate Now Through Network for Good” button.  You can designate your donation specifically for Springer’s Point.

Donations can also be mailed to  North Carolina Coastal Land Trust
3806-B Park Ave
Wilmington, NC