The Tar River flows into the Pamlico Sound after crossing much of the northeast part of North Carolina. It meanders through the fields and small towns on its way to the Sound and was once a major shipping route for tar-laden barges. In addition, as it goes with just about everything in the area, the Tar River is said to be haunted…
As story goes, during the Revolutionary War, a native of England named Dave Warner came to the area and opened a mill on the Tar River. Sympathetic to the cause of the new nation, Dave used his grain to help the young army. He was a huge man with jet black hair and a long beard, his arms and legs were bulging with the muscles he built lifting the massive bags of flour. One day in August of 1781 a townsman rode to the mill with a warning for Dave: the British were near and they knew he to be a rebel. So, the man told him to close his mill and hide. Dave Warner laugh and refused saying that he’d rather stay and wring a British neck or two. Nothing to do, and when the British rode up and busted into the mill, they found both the miller and the messenger trying to save every ounce of grain they could. The red coats attacked Dave, and while he was a mighty man he could not fight off the five men who pinned him to the floor.
In the most popular version of the story tell by locals, It is said that the soldiers shot him on the banks of the Tar River and then forced him into the water near the now disappeared port village of Old Sparta. As the water turned red with his blood, Dave swore to the soldiers that he would have his revenge, and that they would each be visited by a Banshee that would foretell their deaths.
True to the patriot’s word all three of the British soldiers were soon visited by a horrific female apparition not long after that fateful night on the banks of the river. Apparently the soldiers were awakened by the sorrowful wailing of the Banshee who then told them that they would all die in battle within a fortnight. And in fact, not long after, the soldiers were all shot and killed in a skirmish with North Carolina militiamen near the town of New Bern.
Of the various folklore’s creatures that inhabit this world, one of the most mysterious is that of the banshee. Also known as the messenger of death, The ominous warning from the creature “As I am, so shall you be”, is known for its wailing and shrieking. While its origins are mostly Irish, and most banshees are reported in Ireland and Scotland, these creatures have been reported in several countries including the US, like Tar river’s Banshee herself, who haunts an area outside the city of Tarboro, in Edgecombe County.
However, legend has it that the Banshee did not disappear after the deaths of the British soldiers and, to this day, anyone unlucky enough to wade into the water where the patriot died over two hundred years ago, expecially in August, will be visited by the creature who will wail her sorrowful moan into the night and foretell their deaths.
Legends apart, It seems that impressionable visitors hear and see this wailing spirit. So, If you must go to the Tar river, don’t go in August, or if you must, don’t go on a night when the moon is black and the river is like ink and the mist is so thick you can cut it with a sword for you may see the banshee, hear her wail (and face certain death, probably of fright)….