Witch Folklore from Edgecombe County (NC)


Witches Around Henrietta Creek

In the latter part of the 19th Century, in the days following the Civil War, it was thought by many in Edgecombe County that witches populated the area known as Henrietta Creek. The creek was a small tributary of the Tar River. It was low-lying and boggy, and heavily wooded on either side.

The Enchanted Bird and the Silver Bullet

One quiet day, a hunter found himself in the area as the sun began to set. He came to a tree that the bark had been stripped from, as if struck by lightning, and he decided to rest there a while.

As he sat there, he heard a “solemn knock”. He heard the knock a few more times before he decided to investigate what could be causing the noise. When he looked up, he saw a woodpecker knocking on the tree. Since he was there to hunt, and since he had his gun ready, he decided to shoot the bird.

He aimed and fired, but the bird did not fall. Thinking his aim was off, he once more took aim and fired. Again, not only did the bird not fall, but continued his task, pecking away at the tree.

The hunter continued reloading and shooting, but couldn’t kill the bird or scare it away. He searched his mind as to what could cause this, and finally he recalled the area around the creek was known for witches. Knowing that witches had the ability to change to any shape, he figured the bird was a witch.

The hunter was out of shot, but in his pocket he found a silver dime. He cut the dime into small pieces and loaded them into the gun. He aimed once more and fired. The bird stopped pecking, gave a loud shriek, and finally fell to the ground, dead.

So, as the folklore goes, if you’re heading out to Henrietta Creek, make sure you take your silver bullets.

This story was told by J.K. Turner, Edgecombe County, 1915, and reprinted in the Frank C. Brown Collection of NC Folklore.