A state with as much history as North Carolina is bound to have some strange tales that have been passed down from generation to generation. One of the most unusual stories dates back to the days of pirates roaming the coast and witches being burned at the stake.
This particular legend begins in the early 1700s when a woman named Cora moved to a small coastal town in Frisco, N.C., bringing only her baby. The two lived in a small ramshackle shack in a highly wooded area far outside of town. Immediately after her arrival, suspicion began to swirl about the newcomer.
Locals thought it was particularly strange for a woman with an infant to live in such a remote area; others swore misfortune and bad luck always struck after Cora was spotted in town. Some accounts say cows would get sick and dry up if she touched them and in times of famine, when fishing nets were empty, Cora always seemed to have an excessive amount of fresh fish to eat. Another story mentions one young boy becoming so ill he barely escaped death after supposedly making fun of Cora’s baby. As the town tried to find an explanation for the unusual occurrences, whispers quickly began to spread throughout the village about the stranger using dark magic.
Unfortunately for Cora, just as the rumors about her being a witch reached their peak, a ship captained by a Salem, Mass., resident ran aground near Frisco. While waiting to find out what to do with what was left of the vessel and its cargo, Captain Eli Blood and his crew took refuge in the town. Blood, who considered himself a witch hunter after studying the methods the Puritans used during the Salem Witch Trials, caught wind of Cora’s bewitching reputation.
Matters only escalated when the body of a man with 666 carved into his forehead washed ashore on a local beach. Though there was no actual proof Cora was involved in the man’s death, people claimed there were tiny footprints that could only belong to a woman in the sand leading from the corpse to the forest.
Blood demanded that she be caught and put through ‘tests’ that would determine if she was really a witch. Once she was captured, the captain tied up Cora and threw her into water. If she floated, she was surely a witch.
After several other experiments, Capt. Blood was absolutely convinced Cora was indeed a witch and called for her immediate execution. He tied her and the infant to a tree as the townsfolk argued that there should be a proper trial to decide the fate of the two.
As dark threatening clouds rapidly moved in overhead, replacing clear blue skies, Blood hurriedly moved to light the kindling at the trunk of the tree when a blinding bolt of lightning struck the very spot where Cora had been bound.
When the strike’s thick smoke cleared, the witch and her child had mysteriously vanished, leaving nothing but the word “Cora” burnt into the live oak’s trunk.
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