American History & Hauntings


The Ghosts of Smithfield
Smithfield, North Carolina

The ghosts which haunt the area around the town of Smithfield, not far from Raleigh, are directly related to perhaps the state’s most tumultuous event, the Civil War.

The spirits who haunt Hannah’s Creek Swamp, just outside of town, are said to number exactly fifty souls. These restless apparitions have been reported on a small island in the middle of the swamp, their ragged forms hanging from the trees. The ghosts were once members of the Marauders, a group of northern plunderers and scavengers who were led by a man named David Fanning. The came to the area shortly after General Sherman moved through, hoping to steal anything left behind by the Union Army.
But there luck didn’t hold out and they were captured by Confederate troops led by Colonel John Saunders, whose parents had been recently murdered by this group of outlaws. The colonel had them hanged in the swamp and their bodies left behind for the animals and birds to scavenge.... a fitting end for animals on two legs.
Their ghosts have been said to haunt here ever since.

While not tied directly to the war, another haunted spot is tied to the specter of slavery instead. There is a place here called the Mill Creek Bridge, where strange lights have been reported for many years. Locals in the area say that the lights are the ghost of an old black man being lashed by his cruel master.
In 1820, the master, a man named Lynch, and the slave, Old Squire, were clearing land by the bridge. Lynch lashed his slave with the whip one too many times and the black man turned around with a metal hoe and killed the man with it. Old Squire secretly buried Lynch beneath the bridge and soon, people started to notice strange things going on there.
It was said that lanterns would go out as soon as someone carrying one crossed the wooden walkway; weird sounds were heard beneath it; and once, an old man’s cane was snatched out of his hand, only to re-appear as soon as the man reached the other side of the creek.

Smithfield is located about 24 miles southeast of Raleigh on US Highway 70.

Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.

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