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An Irish Banshee in North Carolina

In Colonial times, Dave Warner operated a sawmill on the Tar River in North Carolina, near the town of Tarboro (Did the name of the river influence that of the town, or was it the other way around?) in Edgecombe County. When hostilities broke out with the British, the Redcoats, knowing Warner to be pro-revolution, chained him up and threw him into the river, but not before Warner pronounced a curse on them. A banshee began to haunt the site of the mill, where the soldiers were commanded by a superior officer to work the mill as punishment for their shared misdeed. Late one night the banshee came for the men, leading them into the river where they drowned. That’s the story, anyway.

As folklore, the tale is perfect as is. From a skeptical standpoint, though, even if one were to accept the existence of a banshee in the American South and the efficacy of a curse leveled by the doomed man, there would still remain the nagging question of why the British officer would care that his men had killed a traitor, as they would have seen him? I have to wonder if this might be a case of the story developing after the fact, as a way to explain some alleged paranormal activity in the area. Then again, it could all be the concoction of someone’s imagination. If the latter is the case, kudos to the storyteller–but please figure out an explanation for that one plot hole, please. It will make for a more satisfying folkloric experience.

WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (,, specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase here:


TheCheezman • July 11, 2017

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  1. Terry Washington July 11, 2017 - 3:29 pm Reply

    Was the dead man even Irish to begin with? From what I know of Irish mythology Banshees(Gaelic for bean- sidhe-“woman of the sorrows”) only appear to certain families- O’Connors, O’Briens and the like!

    • The CheezMan July 11, 2017 - 5:23 pm Reply

      That would be a logical inference, if this were indeed a case of a legitimate “banshee.” Could be they just stuck the name on whatever kind of spook they had haunting the river. As the originators of the story were probably of Scotch-Irish descent, they would have called it a banshee by reflex.

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