‘Spooky’ tales abound in new book

Published 9:09 am Thursday, May 20, 2010

AHOSKIE – There were no ghosts to be found at Ahoskie’s Catherine’s Restaurant on Saturday night, but that didn’t stop ghoulish stories from being shared.

Michael Rivers (aka Ahoskie native Mike Baugham) came home to promote his new book – “Ghosts of the North Carolina Shores” – which was released last month. He conducted a book-signing and “meet the author” event at Catherine’s, the first stop on a promotional tour that will take him to Edenton, the Outer Banks and Wilmington.

The book features spooky tales of Eastern ‘Carolina. The stories come from his research that covered Hertford, Bertie, Northampton, Wilson, Brunswick, Gates, Dare, Chowan, Currituck, Wayne, Edgecombe and Craven counties.

“A lot of these stories have circulated for years, but have never been in print,” Baugham said. “Some I remember from my childhood. Others I needed to gain more information. I had a time convincing those with these stories to allow me to print them because they would always say….those stories are best left untold because they tend to scare the children.”

As an example of the local legend published in his book, Baugham told the story of the ghost of a Confederate sentry, seen at a tree in the St. John community where he was killed during the Civil War.

Also from the St. John community came the story of a residence, once the home of his grandmother when she was a young girl. That dwelling had a basement where slaves once lived. They were chained to prevent escape. Baugham’s grandmother and others have told the tale of hearing chains moving at night as well as sounds of people moaning and whistling. They say you could hear those sounds not only inside the house, but from outside in the yard.

“Mind you, there are ghost stories where people say they can hear chains rattling,” Baugham noted. “That’s not the case here; those that heard those sounds say the chains were moving, not rattling.”

Baugham read a tale from his book to the audience, one detailing the ghost of a young girl who had possibly died of influenza that was seen at an old school, where she was a student, on the Vann Road in the Brantley’s Grove community.

“These are the types of stories that you’ll find in this book,” he said. “There are 26 such stories. These are historical stories.”

Baugham said “Ghosts of the North Carolina Shores” was the first of a series of three books with his current publisher.

“My next book will be on the tales of the Cherokee Reservation in western North Carolina, near my home there,” he said. “There are some very interesting stories there. My home would make a story of its own…it’s pretty active. My wife and I hear and see a lot of things in that house. Sometimes we’ll go four months without any activity and then, when we least expect it, it’s there again.”

He continued, “From the Nantahala Gorge to Waynesville to Asheville, it’s a very interesting area and those stories will be in my next book. You will find out some of the customs there that are not very well known outside that area, especially from the Cherokee Reservation. I have the full backing of the Cherokee Nation to print these stories. All of it will be written with the greatest respect to their beliefs.”

The last in the series will have tales from all over North Carolina, the author said.

Baugham served as a United States Marine during Vietnam. He furthered his education in Chicago, Illinois, and colleges in North Carolina. While living in Chicago, he served the community as an Emergency Medical Technician.

He has over 30 years of investigating and collecting stories of the paranormal. His original work was a book entitled “Voyage of the Black Witch.” He also has penned poetry which earned him an Editor’s Choice award.

Baugham and his wife currently resides in Whittier, North Carolina where he is a lead investigator for the Smoky Mountain Paranormal Society of Western North Carolina. That group continues to investigate areas reported to have paranormal activity and report their findings for evidence of spiritual activity.

For more information on his books, visit www.michealrivers.com.