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Keeping legends alive

If you missed out Thursday’s edition of the Washington Daily News, you missed out on something of a treat. On the front page of the paper, we included a column from a special guest, James Mullis, on the legendary 100-year curse supposedly placed on the village of Bath by traveling evangelist George Whitefield in the early 1700s.

In addition to offering a lively read, this well-written column touched Beaufort County’s history and one of the area’s defining legends. There are so many in Beaufort County, and each one is an important part of the area’s culture and heritage.

Like the ill-fated Jesse Elliot of Bath, who supposedly challenged the devil to a horse race and lost his life in the process while racing on a Sunday. They say the hoof prints where his horse reared up can be seen to this day, and that nothing will grow in the area.

Then there are the many alleged ghosts of Washington, who are said to inhabit prominent places such as the Turnage Theatre, the historic county courthouse and the churchyard at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. There’s the so-called “Queen of the Castle,” who was allegedly run off by the women of Washington for running a brothel on Castle Island.

Whether one believes in the supernatural or not, at the very least, these tall tales and legends are fun to tell and hear. They’re also significant to Beaufort County and its people.

Earlier this month, Bath held its annual Bath Towne After Dark event, with character actors retelling some of the classic tales of that old town. This weekend, local librarian Terry Rollins will take visitors on a haunted tour of Washington on his Washington Haunts Historic Ghost Walk.

Always a great storyteller, Rollins offers 90 minutes of history and the supernatural on the walking tour of downtown, and it’s well worth the $15 to learn some of the local lore.

Anyone interest in that venture should show up at Harding Square, at the end of Market Street, this Saturday by 8 p.m. (Cash only, correct change welcome)

It’s important that these local legends, and the art of storytelling, are kept alive.

They enhance and enrich the local culture, and generally speaking, make life a lot more interesting. Be sure to take some time to revisit these old stories every once in a while. You might just learn something about the world around you.