By: Robin Jarvis ……
Every once in a while history and legend collide to produce a spine-tingling tale worthy of retelling again and again. Such is the case with the little known, yet locally famous witch tree in North Carolina. Sit back and prepare to wonder if this tale is true, then just how in the world did we live in a time when this could have happened.
The tale begins in the Hatteras Island community of Frisco located between Buxton and Hatteras. To this day, you’ll find a tree here. It’s called the Cora Tree. It’s enormous and hundreds of years old.
As the tale goes, shortly after the Salem witch trials, a woman and her infant child arrived to the Frisco area. By all accounts, it was just the two of them and they were always together, as the woman had no one to help with childcare.
The legend includes tales of how the woman, whose name was Cora, set up house in a makeshift hut well on the outskirts of the populated areas. In speculation, we’d think this was for protection or even privacy. But that’s not what the townspeople thought. They thought Cora had something to hide. After Cora’s arrival strange things began to occur in Frisco. While Cora and the baby were in town one day, a little boy stuck his tongue out at her baby and made it cry. A few days later, the boy got very sick and the word is he almost died.
At one point, Cora touched a cow and soon after the cow’s milk dried up. And to top it all off, Cora was a good at catching fish. So when the local fisherman suddenly were unable to catch any, they assumed it was Cora’s fault. In fact. ALL of it was Cora’s fault. There was an expert in town on the Salem witch trials named Captain Eli Blood. Blood conducted some “tests” and concluded that Cora was a witch.
They brought her and her baby to the witch tree and tied them to the tree and prepared to burn them. But just as they were about to light the kindling at Cora’s feet, one of those afternoon storms that are so famous in the Outer Banks struck without warning and a bolt of lightning literally hit Cora’s tree knocking everyone back and to the ground. The lightning literally cut a hole in the middle of the tree – a hole that’s still there. And when the smoke had cleared and everyone got their bearings again, Cora and the baby had disappeared. The only thing left behind was her name which had been carved in the tree.
If you look closely today, you can still easily see Cora’s name still carved into the tree. The legend of the witch tree, also called the Cora Tree is one that shouldn’t be dismissed. It’s quite the story and quite possibly true: every word of it.