The informant (20) grew up in Virginia Beach, VA and moved to California when she was fifteen. Having spent most of her life in Virginia, she is familiar with many of the local legends, such as the Witchduck Haunting:
“The Witchduck Haunting is a legend about Virginia Beach. It starts with this farmer woman in the 1600s or 1700s, I think. There was a woman farming or working in the fields, and she was wearing men’s britches because she wasn’t going to farm in a dress, which would be awkward. The people were suspicious of her and accused her of being a witch. She was tried so they tied her thumbs to her big toes and threw her in the river. She freed herself and was found guilty because it was said that if you were innocent, you would have sunk. I was told she escaped and was never found, but other versions of the story say that she was caught and put in jail. I heard this story from older sister, who heard it from a bunch of her friends. Almost everyone in the neighborhood knew the story, so you could probably ask anyone and they could tell you some version of it. It’s a nice piece of history that’s specific to Virginia Beach. There’s even a Witchduck Road and Witch Duck Bay. Oh and supposedly, every year the woman comes back to haunt the scene of her trial and appears as a strange light floating above Witch Duck Bay.”
This is a really interesting story. It’s probably so well known within the community because it places Virginia Beach in the larger historical context. It relates the modern-day city to greater historical happenings during the 1700s. The legend also gives the people of Virginia Beach a unique past to look back on. It’s also interesting that the woman who was tried as a witch was dressing in men’s clothing. Perhaps her attempted drowning was also a type of punishment for going against social or gender norms and not abiding by what society expects of a woman.
A similar story appears on the Virginia Beach website.
“The Haunting of Witchduck Road.” VirginiaBeach.com. N.p., 4 June 2009. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. <http://www.virginiabeach.com/articles/haunting-witchduck-road>