Blackbeard on the Outer Banks

Leslie Pratt’s Story: as told on a Wednesday afternoon, sitting on the steps by the Student Union in the Campus Center around 1:30pm

Background: Leslie is from Raleigh, North Carolina. She is a freshman biology major at USC, a white, 18-19 year-old girl. I met her through my sorority Delta Gamma.

Leslie: So basically, uh, this story’s about Blackbeard’s legend. He’s, uh, known as like a really famous pirate, maybe the most famous pirate there was, and um, basically the story is that he was, like, killed, um, in a battle in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. That’s, like, where I grew up so I kind of know the story. And um, basically when he was killed in battle, he was beheaded, and then it says like, as the legend goes on, um, his head was like hung from the bowsprit, of like one of the ships, so in the front of the ship his head just kind of like, laid there, so it wouldn’t see it. And they threw his body into the water, and the like legend surrounding that is his body swam around the boat three times and, um, his head was never found. So, um (long pause), yeah and the rest of that, um, no one knows, like, who like kept Blackbeard’s head. And um, even like when I was in school the legend was like, it was like turned into a cup and no one knows like, who like has the cup with his head. So that’s just like, kind of like the story of it. Kind of like no one knows like what actually happened to him or if he was even, like, killed in battle. And when he apparently died he like swam around the boat three times for some reason and like, and like, no one can like find his treasure because it was apparently like buried somewhere in North Carolina but like no one can find it. So that’s like kind of the legend of Blackbeard

Me: Where’d you hear the story?

Leslie: Basically, honestly like just throughout school. Like we always like took trips to the Outer Banks and like to the beach, so like, and then like we would like, school trips to like museums and they would always be like, ‘oh, have you heard of Blackbeard?’ So it was really like, relevant in North Carolina, so it’s just like the common legend everyone knew of.

Me: That’s so cool! And do you believe it? Do you believe Blackbeard’s there?

Leslie: Um, (laughs), probably not honestly. Apparently, like, when he died, it took like, um, a lot of gun wounds to like, take him down. That’s why everyone thinks like, if he did swim around the boat three times, after he was beheaded, like, if anyone was to do it, it was him. So that’s why like, everyone kind of thinks that.

Reaction: Though Leslie says she probably doesn’t believe the legend, it seems as though part of her wants to believe it’s true, maybe even just so she has a cool story to share about her hometown. Blackbeard is a very well-known character, and while I have not heard this legend, parts of it, such as a lost treasure, coincide with traditional beliefs and motifs. Perhaps his ghost is protecting the treasure and keeping it hidden from those who executed him. I’m not sure what to make of this legend, but it does make me curious about the historical aspects of the story.