I dislike telling stories in the ‘first person’. Especially when they didn’t happen to me and the person I’m telling it to knows that it didn’t happen to me. So, that being said, I’m going to try and retell a story in the third person that was told in the first person. This story comes from both a reliable source and a source who, by his own admission, liked to exaggerate the things he’s heard. A judge as well as a storyteller, this is the tale of Charles Whedbee and Blackbeards Skull.
The story takes place in the early 1930’s, Charles Whedbee was a student of law at UNC and was spending his vacation on the Outer Banks as he so often did. His friend ‘Jack'(A false name), came to him and asked for 10 dollars for a trip the two would take to Ocracoke Island the next day. Charles agreed and gave up the money thinking the trip was nothing special other than a trip to a fine coastal village that had not been overrun by tourists yet.
After supper, the two began to walk around the island, enjoying the warm breeze and salty air of an August night. Jack turn to Charlie and said “Hurry up, we don’t want to be late”. “Late for what?” Charlie asked. Jack explained along the way that they were going to Blackbeard’s Castle and if they were lucky, they would get to see something very few others ever had.
They had walked a while when they came upon a large clapboard house with a lookout tower on top facing the sea. “This is it.” Jack whispered. “Do exactly as I do.” Jack knocked on the door and Charles nearly ran off screaming when the door swung open and a giant of a man with a huge beard appeared.
“What do you want?” Asked the man in a gruff voice. Jack immediately answered “Death to Spotswood”. The man turned to Charles who managed to eek out a quiet “Death to Spotswood”. The man let Jack and Charles into what was at one point, a dining room. Producing a bible, the man forced the two boys to take an oath not to tell what they would see or do that night for 35 years.
It was then that several men joined the boys at a long wooden table. Before long, a man who commanded attention appeared at the head of the table with a large silver cup. All fell silent as he raised the cup and proclaimed “Death to Spotswood” and took a swig from the cup. The cup was passed to each man who in turn, raise it and loudly stated “Death to Spotswood” before drinking.
As the cup got closer to him, Charles saw how oddly shaped the cup was. it was almost as large as a punch bowl and much shallower that one would think for it’s size. Then it was Charles’ turn. He was handed the cup and felt all eyes on him as he mustered the words they’d used to gain entrance into the house. He then lifted the cup to his lips and drank.
Fire scorched his throat as the liquid slide down. Charles wanted to cough it back up, but tried to man up and not let the others know it had bothered him. He later found out it was corn whiskey that was inside the silver goblet. Before passing it off, he looked down at the unusual shape of the chalice. He noticed two cup shaped depressions in the side of the object, almost 3 inches apart.
As the night wore on the silver cup made it’s way around the table again and again as stories of Blackbeard the pirate were told. it was during this time that someone told Charles that the odd shaped cup they’d been drinking from was the skull of Blackbeard himself. The large depressions he’d noticed were indeed eye sockets.
With the excuse of needing fresh air, Jack and Charlie took off for the inn and the safety it held. On the walk home the next day, Jack told Charlie a banker friend had given him the password and told him the night and location the gathering would take place.
And so goes the story of Blackbeard’s Skull. Whether it really happened or it’s just a case of Judge Whedbee pulling the wool over our eyes, it is an amusing tale. Whedbee himself offered $1000 to the person who had posession of the skull to let him have it examined to prove, or disprove, the existence of a skull inside.
Charles Whedbee died in 1990 and as far as I know, never found out who had the cup although he tried. After searching the internet, I found another gentleman who was also trying to find the skull of Blackbeard. The last entry on the site indicated he had no luck as well.