Of the various supernatural creatures that inhabit this world, one of the most mysterious is that of the banshee. Also known as the messenger of death, The ominous warning from the creature “As I am, so shall you be”, would strike fear into anyones soul. While most banshees are reported in Ireland and Scotland, The banks of the Tar River near Tarboro in Edgecombe County is said to hold one of the legendary banshee stories.
During the Revolutionary war a native of England named Dave Warner adopted the area as his home and opened a mill on the shores of the Tar river. Sympathetic to the cause of the new nation, Warner used his grain to help the young army. Warner was also a huge man with jet black hair and a long beard.His arms and legs were bulging with the muscles he built lifting the massive bags of flour all day.
One day in August of 1781 a townsman rode to the mill with a warning for Warner. The British were near and they knew Dave to be a rebel. The man told Warner to close his mill and hide. Dave Warner laugh and refused saying “I’d rather stay and wring a British neck or two.”The townsman tried again to get the miller to leave telling him he’ll be killed but again Warner refused.
When the British rode up and busted into the mill, they found both the miller and the messenger trying to save every ounce of grain they could. The red coats attacked Warner, and while he was a mighty man he could not fight off the five men who pinned him to the floor. Faced with the threat of drowning in the river, Dave Warner countered with his own warning: “Go ahead and throw me in the river you British cowards. But be warned that if you do, the banshee will haunt you the rest of your days. For she lives down at the river and when the moon is black and the river is like ink and the mist is so thick you can cut it with a sword you can see her floating from shore to shore. If you kill me, she’ll get ye.”
Taken aback (and a little scared) by the millers words, the soldiers began to rethink drowning the large man. One red coat suggested that they wait for their commander and let him decide the man’s fate. Another quickly spoke up and said they should just drown the man like they’d planned. After all, they were charged with making the way safe for the rest of the British troops. Convinced by his words the others agreed to kill the miller. They chained him to several heavy stones and dumped him in the Tar river.
As he sank, a blood curdling scream like a woman in pain echoed down the river.
Just then a mist began to float from the river and take the form of a woman with long hair just like Warner had described. The soldiers were gripped with fear and ran back to camp as fast as they could. It was late by the time the commander made it to the mill and the river was, as Warner said, black as ink. The enlisted men camped by the river while the officers made their camp in the mill.
A eerie yellow moon broke through the clouds and cast a creepy light on the camp. Again, a wail from the banshee pierced the still night. Everyone ran down to the river to see what was up. Everyone but those involved with the millers murder that is. Filled with fear and guilt, the men confessed what they’d done to the commander.
Ashamed of their actions, he ordered them to remain at the mill working within ear shot of the banshee.
And so it was they worked until one night the banshee appeared in the doorway to the mill. Her veil removed to show a horrible face. All but one man followed her back to the shore of the Tar where they fell in and drowned. As for the other man, the one who’d egged on the others to kill Dave Warner, he went mad that night and ran off into the dark.His body was discovered a few days later floating where the miller had lost his life.
Since that time, the month of August has been a haunted month for the Tar river. If you must go to the Tar river, don’t go in August, or if you must, don’t go on a moonlit night for you may see the banshee, hear her wail and face certain death.