10/17/2019 0 Comments
Coming to an area that has always been remote and isolated, only accessed by boat or ferry until a wooden bridge was built in 1930, it is no wonder that what is now a popular tourist's retreat is a place also steeped in mystery and folklore. So to shed some light on the intriguing town names here on the Outer Banks I am going to highlight the origins of a few.
Tucked away in the Northern beaches is a small town called Duck, N.C. Because this is the halfway point for migrating waterfowl, it is no wonder that for hundreds of years this has been a popular spot for hunters and bird watchers alike. It is said that the first Post Master in the area gave the town the name "Duck" due to the abundance of the migratory waterfowl and respectively, the ducks.
Working our way South, the next area is referred to as "Southern Shores." Said to have been coined by Mr. Frank Stick, an artist that settled on Roanoke Island in 1929 and helped make Cape Hatteras Seashore part of our National Parks along with Fort Raleigh and the Wright Brother's Monument. He thought Southern Shores sounded like a beautiful place for those seeking coastal real estate.
As we follow our birds eye view down the coast, the next town we come to is "Kitty Hawk." Historians say this name derived from the Native American name for a village in the area called "Chicken Hauk" and evolve through the years and manipulation by our local brogue into Kitty Hawk. The name Chicken Hauk has been seen on maps since the early 1700s and is recorded by the 1800s on local property deeds as Kitty Hawk, probably in accordance with what locals were calling it. I enjoy the possibility that the name comes from a phrase locals used to describe hunting for geese, the would say they went out to "killy honk."
Next we travel to "Kill Devil Hills." I've heard Old Timers say it was named such because the spirits they made were strong enough to "Kill the Devil." It's been documented that a Land Surveyor from Virginia marking the line between his home state and North Carolina didn't like the area or people one bit. William Byrd is said to have written The History of the Dividing Line Betwixt Virginia and North Carolina, though it was unpublished, and to have said the rum from our area "is so bad and unwholesome that it is not improperly called 'Kill-Devil'." It certainly sounds like there are elements of truth to both accounts concerning the local distilling.
The next town we come to in our journey South is "Nags Head." Fact diggers have said this name probably comes from Englishmen who settled in the area and it was common in England for places and taverns to have the name Nags Head. Locals say it comes from hanging a lantern around a Nags Head and walking it up and over the sand dunes to give the appearance of a ship in deep water. Luring those further out to sea into our shallows and shoals, grounding them, and "salvaging".
This blog was written by: Susan Wescott Overman
As a Certified Flight Instructor on the Outer Banks of North Carolina I am pleased to say that when you fly with me you will be sure to have fun, be safe and learn to fly!