Appalachia Ghosts - Haints - Spooky

Are You Afraid Of The Devil?


Appalachia is full of scary stories about ghosts, witches, painters, hainted houses, etc. Religion is woven so tightly through Appalachia-that the Devil also plays a significant role as a fear factor. When I was growing up-I was much more afraid of the Devil getting me than a ghost.

One time-a childhood friend of mine decided she’d heard enough about the Devil and wanted to see if he was as mean as everybody at church said he was. Her and a cousin decided they’d just dig him up- and find out for themselves.

After digging for quite a while, they unearthed something they took for his hair. Once they hit the black strands their bravery left them pretty quick. As kids will do-they decided to fix the mess they’d made.

They franticly tried to figure out how to hide their misdeed-I mean how could she explain to her Southern Baptist Deacon Daddy that she had brought the Devil out into broad daylight? In his own backyard?

They found some old concrete mixed it with water and poured it in the hole, all the while hoping it would hold old Lucifer tight.

Devil's Tramping Ground
(Photo provided by Old Rebel you can see some of his other photos here.)

Near Siler City, NC is a large circle that measures 40 feet across. No vegetation of any kind grows within the circle. Early white settlers who came to the area thought the circle was used for Indian Ceremonies. Somewhere along the way the story of the Devil’s Tramping Ground was born.

Legend tells the circle was made by none other than Satan himself. Each night the Devil paces the circle while he plots evil deeds to spread across the land. If an object is placed within the circle it is mysteriously moved by morning. Local hunters say their hounds refuse to go near the circle-as do horse owners. The area seems to be void of any animal life-even birds refuse to fly above the circle.


So now I’ve told you-my biggest fear as a child was the Devil-what was yours?


Portions of this post were originally published here on the Blind Pig in October 2009


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  • Reply
    November 5, 2011 at 7:32 am

    That Devil’s Tramping Ground is spooky. Makes me curious about the wildlife that won’t go near.
    My biggest fear? That monster that lived under my bed!

  • Reply
    October 31, 2011 at 6:29 am

    Too funny! Is it safe to assume the devil never escaped from under the concrete?
    I never could wrap my head around the devil, but I was afraid of the dark and ghosts. I was so terrified of being touched by ‘something’ or seeing something move by itself that I could barely get any sleep at all. Mom finally allowed me the unthinkable extravagance of sleeping with the light on.
    I still do!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    My biggest fear as a child was stormy weather, thunder, thunderbolt and lightning…I’m still trying to get over this fear! 🙂

  • Reply
    Sam Ensley
    October 29, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    I was sickly as a child, and our house had no heat in the bedrooms. To make sure I stayed covered, either my mother or grandmother told me that the booger man would get my ears if I didn’t keep the covers over them. Even during the summer, I didn’t go to sleep without at least a sheet over my ears. This lasted until I got married.

  • Reply
    October 29, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Have enjoyed your spooky October stories, Tipper,and think this relates to your post on the Devil, as it is about Hell… Anyway, I just remembered the Dante’s Inferno book we had in our house growing up. Even though our parents didn’t formally raise us with religion, or maybe because of it, my sister and I were always fascinated by this book and especially by this picture:

  • Reply
    October 29, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Laurie-we still call them lie bumps. Makes you wonder who started the old saying doesn’t it?
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Laurie Stone
    October 29, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Oh my gosh – I thought my mother was the only one that called them Liar’s Bumps. If she thought we were telling a fib she would make us stick out our tongue to see the bump. The one who sealed their lips shut was always the liar! I use it with my daughter – it worked before she turned into a teenager.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    October 29, 2011 at 12:27 am

    My grandmaw was way too proper to say boogerman, so she would always give us a very, very stern look when we were up to mischief- (Well, she would look at me, my sister was the goody two shoes-boring, lol!)-anyway, in her most serious tone I would be informed, “The man is watching you!” The scariest thing of all, though, would be the blisters I’d occasionally get on the tip of my tongue, my mama called them liars bumps. I would spend many a sleepless hour wondering what I had been less than truthful about. Honestly, it’s a wonder I’m not just plain nuts!

  • Reply
    October 28, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Nope, but I don’t taunt him either cause he might take that as an invitation to come see me for a personal little debate.
    On the other hand, I refuse to capitalize any of his names like devil, satan, lucifer, etc. Call it stubbornness if you like – but I just don’t personally believe he deserves it.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    October 28, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Great stories, Tipper — yours and the comments! I was mainly afraid of snakes — nightmares and such –but then I got over it when a boy dared me to pick up a garter snake. I did and that was the end of the nightmares.

  • Reply
    SandyCarlson (USA)
    October 28, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Satan in North Carolina? Eek! The Devil in Paradise…. I don’t have any devil stories, but I surely enjoyed yours.

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    October 28, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    I’ve heard of the Devil’s Stomping Ground but have never been there. Interesting.

  • Reply
    Kim @ Stuff could....
    October 28, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    I am more scared of spiders! Does not make sense just a fear?? but I am getting over it…some

  • Reply
    October 28, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    I was also terrified of the boogeyman. My uncle had me convinced he lived in my grandparents’ basement!

  • Reply
    October 28, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    I guess I was most afraid of the neighbor’s bull. 😉
    What the devil can make people do is frightening to me now.

  • Reply
    October 28, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    To keep us boys in line when we
    were small mama use to threaten
    us with the devil. I sure didn’t
    want that red faced thing with
    a tail and pitchfork after me.
    And I remember that Devil’s circle
    tramping ground blog near Siler’s
    City. Very interesting also…Ken

  • Reply
    October 28, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    That is an interesting story. Something in that soil is preventing vegetation. Makes you really curious doesn’t it?
    As a child I was told more than once that the booger man was going to get me if I didn’t behave myself. I don’t know about ghosts but I believe the devil is very real.

  • Reply
    Mary Jo
    October 28, 2011 at 11:58 am

    My Daddy would take me out into the edge of the woods behind his old homeplace and show me an old Indian? buriel ground and tell me that if I stomped around and around on the spot for 5 minutes or so and then ask downwardly “what are you doing down there?” that they would reply “nothing!” He got me many,many times with that one until I was old enough to figure it out!!! True story!!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    October 28, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Tipper, I was told as a child that if I was bad the Booger-Man would get me. I assumed the Booger-Man was old Lucifer himself and if mom and dad told me he would get me then they had to know what they were talking about. During the day I would not give it much thought but at night lying in bed in the dark I would reflect on the day and any mischief I had been up to and I would wonder if I had been so bad that day that he might actually come get me tonight! Thankfully he never showed up to claim me so maybe I wasn’t so bad after all. I guess it was effective and always in the back of my mind. I have to say that I never used this tactic with my own children because I did not want them to be fearful but rather to teach them that if they did not feel good about whatever they were doing then they should not do it. Other than the Booger-Man the other thing I feared more than him was the hickory swith that stayed on top of the fridge that, in my opinion at the time, was evil in it’s self! I can still here that evil swish it made as it was about to render it’s punishment on the back of my legs. I remember as a teenager when mom decided to cut the bush down that spawned those evil switches and how I was not at all saddend to see it go! I guess it was the real Booger-Man!!

  • Reply
    Lonnie Dockery
    October 28, 2011 at 11:40 am

    I am sure a healthy fear of the devil kept me from doing a lot of things that might otherwise have landed me in trouble when I was young. Mother made sure we knew exactly what he approved of–which by strange coincidence were exactly the same things she approved of!

  • Reply
    Kimberly Burnette
    October 28, 2011 at 10:46 am

    That large circle is just crazy. I would love to know what the real story is about it. I don’t think that I would have the nerve to go stand inside of it, just to be on the safe side!
    I was also more scared of the devil when I was growing up than any boogie man!

  • Reply
    Rick Kratzke
    October 28, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Hey Tipper i remember reading that post, it was interesting for sure. Stories like that around around everywhere but some areas are like you said more woven into people.
    Honestly, I don’t believe in much that I can’t see or touch.
    Great post for the season.

  • Reply
    October 28, 2011 at 10:27 am

    I was afraid of a lot of things: Boogie Man, things that went bump in the dark, I was very afraid of the dark, Oh and bugs n snakes scared me too 😉

  • Reply
    October 28, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Now that’s a creepy scarry story.Makes me really curious as to why nothing grows on that spot.As a child, i was terrified of that old boogie man,old red eye & bloody bones and of that old devil with his pitchfork.Took me a long time to get over fear itself.

  • Reply
    Eva M. Wike, Ph.D.
    October 28, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Tipper: Your story brought back memories of my grandpa Mull and how he could tell scary stories. A long time ago when my oldest sister was at his house she had the ‘experience’ of hearing grandpa ‘at his best’ by the fireside! One night she was going to spend the night with him and grandma. After listening to grandpa she was so scared she was not able to sleep at grandpa’s! She said “Sleep just would not come to me! I just couldn’t stop thinking about those cold icey fingers slipping around my neck and choking me!” Also she just couldn’t understand why grandpa would always be laughing as they sat by the fireplace and listened intently to his stories! Our daddy learned early on about his daddy’s stories and repeated them often with us younger kids! Oh well! That was much better than watching TV – which we could not have done anyway – as we had no electricity!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    October 28, 2011 at 9:13 am

    I was never fond of the Devil…It seems that “up jumps the Devil”, when life is going well and he invokes Murphys Law!…I try my best to distance myself from him as much as possible…But occasionally I lose control, things happen or a misfire in my brain synapse and the Devil makes me do it..uhh, or say it!
    My son was three or so and it was a beautiful Fall day…I was in the yard planting some bulbs here and there, sort of a natural planting…The sky was so blue and my son was in a philosophical mood I suppose…Looking up he said, “Mom where does God live up there?” Intent on digging, I casually said, “Oh I suppose way above the sky and clouds.” No response as he walked around watching me…Then he said..”Mom, where does the Debil (Devil) live?” (having heard of him in Sunday school the past weekend)..I said, “Oh, I guess most people thinks he lives way down in the deep earth.” Not thinking exactly what I was saying since flower bulbs were my main attention..
    No response from him as he walked up real close, bent over as I was plunging my bulb planter into the ground and said…”Does the Debil know you’re making holes in his roof?”
    Thanks Tipper…

  • Reply
    October 28, 2011 at 8:56 am

    my biggest fear was of Daddy and God, if one did not get me the other would. never even thought about the devil getting me. but i was afraid of the dark. fear of God and daddy kept me on the narrow path.

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    October 28, 2011 at 8:30 am

    I’ll bet those girls were scared. We too, grew up with the threat of the “Boogie Man” will get you if you don’t do such and such…

  • Reply
    Melissa P (Misplaced Southerner)
    October 28, 2011 at 8:28 am

    I do know that pure evil exists. In my latest post, I tell the tale. Everyone is welcome to visit (if you dare…)

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 28, 2011 at 8:27 am

    I believe that there are things beyond what we know and understand. However I do not believe in the “devil” but do believe there is evil and malevolence in the world.
    Just look at our political system, a good system somehow gone wrong.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    October 28, 2011 at 7:59 am

    Boogie man for me, every night perfectly ordinary things in my bedroom would turn into this horror and I would lay there stiff and afraid to move. I’m sure glad to grow out of that!
    It is an interesting story about the circle, it seems to happen everywhere.

  • Reply
    Laurie Stone
    October 28, 2011 at 7:35 am

    …. how creepy….
    It liked to make the hair on my big toe stand up and quiver!

  • Reply
    Debby Brown
    October 28, 2011 at 7:27 am

    I like you were pretty much afraid of the Devil too! But we were not allowed to say the word Devil in our house as that was a cuss word or something. I don’t really know but we couldn’t say the word anyway. We called him the Booger Man. And if we did anything wrong we were told the Booger Man would get us. So I sure didn’t want him to get me as he had horns and a pointy tail and that didn’t sound good to me at all! Later on after I saw the old movie Dracula, I was really afraid of getting my neck bit so even during the summer I always slept with all the covers wrapped around my neck really tight even though I would be sweating like a pig!

  • Reply
    Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen
    October 28, 2011 at 7:17 am

    I probably believed in the boggie man, whoever he was. I was threatened as a child by the boggie man anytime I was about to do anything wrong. He was probably the devil’s brother or maybe the devil himself.
    Interesting story about that circle. I always trust dogs, they just seem to know things. I would look but I wouldn’t go to near it just in case. (smile)

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