Appalachia Ghosts - Haints - Spooky

Haunts, Ghosts, And Boogers spooky october

Today’s Spooky October entry was written by Charles Fletcher



HAUNTS, GHOSTS, AND BOOGERS written by Charles Fletcher

The people that lived in the mountains of Western North Carolina believed in many strange things. They believed in the supernatural. They were believers in “Haunts, Ghosts and Boogers”.  If one of the children did something that they were not supposed to they were threatened by their parents. “The haunts, ghosts or boogers will get you”. This usually did the job. The children believed there were such things.

There is a difference in these three supernatural threats. The one used depended on how bad a thing you did. The Booger was used for the lesser punishment. These were the things that were under your bed and would do you harm after you went to sleep. One of these threats would have us keeping our head under the covers on the bed.  Next were the Ghosts. This was where you would see white sheets and other scary objects floating around in the dark. It was thought that they would get you under their sheet and carry you away. The Haint was the really bad one. It was meaner than the others. These were where you would see someone riding a white horse with his head in his hand. You could actually see the blood on the white sheet he would be wearing. Other times there would be some sort of thing flying over your head dressed in white and screaming and making other scary noises. This was the one we were most scared of.

When I was a boy we were living in the Piedmont section of North Carolina. My dad quit working in the paper mill and we moved to Gastonia. My grandma, dad’s mother, had a large house where she kept boarders. They were workers in one of the many cotton mills that didn’t have a home. Cotton was the king of this area and the mills were hiring anyone that applied for a job.

We had lived here about one year when mom began to want to visit her family back in Western North Carolina. Dad agreed that my mom, sister, brother and I could go on the train for a visit. He would get the tickets and schedule. Mom was to write a letter to grandpa Pressley telling him when we would be there.

We children were really excited about the train ride and that we were going to grandpa Pressley’s house. The big day arrived and we headed for the train station that was located on the other side of town. This was about a two mile walk for mom who had to carry the suit case and keep us three kids together. We were at the station about one hour before the coal fired steam engine with the passenger cars arrived. Mom didn’t want to miss the train. It only went to Canton about once each week.

“All aboard” the conductor hollered. We were in our seats in nothing flat. I got the window seat because I was the oldest. I promised to let TJ and Louise have the window seat on part of the trip. We would be on the train for most of the day. I don’t recall what route it took but I know that the train went through the tunnels of Black Mountain before we arrived at the Asheville station. There were many stops along the way. It seemed that we stopped at every village to pick up and leave mail and other things.

Finally in the late evening we arrived at the station in Canton. Grandpa and one of my Uncles were there to meet us. They like most everyone else in the 1930s didn’t have a car. We would walk the two or more miles to his house. We didn’t mind. We were used to walking everywhere we went.

After a couple of days we asked where Uncle Fred lived. Grandpa said that it was about a mile to his house. He lived in the section called West Canton. “I want to go visit him before we go back home,” I said.

That evening after supper Uncle Clifford, mom’s youngest brother who was two years older than me said he would go with TJ and me to visit Uncle Fred. “Don’t stay too late” mom said. “Something might get you she joked.” “We are not afraid after dark,” I said. We were soon on our way.

When we arrived at Uncle Fred’s house he was setting on the porch talking with one of his neighbors who was visiting. They were discussing nothing in particular, just talking about what had happened since they talked the last time they were together.

The three of us, Clifford, TJ and me found us a place to set and was listening to everything that they were saying. Uncle Fred must have noticed that we believed whatever they were talking about. He changed the subject.

“Did you hear about the hyena that is prowling around here lately? They say he has killed and eaten several dogs, cats and even a half grown steer. It’s not safe to be out after dark, They say”.  “Pretty mean critter,” his neighbor said. “Shore don’t want anything to do with him,” said the neighbor.

“Another thing that bothers me lately is at that bib pine tree that stands alone beside the roan going over to the Pressley house” Fred said.  “Never heard about that, what’s taking place at that tree?” He said “Well— the other day Bill Hall that lives down the road from the Pressleys said he came by there the other night a little after dark and he heard something that sounded like a horse running. He looked up and down the road and didn’t see anything.  He happened to look toward that big pine and low and behold, guess what he saw?”  “What—what—” said Fred’s neighbor. “He swears that there was this big white horse with a rider dressed in white that had no head. At least no head on his shoulders, he was holding his head in his hands and you could see blood running down the sleeves of that white outfit he was wearing. He said that as soon as he saw that horse and the man with his head cut off he headed home as fast as he could run. Said he would never get caught out after dark anywhere near that tree.”

Fred’s friend began, “There is also talk of a big black panther that someone saw a few nights right here in West Canton. Been killing some cattle, I hear.  And how about that snake that is nearly ten feet long. Been swallowing half grown pigs, not even bothering to chew them. They say that snake could eat a ten or twelve year old boy.”

By this time they had done what they wanted to do. Scare the “Day-Light” out of Clifford, TJ and me.

I knew the tree they were talking about. You could see it from Grandpa’s house. Grandma had pointed it out to me the day before. “See that big pine up there beside the road” she said.  “Old Jack, my pet crow has a nest up in the top of that tree. He carries everything he sees around the house that is shiny up to that tree I’m going to get one of the boys to climb up there one day and get all the things he has stolen.”

It had become real dark; Clifford had gone inside and gone to bed. He wasn’t going back this night. He had been convinced that either the hyena or that headless man would get him. TJ was thinking the same. “We better get back to grandpas” I said. “I’m not going out in this dark” he said. “You can go if you like; I’m going inside and get in bed with Clifford. I am spending the night with Uncle Fred.”

I thought “I’ll show them that I’m not afraid of that Hyena or that man on the horse. I’m going back to grandpa’s house.” Off I went. I was walking at my regular pace but began to think I was hearing noises along the side of the road. I came in sight of the pine tree and began to walk a little faster. Soon I was running as fast as I could. I didn’t slow down until I was in the yard at the house.

Everyone was still up. No one had gone to bed. They were waiting for us to come back from Fred’s. “Where are Clifford and TJ?” someone asked. “They decided to spend the night with Uncle Fred” I said. I didn’t dare tell them about the “Haunts”. Or did I tell them that I had run the last mile on my way back. I think they knew because I was wet from sweating.

The next morning Clifford and TJ came home. They never mentioned that they were afraid to come home last night. For the rest of our visit with grandpa TJ and I never ventured out after dark. We didn’t want to take any chances of meeting any “Haunts” that roamed the mountains of Western North Carolina.

We would take our chances with Ghosts and Boogers. But not the Haunts, they were the meanest.


I hope you enjoyed Charles post as much as I did-leave him a comment and I’ll make sure he reads it!



You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Ray Presley
    August 16, 2021 at 12:46 pm

    I remember sitting outside and listening to those kind of stories as a child. We would visit the country, in an area where I was born, when school was out, sit around outside and tell stories when it got dark. It seemed like everyone would try to outdo everyone else with tall tales of “Haints.” I remember asking one of my uncles what a haint was. He responded, “Well, it hain’t a bob cat and it hain’t a panther. It’s just a big ole mean cat, with red eyes and burrs in its tail that you don’t want meet up with after dark!

  • Reply
    October 22, 2011 at 10:00 am

    I can imagine that he never ran that fast in his life again. LOL
    Loved the story!!

  • Reply
    October 19, 2011 at 5:47 am

    Wow, Charles, you were one brave little boy! I’d have stayed the night at Uncle Fred’s myself!
    Those two gents remind me of my Grandpa Rance, he would tell ‘whoppers’, but always with a slight tip of the hand, like the hyena and ten-foot snake – just to see if we knew he was fibbing.

  • Reply
    October 18, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Great story, loved it. I am happy to know some other people know about “boogers”. I said something on my Facebook page about “boogers” one time and they all thought it was hysterical and had never heard it in this way.

  • Reply
    October 17, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Great story, Charles. I used to stay all night with a cousin who didn’t have a TV. We would walk to another cousin’s house to watch Chiller on Saturday night. Talk about self-inflicted torture! There was a spring between the two houses that was said to he hainted. That dark, remote highway was an ideal place for some teenage boys to have fun after the TV signed off at midnight. They tore up many sheets and had sore throats for a week after screaming like a booger. I never saw the real haints at the spring like some of the old folks did as I was always moving too fast.

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    October 17, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    My goodness such a “spooky” tale. Heard of those boogers often when I was growning up.

  • Reply
    Wayne Newton
    October 17, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Tipper, these stories remind me of the story in my book of short stories, that i called THE GORILLA.
    Folks can read it at A BUNCH OF WIREGRASS.

  • Reply
    susie swanson
    October 17, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Charles, thanks for the scary memories. My dad told us so many scary stories about ghosts and Haints growing up that we run instead of walking, everywhere. I sure did enjoy this and look forward to more..

  • Reply
    Eva M. Wike, Ph.D.
    October 17, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Hey Charles: Being a Tar Heel myself makes me able to relate straight away to your scary times up and down those dark roads! I never rode a train – as it had long since quit coming into Clay County from Andresw by the time I was born!
    One thing we allers done wus use to get bored riding from Sunday night service at the church in the back of the wagon. Soon as Daddy slowed the team down some of us would jump off and walk the rest of the way toward home. I was number SEVEN from the top of ELEVEN children! Generally I was the youngest in the jumping bunch – and I knew what was going to happen when we had to walk through the dark woody hollow which seemed to stretch fur a mile on that dirt road! I dreaded it terribly much but I allers still jumped and struck out with that half-dozen brothers and sisters! I reckon that ‘training’ in foot work was why I became a sure nuf good athelete!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Carol Isler
    October 17, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Oh, my goodness! That one got my adrenaline flowing a little. I remember running home in the dark after staying out a little too late with friends on the mill village. Thanks for reminding me, I think.

  • Reply
    October 17, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Tipper, I think when we were growing up in Lowell ,(near Gastonia) a little mill town , my Uncles had done such a good job of telling booger stories that I was always scared for it to get dark and I even scared myself at times . I remember walking down the RR tracks from the movie house in Cramerton,and it was getting dark and fear was all over me( we had saw the movie Frankinstien meets the Wolfman) and I heard the wolfman running in the bushes behind us and I ran off and left Jim and Faye crying and to afraid to move and when I got home and Dad had to go find them, and Faye told Dad I said the wolfman was going to get them, and they were afaid to move and had hid in the bushes,Faye was still crying when Dad got there and Jim was as white as a ghost , and me I took a trip out behind the wood shed after I went and cut the ole switch from the peach tree, Dad said that would teach me to scare the little kids , not knowing that I really thought I saw the wolfman and slept with my head covered up till I was Married. I was afaid of RAW Head and Bloody Bones too, but I’ll save that for another time. Malcolm

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 17, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Thank you, Charles, that was a great story. It is particularly interesting because I lived in Canton for a long time.
    My mother grew up in Canton and I can remember a similar story some adults told her as a child to scare her….and it worked.

  • Reply
    October 17, 2011 at 9:52 am

    My goodness, that was a good Ghost
    story. Charles almost got me to
    believing in Haunts.
    I’ll bet that train ride from
    Gastonia to Canton was exciting
    to a bunch of kids. Thanks for
    sharing the scary, but fun times
    of growing up…Ken

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    October 17, 2011 at 9:43 am

    and Charles…Thanks for a great story…Since I spent many a day just outside Canton…I can relate to your story…My aunt and uncle lived just outside of town between Canton and Clyde..
    I have sat, as a child and listened in on some wild stories on a summers night, on the porch or under trees in the yard…
    Thanks for the memories…and thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Brian Blake
    October 17, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Stories like this remind me of Washington Irving’s “Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Ichabod Crane outran the ghost of a British grenadier beheaded by a cannon ball in the Revolution, just managing to escape over the Old Church Bridge at Tarrytown. Ghouls can’t cross running water.
    Up here we still celebrate the Headless Horseman with Halloween toasts to “Brom Bones.” As the night progresses, you might say we become headless in our turn.

  • Reply
    October 17, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Wonderful story Charles! It brought back the old memory of my maternal Grandmother threatening us kids with ” Sack Man Billy” who put little kids in his sack and took them home to boil for supper!!!

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    October 17, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Those were some scary stories told to the young’uns. I would have stayed put at Uncle Fred’s house, too! I especially like the tale of the headless horseman and the tree. Thanks for the stories, Charles.

  • Reply
    Melissa P (Misplaced Southerner)
    October 17, 2011 at 8:06 am

    Terrific! Canton is so close to Waynesville. We used to say that we knew it was gonna rain if we could smell the papermill in Canton. Boy, do I miss those days.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    October 17, 2011 at 7:39 am

    My cousins and I used to scare ourselves to death just like that on a trip just 2 houses down. Her house, Uncle John’s then my gamma’s.
    The trees took on the shape of “boogers” and the wind sounded like ghosts.

  • Leave a Reply