Book review: Author of 'Spirits of '76' coming Oct. 30
“Spirits of ’76: Ghost Stories of the American Revolution,” by Daniel W. Barefoot. John F. Blair, Publisher. 342 pp. $15.95.
By Deirdre Parker Smith
If you haven’t read a book by Daniel Barefoot, you’re neglecting your history.
And your spirits are undisturbed.
Barefoot, author of such books as “Touring North Carolina’s Revolutionary War Sites” and “Touring the Backroads of North Carolina’s Lower Coast” and “Haints of the Hills,” likes North Carolina history and has an affinity for ghost stories.
Barefoot will make a spooky appearance Friday at Literary Bookpost, 5-7 p.m., to sign copies of his new combination of history and mystery, “Spirits of ’76: Ghost Stories of the American Revolution.”
“The working title popped up pretty quickly,” Barefoot said in a telephone interview.
As far as he knows, this is the first full length book developed on Revolutionary war spirits, covering all 13 colonies.
He’s thrived by writing books “in a niche that’s not overly saturated.”
“I’ve always been interested in haunted history. I always come across stories I can use for other books.”
North Carolina, although an important state during the Revolutionary War, didn’t have a lot of ghost stories from the era, although it’s a big place with lots of history.
He found New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania had a wealth of stories, and it was hard to pare down what he had. One of his favorites is the story of Mary Ludwig Hays, who traveled with her husband into the war. At the bloody battle of Monmouth, in New Jersey, she repeatedly brought pitchers of water to cool the soldiers and their cannons, earning the name, Molly Pitcher. Some see her ghost offering water to them.
Barefoot, armed with lots of information, had to decide if he would do an anthology of stories or a simple directory of haunted places. In ‘Spirits of ’76,” he did both.
When he had enough information for a full story, he did that, and when it was hard to find the origins of the story, he gives the bare bones, so to speak.
In setting out his stories, Barefoot tried to cover the state, from Kings Mountain in the west to Wilmington. He tried to do South Carolina the same way.
He tracked down one eerie out-of-the-way site, the House in the Horseshoe. “You have to really want to get to the House in the Horseshoe,” Barefoot said, describing the site in Moore County.
The house, still pocked by bullet holes, housed one controversial patriot, and later, a North Carolina governor. It is now owned by the state, and visitors and guides have heard human whispers from the fireplace and shrieks from the short skirmish fought at the home.
Over the years, as he’s collected clippings and other material for his books, he came across our haunted past. He was surprised to discover Delaware had only one major action during the Revolutionary war, but the state provided “stalwart Continental troops at the Battle of Cowpens” and fought at Guilford Courthouse.
Barefoot wrote a three volume set, “North Carolina’s Haunted Hundred,” with ghost stories from every county in the state, and “Haunted Halls of Ivy,” stories of haunted colleges.
And Barefoot wrote a biography of Gen. Robert F. Hoke, for whom the United Daughters of the Confederacy chapter in Salisbury is named.
In 14 years, he’s written 12 nonfiction books. “That’s a lotta research,” Barefoot laughs.
Barefoot will tell and read ghost stories and sign his new book from 5-7 p.m. Friday at Literary Bookpost.