Tag Archives: Pirates

Document Facsimiles Relating to Blackbeard and the Queen Anne’s Revenge on Display at the State Archives of North Carolina

[This blog post comes from Donna E. Kelly, head of the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

A page of handwritten text of Court minutes for men accused of storing Blackbeard's booty.

Part of the General Court minutes for men accused of storing Blackbeard’s booty. Colonial Court Records. State Archives of North Carolina [call number: C.C.R. 103]

To commemorate the 300th anniversary of Blackbeard’s death, the State Archives of North Carolina is displaying several facsimiles of documents relating to his exploits along the coast, including his capture and death. The display, “Gone Out a Pirateing”: Blackbeard and the Queen Anne’s Revenge, is currently on display in the State Archives’ Search Room and will run through early October.

“Gone Out a Pirateing” features a 1709 map of North Carolina and pages from the Chowan General Court Papers and the Executive Council Journal, both dated 1719. They include descriptive testimony against Edward Thatch, otherwise known as Blackbeard. The display also includes photocopies of four documents from the British National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office [PRO]). They were obtained through the Colonial Records Project, an initiative in the 1960s to copy all documents pertaining to North Carolina that were filed in the PRO.

From September 18 through October 1, this small exhibit will be displayed on the second floor of the Archives and History/State Library Building (109 East Jones St., Raleigh). It will run Tuesdays through Fridays, 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturdays, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. A digitized version of the document, with additional pages, is available for viewing 24/7 in the North Carolina Digital Collections.


The Scary Truth Series, Pt. III

This is the third of three entries in a special Halloween-inspired blog series highlighting a collection of ghost stories, legends, folklore, and facts from North Carolina. Like sweet tea and college basketball, folklore is a major part of North Carolina’s cultural heritage. Legends and stories passed down from generations keep the state’s history alive and ultimately help us remember life as it once was. 

The Scary Truth Series, Pt. I
The Scary Truth Series, Pt. II

The Ghost Ship: Carroll A. Deering

Another quintessential characteristic of North Carolina culture is its rich maritime history, from shipwrecks as common as today’s car accidents and epic pirate tales that are almost beyond belief. Over 5,000 historic shipwrecks have been documented along the North Carolina coast, giving it the appropriate nickname, the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” This leads us to one of the most legendary maritime mysteries in the state’s history: the wreck of the Carroll A. Deering, otherwise known as the “Ghost Ship” of the Outer Banks.


Carroll A. Deering, built in 1919 in Bath, Maine – National Park Service Collection, courtesy of the Outer Banks History Center.

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Avast, Ye Varmints! There’s Pirates In Them Thar Hills!

By Author and WRA Volunteer- Lorraine Norwood

Landlubbers  take heed – the most feared pirate of the Caribbean was not Johnny Depp. It was Blackbeard, North Carolina’s own bad boy, who robbed, pillaged, and plundered and came to a bad end in 1718. And now Blackbeard and his flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge (QAR), are setting sail for the Western Regional Office of the Department of Cultural Resources. The interactive traveling exhibit features a salt-water tank, gold flakes, lead shot, ballast stones, a six-pound cannon ball, a pipe stem, pewter dinner plate, and more, all found on excavations of the QAR.

Although the Western Office is pretty far from the ocean, folks here are getting in the spirit – we’re gathering eye patches, swords, and practicing our pirate-speak. Arghhhh, me mateys!

Blackbeard, an Englishman thought to be named Edward Teach, exploited his cult of personality and in a few short years forever linked his name to the Golden Age of Piracy. Around 1714, he hit the high seas in search of treasure, sailing out of the Bahamas and Jamaica, capturing and looting large merchant vessels. In 1717, he captured a large French ship and converted her to his uses, equipping her with 40 guns, and a crew of 300 pirates. He renamed her Queen Anne’s Revenge.

To add to his fearsome reputation, he created an outlandish costume designed to scare the heebie-jeebies out of merchant sailors. He braided his bushy black hair and beard into pigtails which he tied with colorful ribbons. Before he attacked his prey, he tucked fuses under the brim of his hat so that his head appeared to be smoking. To further intimidate, he brandished a couple of pistols and an oversized cutlass in a sling across his chest. Often when confronted with the scary sight of Blackbeard and the Queen Anne’s Revenge, many merchant ships surrendered without a fight.
But like a lot of big-name stars, Teach may have gotten too big for his britches. Near the end of May 1718, Teach and his flotilla blockaded Charleston, SC, the busiest port of the southern colonies, and looted all vessels going in or out. Afterwards, they sailed northward into Old Topsail Inlet near Beaufort, North Carolina. The QAR and the sloop Adventure ran aground on a sandbar and were abandoned. Blackbeard headed north to the town of Bath on the Pamlico River where he put away his fearsome fuses and cutlass, received a pardon from the governor, and married for the 14th (!) time. But like most bad boys, he couldn’t stay good for long.

Six months later, he took to the seas again, plundering ships coming through Ocracoke Inlet. There he encountered an armed contingent sent by the governor of the Colony of Virginia. In a desperate battle aboard Lieutenant Robert Maynard’s sloop, Blackbeard and a number of his fellow pirates were killed. Maynard hung Blackbeard’s severed head from the bowsprit to prove that the infamous pirate could plunder no more.

Blackbeard passed into legend, as did the whereabouts of his flagship, supposedly lost on a sandbar in North Carolina’s infamously tricky waters. Several historical sources and local lore put the shipwreck of the QAR squarely in what is now called Beaufort Inlet, but many professionals disagreed. The controversy was put to rest in 1996 when a private research firm searching the seabed near the inlet found diagnostic 18th century artifacts, including a bronze bell dated 1705, an English blunderbuss barrel, and a cluster of cannon and anchors. The state’s underwater archaeology branch dived on the site in 1997. In further dives, archaeologists mapped the site and raised hundreds of artifacts, including 13 cannon, cannon balls, and a 12-foot long anchor. The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
A permanent exhibit of the Queen Anne’s Revenge is on display at the North Carolina Maritime Museum, the official repository for artifacts from the QAR. The museum is located at 315 Front Street in Beaufort.

The Maritime Museum is sending the traveling exhibit to several locations in the state, the first being the Western Regional Office in Asheville. The exhibit opened June 1 and runs through July 13, 2013. Regular hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The Western Regional Office is located at 176 Riceville Road, Asheville, NC. For more information on the exhibit or 2nd Saturday programs, call 828-296-7230.

If you come to visit, we promise our pirates will be nice. In fact, we won’t even make you walk the plank!

Representative Nathan Ramsey poses with our Jr. Tarheel Historian Pirates for the opening of the travelling exhibit in Asheville