Vol. 11


Chat and Thomas

before 1861; Hyde County, North Carolina, USA

The story of Chat and Thomas has been passed down for many generations in my family. It was told by my great-grandfather to my grandmother, and finally to me. Now I would love to share it with you!

Chat and Thomas lived in Hyde County prior to the Civil War, near the community of Slocum. They both worked on the plantation of a man named Mr. Watson. Chat was a slave who worked in the fields, and Thomas, the overseer, was responsible for making sure that the work done by the slaves was done in a timely and efficient manner.

Chat was resentful and angry, and never tried to hide his bad feelings. Thomas was very impatient and always wanted things done his way. He especially had little patience with people with a bad attitude. From these two descriptions, it is already easy to tell that Chat and Thomas never got along with each other.

One oppressively hot day they started arguing about a horse on the farm. Thomas ordered Chat to water the horses, and when Chat said that he already had, Thomas was quick to accuse him of lying. Angry, Thomas picked up a nearby hoe and smacked Chat in the head. Yelling, mad, and bleeding, Chat grabbed a shovel and struck Thomas, killing him instantly.

Chat died from his wound as well. Both men were buried in the land behind the manor house in the woods. Several weeks after their burial, a servant rushed into Mr. Watson’s dining room while he and his family were having supper. She told the Watsons to come quickly because Chat and Thomas were outside fighting. They thought she was crazy, because Chat and Thomas were obviously dead, but they followed anyway.

When they looked out the door, the whole family did indeed see two big balls of fire come up from the ground, hit each other repeatedly, and then go back — only to repeat again.

Many people since that time have claimed to see the lights in Hyde County. The fight once took place in the field adjoining my great-grandmother’s land. Although she herself has never seen the fire, her father said he had. He vividly described one time as a young boy when he and his father were at the barnyard and watched the fire fight for thirty minutes. He said the lights truly looked like Chat and Thomas fighting.

Many people say that it is just a legend. My grandmother thinks that it could have been heat lightning, because it always happened on hot and humid nights. Despite this, all of those who have seen it claim that it was Chat and Thomas.

I guess next time I’m in Hyde County, I’ll just have to see for myself.


Gray Perry; North Carolina, USA



This copyrighted story may be copied and/or printed for limited classroom or personal use. To reprint this story in an article about The Grannie Annie, please contact The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration for permission.


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