The Deep South has a rich and colorful history, as well as a dark and tortured one. People born and raised in Dixie, as the South is often called, know better than anyone that southern land is haunted by restless souls that wander through the night. Some of these souls are benevolent and do no harm other than to scare people out of their wits. As for the rest of the wandering souls in the South, be warned, they are not to be messed with. One such ghost that comes to mind is the ghost of the South’s most infamous prostitute, a woman who went by the name of Molly Hatchet. Men that crossed paths with her were known to lose their heads in the process.
The legend of Molly Hatchet dates back to the Civil War. In 1864 a Confederate soldier went missing from his unit just outside of Cold Harbor, Va. He was later found in a local boardinghouse, his body on the bed and his head on the floor. Witnesses said they had seen him in the company of a beautiful young woman just hours before his headless body was found.
In 1879 in the small harbor town of Beaufort, SC, sailors from the ships that visited the port were told stories about a mysterious woman outside of town whose business was to deal in the pleasures of the flesh. They were all warned by their captains to stay away from her. Many of them did, but on one fateful night a sailor from a visiting steamship, lonely from months at sea and in dire need of a woman, decided to pay Molly a visit. The next morning his headless body was found lying in an alley behind the local saloon. His head was never found.
Three years after the 1879 beheading, Molly was seen again setting up shop near Boone, a small town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Mountain men at the time were known to be lonely and Molly cashed in on this loneliness by collecting their heads. Five headless bodies were found before Molly disappeared from town in 1881.
Many Southerners that lived during the time of Molly Hatchet believed that she was a ghost, a demon of sorts, sent to punish the men of the South for their participation in the Civil War. Others felt that she was sent to punish men in general for the wickedness that existed in society during the Reconstruction years. No one knows for sure. But no woman ever lost her head at the hands of Molly Hatchet. Only men bore the brunt of her rage.
It was said that Molly Hatchet possessed such striking beauty, as well as a body no man could resist, that she had no trouble luring men into her parlor despite the rumors that circulated about her. And no one knows if Molly Hatchet actually let her clients enjoy her body before beheading them. The only people that know the answer to that question are her victims, and like the pirates used to say, dead men tell no tales.
Legend has it that the ghost of Molly Hatchet can be summoned even today. Her ghost is said to fancy dark and lonely stretches of railroad tracks throughout the South. If a man is so inclined, he need only walk the tracks in the dead of night and call out her name.
He won’t be the first man to lose his head over a woman.