North Carolina Ghosts and Legends North Carolina Ghost StoriesNorth Carolina Ghost Stories and Legends
Winterville Indian Mound

Many Indian Mounds predate the arrival of the Cherokee people in North Carolina.

Madoc Historical Marker in Mobile Bay

This postacrd shows the marker commemorating the historically dubious journey of Prince Madoc that once stood in Mobile bay.

The Moon-Eyed People are a race of small men who, according to Cherokee legend, live underground and only emerge at night. Unlike the Cherokee, the Moon-Eyed People are bearded and have pale, white skin. The Cherokee knew the Moon-Eyed people primarily from the many remains they left behind — the mounds and low stone walls that can be found throughout the southern Appalachians. Of these monuments, perhaps the most famous is just over the North Carolina border in Georgia at Fort Mountain. Now a state park, Fort Mountain gets its name form the 850 foot long stone wall that varies in height from two to six feet and stretches along the top of the ridge.

According to Cherokee legend, this wall is a remnant of a war that the Moon-Eyed people fought and lost against the Creek, at the end of which they fled further north and deeper into the mountains and took up their subterranean habits. The Creeks drove the Moon-Eyed People from their homeland during a full moon, which even the pale light of is blinding to these nocturnal people. Another version of the story has is that it was the Cherokee themselves who waged war against the Moon-Eyed People, driving them from their home at Hiwassee, a village near what is now Murphy, North Carolina, west into Tennessee.

Apart from their small stature and exclusively nocturnal lifestyle, the Moon-Eyed People, unlike the other Cherokee phantom races such as the Nunnehi or the Yunwi Tsudi, the Moon-Eyed People seem essentially human. Coupled wit'h the fact that they are pale-skinned and bearded has led to a significant amount of speculation that the legend of the Moon-Eyed People represents a Cherokee folk memory of contact with a group of European settlers who made it to the new world before Columbus. That's where the Cherokee legend of the Moon-Eyed People has been matched up with the Welsh legend of Prince Madoc.

According to the Welsh story, Madoc ab Owain Gwynedd was a Welsh prince who, disenchanted with the civil war wracking his homeland, set sail with his brother Rhirid and a few followers in 1170 across the Atlantic Ocean and landed somewhere around Mobile Bay, Alabama. After some exploring up and down the rivers of southern America, Madoc decided he liked the place well enough and decided to move in. Leaving Rhirid and some of his fellow Welshmen behind, Madoc returned to his native country and recruited enough followers to fill ten ships. He and his colonists set sail back to America and was never heard from in the old world again. Some have speculated that the Moon-Eyed People are the descendants of Madoc's colonists.

Although the story gained enough popularity that even Lewis and Clark kept an eye out for the "Welsh Indians" on their famous expedition, there is absolutely no evidence to support the tale. King Owain Gwynedd was a real enough historical figure, but no contemporary source names either a Madoc or a Rhirid as his son. The story of Madoc's journey seems to have arisen around 1580 as a piece of propaganda to bolster England's claim to the new world, which needed some bolstering because at that time England's arch-rival Spain was doing most of the actual colonization in the Americas. The tale even persisted long enough that for a good part of the twentieth century a historical maker commemorating Prince Madoc's journey, and donated by the Daughters of the American Revolution, stood on the beach in Mobile bay until it was removed by a more historically conscientious member of the park service. And, of course, nothing in the Madoc theory explains why a group of Welshman would suddenly turn nocturnal upon finding themselves in Alabama.

Recently, another, even more improbable, story of the nature of the Moon-Eyed People has also been put forth — that the Moon-Eyed People are some part of the vast, pan-dimensional conspiracy of subterranean lizard people that secretly control everything and everyone in the world. This idea, popularized by English paranoid, sports presenter and occasional messiah David Icke, is only mentioned here for the sake of completeness, and will be allowed to rise or fall on the winds of folklore according to its own merits.