Diamond shoals would become famous for its unpredictability and the number of shipwrecks that it contributed to the "Graveyard of the Atlantic," coined by a young Alexander Hamilton, who remembered how it almost took his life one day. Diamond shoals was the meeting point of the currents and it also forms the tip of the island that we call Hatteras, home to the ironically peaceful Croatoan Indians that once sheltered the first English visitors to these shores.
The early days of North Carolina were filled with rough and tumble types, many of them coming to Carolina because they couldn't make it elsewhere in America. Cape Hatteras, also was the last place in the rowdy southern colony that anyone in their right mind would settle. So, for a murder to occur there was by no means a surprise.
Newspapers carried notices like this 1719 Boston newspaper ad... Cape Hatteras as a dangerous endpoint of a dangerous range on the eastern seaboard:
Almost every reference I have ever found was to Cape Hatteras as a place you should NOT go. What's more is that Blackbeard (the most famous pirate of the Carolina shores) was killed just southwest of Hatteras in 1718. He hung out in North Carolina for the weather... right! No, it was because anyone else would be foolish to try to brave the dangerous shoals and come after him there. Ask Kevin Duffus who just wrote a great new book on the man.
One thing that Duffus was convinced of... and that was that Capt. Edward Teach, Thatch... maybe "Beard"... was not that unusual... not compared with other North Carolina residents of the time, especially residents of the Outer Banks. Many of his former crew members may have come back to Bath after being released by Gov. Alexander Spotswood, subsequently let off the hook by North Carolina's governor, Charles Eden (Blackbeard's buddy), and even became influential Carolina citizens (the very wealthy "cooper," Edward Salter, for one). James Robbins came back to bath, but still liked carousing and drinking and loving the ladies too much... he even got in the court records for loving more than one lady at the same time!
I think you get the impression that pirating was a fairly common profession for our ancestors. Undoubtedly so on Hatteras.
Of the early colonial grants on Hatteras Island, we find three men specifically that obtained grants in the same area of the island. Henry Davis obtained 320 Acres "joining on ye Indian town" (probably the one that John Lawson visited in 1701... of the three towns, that is) on Sept 19th, 1716. Three weeks later, Patrick Callihan & John ONeal were granted land adjoining each other on Tom King's Creek in present Frisco. These grants were not surveyed very well (probably from the sound in a boat) and the direction of the creek was misjudged. Consequently, Callihan & ONeal's grants were quite a bit different than they originally assumed, with the creek suddenly turning east a few hundred feet from its mouth on the sound's edge. ONeal very likely lost a lot of land. Callihan, on the other hand stood to gain much more than his original 200 Acres.
But, there was a problem... that Davis grant three weeks earlier had been made on both Callihan and ONeal's later patents. That's right, there was a portion of that land owned by two men at once. Callihan and Davis shared the greater portion.
Now, most men gathered as much land as they could in the colony and may not have even visited their grants right away with so much more to look after. So, there was no reason to worry... for awhile.
It seems that John ONeal was doing well for himself, paying his quitrents mostly on time (he slipped one year but made up for it the next). But, Patrick Callihan and Henry Davis were not so lucky. Tax lists for 1718 & 1719 show both men in arrears. A "Denis Callahan"of Currituck County (where Hatteras was at this time) lost land in 1719, perhaps a relative of Patrick Callihan. So, the Callihan family was perhaps not financially secure. Henry Davis was still in arrears by 1000 Acres, but not yet in dire straits.
Then, something happened. The North Carolina Colonial Records ( http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr02-0226 ) had this to say in 1722:
Minutes of the General Court of North Carolina
There was more than one murder on the daily docket for this wild colony (William Maccoy charged with two! And, him being my own ancestor is not just a little uncomfortable...)... still, notice the names in bold print. Callihan and Davis obviously had their own argument about something... I'll give you three guesses.
Continuing in court, 1722: