The Legend of Kill Devil
a brief history of kill-devil
Rum was born in the Caribbean, however the exact island of origin is unknown. The first reference to rum is found in the 1650’s from the island of Barbados. The liquor was referred to as “kill-devil.” Rumbullion, along with kill devil, were popular names for rum at this time. The trade in rum soon expanded to the colonies in New England, which is when the Legend of Kill Devil may have arrived on the Outer Banks through shipwrecks.
a brief history of kill devil hills
The more than 1,000 shipwrecks along the Outer Banks have led it to be named “The Graveyard of the Atlantic,” and some of the wreckage contained barrels of rum. The town of Kill Devil Hills is believed to have been named for either barrels of rum of the brand name Kill Devil or for a rum that was “strong enough to kill the devil.” Some believe the ships were lured close to shore on dark nights by a lantern hung from a horse’s (or nag’s) neck and walked along the dunes, causing the ships to wreck on the shallow shoals. This practice gives the adjacent town of Nags Head its name. The story continues with these plundered barrels of rum being hid behind the hill which is now the site of the Wright Brothers Monument. In 1873 the area Lifesaving Station adopted the name Kill Devil Kills followed by the town in 1953.