|Some have discovered ruins of a moss covered boat and believe that this marks the spot of the lost Shackle Island where the notorious slave smuggler Patty Cannon hid some of her victims.|
One of Patty's partners was actually a freed black slave himself known as Captain Jack Purnell. He would team up with other black men in the gang and hunt down, lure and capture black men. They would then either deposit these captives at a house near the Woodland Ferry or transport these men down river to a secluded island which was difficult to get to for most boats. But they would use smaller flat bottomed boats to take their prey to a small secluded island in the by waters where they would chain them up to trees and then return for them later. However, there was an occasion where Captain Jack and his men would not return for a few days and in extreme weather, many of the slaves would die shackled to the trees. Jack and his crew would simply dump the bodies into the river to hide the evidence. Whether locals stumbled across the iron shackles in the trees or word got out what was going on, it is unknown. However, the name "Shackle Island" stuck. When the operation was shut down in 1829 with the capture and soon after death of Patty Cannon, the notorious island would fade into history.
|Woodland Ferry in the early 20th century. Former ferry master Patty Cannon used this area as a staging area to gather captured free slaves for transport south. Photo: Department of Transportation http://www.deldot.gov/information/community_programs_and_services/woodland_ferry/galleries.shtml|
As the island was forgotten and over time it became even more difficult to find because the shifting waterways of the Nanticoke River changed the landscape so much. In recent years however, stories have begun to trickle in of hunters and fishermen wandering the area known as Phillips Landing having had some strange experiences. It is rumored that this just may very well be the location of the lost Shackle Island and it isn't even an island any more. With the flow of the Nanticoke River shifting such that it is now a small hill in the middle of swampy area. There has not been any hard evidence such as the remains of iron shackles that have been unearthed to empirically prove that the lost island has been discovered. Those who have found it however, are certain that they have found the lost Shackle Island. Eerie lights seem to draw people to the place and then fade away. Electronic equipment seem to not want to work properly in a certain area of what is today, the Phillips Landing Recreation Area. People have reported strange sounds eminating from the trees as if someone was moaning in agony. Other could swear they heard the faint sounds of chains rattling in the distance. One man who was hunting with a friend, stumbled upon the remains of a rotting moss covered boat in the middle of the woods. This could be evidence that the area was once part of the river itself.
|This may very well be what Shackle Island looks like today. I small rise in a swampy area. The only thing remaining - the spirits of those killed by Patty Cannon. |
Photo credit: © Jason P Ross | Dreamstime.com
The Phillips Landing State Park is near Laurel, Delaware. Based on descriptions of those who believe they have stumbled upon "Shackle Island", it could very well be in the area where Ellis Grove Road ends at latitude: 38.557203 longitude: -75.685774. So if you are out exploring this area of Delaware, be sure to keep an eye and ear out for the ghost slaves of Patty Cannon. Maybe you will be the first to discover absolute proof of the lost Shackle Island!
Related article: The Ghost of Patty Cannon - Woodland Ferry, Delaware
Department of Transportation http://www.deldot.gov/information/community_programs_and_services/woodland_ferry/galleries.shtml