On the banks of the Pasquotank River in Elizabeth City, a Yankee merchant took up residence in 1898, along with his family --consisting of his wife and several pretty daughters.
One of the daughters, Nellie was especially attractive and many a young man found a way and means of being presented to ''Beautiful Nell Cropsey.''
One November evening in 1901, Nell and her suitor of three years, Jim Wilcox, had been arguing, apparently about his failure to produce a marriage proposal. Later in the evening, Nell vanished without a trace. Her suitor became a suspect in her disappearance, but no body was found, though the area was searched for days.
In December a letter arrived which included a diagram marked with an ''X'' which proclaimed to be the spot where Nell's body would be found. The letter was not given much notice; however, five days later her body was indeed found near the spot marked on the mysterious chart.
The suitor was subsequently arrested, tried and sent off to prison where he remained until pardoned by the governor in 1920. After his release, he lived as a recluse, and several years later took his own life with a shotgun, perhaps taking with him the truth regarding the death of Beautiful Nell Cropsey