Perhaps the most interesting thing about Kill Devil Hills is its name. Many theories surround the origin of this intriguing place name, but the most accepted seems to be that Kill Devil refers to a rum.
Some say the pirates — who once called these shores home — inadvertently named the town. Legend has it that pirates had settled on a large sand dune and spent theirs nights making moonshine. They brewed such horrific batches of rum that they were rumored to "kill the devil." The name stuck.
Others say the town was named after a popular brand of rum called Kill Devil Rum. Still others say that ships returning from the tropics with huge cargo boxes of rum were victims of ship wrecks; the ship's cargo washed up on the shores after the wrecks and the locals were able to enjoy huge amounts of rum - enough to kill the devil!
Perhaps the most fanciful tale involves a destitute hermit who once lived in the woods on the sound side of the barrier island. In desperation, he sold his soul to the Devil in return for a bag of gold. The Devil promised to return one week later to deliver the goods, and in that time, the hermit began to have second thoughts. Legend has it that he devised a plan that would save his soul. He dug a pit in the treacherous quicksand at the base of the sand dune and covered it. On the appointed night, the Devil appeared to collect, and the hermit lured him into the sand pit, where the Devil met his fate.
Regardless, the name appears on maps as early as 1809. A lifesaving station established there in the 1870's bore the name, and when the town incorporated in 1953, it adopted the name as well.