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The Dark Side of Davie County

In the heart of North Carolina’s Piedmont region, Davie County is known for the natural beauty of its countryside, the creativity of its people, and a love of fun. But there is a darker and lesser-known side to this peaceful community. Piedmont storytellers and everyday citizens quietly share cryptic whispers- legends of frightening encounters with the marvelous and the mysterious.

Strange and sinister creatures may lurk even now- barely out of view in our shadowy forests and along the misty banks of the Yadkin River. Read on if you dare, as we share eerie and fascinating tales of the unexplained.  

Davie County’s Ghostly Visitors and Haunted Places

The unknown can be frightening, but it is not always malevolent. The intriguing case of the Chaffin family’s helpful visitation is a compelling example. 

The Chaffin Ghost

In September of 1921, tragedy struck the Chaffin family of Mocksville, North Carolina. The untimely death of their beloved patriarch, James L. Chaffin, left his wife and four sons in despair. James had a special bond with his son Marshall and had entrusted him with his will. However, when the will was read, it unleashed another wave of devastation upon the family.

It was no secret that Marshall was his father’s favorite, but the contents of the will revealed a shocking truth. To the dismay of Mrs. Chaffin and the three other brothers, it bequeathed everything solely to Marshall, leaving them nothing. Despite this seemingly cruel decision, the Chaffin family didn’t challenge it.

Marshall and his wife, Susie, took over the family farm, and if the other brothers harbored any hidden resentment, it had no time to fester. Within a year, Marshall fell victim to a heart condition and joined his father in death. Consequently, the legacy passed to Marshall’s widow and their son. The situation could have easily fueled bitterness, but the remaining Chaffin family members chose a different path. 

Mrs. Chaffin and her sons soldiered on, resiliently forging ahead as the years passed. Then, one night, James Pinkney Chaffin, also known as “Pink,” began to be besieged by vivid and haunting dreams where his father silently appeared at his bedside, clad in a familiar black overcoat. 

One fateful evening in June of 1925, Pink’s dreams took an unexpected turn. His father returned, this time with something important to convey. At last, his father spoke, although his words were shrouded in mystery. The apparition uttered the words, “You’ll find my will in my overcoat pocket.”

Pink was skeptical, but he decided to follow his father’s instructions. He went to the attic and found the overcoat, just as his father had described. Inside the pocket, he found a weathered scroll with a handwritten message from his father:

“Read the 27th Chapter of Genesis in my daddie’s old Bible.”

Pink was stunned. He knew that the 27th chapter of Genesis told the story of Jacob and Esau, two brothers who competed for their father’s blessing. In the end, Jacob tricked his father into giving him the blessing meant for his brother.

Pink wondered what his father was trying to tell him. He went to his mother’s house and found the old Bible. He opened it to the 27th chapter of Genesis, where he found a second will, dated eleven years after the original. It divided the Chaffin fortune equally among the four sons.

Pink was overjoyed. He now knew that his father had wanted to be fair to all of his sons, but he had made a mistake in the original will. Pink and his brothers would finally receive their inheritance thanks to his father’s spectral message.

Photo Courtesy of Digital Davie

He took the new will to court and filed a petition to declare it valid. The Davie County Superior Court faced a unique situation as it dealt with a case involving supernatural elements. This unprecedented occurrence garnered significant media attention, with various newspapers interviewing Pink regarding his late father’s alleged communication from the afterlife. 

Anticipating a fierce legal battle, all parties arrived at the courtroom prepared for a heated dispute. However, much to their surprise, a resolution was reached during a recess. Even Marshall’s widow, Susie, reluctantly agreed that the signature on the second will was indeed authentic.

The mystery of the Chaffin ghost remains. Was this truly a message from beyond the grave? Or was it all a hoax perpetrated by the Chaffin brothers to reclaim their inheritance? Pink himself always kept his story and the mystical interpretation of it the same. He stated, “I was fully convinced that my father’s spirit had visited me for the purpose of explaining some mistake.”

Whatever the truth, the Chaffin ghost case remains a fascinating and unforgettable tale of a father’s love from beyond the grave! 

Haunted Places

Have you found yourself alone at night and heard unexplained noises? Have you ever had a fleeting glimpse of movement out of the corner of your eye, even though no one else was around? We’ve all had experiences like these that leave us unsettled and searching for answers. Those mysterious moments make us wonder if some people and places are more haunted than others.

In Davie County, whispers of odd occurrences and unexplained disappearances have spread far and wide. The strange thing is, there’s no clear pattern to these incidents. People have reported bizarre sounds and marveled at objects moving on their own- not just in their homes or churches but also in rural fields and along lonely roads.

Some of these unsettling occurrences happened years ago, but there are also recent reports from intrepid modern ghost hunters and unsuspecting bystanders. Rather than fully revealing the truth, these stories often leave us with more questions.

Halloween at Bailey’s Chapel by Alvin Howard

The Church on Cherry Hill

The old church at the corner of Cherry Hill and Point Roads was once a favorite haunt of Davie County teens.  The kids would hang out and even spook each other in the dark. It was all in good fun, but there’s more to this place than meets the eye.

One brave witness mentioned that although they don’t believe in the paranormal, the spot has always left them uneasy. The church’s location and graveyard add a mysterious allure to the place. Nearby is a burned-out house that was said to be haunted. 

Throughout the century, there have been accounts of chilling temperatures, moving shadows, and growling or footsteps outside the church building.  Visitors to the site have experienced rocks flying through the air, and some have described a strange blue light that seems to glow behind the windows of the empty church building.

No backstory for this location would explain such unusual (supernatural?) experiences. Still, the Cherry Hill area was a notorious bootlegger hideout during prohibition. Is it possible that an echo of violence was left behind? 

The house considered haunted was built by Giles Mumford around 1812 and stood at Mumford and Wilkesboro Streets.

A Mocksville Haunting

In 1812, a tragic incident cast a long shadow over the small town of Mocksville. The loss of a beloved child left the community devastated, and soon after, whispers of a haunted house began to circulate. It was rumored that a mischievous, childlike spirit haunted the Mumford family home. The mournful tale took root when the child’s casket unexpectedly tumbled from the wagon on its way to Salisbury for burial.

The home is now gone, but those who live near the intersection of Mumford Drive and Wilkesboro Street may occasionally glimpse an impish figure wandering at dusk or shudder to hear spectral sounds of playful laughter from the child ghost of Mocksville. 

A Haunted History

The history of this old farmhouse is shrouded in uncertainty. It has been known by various names – the Roberts House, the Hendricks House, or the Pruett-Roberts House. For more than 180 years, it has graced northeastern Davie County, witnessing the ebb and flow of time.

Nestled within eight shady acres, the old plantation house reflects the idyllic beauty of our rural landscape. But beneath a picturesque facade, the new owner has sensed a presence.

Shortly after purchasing the property, they began much-needed renovations. Contractors working on the plantation house were the first to report strange noises and inexplicable activities. Some refused to continue working at the home. 

The new owner soon began to suffer frightening encounters while alone in the house. Lights and faucets turned off and on by themselves, doors opened and closed, shattered glass appeared in a sink, and footsteps sounded on the stairs.

The new family contacted the previous owners to investigate whether they had similar experiences. They told a tale of the spirit of a former enslaved woman named Phoebe, whose home had been a small room in the servant’s quarters on the second floor. 

Phoebe’s unsettling manifestation has made true believers of the newest residents.  

Joppa Cemetery, one of the county’s oldest graveyards, counts many prominent citizens, including Henry R. Austin, Ephraim Gaither, William Booe March, and C.C. Sanford, Squire, and Sarah Boone.

Is The Joppa Cemetery Haunted?

The Joppa Cemetery is a historic graveyard and contains many of the oldest graves in Davie County, but is it haunted? Ancient gravestones tell a melancholy story of life on the frontier: poverty-stricken families ravaged by violent death and disease, high infant mortality, and women dying in childbirth. 

But the Joppa Cemetery is also the last resting place of well-known and wealthy citizens of our past, such as P.F. Meroney, who was Thomas Jefferson’s nephew, and Thomas and Rufus Brown, who were heirs to the Brown and Brown tobacco fortune – a forerunner of R.J. Reynolds. Family members of Daniel Boone lie here, as does a close relative of Davie County resident, Hinton Rowan Helper, a critic of slavery and author of The Impending Crisis of the South

Soldiers who suffered savage deaths during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars share space with those who passed away peacefully in their sleep here under quiet oaks and cedars.

It would be surprising if there were not murmurs of encounters with the restless souls of the Joppa Burying ground.  It has been said that upon a moonlit night, the sounds of marching troops fill the grounds. Some have had fleeting sights of specters in old-fashioned clothing and military garb. Is the Joppa Cemetery a place where the spiritual and physical intersect, or are these stories of the uncanny merely the troubled creation of overactive imaginations and an eerie atmosphere? 

The Sudden Death of William Craig at Boxwood Lodge

Many years ago, William and Margaret Craig owned an expansive hunting retreat called Boxwood Lodge. It was said that Mrs. Craig loathed visiting the somewhat rustic hunting cabin located near the Yadkin River in Southern Davie County. But her husband, the colossally wealthy William Rabb Craig, a New York cotton and sugar broker, loved it. He eventually purchased over thirty pieces of land to create a hunting paradise. 

One October day in 1931, William and his wife traveled in their opulent private railroad car from New York to Salisbury, NC. Their loyal chauffeur transported them to the hunting lodge, where William Craig suddenly became ill and died on the premises. 

After his untimely death, his wife quickly tore down the hunting lodge and had the current mansion built. She permanently moved into the large country house, where she entertained lavishly and often. 

She built the estate at Boxwood Lodge during the Great Depression. Delano and Aldrich, one of the nation’s prominent architectural firms of the Gilded Age, were the designers. It is their only known work in North Carolina, making it architecturally significant. 

This beautiful home is a successful Bed and Breakfast and a lovely wedding venue today. But we wonder if the rumblings are true that the spirit of William Craig still wanders the scene of his unfortunate death, mourning the destruction of his beloved rural hunting grounds.  

Strange Beasts and Mythical Creatures

North Carolina monsters dwell deep in the forests and rivers. Chance meetings with these creatures are documented not only in our folklore but also in the annuals of our newspapers. Local newspapers report accounts of giant snakes living in the Yadkin River, appearances of the skunk-apes, ghosts, fairies, Big Foot, and even an ancient giant cat-like creature called the Santer.

The Davie County Santer

The first Davie County sighting of the Santer was documented in 1890. Witnesses spotted the monster all along the borders of Davie, Iredell, and Rowan Counties, where pets and small farm animals began to disappear. The community discovered tracks that measured 8 inches long and 4 inches wide. Those who had seen the creature stated the Santer was an enormous cat-like beast with long fur, glowing eyes, fangs, and a muscular tail that it used to stun its prey before it killed.

Fear struck the hearts of everyone who lived in the area. Families kept their children close. Eventually, the disappearances lessened, and people returned to their daily lives. The Santer reappeared in 1899 and again carried off and killed small animals. There were no reported human attacks or deaths from the fearsome Santer. 

The Davie Bigfoot

In 2019, Davie County gained national attention when a flood of 911 calls poured in, reporting sightings of a nine-foot-tall wooden carving of Bigfoot with glowing eyes. This unique creation was the work of our local artist, Jeff Hursey. However, what’s fascinating is that documented sightings of the elusive Bigfoot had occurred many years before the existence of the “Davie Bigfoot” and the other massive wooden sculptures that now grace Pine Ridge Road in Mocksville, North Carolina.

One of the defining geographical features of this area is the Yadkin River, one of the longest rivers in North Carolina. It meanders through numerous counties in the North Carolina Piedmont, spanning 21 counties across the state. Remarkably, this region has also been notable for Bigfoot and cryptid sightings.

Let’s step back to a hot August in 1977. Three adventurous teenagers celebrated the end of summer with a campout spurred by their love for exploring the woods and caves behind their homes. They pitched a tent in a field near the woods and started a campfire. 

However, their peaceful evening took an eerie turn when they heard what sounded like something swiftly approaching from the woods. Fearing the unknown, they made a hasty retreat, putting some distance between them and the source of the sound. As they glanced back, they saw a towering, hairy man-like creature.

Terrified, they managed to escape, but the beast pursued them. They sought refuge in a nearby home, where they could hear the creature circling outside. In the light of day, they braved an investigation of their now-disheveled and foul-smelling campsite. To their astonishment, they discovered tree branches snapped off at heights of up to eight feet, marking the mysterious visitor’s passage.

Fast forward to a summer day in 1992, near the Davie/Iredell line along the Yadkin River. A young person, taking a break from a summer job, stumbled upon a mysterious creature they would later identify as a Bigfoot. Initially mistaking it for a large dog sitting on the riverbank, they approached without much concern. However, as they drew nearer, they realized that what they had taken for a canine was, in fact, a creature with a shaggy appearance. A strange sensation washed over them, and as they locked eyes with the being, the realization struck: it was not human. This eyewitness described it as resembling a character from the Star Wars movies – a Wookie. It had similar coloring and hair.  Without warning, the monster bolted, leaving the witness’s heart racing.

Throughout the 2000s, researchers continued to document Bigfoot sightings in the area. Hunters, kayakers on the Yadkin River, and local farmers all had incredible stories to share—tales brief glimpses of fast-moving, towering, and remarkably hairy creatures. The mystique of Bigfoot endures in Davie County, where the line between fact and folklore remains tantalizingly blurred.

In recent years, the area has experienced a series of unsettling events involving the violent deaths of several family pets. Witnesses shared a common belief: they suspected that the Bigfoot, which they had encountered years before, had returned.

Bizarre and Inexplicable Davie County Happenings 

Every town has spooky stories the old-timers tell, and our community is no different. Some of these chilling stories were reported in our Mocksvile Enterprise and thus have been preserved for us to read and shiver. 

Disappearance at Greasy Corner

At about 8:00 p.m. on Friday, December 30, 1930, just days after the infamous Lawson murders on Christmas Eve in Stokes County, a mysterious disappearance occurred near Cooleemee. 

Two cars were allegedly involved in an automobile wreck near Jerusalem (now Hwy. 601 S.). Although no one saw an accident, both cars appeared to have been knocked completely off the road.  Passers-by reported the vehicles to the sheriff. 

Taylor’s garage was located close by at “Greasy Corner (so-called by locals to this day because there was a garage or a gas station on each corner of this intersection), so he was called out in the cold and the dark to tow the vehicles. 

When he and the sheriff arrived, no drivers could be found. The cars were oddly undamaged. The drivers had disappeared and were never heard from again. Taylor towed the vehicles to his garage, where, as far as we know, they remain. 

Goolsby, the coachman at Cooleemee Plantation, hid the Hairston’s household silver from Yankee soldiers during the Civil War. (Courtesy of Peter W. Hairston.)

The Missing Silver of The Cooleemee Plantation

In October 2011, the Davie County Sheriff’s Office reported a break-in at the historic Cooleemee Plantation in Mocksville. Shockingly, a quantity of historical silverware and family jewelry were stolen from the Hairston family, the owners of the plantation. Twelve spoons among the stolen silverware bear the renowned “PR” hallmark, indicating that Paul Revere handcrafted them.

The stolen items also included a locally famous tea set. The silver tea service had been hidden in the Cooleemee woods by an enslaved man named John Goolsby during the Civil War.  Once General George Stoneman’s Union troops had marched through Mocksville, the enslaved servants retrieved the silverware and returned it to the family. 

The main suspect in the 2011 robbery was the infamous silver thief with his own Wikipedia page, known as the “burglar to the stars”- Blane Nordahl. Detectives chased the notorious cat burglar for decades until they finally captured him in 2013. He is believed to be responsible for over thirty years of antique silver thefts in multiple states. Sadly, the stolen items have not been recovered.

A Mysterious and Magical Land 

Those with mystic abilities (the sight) tell us that mischievous and magical forest folk, or fairies, inhabit our trees and riverbanks. Evidence of their activities includes “fairy circles” and “fairy stones” discovered only on enchanted ground. The wee folk are prone to pranks and are known for their love of nature. Even now, we seek to please them by building tiny fairy gardens and homes. Perhaps we will escape their tricks if they are charmed by our offerings! 

The Town of Mocksville celebrates these captivating creatures yearly with a Fairy Walk. Every summer, families gather in historic Downtown Mocksville. We hope you will join us and bring all your little changelings – it’s an occasion to dress up, paint your face, wear fairy hair, and follow the Fairy Map to all the treats and fun! 

We have heard that the Fairy Walk is not the only time you might meet these merry sprites. They love to visit our world from the Fairy Kingdom. Fairies are known to be busiest in midsummer, so keep your eyes open and share your tale with us if you spy one! 

The entrance to an old gold mine below ground on Calahaln Mountain.

The Callahan Mountain Gold Mine

Did you know that the Gold Rush started here in the Piedmont? Before California’s Gold Fever of 1848, North Carolina’s Piedmont Gold Rush ignited in 1799. In fact, at one time, North Carolina led the nation in gold production and was the largest gold-producing state in the South into the 20th century. 

Davie County’s (and much of the Piedmont’s) gold deposits were close to the surface and so could be panned from the creeks and rivers or dug by hand from the ground. Maps and county records document Davie County gold mines’ locations, successes, and failures. 

One well-known Davie County gold mine was at Callahan Mountain.

Most wise residents knew that true wealth is found in having “enough.” Local farmers often considered panning for gold a blessing – simply a way to supplement their seasonal agricultural income rather than feverishly toiling day and night to amass a great fortune.  

By the late 1820s, part-time prospecting in creeks had turned into deep-mining operations in some areas, and small mining companies replaced miner-farmers. By the Civil War, mining activity waned because finding gold required digging deeper, yielding little gold and less profit.

North Carolina has hundreds of abandoned historic mines, many of which are dangerously uncharted. Some of them have created sinkholes. The hole at Callahan Mountain, the highest point in Callahan Township, is the entrance to one such collapsed mine. 

Animals and people have been known to fall in and have to navigate their way through its terrifying tunnels. Old-timers share grim stories of those lost and rescued. 

You can read more about the old mine in the Davie County Enterprise, where local Renegade Writer’s Guild member Linda Barnette shared her tale, The Old Mountain Place.

The Goat Man Storyteller

Charles “Ches” McCartney was an eccentric storyteller who wandered the county in a wagon pulled by nine goats. He lived on goat’s milk, rarely bathed, and often wore clothing made of goatskin, earning him the nickname “The Goat Man.” For nearly four decades (from 1930 to 1968), he preached and told tall tales wherever he went.

We may owe our knowledge of some of the stories we enjoy today to quirky and unconventional Davie County folk like Ches.

The Truth is Out There

Our community understands the importance of preserving and passing down our cultural heritage, even the strange and unusual parts! 

Our fears, flaws, and frailties are indeed revealed in gothic folklore, but the fact that some things in life may never be fully explained is part of what makes them so fascinating.

We chuckle nervously and label such tales as fabrication or fantasy, but we still paint our porch ceilings the perfect shade of haint blue and adorn our trees with blue bottles as protection from evil. 

We may never confess it, but we keep our ears attuned and our eyes wide open while walking through a tangled wood or paddling along a peaceful river, for sometimes fact is stranger than fiction. 

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