Lake Norman & Mooresville

Believe what you will ...

Andy Poore, the Mooresville Public Library historian, was about to tell me about a librarian ghost there, when the phone went dead.

"Hello?" I said. "Hello? Hello?" Dead silence. Had the ghost swooped in to prevent me from hearing about her?

I had called Poore to ask about ghost stories from Mooresville and the rest of Iredell County.

"Oh, yes," he said. "We have ghosts rambling around." He chuckled and added, "There's a few rattling around. ... There are several citizens of Mooresville who have never left."

Poore told the story of the librarian, Maude Creswell. A civic-minded individual loved by the community, Creswell was walking to the library carrying a parasol (one report said she was returning from lunch).

"We think the parasol was at an angle that she couldn't see the signalman signal the train, getting ready to couple the cars, when the boxcars lurched. The back of the last car hit her. She died.

"It happened at the intersection of the library. Of course, we think Mrs. Creswell never really left the library. She still comes to open it, because every now and then, we'll hear footsteps or get a whiff of an older perfume.

"Other librarians here say books are mysteriously re-shelved or in different order," said Poore.

In Willow Valley Cemetery, where all the graves face east for the sunrise, "I have heard, over the years, stories of specters throughout the cemetery: A lady looking for a grave, a few noises and haunting late, late, late at night," said Poore.

"Of course, it could be the town drunks. But then again, there are some noises that sound out of this world."

Poore knows where the skeletons are.

"Centre Presbyterian Church, one of the oldest churches in North Carolina - organized in 1765 - has an old cemetery where a couple of pirates are buried with nothing but a skull and crossbones on the tombstones.

"There is a story of one gentleman, either a trader or a pirate, buried face-down in one of the old cemeteries around town. The old tradition is to be buried facing the church, which is your pathway to heaven. It's sanctified. To be buried face-down was an insult."

Poore was on a roll.

"The old Rufus Reid Plantation, as you come into Mount Mourne, has a basement where slaves were held. Supposedly, the shackles are still there, and rumors are that you can hear the shackles rattle.

"Legend is the Depot is haunted," said Poore. "People hear the old baggage carts with metal wheels rolling across the Depot."

The old Bostian Bridge, where a train wreck happened in Statesville in the 1890s, is visited by spirits, he said. And at the main building at Mitchell College, "I've heard tons of people tell me they hear footsteps upstairs, where the girl's dormitories were, and stories of footsteps and giggling."

Finally, Poore finished with his own ghost story. It happened in 2004 at the Old City Jail in Statesville.

"I am not a big ghost believer and all that stuff, but ... " One night, he said, he was alone in the building. "I heard footsteps coming from downstairs, where there were holding cells, the furnace and sleeping quarters for the night watchman. I had been told one of the old watchmen from the turn of the century still roamed the building to light the fires.

"I heard footsteps on the old iron stairs. I (went) over to the stairs. I opened the door, flipped on the light, and there was nobody coming up the stairs. But ... I heard old hard-soled shoes slowly coming up the stairs.

"Footsteps. They ... walked right past me, over the tile floor past me and on upstairs. I thought, 'OK, I'm going to let him light the fires, and I'm going outside.' "