O.C. “CHRIS” STONESTREET IV, 52, is a lifelong Mooresville resident who teaches history at Mooresville High School. In 2016, he published Curse of the Wampus, and Other Short Spooky Stories of Piedmont North Carolina, a collection of 10 local legends he’s investigated over the years. His family has lived in the area for more than a century, so his fascination with history and folklore spans generations. His father, O.C. “Chip” Stonestreet III, is a longtime writer for the Statesville Record & Landmark, where he writes a weekly column on Iredell County history (see sidebar).
Chris often takes his students through some of the spookiest sites in and around Mooresville. “When you’re teaching, you’re an entertainer,” he says, “and I’ve always been into folklore. It’s like the classic fish story. ‘Did you really catch a fish that big?’ What’s there and what’s not? But with every legend, there’s a kernel of truth.” Here are his stories from three local haunts. His words have been edited for clarity and space.
The Shinnville Witch
JUST OUTSIDE THE WALL of the 200-year-old Mills Family Cemetery near St. James Episcopal Church on Shinnville Road, there’s a small headstone without a name. The legend is, it’s a witch that was killed and buried outside the wall, and her soul still lurks there. It may have been a bogeyman story, or a case of parents trying to keep their children in at night or away from the cemetery.
SEVEN YEARS AGO, I was part of a team from the church to investigate the possibilities of lost or unmarked graves. The church had started burying people there without realizing there were already bodies there. Within weeks, we identified a number of unmarked graves outside of the original walls. Turns out, in the 19th century, people who had committed suicide, murder, or were deemed evil couldn’t be buried in consecrated grounds.
BUT THE MILLS CEMETERY was also established before the Civil War, and burials were segregated. So there is a stone there now that says something like, ‘To the beloved servants, you’re not forgotten.” The church came out and blessed the area, so once they found out, they tried to right that wrong. A legend led to us doing really good research and giving peace to those forgotten for 150 years.
The Girl at the Underpass
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