31 Oct 2017
Today we celebrate Halloween with a 130-year-old Cabarrus ghost story.
On a dark evening in early April of 1887, Columbus Misenheimer, a well-known carpenter of township No. 7 (Gold Hill), was walking home rather late from work. With still some distance to go, he stopped to borrow a lantern at the home of his parents, Mann Reid Misenheimer and Jane Susannah Rufty Misenheimer, then continued on his way.
He had only gone a short distance when he saw another light approaching from the other direction. As the light grew close, to his sudden and infinite horror, the figure holding the light was a man…or at least the upper half of a man. According to an article that appeared in The Concord Times, Misenheimer avowed that the man’s head, arms, and body were clearly defined, but he was without legs and feet.
As Misenheimer was about to take off in a fright, the apparition spoke to him kindly, assuring him he would not be harmed. The spirit said he actually had good news to share and that if Misenheimer followed, he would lead him to hidden treasures of gold.
Misenheimer’s fear was quickly overcome with curiosity and the prospect of fortune. He followed the apparition to the garden of Mr. George Lentz and was told that this is where he should dig, however, he should only keep half of the treasure and use the other half for some public good. The apparition then gathered several handfuls of $20 gold pieces from some invisible source and tossed them about on the ground. He told Misenheimer not to tell this story until 12 o’clock the following Monday and then disappeared.
Misenheimer went home and the next morning, too anxious to wait for Monday, gathered a pick, spade, and some other tools. He went to George Lentz and told him the story of the night before. Lentz agreed to help him dig for the treasure. Invigorated by thoughts of fortune, they dug numerous trenches throughout the garden, to no avail.
When the newspaper account was published a week after the incident, they were still digging, having “full faith in the word of the gentleman who had no legs.”
This was not the only time Columbus Misenheimer would experience an unusual encounter with the dead. Ten years later, in April of 1897, he turned up human bones while plowing where he lived on the Bill Barringer farm on the Yadkin River in Montgomery County. The person was thought to be either a murder or drowning victim.
In case you question the word of Columbus Misenheimer, The Concord Times assures us that “Mr. Misenheimer is a sober man, and has never been afflicted with the jim-jams. He is generally regarded as a truthful man by his neighbors and those who know him.”
Misenheimer in no way recanted the treasure story but feared the fortune would not be found because he told the news before the Monday time set by the legless apparition.
1. “Still A-Digging!: A Legless Apparition Tells Where to Dig for Long-Hidden Treasure,” The Concord Times, 14 Apr 1887, p. 3.
2. “Mr. Columbus Misenheimer,” The Concord Times, 15 Apr 1897, p. 2
3. www.findagrave.com, # 35097112.
Wright, George Hand, “With the Very Last Spadeful Taken From Under the Post, Came the Wallet and Money,” Library of Congress, c. 1917. Edited from the original.