Margaret Mitchell Barrier: Mount Pleasant Homefront Defender

25 Apr 2014

Margaret Mitchell Barrier, date unknown. Photo courtesy of the Eastern Cabarrus Historical Society.

One of Mount Pleasant’s most intriguing stories involves Margaret Mitchell Barrier (26 Aug 1812 – 1 Apr 1896). Matthias Barrier (12 May 1803 – 6 May 1873), a blacksmith and farmer, was a great supporter of Western Carolina Male Academy, so he resolved to leave his farm outside of town and build a home next to the school.

Margaret, who was the second wife of Matthias, would have three sons by him. They were a prominent family with a comfortable life until the outbreak of the Civil War. Deemed too old to fight, Matthias remained at home as part of the Home Guard. The older sons, Rufus and William, enlisted in Co. H which had organized at the college. Margaret was left at home with her daughter, Annie, and her young son Victor.

Family lore states that as Union forces were pushing toward the prison in Salisbury, their scouts were foraging through the Mount Pleasant area. One such scout approached the home of Matthias Barrier. When Margaret and her children answered the door, the scout demanded all their valuables. As Margaret resisted and told him to leave, he ripped a brooch from the front of her dress. Suddenly, a shot was fired from a pistol and the Yankee lay dead at their feet. No one in the family would ever say which of the three had killed the soldier. The body was quickly hidden in a wall until darkness when he was buried in the garden. It is said they buried him face down so “he could see Hell coming!”

Margaret would lead a sad life after her harrowing experience. William died in the war and Victor in childhood. Matthias willed the home to Rufus with the provision he would provide two rooms for his mother. A year later, she sold her rights to the rooms. Suffering from depression, Margaret would have stays in sanatoriums later in life. She lived to be 84, outliving her husband and all of her children.

Margaret and Matthias are both buried in the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Cemetery in Mount Pleasant. Their home, built in the 1850s, still stands near the intersection of College and Walnut streets.

Courtesy of the Eastern Cabarrus Historical Society