Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Ghost Story: Leasburg, Caswell County, North Carolina

Leasburg Ghost Story

Mary D. Moore Whitlow, widow of Solomon Whitlow, Jr., breathed her last on January 29, 1891 She was 81 years old. Before her death she had expressed a desire to be buried in the yard of her home rather than in the Leasburg Community Cemetery. Until her death she resided with her three unmarried children, Susan 54, "Boy" 51, and "Pink" 41. Perhaps they felt that since this would be the only grave at the Whitlow home that it might not receive proper care after their deaths. Whatever their reason, they did not respect her wishes and buried her in the cemetery at Leasburg.

Shortly after her interment she began to publicly declare her dissatisfaction with her resting place. A light, said to be the size of a saucer, would rise from the cemetery at twilight and travel south. Sometimes bobbing and sometimes stopping to rest. It would roam around the Sugar Hill area. Once it frightened George Thompson's cook by sitting on the gate post at the Thompson house. After a time the light would turn to the northwest, traveling across Leasburg. it would turn down the road that ran beside the S. P. Newman house and then cross the woods to the Whitlow house.

Pink and Boy began noticing that tools put down in one place would disappear and turn up somewhere else. Susan had her problems inside the house too. Things would mysteriously become misplaced. The light would come into the house flitting from one place to another, disappearing at times into a cupboard here or a drawer there. It would vanish as suddenly as it had appeared. This was nerve-wracking for Susan, Boy, and Pink but they learned to live with it.

Finally one day the light did not wait until twilight to appear. It came in broad daylight, bobbing around the Whitlow yard. Chickens pecked and scratched unconcerned as Susan watched it from the back door. Suddenly, one of the chickens squawked and fluttered wildly around the yard, then jerked a few times and lay still. Susan ran to it only to find that it was dead. She looked quickly about her but there was nothing to see. The light had once again vanished.

Mary Whitlow's children had felt all along that the visits from the light had to do with their mother's dissatisfaction over her final resting place. The decision was made that day to exhume her body and rebury it at the homeplace as she had wished.

I do not know who actually did the digging or when it took place, but John Henry Elliott, late husband of Georgeanna Elliott, was 10 years old at the time. He and an older relative saw someone digging in the graveyard and decided to walk over and investigate. John Henry was small and rode piggyback. Holding tight to his relative, he watched in fascination as Mary Whitlow's coffin was uncovered and brought up. The nails were loosened and the top removed. For an instant she looked like a person sleeping and then her body shriveled and deflated, looking like a balloon from which the air had escaped. The workers finished their job in the cemetery and moved Mary to the new grave behind the Whitlow house.

The light never came to visit Susan, "Pink," and "Boy" again, although some residents on Sugar Hill claim it is still occasionally visible there.

Source This story was told to my grandmother, Carrie S. Whitlow, by Susan Whitlow, daughter of Mary D. Moore Whitlow. My grandmother told it to me many times while I was growing up. John Henry Elliott related the details of the exhumation to his wife, Georgeanna, who told them to my mother, Jeannine D. Whitlow.

---- Mary Linda Winstead Janke

The above ghost story was published in the Caswell County Heritage Book (1985).

The Susan Whitlow of this story never married and died in 1908 of injuries suffered when her dress caught fire at the fireplace.

The "Boy" Whitlow of this story is James Solomon Whitlow (1840-1920). Enlisted in the Confederate Army July 5, 1864, was taken prisoner at Petersburg, Virginia, April 3, 1865, confined at Hart's Island, New York Harbor until released June 17, 1865. He never married.

The "Pink" Whitlow of this story is George Pinkney Whitlow (1850-1919). Never married. Was a fiddle player.

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