There are more than a few ghost stories in North Carolina that have to do with gold. Practically everyone wants some. Ghosts are no different. However, in the case of some ghosts (including the one in this story), it’s the wanting, or even the act of possessing gold that got them in the shape they are in.
No one knows the identity of the ghost haunting the sawmill looking up at Grandfather Mountain in Avery County. He wasn’t from around these parts as the saying goes. What they did know is that he was seen carrying a very heavy canvas bag. A bag almost to heavy for him to manage. The suggestion was, of course, there was gold in that there bag. He was last seen setting up for the night in the old mill. Since no one saw him take his leave the next morning, it was assumed that he’d been killed for the contents of the bag and his body dumped in the pond next to the mill.
From then on people reported hearing blood curdling screams and feeling their body shiver with fear whenever they would pass the old mill on moonless nights. Some folks even reported seeing the ghost emerge from the pond and shake off the water before starting its nightly acts of haunting.
One night a fellow by the name of Dave Kinder took a shot of ‘liquid courage’ and proudly stated that he wasn’t afraid of the mill ghost and was going down there to “see what a ghost was like anyhow”. Taking a lantern and matches with him, he set out for the mill. It wasn’t long before Dave got his wish and something started to happen.
Even though he was waiting for it, the screams jolted him, causing the hair on his neck to stand out. Years later he would describe that noise as the most awful thing he’d ever heard. And that he’d been so close to it, he heard how terrible it truly was.
After dropping the matches from fear of the screams, he was able to recover one and light the lantern. The screams suddenly stopped. And Dave heard the sound of heavy footsteps coming his way. When the steps finally stopped, they were right behind him. Dave swallowed his fear and turned to see what it was.
There, according to Dave Kinder, were the remains of the murdered stranger. What Dave described did sound like a man drowned and left in his watery grave only to rise above it to walk the earth again. Holes instead of eyes, no flesh around the mouth, only teeth. How Dave was able to stay conscience much less speak to the ghost is beyond me. But Dave did speak asking (in no uncertain terms) “who are you”. The spirit never spoke only beckoned Dave to follow it.
It stopped in an area of low underbrush and vines pointing to an area. Dave looked at where the remains pointed, and hauled tail back home. As he told his wife what had happened, she was overjoyed. Explaining that whomever had killed him had gotten frighten and buried the gold. For whatever reason, they were unable to retrieve it later. Dave’s wife hurried him to sleep with the intent of waking the next day and claiming the gold for themselves.
The next day, Dave and his wife made their way to the old mill. Dave had no trouble finding the place the corpse had pointed to and with thoughts of a fortune in gold, He began to dig into the earth. However, as his pick tore open the spot, the earth began to shake with such a violent force that Dave and his wife fled the area. Both were so shook up they never went back.
Dave later said that whenever he’d ride his horse by the mill, he felt a force pulling him towards it and to the spot were the gold is buried. He said he would just lash his horse and get out of there as fast as he could. He said he liked living more than he’d like to have the gold buried there.