Sometimes, you run into a ghost story that simply just wants to stay dead.
This is the dilemma I faced while I scoured the internet, poured over books at the library, and went door-to-door searching for a lead as to where a house in the Union Grove area could be.
Originally, I thought that I wouldn’t be able to properly tell the story of this house without seeing it or talking to someone who knows more about it, but the more I thought, the more I realized that this lost house might actually be the perfect ghost story to tell.
That’s why I ultimately decided to make the legends surrounding the Myers House the third installment of the “Iredell Ghost Stories” series.
When I was initially doing research into the old stories and paranormal folklore that was embedded in Iredell County’s history, I came across an article in this very newspaper about an abandoned house near Warren Bridge Road. It had all the makings of a great place to visit for a series of articles about ghost stories: blood-stained floors, a violent history and it had all the looks of what someone would think of when they thought of a haunted house.
Then I read when the article was published in October 1989. So the house, which had fallen well beyond a salvageable state in its first 50 years of abandonment, would have had to survive another 31 years for me to visit it? Seemed unlikely, but it was worth a shot.
The stories that surrounded it were too good to pass up.
The Myers House was built sometime around 1830 by a well-known preacher by the name of William Almon Myers. The estate would have been one of the most opulent in the region at the time and continued to be until it was left to nature some time between 1945 and 1950.
The spooky stories that surround the old manor are plentiful, but they begin all the way back in 1897 with Will Myers. Two weeks after marrying the woman he was living with at the time, the 23-year-old man, distraught with the guilt of leaving a woman he had married in Virginia and drunk on whiskey, tied a plow line around his neck and tossed the other end over a beam on the back porch. He then proceeded to strangle himself to death by pulling on the rope with his bare hands. He died with his feet still on the ground.
The sad and bloody history for the house doesn’t stop there. Many locals told stories in past generations of the various murders that also happened within the walls of that estate. They told stories of a man who slashed his own throat, about a woman who was killed by her husband, about a man who was murdered in an upstairs bedroom and about a woman who jumped to her death from an upstairs window.
At least one of those had to be true, because former residents told of a blood stain on the wood floors in front of the fireplace that would never come clean, no matter how hard they tried.
That stain was still there when the author of the 1989 article, Jimmy Tomlin, visited the decaying house.
In that article, he spoke with one of the previous residents of the house who described seeing apparitions of a man and hearing disembodied footsteps go down the stairs at night.
“My grandmother came to the house once to stay with us for the week,” Brenda Hager told the Record & Landmark in 1989. “She ended up staying one night and she wouldn’t come back and stay with us again … and she didn’t.”
After reading the stories about the house and seeing quotes like this, I was very determined to find this house. I spent hours driving through the back roads of Union Grove and asked anyone that I thought might know what happened to the old Myers place. Nothing.
But as I researched the area, I learned of another legend that exists on Warren Bridge Road and its namesake.
The bridge that connects Iredell County to Wilkes County, known as Warren Bridge, has its own paranormal aura surrounding it.
In the summer of 1916, Homer Matheson, as the story goes, waited by what was then a covered bridge for his brother-in-law, Claude Warren with shotgun in hand. As Warren approached with his wife, Homer’s sister Mary, Matheson appeared and shot Warren in the head, killing him instantly.
There are many reasons given as to why Matheson ultimately decided to murder his brother-in-law.
One version of the story claims that Warren outed Matheson’s moonshine still to local authorities. Another said that Warren had learned that Matheson was using an anvil at the local cotton weighing station to have his cotton yield appear heavier. A third version paints Warren as the bad guy, having threatened his wife with violence in the preceding weeks, causing Matheson to act on her behalf.
Whichever story people choose to believe, there’s no debate that a murder, in fact, happened on June 5, 1916. Matheson confessed to the crime later that very day and ended up serving 37 years in prison.
According to legend, the screams of Mary Warren can still be heard late in the afternoon near the bridge.
Whether or not the bridge is haunted is for the locals to decide, but I wonder how many of them remember the stories.
Along with the Myers House, the legend of Warren Bridge may have been left to old books and newspaper articles, but I thought the stories were too good to pass up.
Because, it seems that the old ghost stories of Union Grove have themselves become ghosts, fading out more and more with each passing generation. But, this time of year especially, the bloody history of Northern Iredell should be told, even if it’s just around the campfire.