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Cabarrus Magazine

History With a Little Mystery in Mt. Pleasant

Sep 30, 2015 10:54AM ● By Jason Huddle

History with a Little Mystery in Mt. Pleasant

By: Kim Cassell

Gold Hill isn’t the only local municipality Boasting unusual activity involving townspeople from centuries past. Mt. Pleasant has some if its own folklore.

Information passed down through the decades chronicles Mt. Pleasant’s beginnings as the mid-1700s. Dubbed Mount Comfort, it was simply a rest stop – a camp – between Salisbury and “Charles Town” (now Charleston, SC).

As Mt. Pleasant’s population continued to grow through the mid-1800s, development brought the Western Carolina Male Academy. The name changed to North Carolina College and the Mount Pleasant Collegiate Institute (MPCI) before the doors closed for good in 1933.

One particular graduate of the Western Carolina Male Academy, Paul Barrier, had his heart set on both remaining in Mt. Pleasant and in becoming a medical doctor. His education took him to Maryland, then the Civil War took him to the battlegrounds as a surgeon, but he did eventually return to his hometown for good, as intended.

Dr. Barrier was known for his generosity, no matter the economic status of a family in need, and that didn’t sit well with his wife. He’d met and wed Mary Bangle, a woman 20 years younger and in search of a wealthy, upscale, social lifestyle in Charlotte as the wife of a prominent physician. Instead, she found herself living in Mt. Pleasant, seeing her husband accept payment in the form of livestock, eggs or vegetables…or nothing at all.

Dr. Barrier rode his white horse – Snowball – while making his rounds, followed closely behind by Bones, his dog. Mary resented – and complained about the fact that her husband spent more time with his horse than with her, so, upon his death in 1909, she promptly dug a ditch in the back yard. She had Snowball put to sleep and buried him and Dr. Barrier’s medical equipment in the ditch.

The story doesn’t end there, however. People have seen what appears to be the ghost of Dr. Barrier while others have heard the sound of Snowball’s hooves clopping through town. Will they reunite beyond the grave? 

Grady McAllister

The McAllister name is well known in Mt. Pleasant, coming by way of Gaston County. In 1852, H.C. McAllister was a brick mason that was hired to help build the college. He remained in the town, marrying Frances Cooke. His grandson, Grady, was born in 1916. Grady had four siblings, but was closest to his sister, Betty Kate.

Up until the day she died at 91, Betty Kate revisited the story of Grady laughing and pointing out an open top story window of their home; he was about six years old. When she asked him what he was doing, he said, “I am talking to the angel up in that tree. Don’t you know angels stay in trees so that they can watch over us?”

Then, in 1925, while walking home from school for lunch with his sisters and friends, Grady unexpectedly ran out into Main Street. He was hit by a truck and died on the spot. The accident hit townspeople hard, right down to the telephone operator that handled all the calls that day.

A few years later – and an incident that Betty Kate also retold – was when she came home one day to find a ladder left by a workman up against a tree in the yard. Intrigued, she started to climb, but when she looked up she saw her brother Grady in the tree. He told her, “Go back down. Betty Kate, go back down. It’s not your time and this is dangerous.”

As she stepped back down the ladder, she heard Grady say, “See? I told you angels stay in trees.”

The Eastern Cabarrus Historical Society Museum now resides in the old school building off Main Street, filled with displays set up in the dormitories and classrooms of a bygone era. One-of-a-kind memorabilia has been donated by Mt. Pleasant’s established families to help document an interesting history of academia, agriculture, business and lifestyle.

A paranormal group has visited the museum, saying they felt activity around an antique wooden and cane-seated wheelchair. Was it Dr. Barrier…or Grady McAllister? Or maybe one of the military students that lived there more than 150 years ago? You decide. 

The Walking Tour of Haunted Mt. Pleasant

 To coincide with the town’s history, the Eastern Cabarrus Historical Society (ECHS) hosts an annual walking tour. Held on Saturday, October 17, at 7:00pm this year, the general public is invited to meet at the museum for hot chocolate and doughnuts, then a walk or drive to various stops around Mt. Pleasant to hear some ghost stories told by those who live in the historical old homes or those who have a passion for passing on the tales from so many years ago.

Tickets to the walking tour are $5 per adult; children are welcomed for free. For more information about the walking tour or the museum, call Robin McAllister at 704-436-6612.

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