Waxhaw’s Halloween ghost walk provides a terrifying education
Along the shadowed streets of Waxhaw lurk tales of a haunted past: the shocking Depression-era account of a man whose boiled body once hung from the rafters of a downtown building; the frightening tale of a convict from the 1970s who kidnapped and murdered a student while out on work release; and the sad story of a former Waxhaw police officer who went crazy in the 1950s and killed three men in cold blood.
Storyteller Cecilia Neal will recount the chilling stories of murders, suicides and ghostly legends and provide behind-the-scenes information about buildings in downtown Waxhaw during the town’s annual Ghost Walk. This year, the free tour begins at 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, at the downtown Waxhaw United Methodist Church, 200 McDonald St. Although the tour will be complete in just 60 to 90 minutes, Neal’s narration is sure to leave you pondering for much longer.
A Bone-Chilling History
“Everything I tell is true,” Neal said . “I give the names and don’t hold anything back.” Others have thanked her for shedding light on these stories from long ago. Her investigative work includes conversations with business owners about the strange happenings they have experienced. A former police chief told her about a ghostly railroad worker seen roaming the tracks on stormy nights. A quilt shop owner shared the story of a little girl who haunts the building.
“They have shared their stories about what they have seen, heard and even smelled,” she said.
Neal also shared tales of unexplained footsteps in the downtown buildings, dancing spirits in the windows and even the smell of freshly popped popcorn in the old movie theater.
A young female ghost haunts a store on Main Street, Neal said. “When she’s there, an open book will be on the floor, turned to page 10.”
Waxhaw and Beyond
While Neal’s Halloween tour will focus on downtown Waxhaw, her knowledge of the area’s morbid history spans centuries and goes beyond the town’s borders.
Many may be surprised to learn, according to Neal, that one of our nation’s last witch-hunts occurred in Waxhaw. In the 1700s, the townspeople accused Nancy Craighead of witchcraft after her preacher husband died. To arrive at a verdict, those in charge dug up his body and forced his wife to touch his skull. A finger bleed would be proof of her true witch identity. Lucky for Craighead, her finger never bled, and town leaders dropped the charges.
Passed down by other Waxhaw residents and even her grandmother, whose father built a Waxhaw-area home around 1900, Neal has been gathering these stories for more than seven years. One great wish is to get these stories on paper, but she needs a ghostwriter – if anyone is interested.
The Stories Keep Rolling In
Born Oct. 25, Neal is a self-proclaimed “Halloween Baby.”
“I love ghost stories!” she said. Her life has been dotted with several strange and hard to explain personal experiences beginning at her grandmother’s house, which was so haunted that she recalls people running from the building in fear.
A theater major and lifelong Waxhaw resident, she owned Waxhaw Florist for 18 years. Her great-grandparents and grandparents handed down many stories, Neal said, and the stories keep rolling in.
She describes Halloween weekend as the perfect time to tell her tales. “It’s the night when the spirit world is closest to the living world,” she said.
Neal suffers from multiple sclerosis and narrates the tour from the confines of her wheelchair. She gladly accepts donations for the MS Society before and after the tour.