Supernatural CLT: The Legend of General Davidson

On February 1st, some claim to see the ghost of fallen Revolutionary War General William Lee Davidson's ghost on horseback near Hopewell Presbyterian Church.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — We fancy ourselves regular Nancy Drew sleuths here at WCCB.  In our excitement for season 2 episodes airing Wednesdays at 9pm on Charlotte’s CW, we decided to put on our amateur detective caps and look into the legend of the horse riding ghost of General William Lee Davidson.

You’re driving down Beatties Ford Road in Huntersville, N.C. on a still, winter night.  Suddenly, a large figure enters the road.  You slam on the brakes as it cross your field of view.  Misty, pale, too tall to be a deer… is it someone on horseback?  The specter saunters away as you continue on your drive, bewildered by the strange encounter.  What you just witnessed might be the ghost of Revolutionary War hero, William Lee Davidson.

“Charlotte is such a new city.”  You’ve heard this comment, but it’s wrong.   N.C. history is often spoken of in conjunction with the Civil War, but many are surprised to hear of the crucial role Charlotte and the surrounding areas played in the American Revolutionary War. One such battle took place at Cowan’s Ford, located on the Catawba River in NW Mecklenburg County. On February 1, 1781, General William Lee Davidson led his soldiers into a battle to keep Cornwallis and the British troops from crossing the Catawba River. Davidson was killed in the battle, becoming part of Charlotte’s supernatural history.  Folklore claims it was Cornwallis who coined Charlotte’s nickname, ‘Hornet’s Nest.’ “When he came into Charlotte he was greeted with almost riots and said it was like entering the hornet’s nest,” says Jason Tapp of Spooky CLT.  As Spooky CLT continues to research area folklore, when it comes to the American Revolution, he says “we definitely find a lot interesting stories from that era.”

Davidson’s body was recovered and buried at Hopewell Presbyterian Church. His grave and the church still exist today along Beatties Ford Road. Local legend says that on the anniversary of Davidson’s death, his ghost can be seen riding his horse in the area of the Church. Melanie Tapp of Spooky CLT believes she has seen Davidson for herself.  Before knowing the legend of Davidson’s ghost, Tapp was confronted with a large spectre in the middle of Beatties Ford Road on a drive home one clear, winter night.  “It was about 6ft tall and I could kind of see through it,” Tapp recalls.  “It was kind of like a white mist but it was very large and it just floated across the road.”  “I’ve tried to rationalize it. It wasn’t raining…it wasn’t foggy.  It was just a cold clear night.”  During their research into local folklore for Spooky CLT, the Tapps came across the legend of Davidson’s ghost, riding on horseback near Hopewell Presbyterian Church cemetery and recalled Melanie’s encounter and like to think she came face to face with a Revolutionary War hero.

With permission from Hopewell Presbyterian Church, Charlotte Area Paranormal Society (CAPS) has investigated the cemetery and the church’s grounds. Tina McSwain, Founder and Executive Director of CAPS has photos of the cemetery which show mysterious images.  During one investigation, their team psychic got the impression of a woman standing beside the grave and asked another team member to snap a photo.  “Although our member saw nothing when she took the picture,” says McSwain, “she did get a very strange mist occuring just to the right of the General’s grave.”  Could it be the wife of General Davidson?

A photo of an unexplainable mist captured by Charlotte Area Paranormal Society (CAPS) during an investigation at Hopewell Presbyterian Church cemetery at General William Lee Davidson’s grave. Photo courtesy of CAPS.

Not content to an afterlife along Beatties Ford Road, the General is believed to have made appearances further North along I77 at his college namesake, Davidson College.  If you would like to visit Hopewell Presbyterian Church to try to catch a glimpse of the General this coming February 1st, visit:

And for more supernatural mysteries, watch season 2 of Nancy Drew airing Wednesdays at 9pm on Charlotte’s CW.