ALBEMARLE — Just in time for the Halloween season, the Stanly County History Center has revealed its ‘Murder, Mystery, and Mayhem’ driving tour featuring 13 sites connected to “spine-tingling and bone-chilling stories” in Stanly County’s past.
Among the 13 locations included in the guide — available online and in person — are compiled articles detailing the disappearance of a World War II plane in Badin Lake, a shootout between police officers and bootleggers in Albemarle, one of the state’s largest illegal distilleries in Norwood, a haunted bridge in Oakboro, as well as multiple mysterious murder cases throughout the county.
According to Stanly County Museum director and ‘Murder, Mystery, and Mayhem’ author Megan Sullivan, the 13 stories comprising the driving tour are all based on true events and are sourced from newspaper articles and other historical documents.
“I actually wrote this in 2020 when COVID was kind of at its peak and it was hard to get people to come to the museum because obviously we were in the pandemic,” Sullivan told SCJ on Oct. 27. “I was trying to think of ways where we could engage the community with our history and also give something for our community to do as well.”
Working at the museum, Sullivan used the available resources of crime files and genealogy records to dig through the history of Stanly County events.
“I started thinking about it because it’s so pretty in Stanly County just driving around on the back roads, so I wondered if I could map out sites throughout the county that have spooky stuff with it,” she said. “I used our research room in the museum, the Margaret Johnston Heritage Room, and the room back there has all these folders where a lot of files are saved. There was a crime folder, so I went through it.”
One notable inclusion midway through the guide is labeled as ‘Stop 6: The Legend of Dr. Kron’s Missing Gold.’
The legend goes that Dr. Francis Kron, a wealthy and well-known physician, deposited money and gold into an old wooden keg and buried it near his homestead in Morrow Mountain prior to his death in 1883, placing a curse on it with an army of apparitions to protect it. To date, the supposed keg of gold has never been discovered despite attempted searches from local treasure-seekers.
Another story in the guide takes drivers to the Isaiah Snuggs House Museum in Albemarle for ‘Stop 8: The Hanging of Alec Whitley, 1892,’ the only documented hanging in Stanly County’s history.
According to the famous tale, Whitley had been jailed for murder until a mob of men tore down a jail door and hung him in the street; reports of Whitley’s ghost have surrounded the area ever since.
Those interested in doing the self-guided tour can visit www.stanlycountymuseum.com to download a copy of the driving guide or stop by the History Center at 157 North Main Street in Albemarle to pick up a physical copy.
The guide includes a map of the locations, along with directions and background information for each spot. Primarily darting from north to south, the full driving tour begins in New London and moves its way through Badin, Albemarle and Norwood before concluding in Oakboro.
On behalf of the History Center, Sullivan said she appreciates all feedback and pictures from those participating in the ‘Murder, Mystery, and Mayhem’ driving tour so that she can keep the guide accurate and updated.
“I really enjoyed doing it. I work at a museum and deal with history every day, but it really brought home to me that history is all around us.”