7 reasons to lift the veil on Charlotte's horrid history
You want a crash course in the history of Charlotte
Charlotte has been at the center of many of the important moments in American history. The battle for independence might (or might not) have started in Charlotte. If you are in Charlotte around the late stages of May, look for the preparations for the ‘Meck Dec’ annual celebration. This riotous street party commemorates the reading of the Mecklenberg Declaration of Independence – you can see why they shortened it.
This document means a great deal to the people of Charlotte (in Mecklenburg County). The date on the Meck Dec puts it quite a bit before any other declarations of independence. The story goes that the town leaders had the idea, wrote the document, and read it out on the town hall’s steps. Following feedback and some hasty rewriting, the document was delivered to the Continental Congress by a local tavern owner, Captian James Jack, sometime in the summer of 1775. Unfortunately, North Carolina’s congressional delegates deemed the declaration “premature.”
The original document has been ‘lost.’ Some say to fire; others say it never existed. It was recreated from memory some forty years later.
If the recreated document is accurate and the original publication date correct, then it would have been the first in the United States. Historians have since thrown much doubt on the integrity of the document. None the less, it is a point of pride for the residents of Charlotte. You will find a statue of Captain James Jack Galloping along on his horse, along Jack Little Sugar Creek Greenway, east of Uptown. And every May 20, you will find a big old party happening in Uptown Charlotte.
Ghosts scare you
Our Charlotte Ghosts tour is not a ghost hunt. We don’t go out specifically to see or find ghosts. We have had a few encounters with the unexplained on our tours. But we have never had anyone hurt by a spirit. We’re not here just to scare you, and we guarantee we don’t have any team members that will leap out from behind a tree! None of our guides carry lanterns either. We’re just not that kind of tour. The stories we tell are suspenseful and have creepy moments, but you will always be safe on our tours.
What you will find on our tour, are historically rich, and accurate stories plucked from the pages of history. They are alive with the fascinating characters from Charlotte’s past, like Devil Charlie.
Devil Charlie was a real man, but since his death has become a Charlotte urban legend. His last name was Polk, son of Thomas Polk, the founder of Charlotte. All went well with Charlie Polk’s life until a tragic incident that cost his wife her life.
Since that tragic incident, Charlie Polk started to earn his nickname. Our favorite story is that he locked all the doors and windows at a party one night, except for one window above open cellar doors. Then he yelled, “Fire!” Everyone scrambled to jump out the one open window, falling through the cellar doors into the basement.
Since then, the ghost of ‘Devil’ Charlie Polk has been blamed for just about any bad thing in Charlotte.
– or you don't believe in them
Lots of people don’t believe in ghosts, and that’s perfectly fine. We at Charlotte Ghosts are not out to change your mind. We like to look at ghosts as confronting the unknown. Something we think takes an admirable amount of courage. We didn’t know that the earth orbited the sun until relatively recently. So, when people asked, others made up some pretty crazy theories to explain it; the God Shamash riding across the sky every day in a flaming chariot? The Sumerians thought so!
We’re starting to understand more about our mind’s amazing powers, what we can do, and change in the world by thought alone. A team at Princeton has been studying phenomena of these types for years and freely admit that the things they have verifiably seen and recorded can’t be explained by any current model that we understand. They just leave the door open to future understanding. Imagine if when the people of the past had asked, where did we come from? The Shamen of the past had just said; “it’s unexplainable in current thinking” and that people had been happy with that response.
That’s all we are asking you to do here, confront the unknown and be happy with the response; ‘we don’t know why people keep hearing hymns being sung when there’s no one in the McGlohon Theatre.’
Looking for a fun, unusual activity to do in Charlotte?
Our ghost tour will take you around a mile of Uptown Charlotte. We are the only activity where you will see a little bit of everything. Our stories show you all the layers of Charlotte’s rich history. The guides are a bunch of passionate storytellers who love our city and can’t wait to share these 8 or 12 stories with you.
We have the oddball, the macabre, the historical and the devilish,
but we also have the fun and the amusing. The ghost of Dusty that haunts the Dunhill Hotel loves to play pranks on the staff. They have a fond reverence for him, all the mishaps in the hotel get blamed on Dusty. One guest, when checking out, asked point-blank if the hotel was haunted. When told that it was, the guest seemed relieved that there was an explanation for his blinds being opened and shut at random. He also asked if someone could go and get his bags because he was a little nervous about going back to the room.
Dusty met his earthly demise at a low point in the city’s history. The hotel had been empty for years and was a favored hangout for people looking for a quiet spot to use drugs and people who were homeless. It’s just one example of how Charlotte’s ghosts will bring the city’s history to life through death.
You asked yourself: What is there to do in Charlotte?
There is a lot to do in Charlotte. We mentioned the seven theatre or performance spaces in Uptown alone. There is always something happening at the Spectrum Centre, or the Bank of America Stadium. If you feel the need for speed, the NASCAR Hall of Fame has something for everyone. If you want to go for a ride instead of watching others ride, then the National Whitewater Centre has some adrenaline-pumping activities or the Water Jams outdoor concert series. Charlotte also has some great museums. The Mint Museum gives you a great insight into the path of money through our economy, and the Levine Museum of the New South showcases the history of the region since the Civil War.
Or you could take around 90 minutes to take our extended ghost tour. You won’t have to watch a whole show about one thing. You will sample something from every era of Charlotte’s history and get to know it’s present. You will see more of Uptown Charlotte than most visitors would in a week!
We’ll tell you about the US Mint, the Civil War, prohibition ghosts and so much more.
Only have a couple of nights in Charlotte?
Charlotte isn’t really known for just one thing. It has a lot going for it; hence it’s rapid growth over the last few decades. The mild climate, the good quality of life, the good jobs here, and the very nice people, even if we say so ourselves. We like to think a ghost tour is a great way to get to know a place. Our guides are all locals and will happily answer questions. We also show you things it would take decades living here to get to know.
For example, did you know that the four statues on the corners of Independence Square represent commerce, transportation, industry, and the future? See if you can spot the face of a former Federal Reserve Board Chair on the base of the Trade statue!
We often get Charlotte locals taking the tour; they always learn something new and often contribute new stories. Charlotte Ghosts is perhaps the best way to find out about Charlotte’s history and character in a way that won’t take a whole day; in fact, it won’t take a whole evening. Our standard tour takes around an hour. That’s less time than a single performance at any of the amazing uptown live music venues.
So if you are in Charlotte for a limited amount of time and need one thing to do that will pull back the curtains on the real happenings of this Southern jewel, then Charlotte Ghosts is the tour for you.
You need an activity in Charlotte the whole family can enjoy
Our tours are scary in places, and make you think, but we won’t make you lose sleep. That goes double for any younger members of the tour. If you want unabated horror, there are several cinemas in Uptown Charlotte. We think presenting the unexplained occurrences that have been logged and verified around these locations in their raw state is entertainment enough. Adding in the fascinating history of Charlotte gives you the best of both worlds. In just one hour, we can entertain you and give you amazing stories to tell people about your time in Charlotte.
Chances are you’ll remember them too, being in the actual places that the ghosts haunt makes the ghosts stories stick, and the history of Charlotte gets a free ride into your brain! We think this is why our school tours are so popular. Imagine if the ghost of Sin Cos and Tan were haunting your school math classroom, we’d all remember the formulas.
Younger guests are especially welcome on our tours. Keeping it kid-friendly is vital to us, and our start times make it so that no one has to stay up too late. We make it a priority to tailor the tour to the audience and keep things appropriate. That goes for older tour members as well. We fully expect you’ll enjoy the blend of history and hauntings we have for you. If you and a group of thirty or more friends want an exclusive tour, we are happy to add on more grizzly detail or dive deep into the locations’ history. Check out our group tour page for more information on how to make that happen.
Learn about some of the spooky histories of the sites you will see on tour from our blog!