One of the most notable forgotten plantations in North Carolina was the Carroll Morrison plantation. Some accounts place the ancient estate 25 miles north of Fayetteville, while others say it was 13 miles south. The manor house was in ruins by 1890, but this was when the plantation first gained its infamy, when newspapers nationwide first discussed the mysterious story surrounding the estate. The Morrison plantation was not at rest in its decay. Every night, two spectral ill-fated lovers fled the oncoming steed of an enraged tyrant.
Carroll Morrison was not remembered for his kindness. He was said to be a tyrant of a plantation owner. He abused his slaves and his livestock, particularly when inebriated. He kept his stable filled with racing horses of stellar breeding and the kennels filled with fine hounds. It was said that during his leisure time, he unleashed the hounds on an unsuspecting slave, who would inevitably run. He rode atop one of his horses and chased until the “runaway” was apprehended. The slave was returned and punished for the attempt to escape.
Morrison had enjoyed his 50 years, but he still wasn’t married and didn’t have a family. He decided it was time to marry, and he would marry his neighbor’s daughter, Rebecca Thomas. Rebecca already loved another boy around her age, but her parents wouldn’t hear of any other union. Morrison was powerful, wealthy, and brought much of that to the Thomas family simply through marriage.
As if an arranged union wasn’t bad enough, married life was far worse for Rebecca. He changed once they were married. Suddenly, he became insanely jealous. She wasn’t allowed to go anywhere or see anyone else, including her own family. His mania went so far as to confine her, by chains, to a vacant room of the plantation house.
She believed he would eventually kill her, if he didn’t drive her mad first. She knew her own family wouldn’t interfere because they wanted her with Morrison. There was no other choice, but to write a letter to the man she was betrothed to. As far as she knew, he’d never found another and she desperately wanted to leave. She told him of her confinement and the abject circumstances of her life. She had a dependable servant take the letter to him. Her cry for help was answered. He sent word back to her that he would be there at night to help her escape.
The servants understood confinement and imprisonment better than anyone else. They helped the young man enter the house and get to the upper floor. They helped him evade detection as he broke the chains and freed her. The young couple crept outside the house. He had his horse waiting in the woods beyond the yard. They mounted the steed and fled.
No Happy Endings
Unfortunately, Morrison already knew. One of the servants tipped him off about the impending escape. He waited for them to make their move, atop his fastest racehorse, hidden by the trees. He waited until they were both on the young man’s horse and gave chase.
The couple fled as if the devil chased them. The young man was distracted by Morrison’s pursuit and forgot about the hairpin curve at the end of the plantation’s road. His horse wasn’t strong or agile enough to go around with two people astride him. It lost its footing and the loving couple was thrown into the trunk of a massive ancient oak. The impact split both their skulls and they were killed instantly.
Morrison didn’t escape, either. In his rage, he’d forgotten about the sharpness of the corner. His own horse fell across the common steed and he was thrown twenty feet. He landed on his head, his neck broke instantly.
Both horses were permanently injured and later put down.
They say every night, after dark, you hear a phantom horse race down that ancient road. You can hear an angry man cursing and yelling in pursuit. A phantom couple rides atop a ghostly white steed, while a man follows them on a fast, black horse. They flee to the end of the lane, where the figures disappear.