Staff writer Duncan Adams brings this story of the annual historical ghost tour in Rocky Mount, the seat of Franklin County.
Rocky Mount ghost tour embraces love, shootings, hangings
They were wild in their day, but Rocky Mount’s spirits appear to be mostly benevolent now.
By Duncan Adams
Taliaferro “knocked the town on its ear” when his will acknowledged he had fathered five children with Mary Smithers, a woman variously described through history as black, mulatto or white, according to a narrative published by the Franklin County Historical Society.
The lawyer “left his large land holdings, personal property, law books and more” to Smithers, who “wound up owning a good portion of Rocky Mount and was quite the businesswoman — amazing for the 1890s, her sex and race situation,” the narrative reports.
On Nov. 1, 1908, Bob Smithers, one of the five children, was gunned down publicly by a local dentist, J.S. Cahill, who, according to the story, was convinced that Smithers had been having an affair with his wife. Although many reportedly
witnessed the shooting, Cahill was eventually found not guilty at trial.
The tangled web of Taliaferro’s secret lover and the shooting and 22 other haunting stories will be told during the historical society’s 10th annual Ghosts & More bus tour of Rocky Mount, scheduled to run Saturday and again on Oct. 27.