Incidents & Stories Related To The Cole Plantation
The Cole Plantation is rumored to be haunted by a ghostly pegleg apparition searching for his buried loot. And maybe he is also looking for his lost pegleg. In my research I was somewhat amazed by the number of pegleg ghost stories I found. It seems that this theme makes excellent fodder for ghost stories.
The Cole Plantation Treasure
As far as I know there is no real evidence that anyone has ever found any lost treasure on the Cole Plantation proterty. But, during the '50s, there were persistent community rumors that a lost treasure had been found and recovered from a secret hiding place on the old plantation property........presumably buried by either Colonel William Cole or Tom Wilson, the bank bandit. During the '50s several local coin hunters did come and search from time to time and occasionally someone would ask my grandfather for permission to search the property for the lost treasure that was a part of the Cole Plantation legend. There were stories of lights being seen about the yard of the old home at after dark in the early 1900's and folks supposed that someone was out there searching for The Cole Plantation Ftreasure at night and others feared that it was the pegleg bandit's ghost looking for his lost loot. But most folks were too afraid of what they might encounter on the property after dark to even think about undertaking a treasure search after nightfall. It was even rumored that the Cole fortune of silver and gold coins was buried in an unmarked grave in the Cole cemetery. And it was also suggested that this was where the pegleg bandit had secreted his loot. Over the years there were a few incidental old silver coins found around the yard dated from the mid 1800's, but no treasure. At least none that was announced. However, there was a story that family members of the old faithful slave of William Cole found and removed several fruit jars of coins that were buried around the old smoke house during the 1920's. When the old plantation residence was torn down an old newspaper was found in the loft area in very poor condition dated from the late 1800's. Another intriguing find occurred when I was about 8 years old. In the back yard of the plantation residence near the old Mulberry tree and somewhat close to the smoke house. One day I discovered a sink hole developing and my father and uncle decided to excavate the hole to see what was beneath. The excavation disclosed the remains of a 60 gallon wooden barrel. The wooden staves were rotted so bad they crumbled and the iron bands were disintegrating with age. Something had once been buried in that barrel but any one's guess is as good as mine. There was no treasure there. This find caused a lot of excitement within the family with many members showing up to see what would be discovered.
Another story that I heard most often was that of the buried fortune of Colonel William Cole. The story goes...........at the time the Union Army was approaching Meridian during the Civil War, Colonel Cole and his one trusted man servant (all the rest had run away as the Federals neared Meridian) gathered William Cole's fortune which included several nail kegs filled with coins (mostly silver but some was alleged to be gold) and carried them to the back steps of the plantation home. Then William Cole locked the servant in the smokehouse out behind the plantation house and proceeded to bury his fortune. It was later said that the old servant could hear the Colonel digging the holes as he buried his treasure. After he was finished with the hiding of his fortune, William Cole made the old servant swear to secrecy about the buried wealth.........but according to the whispered treasure stories in the community the old slave told the story of the buried wealth. William Cole was said to have never recovered his buried fortune and that he took the secret of of his treasure to his grave when he died just after the end of the Civil War in 1866.
The plantation residence location had three giant water oaks in the front yard until the '60's. The one that was believed to mark the bandit's buried loot was taken down during that period, but two of the old giant oaks still remain today. One to the left and front of the old home place and one on the right marking the cemetery location. Today the legend of lost gold and silver is remembered by very few people in the Lizelia community and the treasure in waiting to be discovered by those who would brave an encounter with the pegleg ghost.
Run Away Slave Story
Following is an account originally published in the Paulding Eastern Clarion on April 25 1860, and republished in Mississippi's Empire County: Volume 1 The Early Years, 1830-1865 author Fred W. Edmiston printed and published by Lauderdale County Department of Archives and History, Inc. .......Marion was the scene of a near-lynching in April of 1860. Green B. Bishop, overseer for a Mr. Cole (The Cole Plantation at Lizelia, MS.) in the Lauderdale County, discovered a slave named Felix who had escaped from the estate of a Dr. Ramsay and had taken refuge on the Cole plantation. (There is an interesting family connection between The Coles and Dr. Ramsay referenced in this story about the run-away slave. Elizabeth Ann Cole, daughter of William & Harriet Cole, married Dr. James Bartlett Ramsey, who owned a plantation In Daleville, MS. about 8 miles North of William Cole's plantation which was located at presend day Lizelia, MS. ) When Bishop tried to take Felix, the slave beat him to death with a pine knot. A pursuit party with dogs tracked the fugitive, captured him, and lodged him in the jail in Marion. The inevitable crowd gathered around the jail to demand summary punishment and probably would have exacted it had not several of Marion's influential citizens intervened. They hurriedly called a meeting over which Col. E. A. Durr presided. Several men made impassioned protests against lynch law, and others spoke with equal fervor for it. A vote produced thirty-six in favor of lynching and forty-nine against, with a large number abstaining. The Paulding Eastern Clarion was gratified that the citizens of Lauderdale had come "to this sensible and reasonable conclusion."
New Update To This Story * Green B. Bishop's full name was John Greenberry Bishop. Recently through this website, Jim Martin who is a descendant of the Bishop family confirmed the overseer's murder by the run away negro slave. Albert A. Bishop, brother of the murdered Cole Plantation overseer recorded this entry in the family Bible; "John Greenberry Bishop was murdered by a negro on the 7th day of April, A.D. 1860". This information was contributed by Jim Martin, 3rd great grandson of Albert A. Bishop (brother of John Greenberry Bishop).