The Real Cold Mountain Story part 1

John & Pink's GraveThis particular investigation was very personal for me and I could not have been more surprised with the outcome.

What a lot of you might know, is that many years ago a book was written (by my cousin) about a soldier’s odyssey during the civil war, called Cold Mountain, that would eventually be turned into a movie starring Jude Law. What a lot of you don’t know is that decades before that, I had a school project involving family history and the family story I focused on is one that would fuel my passion for genealogy and historical research until the day I die. The book/movie took real people and their lives and fictionalized it, because in all honesty, the only things that are the same are the name of the main character and the fact that he was a soldier in the civil war and was shot on top of a mountain.

Please indulge me, and allow me to tell you a little of the real story that leads up to the investigation that Dave and I did on a gorgeous fall afternoon in October of 2013. Bethel Cemetery

Waynesville, NC is a western mountain town and just a little east of that is a town named Canton. My family on my daddy’s side is from both of these towns. My 3rd great grandfather, Daniel Logan Inman was one of many children as was his wife Elizabeth Swanger. These families intermarried and were close friends. Daniel had a brother whose full name was William Pinkney Inman (you might know him the way Jude Law portrayed him as “Inman”) and was known as Pink. Elizabeth had a brother named John Swanger and though the movie completely leaves him out, the real tale involves both of these men.

Both men did their duty and enlisted to serve the Confederacy in June of 1861. John was older than most, 37, and used his trade as a blacksmith with the 19th Regiment in the 2nd Cavalry. Pink was a 22 year old farmer enlisted as a private in the 25th NC Infantry. John was in just a few short months before he became disabled and was discharged. Pink was in and out over the course of several years, meaning that he would go AWOL and then return for awhile and then go AWOL again. He was wounded at the Battle of Malvern Hill in July 1862 and spent some time in the hospital. During his time in service and his subsequent desertions, Pink and Margaret Henson were married and their child was born in August of 1864. Around the time of her birth, Pink was wounded in Petersburg and put in a hospital in Danville. He left the hospital and Confederate service for the last time and headed home. It was the events starting at that time that would be both his and John’s downfall.

We know from history that the union army took the town of Knoxville, TN in 1863 and a man from Haywood County (where both Waynesville and Canton are) named Samuel Massey worked as a Union recruiter. He was a southern man paid to convince southern men to join the Union army, and he was good at it. At some point after John was discharged from the Confederate army he joined up with Massey, taking men over the NC mountains into Knoxville to sign them into Union service.  Standing on Big Stomp

After Pink came home, he joined in John and Sam’s endeavors to add to the numbers of the Unionists and in the winter of 1864 they made several trips. At one point General Carter in Knoxville asked Sam to take his men and go break his cousin and nephew out of the Waynesville jail and this was the beginning of the end for Pink and John. They gathered some additional men and headed back home, with John carrying recruiting orders from General Carter. The outcome of the trip included betrayal by one of John’s cousins, a cat and mouse chase over the mountains, and the deaths of my uncles, Pink & John. Over 100 Confederate soldiers chased Sam and his men trying to capture or kill them. Pink and John, exhausted after a day long battle over the rugged mountain terrain, were overtaken and brutally shot while their hands were in the air, their bodies left in the woods like wild animals not fit to eat. Sam and most of his other men got away, but they did not get a chance to perpetrate the jail break.

Various versions of family stories say that someone that lived on the mountain found Pink & John’s bodies and got word to Pink’s father who lived at the bottom of the mountain. He dragged a sled up the mountain, through the snow to recover them and bring them a mile back down to the cemetery he himself would later be buried in. He dug a hole and buried them together in an unmarked grave, leaving them to return to the earth and their story to be mistold and finally forgotten for over 140 years, until the dogged perseverance of myself, my mother and Pink’s 2nd great-granddaughter, ferreted out the truth amid the rumors and “movie hype”.

Shannon at the Big Stomp SiteDave at the Big Stomp SiteDave and I have been to that high spot on the mountain where they were shot and I have made numerous trips to the cemetery they are buried in. In 2012 I took GPR equipment to validate the rumored location of the grave and I did successfully confirm that it did indeed contain the remains of two people.

GPR work GPR Results

In October, Dave and I took our paranormal research equipment to the cemetery with the slim hope of communicating with Pink’s spirit. Imagine my surprise when, for the next hour John was the one that talked almost constantly. In that time we captured over 40 communications through the SB7. Some we could hear quite well and they are not garbled on the recorder, and some we could hear and understand at the time, but the recorder was not in the position to pick it up. John was VERY active and seemed overjoyed that someone would actually want to talk to him and he had a lot to say. Because of his being left out of the book, most people only ever inquire after Pink and I think his spirit seized on this opportunity to be heard. Below are the files that are able to be understood. If anyone is up to the challenge of trying to help me figure out some of the others, just contact us!! It would be redundant to include a transcription of the dowsing session because all the answers matched what came thru the SB7. Basically John’s communications confirmed things we knew, such as the location of his grave, what his wife’s name was, how he pronounced his last name (In the mountains it is pronounced differently). We got so many communications with him reminding us that his name was John it was almost funny, but sad at the same time. He really seems to have been lonely. For the first time ever, we received an EVP with the same words coming through the SB7 just seconds after it (IF, and that’s a big IF, I ever had any doubts about the SB7, this totally squashes them). My mental list of questions had been prepared for Pink, so I was not as ready to ask questions of John as I should have been, but that’s ok, it gives me time to get prepared for part two of this trip, which will take place over the Thanksgiving holiday.



















At this place

Yes it is



This is John

No Problem

He did

I did





That’s right


Hey Baby

I was

Just me


In thigh

I’m John




  1. Wow! I thought I heard him say february instead of november and that would come closer to my research. Of course, that may just be me hearing what I want too…lol!

  2. Jen, we really try to put up voice files that have not been overly manipulated, but there are a lot of times I have to slow it down to be able to make out the word more clearly, and then someone else listens so we can make sure we are in agreement as to what is being said. I will email you the slowed down file so you can hear its definitely not February (which, as you said given your research, surprised me, but then I always thought it was December, hence my question)

  3. I love the history behind this investigation, I was amazed at the voice’s that spoke, I also heard him say November. Looking forward to part two, great job. Blessings

  4. Hi Shannon! I love that you guys are doing this…I have always found a tremendous pull towards the paranormal….I have had a few “strange” experiences myself.
    The voice of the recording you have marked as “Marcus” sounds like a different voice than the rest. It sounds female to me. Do you think maybe there was indeed another there? Just curious. :)

  5. I just LOVE the work you’ve done. We’ve done genealogy for years but never gotton this much info about our family. If there is ANYTHING I can do to help, please don’t hesitate to call on me. I’m an extra set of hands if nothing else!! :) CAN’T WAIT to see/hear part 2. Will have ya’ll in my thoughts and prayers over Thanksgiving holiday!!!

  6. Hi, I am almost certain that John is my great, great, great, great grandfather. I really enjoyed this post. Thank you so much for sharing!! Feel free to contact me, I would love to see what else you have on the genealogy.

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