Haunted Lake Holds On To Past Legends1

By Nan Fairley

A legend that has survived more than 100 years remains strong enough to keep many Newton County residents away from the “haunted” Juzon Lake, located about five miles north of Hickory

The legends surrounding the lake have been the subject of speculation and the source of horror for generations, according to area history buff C. L. Cahoon.

The black, swampy waters of Juzon Lake carry murky tales of murders, ghosts, and sunken treasures, he said.

According to Mr. Cahoon, the lake was located beneath a bluff where an inn run by one of the area’s white settlers, Pierre Juzon, was located in the early 1800s.

Juzan’s Inn earned a notorious reputation that survives today. According to a 1936 edition of the Meridian Star, “Many Newton Countians refuse to go near the lake because of its tales of murder.”

Several “horror” stories have evolved over the years since, but all lead to the conclusion that the Frenchman left treasure hidden in the dark waters of the lake.

Old-timers in the area claim that everyone from federal agents to professional adventurers have drained the swampy waters in search of elusive gold, Mr. Cahoon said.

The most popular account of the sunken treasure appeared in the 1936 Meridian Star article. The article reported, “Somewhere in the bottom of the ghoul-ridden body of water—the story has been given to each new generation—rests a fabulous fortune of gold—gold that pioneers worked for, fought for, gold tainted by human blood.”

The account noted that many unsuspecting travelers used the Jackson Military Road that ran by Juzon’s Lake as they traveled from parts of North Mississippi to Mobile, Ala. “Juzon played host to many of the travelers because of the strategic location of his inn,” according to the article.

“Many of the guests at this “tavern of death” were returning to their plantations laden with the profits from a year’s farming and supplies to last another year,” the report said.

Mr. Juzon and his old companion, a mysterious Indian, supposedly waited until their victims were “seduced into slumber by the fatigue of travel” before they murdered them and took their gold.

Juzon LakeThe deadly duo then tossed the bodies into the “bottomless” lake, according to the legend.

Mr. Juzon was said to have grown rich from his crimes. Later, as an old man, the Frenchman supposed killed his Indian friend, because he knew where the gold was hidden, and threw his body into the lake “to follow the gold and bodies of countless pioneer farmers into the unexplored depths of the mystery lake.”

While no one knows what became of Mr. Juzon, residents in the area remain convinced after more than 100 years that the gold still lies on the bottom of the lake.

The 1936 article noted, “Men have risked their lives and two almost died in attempts to locate the mythical gold…”

Because Mr. Juzon’s victims were reportedly buried in the swampy waters of the lake near the Chunky River, the legend holds that “ghosts float on the waters at night bearing signal lights that which send warnings to those who hover near.”

Mr. Cahoon said many claim to have seen “ghosts skimming across the water” at Juzon’s Lake. He added, “I’ve always heard ghost stories about the lake. And, I don’t know how many times I’ve seen people try to drain it to find the gold. They just can’t get the water out.”

While the true story of Mr. Juzon’s life and times in the rugged pioneer years will probably remain buried beneath the dark waters along with any actual treasure, the tale continues to thrill yet another generation.

Juzan’s Lake—A Sequel2

Descendants of the later controversial Frenchman, Pierre Juzan, now residing in Old Mexico found their way to Hickory and the mysterious Juzan Lake to the north of town. The visitors had researched this legendary family and found sources of material linking this area and the G. L. (Dick) Caldwell’s who had studied and prepared articles to unravel the mysteries of the man, Juzan and the property and lake. Many tales have been thought phenomenal and intriguing from gold to ghosts. The Juzan family were overnight guests at the Caldwell’s place.

Notes

1. Originally appeared in the Meridian Star on January 18, 1987.

2. The Newton Record, September 16, 1995.

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