In his 2002 document, J. Baldwin ties the ‘Faithfull Slave Searching for Lost Master’ legend to the Civil War:
“Brown Mountain was named after a Brown family, who owned a lot of land during the 19th century that included this mountain. The family owned slaves, and enjoyed the reputation of treating them well.
“During the Civil War, one of the men in the Brown family fought in the Confederate army as a colonel. He was wounded in 1863 and came home. When he was well enough, he went for a day’s hike and hunting on Brown Mountain, a place he knew well. He took a little food and water, and two lanterns.
“Midnight came and the colonel had not returned. His faithful slave Jim took a lantern and went to Brown Mountain to look for him. Neither Jim nor the colonel ever returned. The family and their slaves searched the entire surface of Brown Mountain, but no trace of either of them has ever been found.
“Shortly after the colonel and Jim disappeared, bobbing lights appeared on the mountain. The lights had never been seen before, and the family believed the lights were from the lanterns the colonel and Jim carried. They are trying to find their way home.”
However, we have been unable to find any actual written documentation of BMLs sightings during or immediately after the Civil War. Instead, the monumental, 555-page book on the history of Burke County (Phifer, Jr., 1977, revised 1982) details all of the Civil War military actions in the area, including those on and near Brown Mountain, without noting any BML sightings. In fact, on page 12, Phifer specifically states that no BMLs were seen prior to the twentieth century.