Guarding the “subterranean residents”—Memphis, TN

Old Raleigh Cemetery
4324 Old Raleigh-LaGrange Road
Memphis, Tennessee

The subterranean residents of Memphis’ Old Raleigh Cemetery have had their resting place battered for years. Vandals, trash-dumpers, and the elements have taken their toll here. The cemetery has attracted a handful of people over the years each with a wish to preserve and protect this most historic of cemeteries.

Old Raleigh Cemetery Memphis Tennessee
Two graves in the Old Raleigh Cemetery, 2013. Photo by Thomas R. Machnitzki, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The community of Raleigh was established on the Wolf River two years prior to the establishment of Memphis on the Mississippi. Raleigh was the county seat until Memphis’ growth led to it being moved to the much larger city after the Civil War. Raleigh Cumberland Presbyterian Church was one of the earliest churches in the community and established this cemetery. Throughout its history, many prominent persons have been laid here for their eternal rest including members of the Shelby family—the county was named for prominent patriot and politician Isaac Shelby—and the second mayor of Memphis, Isaac Rawlings.

The church has been gone for many years, though the cemetery remains. It has been neglected for quite some time and efforts through the years have attempted to clean it up. One of the first attempts to reclaim the cemetery took place in 2010 and was organized by a pair of paranormal investigators. An article in the Commercial Appeal noted that at the time the 7-acre cemetery was “a tangle of forest and underbrush.”

Old Raleigh Cemetery Memphis Tennessee
Old Raleigh Cemetery, 2013. Photo by Thomas R. Machnitzki, courtesy of Wikipedia.

While working there, one of the investigators heard a disembodied man’s voice say, “he’s my family.” Later, while cutting underbrush another voice urged him to “cut the trees.” These voices provided the first clues that the dead here may not rest easy. Over the years, several paranormal groups have explored the spot’s paranormal activity.

Back in April, it was announced that the cemetery has been deeded to Jack Brewer, a member of Memphis Ghost Hunters. He told local WREG News that he plans to raise money to reclaim the cemetery from nature and maintain it as well as hosting historical and paranormal tours to continue attracting interest in this hallowed spot.

Sources

  • Bradley, Barbara. “Raleigh Cemetery a hotbed of activity.” Commercial Appeal. 30 October 2010.
  • Goggans, Louis. “New life for Old Raleigh.” Memphis Flyer. 3 April 2014.
  • Moon, Melissa. “Memphis ghost hunter takes over county’s oldest cemetery to preserve history, conduct paranormal investigations.” 28 April 2021.
  • Williams, Edward F. III, “Shelby County.” Tennessee Encyclopedia. 8 October 2017.
  • Wright, Winnie. “Volunteers organize to repair vandalized historic Memphis cemetery.” FOX13 Memphis. 21 June 2020.

On Your Side…and the Other—Knoxville, TN

WATE-TV Studios in Greystone Mansion
1306 North Broadway Street, Northeast
Knoxville, Tennessee

The tagline for Knoxville’s ABC affiliate WATE is “On your side.” Perhaps they’re on the “other” side as well, at least in terms of ghosts. The large, rambling Victorian mansion near downtown Knoxville that the studios occupy has been known to be haunted for many years. I’ve covered the haunting of Greystone Mansion in a previous article, and I’d like to delve a bit more into the experiences of some of the station’s staff members.

Reviewing the articles I have collected on this location turns up next to no descriptions of actual encounters. An article published last Halloween, however, contains two encounters.

haunted Greystone WATE-TV studios ghosts
Oblique view of Greystone. Photo 2010 by Brian Stansberry.
Courtesy of Wikipedia.

A longtime meteorologist with the staff smelled the odor of cooking bacon. “I could guarantee you, there was somebody frying bacon down in the kitchen. I walked around the kitchen, up and down and there was nobody else around. I know it was bacon. If not, some ghost has some mighty fine bacon.” The article suggested that this spirit was that of Eldad Cicero Camp, the man for whom the mansion was constructed, though I can’t imagine that this wealthy businessman would have cooked his own bacon. I would think this is residual activity from one of the home’s servants.

A former director with the news station recalls his own experience with the other side. He was working late at night and headed up to the third floor to warm up his lunch around 1:30 AM. “The hair on the back of my neck starts standing up. I felt a breeze come past me. Where did that come from? It’s the Major…He’s watching over his place. It’s still his spot. It always will be his spot.”

Appalachian Paranormal Investigators, the team that has primarily explored the TV studios, has stated that they believe that a woman, a child, and a man are the spirits that continue to reside here.

Sources

Correctional Creepiness—Haunted Jail of Alabama

It seems that wherever people are incarcerated their spirits may remain. Many of these places, be they jails, prisons, or the like, may be the scenes of deaths. In older jails, executions may have been conducted, but then there are also suicides, murders, accidents, and natural deaths as well occurring to the incarcerated as well as staff members. With death’s often malignant presence, it is no surprise that they are haunted.

Buck Creek Mill Site
Off 7th Street, Southwest
Alabaster

This site, now owned by the City of Alabaster, was once the site of a large cotton mill and associated buildings. The mill opened in 1896 as the Selma Cotton Mill, was renamed the Siluria Cotton Mill in 1902, and finally named the Buck Creek Cotton Mill in 1911, the name it would retain until it closed in 1979. The city purchased the property and demolished most of the structures, with the exception of the water tower and old jail, in the late 2000s. While much of the site is off limits to the public, the old mill’s dam on Buck Creek may be accessed by way of the Buck Creek Greenway.

In the years since, visitors to the site have reported paranormal experiences here including a black figure deemed, “The Black Phantom.” Investigator and author Kim Johnston notes that some visitors have had run-ins with a red-eyed specter here while others have felt an unexpected sense of panic.

Sources

Limestone County Courthouse
200 West Washington Street
Athens

This, the third courthouse on this site, has witnessed the panoply of Athens history. The first courthouse was built on this site in 1820 and destroyed during the Civil War. Within the ruined shell of the first courthouse, the second building was built. That structure was razed and replaced with the current courthouse in 1916.

Limestone County Courthouse Athens Alabama
Limestone County Courthouse, 2010, by Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy of the George F. Landregger Collection of Alabama Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Author Jessica Penot spoke with the staff of the courthouse and discovered that this building apparently harbors the spirit of an inmate. Officials report that the third floor of the building once housed the jail and the spirit of an inmate who hung himself in his cell.

Sources

  • Lauderdale County Heritage Book Committee. Heritage of Lauderdale County, Alabama. Clanton, AL: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1999.
  • Penot, Jessica. “The Athens/Limestone County Courthouse.” Ghost Stories and Haunted Places Blog. 4 April 2011.

Main Street Café
101 Main Street
Madison

There’s a ghost in the heart of Madison, specifically in the Main Street Café. Built in 1955, the structure that now houses the restaurant was built as the city’s third city hall. Originally, the structure contained offices and two jail cells, both of which remain as part of the restaurant. One spirit may remain from the building’s past: a spirit who has been dubbed George by the restaurant staff. Author and blogger Jessica Penot notes that the spirit is mostly mischievous and seems to play pranks on the employees like arranging things to fall out when a cabinet is opened or moving or hiding kitchen utensils.

Sources

  • Penot, Jessica. “Old Jail Ghosts in the Main Street Café.” Ghost Stories and Haunted Places Blog. 26 October 2010.
  • Tucker, Leslie & Christy Anderson. Madison Station Historic District. February 2005.

Old Bibb County Jail
21 Court Square, West
Centreville

Bibb County Courthouse and Jail Centreville Alabama
The Bibb County Courthouse with the jail in the background. Photograph taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

This 1910 Renaissance-styled jail is no longer standing. It was used from the date of its construction until 2004, after which the building served as storage for the city. It was demolished in 2015. During this time, it gained notoriety as being haunted. For further information, see my entry on the jail in “Alabama Haunt Briefs.”

Old Calaboose
Orline Street
Wetumpka 

Old Calaboose Wetumpka Alabama
Old Calaboose in 2016. Photograph by Lewis O. Powell, IV, all rights reserved.

Standing near the riverside in downtown Wetumpka is a small brick building with tiny windows and a single, solid door. This old calaboose, from the Spanish calabozo, meaning dungeon, was the first jail in the area, having been constructed around 1820. It could house only two prisoners at a time. This location was featured on the Wetumpka Haunted History Tour in 2016 and activity there was only vaguely described.

Sources

  • Wetumpka-Elmore County Chamber of Commerce. Wetumpka Haunted History Tour. 28 October 2016.

Old Coffee County Jail
329 Putnam Street
Elba

The ruins of this 1912 jail hold perhaps a number of spirits. This building was the scene of the assassination of the county’s sheriff in 1979. This, combined with the usual negative energy found in jails, may contribute to the building’s haunted nature. For further information, see my entry on the jail in “Alabama Hauntings—County by County, Part II.”

Old Covington County Jail
Behind the Covington County Courthouse
101 North Court Square
Andalusia
 

Situated behind the county courthouse, this jail was constructed in 1916 and has been probed by paranormal investigators on at least two occasions. Writer and investigator Faith Serafin, who led a team through the building, remarked that evidence of spirits within the building is “beyond a shadow of a doubt.” For further information, see my entry on the jail in “Alabama Hauntings—County by County, Part II.”

Old Rock Jail
Corner of Jackson Street and AL 22
Rockford

Old Rock Jail Rockford Alabama
The Old Rock Jail in 2020. Photo by Jimmy Reynolds Jr., courtesy of Wikipedia.

Legend holds that the spirit of an inmate who committed suicide remains to walk the halls of this old jail. This three-story structure, constructed in 1842, is the oldest stone jail in the state. It served the county until 1938. The building is now owned by the local historical society and operated as a museum and events venue.

Sources

Old Townley Jail (private)
Off Main Street
Townley
 

Located in woods just off Main Street in this small Walker County community, are the ruins of the old jail. These remains, on private property now, are reportedly haunted. A young lady reported on GhostsofAmerica.com that she and her friends had several frightening encounters while investigating there one night. The group heard chains in the empty building and took several pictures with anomalies. 

Sources

Pauley Jail
Behind the Bullock County Courthouse
217 North Prairie Avenue
Union Springs

Behind the courthouse stands the intimidating Pauly Jail named for the Pauly Jail Building and Manufacturing Company of St. Louis which constructed it in 1897. The building is among the oldest jails still in existence in the state. Like many jails of the period, executions were conducted here using the trap door on the second floor. The condemned may remain here in the form of voices, odd sounds, and fleeting shadows.

Sources

  • Fox, Jovani. “Paranormal research team investigates Pauly Jail.” Union Springs Herald. September 2009.
  • Higdon, David and Brett J. Talley. Haunted Alabama Black Belt. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.

Sipsey City Hall
3835 Sipsey Road
Sipsey

Like Townley above, Sipsey is also a small town in Walker County. City Hall once featured jail cells, but those have been disused for some time. Perhaps the remaining cells may be the cause of paranormal activity experienced throughout the building. According to a report from the Alabama Paranormal Research Team, an investigation in this building turned up a surprising amount of activity.

Sources

Alabama Paranormal Research Team. Investigation Report on the Sipsey City Jail. Accessed 29 November 2012.

Winston County Courthouse
10 Blake Drive
Double Springs
 

Winston County Courthouse Double Springs Alabama
The Winston County Courthouse, 1995, by Calvin Beale, taken for the USDA.

This 1894 county courthouse also houses the county jail. According to a post on HauntedPlaces.org, a jailer has had a series of unusual experiences here. One night after getting a bag of chip from a vending machine, the jailer’s chips were knocked from his hands but a cool breeze. A comment on the post from someone who spent time incarcerated here states that “old lawman” still walks the corridor.

Sources

  • Kay, Steven M. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for the Winston County Courthouse. March 1987.
  • Winston County Courthouse. HauntedPlaces.org. Accessed 23 May 2021.

Notes on Haunted North Carolina

Seemingly, the pandemic has affected everything, including my own writing and research. While I have continued to research, my motivation and focus when writing has been severely undermined.

In my research for this blog I have amassed a tremendous amount of information in the form of books, as well as in periodical articles and blog entries. Yet, so much of this information hasn’t been utilized. When I write blog entries, I usually pour a great deal of research into my subject or subjects, which of course takes time. These entries, however, have been written in a “fast and furious” style and utilize just one or two sources. I expect that these may be used and expanded in the future. Please enjoy this “fast and furious” tour of North Carolina haunts!

Asheville

1889 WhiteGate Inn & Cottage
173 East Chestnut Street

This Asheville bed & breakfast has been in operation for many years. Over that time, guests have reported quite a bit of paranormal activity. A 2001 article in the Asheville Citizen-Times notes some of that activity including footsteps on the stairs and an old woman sitting on an outside chair.

Sources

  • Clark, Paul. “Ghosts luring guests to local bed and breakfasts.” Asheville Citizen-Times. 1 September 2001.

Lewis Memorial Park Cemetery
415 Beaverdam Road

Workers in this cemetery have reported a ghostly horse and rider as well as a phantom dog. Some believe the rider may be the spirit of Robert J. Lewis who created the park in 1927.

Sources

  • Bianchi, Melanie M. “Outdoors: Spooky outdoor spots.” Mountain Xpress. 29 October 2008.

Bath

Devil’s Hoofprints on the Cutler Farm (private)
NC 1334

These mysterious prints on the edge of the woods now on private property are believed to be those of the Devil. Sometime in the early 19th century, a local man by the name of Jesse Elliott was known for his fondness for horses and racing. He was approached by a stranger wearing black astride a black horse. The stranger made a wager with Elliott as to whose horse was faster.

Elliott soon found himself in the lead and he boasted to the stranger “Take me as the winner or take me to hell!” As soon as the words left his mouth, the stranger was next to him and Elliott’s horse stopped running. Jesse was thrown from his horse, his head hitting a pine tree killing him.

The stranger got off his horse and supposedly took ahold of his soul and disappeared. The only sign that the Devil had been there were hoofprints left in the soft earth. Like the Devil’s Tramping Ground in Bear Creek (also included in this article), debris falling into the hoofprints is quickly swept away by an unseen force.

Sources

  • Bianchi, Melanie M. “Outdoors: Spooky outdoor spots.” Mountain Xpress. 29 October 2008.
  • Carmichael, Sherman. Mysterious Tales of the North Carolina Coast. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2018.

Bear Creek

Devil’s Tramping Ground
4005 Devil’s Tramping Ground Road

Devil's Tramping Ground Bear Creek North Carol;ina
A view of the Devil’s Tramping Ground in 2007. Photo by Jason Horne, courtesy of Wikipedia.

In a state full of paranormal landmarks, the Devil’s Tramping Ground outside of Siler City is perhaps one of the most famous. This circular clearing in the woods oddly has no plant life or debris within it. Legend states that this is due to the nightly tramping of the Devil, though scientific investigation has not been able to find a reasonable answer. Curious visitors have left things within the mysterious space only to find it swept clean in the morning.

Sources

  • Devil’s Tramping Ground. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 3 January 2021.
  • “Spookiest spots in North Carolina.” 24 October 2019.

Burke and Caldwell Counties

Brown Mountain

Brown Mountain North Carolina
Brown Mountain in 2016. Photo by Thomson200, courtesy of Wikipedia.

On the border of Burke and Caldwell counties within the Pisgah National Forest is the famed Brown Mountain on whose flanks ghost lights have been seen for quite some time. One of first mentions of the lights in the media occurred in 1913 and an investigator with the U.S. Geological Survey determined that the lights were simply those of a train. Another investigation by the same government entity in 1922 put the blame squarely on trains, automobiles, and stationary lights. However, after a flood in the area cut off electricity and damaged railroads, the lights were still seen. In the years since, scientists have continued to ponder the mysteries and have discovered few answers to the famous Brown Mountain Lights.

Sources

Burlington

Paramount Theatre
128 East Front Street

As all good theatres have a ghost, Burlington’s Paramount Theatre is no exception. The kindly, yet mischievous, spirit has been dubbed “Herschel.” Some legends point to his identity as that of a customer who passed away in the men’s room, while others say that he is the spirit of a projectionist who was electrocuted in the projection booth. According to a 2011 article in the local paper, no one has died in the men’s room or projection booth. Despite the debunked legends, seat bottoms have been seen to move on their own, and lights sometimes act up, while actors onstage have seen a shadowy figure in the projection booth.

Sources

  • Boyd, Walter. “Burlington has more than its share of ghosts and goblins.” Times-News. 28 October 2011.

Buxton

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
46379 Lighthouse Road

Cape Hatteras Light Buxton North Carolina
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in 2020. Photo by Jschildk, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse has stood over the beach and protected ships from ground on the offshore Diamond Shoals since 1870. During that time, it has also attracted ghosts and paranormal activity. Within the lighthouse itself, a spectral cat has been seen by surprised visitors who have also felt the cat rubbing up against their legs. When the visitor reaches to pet it, the cat vanishes. The apparition of a man in a yellow raincoat has also been spotted here.

Sources

  • Carmichael, Sherman. Mysterious Tales of the North Carolina Coast. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2018.

Candler

Owl’s Nest Inn
2630 Smoky Park Highway

A search of Google reveals that this inn may have closed, though the spirits may remain. A 2001 article in the Asheville Citizen-Times reports that the innkeeper was still scrutinizing an odd photo taken inside the inn. In a room that was supposed to be empty, the photo shows a woman standing in the room with a shroud over her head. But the spirits here did not just make their presence known by appearing in photographs, unseen hands would sometimes turn on gas fireplaces as well as setting alarms on alarm clocks to go off in rooms that had been unoccupied for days.

Sources

  • Clark, Paul. “Ghosts luring guests to local bed and breakfasts.” Asheville Citizen-Times. 1 September 2001.

Stony Fork Picnic Area
711 Pisgah Highway

Located within Pisgah National Forest on the outskirts of Asheville, this picnic area is reputed to be an old dump site for bodies during the Prohibition era. More recently, bodies of two murder victims have been found in the area. One was identified as a victim of Gary Michael Hilton, while the other remains were those of Judy Smith, who may have also been a victim of Hilton.

Visitors to the area after dark have reportedly been pursued into woods by apparitions, including those of a man and a small boy. A paranormal investigation team heard disembodied footsteps there and one of the investigators described the area as being “very uncomfortable.”

Sources

Chapel Hill

Carolina Inn
211 Pittsboro Street

Built in 1924, the Carolina Inn was meant to house visitors to the University of North Carolina next door. In 1948, William Jacocks, a physics professor and 1904 graduate of the university, made his residence in a suite on the second floor, which he would occupy until 1965. Following his death, visitors staying in Room 256 have experienced activity possibly caused by the mischievous professor’s spirit. One of the most occurrences is that the door will lock by itself and refuse to admit guests.

Sources

  • Gardner, George. “Haunted N.C. hotels.” Charlotte Observer. 3 October 2014.

Corolla

Currituck Beach Light
1101 Corolla Village Road

Currituck Beach Light Corolla North Carolina
Currituck Beach Light, 2007. Photo by Warfieldian, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Constructed in 1875, this lighthouse was the last to be built in the Outer Banks. The north room in the keeper’s house may be the domain of two spirits, a little girl who once stayed in the room and a woman who may have died there. The little girl is supposed to have been the daughter or ward of the first lighthouse keeper. While playing on the beach, the child drowned. Afterwards, her form has been encountered on the property. The woman may have been the wife of a keeper who died from tuberculosis here.

Sources

  • Ambrose, Kala. Ghosthunting North Carolina. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2011.
  • Sledge, Joe. Haunting the Outer Banks: Thirteen Tales of Terror from the North Carolina Coast. Gravity Well Books, 2019.

Greensboro

Aycock Auditorium
Campus of University of North Carolina, Greensboro

Facade of Aycock Auditorium UNCG Greensboro North Carolina
Facade of Aycock Auditorium at UNCG, 2015. Photo by Willthacheerleader, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Legend holds that the spirit haunting this auditorium is that of Jane Aycock, daughter of Governor Charles Brantley Aycock, for whom the facility is named. Another story lays the blame for the haunting on the woman who lived in a house that once stood on this spot.

Sources

  • Clodefelter, Tim and Nicole Chenier. “The state of fright: North Carolina history rich in the weird and unexplainable.” Winston-Salem Journal. 29 October 2000.

Kure Beach

Fort Fisher
1610 Fort Fisher Boulevard, South

Fort Fisher was one of the linchpins that kept the Confederacy together. Guarding the approach to Wilmington harbor, the fort aided blockade runners thus keeping the Confederacy alive after so many other ports had been blocked. After the fall of Mobile, Alabama, Fort Fisher became a major target of Union forces. After the first battle waged against the fort was a dismal failure, regrouped Union forces launched a second battle against the fort that was successful. Wilmington fell shortly after.

Fort Fisher Kure Beach North Carolina
Fort Fisher just after the Second Battle of Fort Fisher.

According to Alan Brown, one of the first incidents of paranormal activity was witnessed in 1868 during a reunion of soldiers was held there. Three former soldiers saw a figure atop one of the gun placements. When they waved, the figure raised its sword into the air, revealing it to be none other than General Whiting who had commanded the fort but had been wounded in the second battle and died in captivity. The figure disappeared before their eyes. Figures such as that of the general have been seen repeatedly since and an investigation of the fort in 2004 captured interesting evidence including a human shaped figure that appeared in a photograph.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Places in the American South. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2002.
  • Brown, Alan. Stories from the Haunted South. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.
  • Fort Fisher. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 1 February 2011.
  • Toney, B. Keith. Battlefield Ghosts. Berryville, VA: Rockbridge Publishing, 1997.
  • Wardrip, Stanley. “Fort Fisher Civil War Battlefield.” In Jeff Belanger’s Encyclopedia of Haunted Places. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books, 2005.

Morganton

Broughton Hospital
1000 South Sterling Street

Avery Building Broughton Hospital Morganton North Carolina
Avery Building at Broughton Hospital, 2019. Photo by Warren LeMay, courtesy of Wikipedia.

With the lobbying of Dorthea Dix, the state of North Carolina set out to build modern hospitals for the treatment of mental illnesses. The Western Carolina Insane Asylum opened in 1883 and continues to serve as a mental health facility, though with fewer patients and under the name Broughton Hospital. Most facilities treating mental illness have spirits and Broughton is no exception. Reports mention apparitions, disembodied screams, and eerie feelings haunting this facility. Broughton’s sister hospital is Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro which I have also covered here.

Sources

  • Broughton Hospital. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 3 January 2021.
  • “Spookiest spots in North Carolina.” 24 October 2019.

New Bern

Attmore-Oliver House
510 Pollock Street

Attmore-Oliver House New Bern North Carolina
Attmore-Oliver House, 2006. Photo by Self, courtesy of Wikipedia.

During a paranormal investigation of the Attmore-Oliver House a door slammed in the face of an investigator. After checking the door, there was no obvious force that could have slammed it. Along with some EVPs, this is the main evidence of paranormal activity in this circa 1790 house. Legend tells of a father and daughter who possibly died in the attic during a smallpox epidemic, though this cannot be confirmed through historical records. Others look towards the last resident of the house who was known for her eccentricity. Regardless, there appears to be some very interesting activity going on here.

Sources

  • Manley, Roger. Weird Carolina. NYC: Sterling Publishing, 2007.

Orrum

Lumber River State Park
2819 Princess Ann Road

The swamps and lowlands of America were considered bewitched and dangerous places to the Europeans who settled here. During the American Revolution, patriot General Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion used these mysterious places to his advantage by utilizing guerilla warfare throughout the swamps of South Carolina and even extending into North Carolina on occasion. The land along the course of the Lumber River is mostly undeveloped and remains much as it was when Marion traveled along its swampy run. An old local legend tells of one of Marion’s officers who loved a young woman from a Tory family and passed information on to her father. Marion pursued a group of Tories to Tory Island along the Lumber River and destroyed their settlement. He killed the traitorous officer and hung him in the ruins where the officer’s lover found him. The pair is still seen roaming the island.

Sources

  • Barefoot, Daniel W. North Carolina’s Haunted Hundred, Vol. 2: Piedmont Phantoms. Winston-Salem, NC, John F. Blair, 2002.
  • Lumber River State Park. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 1 February 2011.

Raleigh

North Carolina State Capitol Building
1 East Edenton Street

North Carolina State Capitol, 2007. Photo by Jim Bowen, courtesy of Wikipedia.
North Carolina State Capitol, 2007. Photo by Jim Bowen, courtesy of Wikipedia.

It seems that many current and former state capitol buildings throughout the South are haunted. Old state capitols in Georgia, Louisiana, and Virginia have ghosts as well as the current state capitols for Maryland, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Of these, only the North Carolina Capitol has received any paranormal investigation. The investigation was conducted by none other than the Rhine Research Center, an organization originally established as part of Duke University, which is now independent of the university, devoted to the scientific study of parapsychology. The Rhine Center discovered paranormal activity in the capitol and one investigator who saw a man in nineteenth century clothing sitting in the legislative chamber.

Sources

  • Barefoot, Daniel W. North Carolina’s Haunted Hundred, Vol. 2: Piedmont Phantoms. Winston-Salem, NC, John F. Blair, 2002.
  • Brown, Alan. Stories from the Haunted South. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.

Rockingham

Hudson Brothers Deli
115 South Lee Street

In 2011, the Sandhills Paranormal Research Society set out to investigate Hudson Brothers Deli, a bar in Rockingham. The building housing the bar originally served as a funeral home. The owner even mentions the existence of crematoriums in the basement.

Among the reports from the bar are the apparition of a girl seen by both a bartender and a manager. One patron reported seeing the apparition of a man in a business suit that told him to, “wait right here.” A former owner reported that an employee sent on an errand to the basement ran screaming from the establishment and never even returned to pick up their paycheck.

The investigation appeared to be successful with the group picking up evidence including the odor of flowers in the basement and EVPs. The group stated that there was definitely spiritual activity here.

Sources

  • Brown, Philip D. “A haunting in Hudson Brothers.” Richmond County Daily Journal. 5 April 2011.

Weaverville

Inn on Main Street
88 South Main Street

New Year’s Eve 1999 offered the owner and guests of the Inn on Main some paranormal activity. As the small group celebrated the new year they “heard two things fall of the wall in the next room.” When the owner walked into the next room, nothing was out of place and the room was empty. A moment later, they heard the sound of a door shutting behind them. The inn occupies a home built around the turn of the 20th century for a surgeon.

Sources

  • Clark, Paul. “Ghosts luring guests to local bed and breakfasts.” Asheville Citizen-Times. 1 September 2001.

Wilmington

Bellamy Mansion
503 Market Street

A spectacular mix of Greek Revival and Italianate architecture, the Bellamy Mansion has been restored and preserved as a monument to history and design. Dr. John D. Bellamy, a physician, planter, and businessman began construction of the house in 1858 and it was completed in 1861, as civil war was breaking out. When Wilmington was captured by Union troops, the house served as headquarters for the Union general. The house is now under the purview of Preservation North Carolina and open as a museum.

Bellamy Mansion Wilmington North Carolina
Bellamy Mansion, 2012. Photo by Jameslwoodward, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The museum staff reportedly doesn’t say much about spirits in the house, but according to Alan Brown, night managers have reported quite a bit of activity. One of those night managers called by the police twice in one night because inside doors were opening by themselves. Another night manager reported seeing the figure of a man and seeing a wheelchair that belonged to one of the Bellamy family members move on its own accord.

Sources

  • Bellamy Mansion. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 1 February 2011.
  • Brown, Alan. Stories from the Haunted South. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.

USS North Carolina (BB-55)
1 Battleship Road

This mighty battleship was laid down in 1937 and it was completed in 1941, more than seven months before the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, one of the events leading the U.S. to enter World War II. The ship was quickly sent to the Pacific Theater where she served valiantly for the Allied cause and then helped ferry American servicemen home following Japan’s surrender. After the ship was struck from the Naval Register, she was preserved as a museum ship.

USS North Carolina Wilmington North Carolina
The USS North Carolina, 2007. Photo by Doc Searls, courtesy of Wikipedia.

During the ship’s service, it is known that ten men lost their lives aboard the ship. It is believed that the spirits of these men remain aboard the ship, along with a great deal of residual energy. During one investigation, a recorder was dropped into a well. After it was retrieved, investigators heard the words “Help! Help!” and “Tommy” clearly spoken in the well. Research showed that a sailor had once fallen into that well and cracked his skull.

Sources

  • Jordan, Annette. “Ghost hunters: Positively Paranormal is who you’re gonna call.” Courier-Tribune. 16 September 2013.
  • USS North Carolina (BB-55). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 9 January 2021.

Police versus the Paranormal–Atlanta, Georgia

Oakland Cemetery
248 Oakland Avenue, SE

I have covered Oakland Cemetery in two other locations in this blog. My first article covers the history and some of the hauntings; while the second article covers some of the ghostly phenomena taking place there in 1904. I recently come across this 1934 article from the San Francisco Examiner covering the experiences of a handful of policemen who were assigned to patrol the cemetery at night. While the article doesn’t provide dates I was able to locate a reference to one of the officers named here in a 1935 Atlanta paper, so it seems that these experiences were contemporary.

San Francisco Examiner
6 May 1934

Soldier Spectres Rout Police From Cemetery, Driving One Mad, Another To His Death

The ghosts of long dead Confederate soldiers who fell fighting for a lost cause when Sherman marched through Georgia to the sea, have routed the Atlanta, Georgia, police force from the Oakland cemetery. One patrolman who braved the eerie terror of night duty at the cemetery was driven mad, and died, by the strange sounds and shapes he thought he saw as he patrolled his lonely beat through the long, straight row of white crosses that mark the graves of the war dead. Another was driven temporarily insane, and resigned from the police force. A score of others abandoned the post for fear of losing their reason.

Atlanta’s policemen are brave men. They are no more superstitious than the average man. But until some natural explanation is given for the unnatural and weird prowlings of ghostlike figure through the silent graveyard, the police have abandoned their night patrol.

The first reports of ghosts in the cemetery came from frightened citizens who, passing the hallowed spot late at night, reported they have seen strange shapes among the graves, heard the tolling of the sexton’s bell, and listened to ghostly voices that seemed to call the roll of the dead who were buried there three-quarters of a century ago.

Atlanta’s police scoffed then, at these strange reports, but to soothe the fears of those citizens who had sworn the cemetery was haunted, a night patrol was established and Patrolman E. H. Bentley, now retired, was chose. Bentley, a veteran police officer, was a quiet, soft spoken man, a man not easily fooled, and a man not easily frightened.

The officer took his post at dusk each night inside the iron fenced cemetery grounds. An iron gate that clanged behind him as he entered, was securely locked. Bentley proved he was a brave man. He held his post longer than any other officer of all the score or more who eventually were assigned to night duty in the cemetery. Eventually he asked to be relieved.

gates of Oakland Cemetery Atlanta Georgia
The gates of Oakland Cemetery, 2015. Photo by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

“I’ll go stark mad, if I am not,” he said, quietly.

Something was wrong in the cemetery, Bentley declared. High above the building that houses the sexton’s offices in the graveyard is a tower that holds a large bell, a bell that is tolled by the sexton as a signal to the grave diggers when a funeral cortege enters the iron gates.

“That bell rang at night,” Bentley said. It rang, he claimed, even after he had climbed to the top of the belfry tower and disconnected the bell rope. There was no wind which could have rocked the big old bell into voice. And Bentley said he saw strange shapes among the graves. John Rumph volunteered to take Bentley’s place on the night patrol.

Rumph died a short time later in the State insane asylum. He was mad, violently man, and in his madness he told strange stories of spirit mermaids who bathed and splashed about in the beautiful memorial fountain in the center of Oakland cemetery, under the light of the moon. He had heard their voices, laughing voices of ghosts at play, he said, and he described the beauty of these mermaids until he died.

Patrolman Ed Cason, who had braved the withering gunfire of Flanders Fields in the World War, and had been a member of the intelligence branch of the American Expeditionary Forces, was assigned to patrol Oakland cemetery at night.

Cason today bears an ugly scar across his forehead, mute testimony of a grisly race through the night in the cemetery—a race with a ghostly form that trotted beside him.

Cason was on a bicycle. When the eerie shape floated toward him the officer, who was afraid of nothing human, fled. He raced his bicycle toward the gate. But the faster he went, the faster went the mysterious form beside him. Cason finally rammed his wheel into the iron grilled gate. He himself hurtled against the gate, and fell, unconscious to the ground. He came to hours later. The ghost was gone.

W. H. Swords, one of the biggest and most fearless policemen on the Atlanta force was assigned to the patrol. By this time it was becoming difficult to find men willing to take the assignment. But Swords wasn’t afraid.

Oakland Cemetery Bell Tower and Keeper's Lodge
The Oakland Cemetery Bell Tower and Keeper’s Lodge where a police officer heard disembodied footsteps in 1904. Photo 2005, by AUTiger, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Swords went straight to the sexton’s office, which seemed to be the center of phenomena. He entered the building, switched on the light, and almost instantly he had the feeling that the room was filled with presences. He heard strange sounds of an unintelligible language whispered about him. Swords turns out the lights, thinking to give these ghosts, if ghosts they were, a better chance to demonstrate themselves and their tricks.

As the lights went out, there came the sound of a rap at the back door. Swords tiptoed softly to the door, placed his hand on the handle ready to fling it open, and waited. A moment later there came the sound of the rap again. Swords flung open the door. A beam of light from his flash stabbed into the darkness. There was no one there. Three times more that same thing occurred.

Swords left the building, and sneaked quietly out into the graveyards, believing that he might trap the knocked from the outside.

“I ducked down behind a tombstone,” Swords said later, “and waited. I still felt there was some natural explanation of the whole thing.”

“Then I simply froze in my tracks. From what seemed to be right beside me came the soft notes of a bugle. In a moment I heard the throaty voice of an unseen man who seemed to be calling the roll of the dead. ‘Jack Smith?’ the voice intoned, and from the little distance away came the answer, ‘Here!’”

Confederate dead Oakland Cemetery Atlanta Georgia
Rows of Confederate dead, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell IV,
all rights reserved.

Swords listened to that ghostly roll call. Trembling, he flashed his light over the rows of little white crosses. There was nothing visible, but the roll call of the dead went on.

Patrolman W. H. Dodd, driver of the Atlanta patrol wagon, was passing the cemetery one night when he heard the bark of a service pistol ripping through the dark. Dodd jammed on his brakes, jumped from the wagon, leaped the iron fence and rushed into the cemetery.

“I found the night patrolman,” he reported later, “standing in a narrow pathway, his still smoking gun in his hand. The patrolman, a man named Cason, but not the same one that had raced the ghost on his bicycle, was trembling. His wild eyes were staring out into the darkness.

“’God,’ he sighed. I saw a ghost, and shot at it. I couldn’t have missed it, but there is nothing there now.’” Cason withdrew from the beat.

Grave of General John B Gordon Oakland Cemetery
Grave of Confederate General John B. Gordon, Oakland, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell IV,
all rights reserved.

Another officer, one of the last assigned to the cemetery night patrol, came out of the graveyard one morning trembling, to tell that he had seen the Confederate hero, General John B. Gordon, who is buried in Oakland cemetery, astride a white horse, waving a ghostly sword, and issuing commands in a soft whisper to the ghostly figures of his staff who stood around him.

The Atlanta police still explain the happenings in the Oakland graveyard at night. They don’t even try. But they have ended the night patrol in the cemetery.

 

Coheelee Creepiness

Coheelee Creek Covered Bridge
Early County Road 80 over Coheelee Creek
Blakely, Georgia

As the Chattahoochee River makes its way south towards communion with the Gulf of Mexico, many small creeks and streams empty their contents into it. Among them is Coheelee Creek in rural Early County. Before it meets the Chattahoochee, the creek crosses under an old covered bridge, but this one is special, it is the most southern covered bridge remaining in the country.

Coheelee Covered Bridge Blakely Georgia
Postcard of the Coheelee Covered Bridge, probably dating to the late 1960s. From the Katherine Hyde Green Collection, Troup County Archives, LaGrange, Georgia.

Covered bridges once dotted nearly the entire country providing passage over a myriad of rivers and streams. But as their popularity waned among local governments in the face of more durable materials such as concrete and steel, the covered bridge became a romantic anachronism. Few saw the need to preserve these wonderful vestiges of the past and some fell from neglect, mother nature’s cruelty, or the vandal’s torch. Tucked away among the pines, this charming bridge has survived and has been the centerpiece of a local park for several decades.

In 1883, the Early County Commissioners ordered the construction of a bridge here, and it was completed by J. W. Baughman in 1883. After damage by a large produce truck that tried to pass over the bridge in 1971, the bridge was repaired and remained in daily use. The bridge was given a full restoration in 1984 and given over to care by the local chapter of the DAR.

Coheelee Covered Bridge Blakely Georgia
The Coheelee Covered Bridge in 2006. Photo by Jerrye and Roy Klotz, MD, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Of course, as bridges tend to attract spiritual activity, there are reports that the figure of a female has been spied sitting inside the bridge. The sound of growling has also been heard around the bridge while others have reported feeling a mysterious force pulling them under it.

Sources

  • Ashley, Sarah. Haunted Georgia: Ghosts Stories and Paranormal Activity from the State of Georgia. D & D Publishing, 2013.
  • Bogle, James G. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for Coheelee Creek Covered Bridge. 30 October 1974.
  • Cox, Dale. “Coheelee Creek Covered Bridge – Early County, Georgia.” Explore Southern History. Accessed 20 February 2021.

Directory of Haunted Southern Roads and Bridges

Along Southern roadways and bridges, people sometimes experience strange activity. From lonely “Cry Baby Bridges” to apparitions, phantom coaches, and strange sounds and feelings, this directory covers hauntings throughout the South. This directory covers roads, streets, bridges, trails, and sites immediately adjacent to byways.

Alabama

William Gibson Gravesite Springville Alabama
The roadside grave of William Gibson. Photo courtesy of Waymarking.com.

District of Columbia

FAA Headquarters on Independence Avenue, 2009. Photo by
Matthew Bisanz, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Florida

Georgia

The Haunted Pillar with the Haunted Pillar Tattoo
Shop behind it. Photo 2014, by Lewis Powell IV,
all rights reserved.

Kentucky

haunted Old Richardsville Road Bridge Bowling Green Kentucky ghost crybaby bridge
Old Richardsville Road Bridge, 2014, by Nyttend. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Louisiana

Maryland

Jericho Covered Bridge, 2009, by Pubdog. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Mississippi

Homochitto River bridge Rosetta Mississippi 1974 flood
This shows the damage done to the bridge during the April 1974 flood. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

North Carolina

Helen’s Bridge, October 2012, by Lewis O. Powell IV. All rights reserved.

South Carolina

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge over the Cooper River, 2012.

Tennessee

Siam Steel Bridge Elizabethton Tennessee haunted ghost
The Siam Steel Bridge, July 2008, by Calvin Sneed. Courtesy of Bridgehunter.com.

Virginia

TWA Flight 514 crash site Virginia
The TWA Flight 514 crash site in December of 1975, a year after the crash. These trees were sheared off by the low-flying plane. Photo by C. Brown, courtesy of Wikipedia.

West Virginia

West Virginia Turnpike 1974
A two-lane section of the turnpike in 1974. Photo by Jack Corn for the EPA.

The Ghastly Bell-Ringer and Bride

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church
80 Meeting Street
Charleston, South Carolina

Author Tim Prasil, who has written a number of novels about “a quirky yet brilliant ghost hunter named Vera Van Slyke,” collected and edited a wonderful volume of newspaper articles of paranormal interest appearing in American papers between 1865 and 1917. While leafing through this book, I happened upon this story from St. Michael’s Church in Charleston.

A Ghost Tolled the Bells.
Wahpeton (ND) Times, June 27, 1889
Reprinted from Atlanta (GA) Journal

Before the earthquake shook it down [this is the earthquake that struck the city 31 August 1886], the old guard house or police station was just across the street, in front of the church. Every night for years an old policeman, who had grown old and decrepit in the service of his country and lastly of his city, kept watch at the door. He had seen many strange sights, and he always said that the strangest he had ever seen was the dead man ringing the chimes from the belfry of old St. Michael’s. He had seen the shrouded figure, time and again, climb up to the bells and, not touching the ropes, which had been pulled so often by living hands, swing the heavy iron tongues against the sides of the bells and clash out a fearful melody which thrilled while it horrified the listener.

St Michael's Church Charleston SC
St. Michael’s Church following the 1886 earthquake. Cabinet card produced by Charles N. Beesley.

He would tell you, if you cared to listen to his story, how the ghost had been murdered, for in its normal state it had been murdered by the thrust of an Italian stiletto in Elliot Street. The spirit was “to walk the earth,” “revisit the glimpses of the moon,” ring the old chimes, and do other horrible things, until the murderer was captured.

A few minutes before midnight the old watchman would see this spectral chimer enter the church doors, forgetting to open them, swiftly and in a ghostly way glide up the steps of the winding stair, pause under the bells by the ropes where Gadsden [the church’s bellringer] rings them, climb on into the gloomy belfry and stop beneath the open mouths of the bells. They yawned down upon it, as if striving to swallow up the restless spirit. Suddenly, as if the inspiration had come, the shrouded hand would move silently and rapidly from iron tongue, and the wild eldritch music would swell the air.

spire of St Michaels Church Charleston SC
The spire of St. Michael’s, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

This important, landmark church (it has been named a National Historic Landmark), was constructed between 1752 and 1761, making it the oldest religious building in the city. Its bells, which were imported from Britain in 1764, are considered a symbol of the city. The bells were removed during the Civil War and were burned when Columbia (where they were stored) was destroyed by General Sherman. The bells were returned to the Whitechapel Foundry in London to be recast after the war. They have remained in the steeple ever since.

St Michael's Episcopal Church Charleston SC ghosts haunted
St. Michael’s, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

Whenever I visit Charleston, I always savor the chance to step inside its cool and highly decorative interior. Of course, I’m always on the lookout for Harriet Mackie, the supposed ghost bride who appears to visitors. Though, during my daytime visits, she has yet to appear among the throng of tourists who seem to be absorbed in the quiet church.

The legend of Harriet Mackie is based on a factual account. Young Harriet died on June 4, 1804 at the age of 16 or 17. She donned her white wedding dress and fell ill a short time later. Within hours she had passed away. Rumors quickly spread that she had been poisoned as she was poised to inherit her father’s vast estate on her marriage, though the property was to pass to the owners of a nearby plantation if she died beforehand. As her corpse lay in bed still dressed in her wedding white, Charleston’s hoi-polloi paid their respects at her bedside and a French miniaturist, P.R. Vallée, pointed the portrait of the girl’s body.

Harriet Mackie (The Dead Bride)
Monsieur Vallée’s miniature portrait of Harriet Mackie shortly after her death. Courtesy of the Yale University Gallery of Art.

After her burial, people claimed to have seen the wedding dress clad spirit wandering through the church and the graveyard.

A glance at the graveyard roster reveals that it is the resting place of some of greatest Charlestonians. Interred in this sacred ground are two signers of the U.S. Constitution: Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and John Rutledge, and a marvelous assortment of congressmen, mayors, governors, and military leaders.

Recently, I came across the account of paranormal investigator George Dudding and his son who crept into the church’s graveyard after dark in 2018. The pair made their way into the graveyard by way of a back gate that had been carelessly left open. After producing various pieces of investigative equipment, they swept the site for any paranormal activity. While he listened to the chatter from a spirit box, Dudding saw a shadowy figure near a cluster of tombstones. He and his son ducked into the shadows, worried that it might be a security guard. When the figure began to move, it was decidedly not a living being as it moved through several tombstones and a wrought-iron fence. Frightened at their experience, the pair slipped out of the cemetery. Did they encounter the spirit of the bell-ringer or the ghostly bride? Or was it the spirit of one of the many people who rest here beneath the sod?

For more hauntings nearby, see my article “Doing the Charleston: A Ghostly Tour–South of Broad.”

Sources

  • Dudding, George. Graveyard Ghost Hunting: The Search Continues. Spencer, WV: GSD Publications, 2018.
  • Harriett Mackie (The Dead Bride). Yale University Art Gallery. Accessed 7 February 2021.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: U. of SC Press, 1997.
  • Prasil, Tim. Spectral Edition: Ghost Reports from U.S. Newspapers, 1865-1917. Brom Bones Books, 2017.
  • St. Michael’s Episcopal Church (Charleston, South Carolina). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 7 February 2021.

Small Town Rivalries—Dadeville, Alabama

McClendon-Ingram-Banks House
241 West Columbus Street
 

In small towns throughout the South, residents are often pitted against one another based on college or high school football allegiances, or church denominations. Or, as is this case, whether or not to tear down a lovely historic and haunted home for a parking lot. These rivalries are most evident at the end of an article in Alexander City, Alabama’s The Outlook.

Banks said an acquaintance of his had implied that the house was going to be leveled.

“She told me — inferred to me — that it was the Baptist church’s plans to enlarge the parking lot to encompass the house,” Banks said. “But she’s a Methodist and in small towns like Dadeville, you’re committed to one or the other. If you’ve found out about Auburn fans and Alabama fans, being a Baptist and Methodist in Dadeville is about the same thing.”

Having grown up in a nearby town (my hometown of LaGrange, Georgia is about 40 miles away), I’ve heard about these rivalries all my life. Most of them are good natured, though sometimes extreme views can lead to tension and rifts between people.

Dadeville Alabama
Staid commercials buildings still line courthouse square in Dadeville. The McClendon-Ingram-Banks House is located just around the corner from the square. Photo 2008, by Rivers Langley. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

In the case of the McClendon-Ingram-Banks House, located adjacent to the First Baptist Church’s parking lot, this rivalry shows concern for this lovely old home. According to the National Register nomination form for the Dadeville Historic District, the home was built around the turn of the 20th century. It was the home of several prominent local doctors over the years. One legend concerns one of the early doctors going out at night for a house call. His horse returned, but the man was never seen again. Another of the residents, Dr. McClendon, lost his young daughter here after the child’s dress caught fire when she got too close to a fireplace.

Yet another legend of the house notes that it was used as a convalescent home for Confederate soldiers. When a couple looked at the house recently they took photographs of the interior which showed “semi-transparent, ghostly images in several of them.” The wife thought they resembled Confederate soldiers. It should be noted, however, that the home was built about 35 years after the end of the Civil War, thought it still may have served as a convalescent home for aging soldiers.

Over the decades, a number of families have reported paranormal activity in the home including disembodied “footsteps, medicines appearing and reappearing,” and the apparition of Dr. McClendon’s daughter. While some of the activity may be somewhat frightening, the spirits, according to a member of one of the last families to inhabit the house, are benign.

The latest rivalry concerns the First Baptist Church’s recent acquisition of the property. Rumors have spread that the church may tear the house down to expand its parking lot, though a representative of the church told the paper that nothing has been decided yet. He suggested that the house may be used as meeting space by the church, or that the house may be moved for the expansion of the parking lot. Hopefully, the house and its sprits may be saved, and that this rivalry will be revealed as a lot of hot air.

Sources

A Mysterious Myopic Specter—Williamsburg, VA

Public Records Office
433 East Duke of Gloucester Street

The small brick building off to the side of the Old Capitol Building is fairly unassuming, though it, like many of the buildings in the old section of the city, possesses a complex and sometimes tragic history. Of course, this structure is in possession of a few spirits as well.

When the Capitol burned in 1747, many of the colony’s records were destroyed in the fire. The House of Burgesses and the Council passed legislation authorizing construction of a Public Records Office, or Secretary’s Office, to house and protect the colony’s records. This elegant brick structure was built with little wood to ensure that it would not burn. Four fireplaces connecting to two massive chimneys allowed for small fires that would provide heat in the winter and keep the building dry during the heat of summer.

This building housed the colony’s records until the removal of the capital to Richmond in 1780. The Court of Admiralty occupied the building for some years, then it became a home for the headmaster when a school was opened in the Capitol building. During the Civil War when Confederates were fleeing Yorktown, some rebels hid in the building. Union troops surrounded the building and a firefight ensued between the two groups. Eventually, the rebels ran out of ammunition and the Union troops burst through the door and captured them.

Public Records or Secretary's Office Williamsburg Virginia
The Public Records Office, 2015, by Smash the Iron Cage, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Around the turn of the 20th century, this building was the home to David Roland Jones and his family. Jones had seven daughters that he sternly kept in line with strict discipline. Legend holds that one of his daughters, Edna, fell in love with a local young man. The young woman, however, was severely myopic, or near-sighted, which may have led to her death. After sneaking out of the house one night, the young woman was struck and killed by a speeding carriage. Her body was laid to rest in the family cemetery behind the Public Records Office, but her spirit may continue to linger.

A Colonial Williamsburg employee recorded a 1969 encounter with the wraith in her diary. “As I was scrubbing windows, I saw the vision of a woman in white, dangling in mid-air over the old graveyard. Then after a moment or two, she disappeared.” Behrend tells of a guest on one of her tours who glimpsed the young woman peering around the corner of the building. She also tells the story of another visitor who, while strolling the grounds early one morning, heard a woman calling, “Dora! Dora!” That may be Dora Armistead, whose home stood next door until it was moved some years ago. Armistead was known to be a friend of the Jones family.

In researching this story, both authors have mentioned that Edna was buried in the cemetery behind the house, though a quick search through Findagrave.com, shows no one buried under that name. David Roland Jones is there with seven women, but none named Edna.

Sources

  • Behrend, Jackie Eileen. The Hauntings of Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 1998.
  • Jones Cemetery Memorials.” com. Accessed 2 March 2019.
  • Kinney, Pamela K. Virginia’s Haunted Historic Triangle: Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, & Other Haunted Locations. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2011.
  • Olmert, Michael. Official Guide to Colonial Williamsburg. Williamsburg, VA: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1985.