Greystone ghosts–Knoxville, Tennessee

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

N.B. This article was revised and expanded 31 January 2019.

Throughout the South, hauntings can be found in unlikely places: Walmart stores, fast food restaurants (I’ve covered the haunted McDonald’s in Hermitage, Tennessee), and amusement parks among them. From WATE-TV 6, an ABC affiliate, in Knoxville comes word that their own studios may be haunted.

The old mansion that houses offices and studios for the TV station has the appearance of a classic haunted house with its rambling appearance and heavy Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. The house was constructed for Major Eldad Cicero Camp, Jr., the wealthiest man in East Tennessee at the time. Camp initially arrived in the area towards the end of the Civil War while he was serving Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Amazed at the region’s untapped mineral resources, he decided to make Knoxville his permanent home.

Eldad Cicero Camp Knoxville Tennessee
Major Eldad Cicero Camp, circa 1917. From Knoxville Men of Affairs.

Shortly after settling in this city still reeling from the divisions brought about by the war, Camp had his own lingering dispute to settle. During the war, a number of his men had been held as prisoners of war under Colonel Henry Ashby in atrocious conditions. Camp held Ashby personally responsible for their mistreatment and, after the war, pressed charges of war crimes and treason against him. Ashby fled Knoxville but returned when the charges were eventually dropped.

On the afternoon of July 9, 1868, Ashby ran into Camp on the street and the gentlemen struggled with Ashby striking Camp with his cane while Camp fought back with his umbrella. The following day, Ashby appeared at Camp’s law office near the corner of Walnut and Main Streets. The two took their quarrel outside where Camp drew his revolver and fired. Henry Ashby was struck in the chest and killed.

Camp was arrested and charged with murder, but the charges were dropped. The following year, President Grant appointed him as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee. Taking advantage of the region’s natural resources, he organized the Coal Creek Coal Company and served as president of two other companies, building a name for himself as a businessman.

With his wealth, Camp began building Greystone Mansion in 1885. The home took five years to construct and featured elaborate woodwork, jeweled stained glass windows, and imported marble mantelpieces. Camp lived in the house for some 30 years until his death in 1920. He was buried in Old Gray Cemetery where Henry Ashby was also laid to rest. The house remained in the family until 1935 when it was sold and divided into apartments. WATE-TV purchased the house in the 1965, restoring it and adding studio space at the back.

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

Since moving in, station employees have had experiences throughout the old house. Footsteps and other odd noises have been heard, and a door on the second floor closes by itself. Several years ago, a custodian who filmed something moving on the second floor with her phone.

The building has been investigated by Appalachian Paranormal Investigations several times with the group capturing video and audio evidence. According to a WATE, that evidence points to the presence of four possible spirits on the premises.

Sources

  • Booker, Robert J. “Greystone Mansion builder shot, killed man downtown.” Knoxville News-Sentinel. 26 February 2018.
  • Greystone (Knoxville)Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 30 January 2019.
  • Eldad Cicero Camp. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 30 January 2019
  • History of Greystone and WATE-TV 6: Greystone. WATE-TV 6. Accessed 30 September 2012.
  • Price, Charles Edwin, Haunted Tennessee. Johnson City, TN: Overmountain Press, 1995.
  • Williams, Bo. “Paranormal investigators check 6 News home Greystone.” WATE-TV 6. 24 September 2012.

“A multitude of the heavenly host”—Old Gray Cemetery

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. – Luke 2: 13-14 (KJV)

Old Gray Cemetery
543 North Broadway
Knoxville, Tennessee

One of the host of angels at Old Gray. This one adorns the monument Ora Brewster. Photo 2010 by Brian Stansberry. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Like so many Victorian cemeteries, Old Gray Cemetery is adorned with a host of angels guiding us towards heaven, mourning the deceased, or standing silent vigil over the dead. The cemetery traces its founding to 1850 and it was joined by the neighboring Knoxville National Cemetery in 1863, when General Ambrose Burnsides needed a location for the burial for Union troops occupying the city. Since its founding, Old Gray–named for English poet Thomas Gray who penned Elegy in a Country Churchyard–has become the resting place of many notable citizens of Knoxville.

Of course, the cemetery is also the home of specters, otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing about it here. Legends have circulated for decades regarding a “Black Aggie” that has been seen on the grounds. The Black Aggie appears as a figure in a dark robe prowling about the grounds. Initially, the legend sprouted from the Adams Memorial in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D. C. The memorial features a statue representing grief by the noted sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Since its installation, legends have evolved regarding this haunting figure. However, the name for the specter actually stems from a copy of the statue that was sold to General Felix Agnus in Druid Ridge Cemetery, Pikesville, Maryland, just outside of Baltimore. This statue inspired so many legends and endured so much vandalism it was removed and now graces the garden of the Dolley Madison House in Washington. Since this time, Black Aggies have been associated with numerous cemeteries throughout the world.

A pair of angels. Photo 2011 by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

When I visited the cemetery last year in early December, it was cold and the stones sat huddled on the hills under leaden skies; skies that would later that day produce light snow. While I did not encounter any Black Aggies, I did see a number of apparently homeless people wandering through. In fact, I was greeted at the cemetery gates by a young woman shouting profanities as she strolled down the street. That, coupled with the homeless people, did add a sense of unease to this otherwise peaceful resting place.

Numerous sources say simply that the Black Aggie has been reported by many people, though there are no specific reports provided. Dr. Alan Brown in his 2009 book, Haunted Tennessee, provides one unique report. In the 1990s, two teenage boys emboldened by beer, decided to try to photograph the spirit. They drove out to the cemetery and drank while hurling epithets towards the wraith. After urinating on one of the graves, one of the young men saw something black begin to ooze from the ground and form into a black shape. The boy fled as the shape began to pursue him and he jumped into the car shouting for the driver to go. The fleeing teens did, however, get a photo of the spirit before leaving, though, according to Brown, no one else has seen this picture.

Detail from the Mead Monument. Photo by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

In searching online, it does seem that some of the local paranormal organizations have investigated the cemetery during the day, though they have yielded little if any, evidence of paranormal activity. If you, dear reader, happen to find yourself in Knoxville, I would encourage a visit to Old Gray, and be sure to watch for the Black Aggie.

The magnificently decorated Mead Monument. Photo 2011 by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.
The gates of Old Gray Cemetery,  Photo 2011 by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.
A circle of important monuments greets visitors to Old Gray. Photo 2011 by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.
The cemetery is perched on a series of rolling hills. The gleaming, white stones are apart of neighboring Knoxville National Cemetery. Photo 2011 by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.
The lovely monument to Lillian Gaines. Photo 2011 by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.
The unique Horne monument pays homage to two Confederate soldiers.  Photo 2011 by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.
A hillside of monuments.  Photo 2011 by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.
Monuments dot a gentle slope.  Photo 2011 by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Other haunted places in the area covered in this blog include the campus of the University of Tennessee; Greystone House, which now houses the studios of WATE; and the Baker-Peters Jazz Club.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Tennessee: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Volunteer State. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2009.
  • Brown, John Norris. “Old Gray Cemetery.” Ghosts & Spirits of Tennessee. Accessed 23 September 2012.
  • Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. “Black Aggie.” The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, 3rd Edition. NYC: Checkmark Books, 2007.
  • Knoxville National Cemetery. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 24 September 2012.
  • Welcome. Old Gray Cemetery. Accessed 24 September 2012.