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.