Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
900 Kennesaw Mountain Drive
When the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain was fought in 1864, much of the area north of Atlanta was sparsely settled. Over the past few decades as the Atlanta Metro area has expanded, growth has even overtaken the quiet stillness of this place where tens of thousands fought to stop Sherman’s advance on Atlanta.
Residential and commercial developments have been constructed and roads cut across parts of the battlefield. It was along one of these roads that a father and son had an interesting experience one night in October of 2007. As the duo drove along, the driver braked as something appeared to start crossing the road in front of the car.
Both Civil War enthusiasts, they were shocked to see a horse with a rider emerge from the darkness. Dressed in the uniform of a Union cavalry officer, the rider held a saber aloft as if to make that point even more apparent. The specter passed through a fence on the opposite side and vanished.
The driver told Atlanta’s 11 Alive News, “My son and I were in a state of almost sheer panic, but we managed to maintain and get on the way home very quickly.”
It has been noted that many residents living in homes built on the battlefield have experienced strange things. After this article appeared, one of these residents wrote in to the paranormal blog Phantoms & Monsters:
I’ve got a bad back and haven’t worked in over a year, so I spend a lot of time in bed. Earlier this year, late spring or early summer, I was in a half-awake state and I noticed the hazy form of what appeared to be someone in Civil War clothing on a horse standing in my bedroom. It was there for only a second and kind of dematerialized. I remember it being a kind of yellowish color.
I wasn’t scared and thought it was probably not so much a ghost but the energy of something that happened here during the Civil War. I am 3 miles from the epicenter of the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain and probably less than a mile from the cavalry battleground at Mud Creek.
Several years ago, I spoke with a family who lived in one of these haunted houses. After moving in and experiencing paranormal activity, they asked their neighbors about it only to find out that they lived with the same thing.
The wife told me that she took the trash out one night. As she rounded the corner of the house, she came face to face with a figure in the dark. Startled, she quickly realized that the figure was dressed in an old-fashioned uniform. Not knowing how to react, she dropped the bag of trash at his feet saying, “here you go!” and ran back into the house. She failed to mention if the ghost put the trash in the receptacle.
Crawley, Paul. “Ghost rider at Kennesaw Mtn.?” 11Alive News. 1 November 2007.
Strikler, Lon. “Mailbag: the Kennesaw Mountain ghost rider.” Phantoms and Monsters. 8 November 2009.
Built around 1725 by wealthy planter Paul Hamilton, this French style home burned in 1929. While the house is now just a shell, there’s still a ghostly legend attached to it. Two different authors have recorded this story more than 40 years apart, but there are some differences. The basic premise is that a young bride was killed in the house on her wedding day by a jealous and spurned suitor.
The main differences in the story concern the identity of the suitor and his method of killing. Margaret Rhett Martin in 1963 identifies the suitor as a local Native American who shot the bride with an arrow; while Geordie Buxton in 2007 identifies the suitor as a Charlestonian, who shot the bride with a pistol. Nevertheless, the spirit of the bride is supposedly still seen staring from the window where she was shot. Buxton also includes that that window sill is still stained with her blood.
Buxton, Geordie. Haunted Plantations: Ghosts of Slavery and Legends of the Cotton Kingdoms. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Press, 2007.
Dillon, James. National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for Brick House Ruins. Listed 15 April 1970.
Martin, Margaret Rhett. Charleston Ghosts. Columbia, SC: U. of SC Press, 1963.
The Castle 411 Craven Street Beaufort
Reading something written about the paranormal by someone who is not an acolyte of the subject is always an interesting adventure. Certainly, hauntings don’t usually get written up in the business magazine, Forbes; but then again, the ghost of The Castle is one of the more unusual ghosts in the South. One sentence, in particular, stands out to me, “Though likely the only haunted house in town, ‘The Castle’ is hardly the only antebellum mansion in Beaufort.” A ludicrous statement if there ever was one! Beaufort is one of the many Low Country towns visited by flocks of the living and the dead; hardly a “one haunted house” kind of town.
This 2006 article highlighted this magnificent estate that had just been put up for sale for $4.6 million, of course that was nearing the height of the real estate market. In researching the house, I stumbled across the house listed on a real estate website for $2.9 million. I can’t be sure that the house has been for sale all this time, but I can’t help wondering what Grenauche or Gauche, the resident spirit, thinks of all this.
The home’s resident ghost is that of a dwarf. Legend holds that the small being only reveals himself to children who are ill. Terrence Zepke records a conversation that the spirit had with a child in which he said he does not reveal himself to fools. The article in Forbes mentions that the daughter of a recent owner saw the spirit when she was in bed with the chicken pox. Nancy Roberts has the spirit appearing to the daughter of the home’s builder, Dr. James Johnson, while she played in the basement. She saw a jaunty and wizened man in a cap, breeches and pointed shoes.
The exact identity of the funny little man is lost in the haze of legend. Some identify him as a court jester who was among the early French Huguenots who settled nearby during the 16th century. Another legend claims him to be a Portuguese dwarf killed in an Indian raid in the early years of the 18th century. According to the stories, the dwarf told a child that he had taken up residence in the old manse because it resembled his old home in the old world. Regardless, his petite spirit may still haunt “The Castle.”
Bordsen, John. “Find the most haunted place in these Carolina towns.” Dispatch-Argus. 31 October 2010.
Roberts, Nancy. South Carolina Ghosts from the Coast to the Mountains. Columbia, SC: U. of SC Press, 1983.
Rose, Lacey. “Carolina Castle.” 17 April 2006.
Zepke, Terrance. Best Ghost Tales of South Carolina. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 2004.
Hotel Aiken 235 Richland Avenue West Aiken
The Hotel Aiken, known for many years as the Holley House, has been a center of the Aiken community since its construction in 1898. Originally constructed to accommodate visitors to Aiken during its time as a winter resort town for the wealthy elite, the hotel is reported to have a handful of spirits who have not checked out.
According to South Coast Paranormal, who investigated the hotel in 2011, rooms 302, 320 and 328 feature spirits. Activity in these rooms includes apparitions, shadows and unexplained noises. While their investigation did not apparently pick up much in these rooms, investigators heard unexplained noises in the attic and witnessed an odd shadow in the basement. South Carolina paranormal researcher Tally Johnson notes that activity is also reported in room 225 where the television regularly turns itself on.
Johnson, Tally. Ghosts of the South Carolina Midlands. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.
Kings Mountain National Military Park 2625 Park Road Blacksburg
In a mere 65 minutes, the British lost a good deal in the Battle of Kings Mountain. Not only did they lose the battle, but the British sustained some 244 casualties including the death of Major Patrick Ferguson who lead the British forces into the battle. When Ferguson’s body was later recovered for burial, it had been stripped and urinated upon the by the Americans. It was buried on the battlefield under a traditional cairn or pile of stones. It is at Major Ferguson’s cairn where a pair of re-enactors reported to have encountered the figure of Ferguson smiling at them from the shadows.
Toney, B. Keith. Battlefield Ghosts. Berryville, VA: Rockbridge Publishing, 1997.
Old Post Office Building Park Avenue & Laurens Street Aiken
Modeled on Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, the Old Post Office Building has been remodeled and restored into an office for Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, a company providing management and operations for the nearby Savannah River Site. The post office opened in 1912 and remained as a postal facility until 1971. Also during that time, the basement of the building was renovated into offices for Senator Strom Thurmond. Since retirement, the building has served a variety of uses.
According to the owner of Aiken Ghost Tours, the flag atop the building was raised and lowered every day. Unfortunately, there was a good deal of danger walking the roof, especially in inclement weather. Legend holds that one of these brave souls fell and died one evening. Ever since, locals have regularly seen and reported a man walking on the roof of building.
Bordsen, John. “Find the most haunted place in these Carolina towns.” Dispatch-Argus. 31 October 2010.
Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLC. Newsletter. February 2010.
Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park
10299 Maysville Road
Located on the Licking River, the Lower Blue Licks were a mineral spring and salt lick where immense herds of buffalo gathered before they were driven from the area. After the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781 ended fighting in the east, the British and loyal Native Americans continued fighting in the west, particularly in western Virginia, the area that is now West Virginia and Kentucky. After British troops under the leadership of Captain William Caldwell and a contingent of Native Americans unsuccessfully laid siege to the settlement of Bryan Station, on August 19, 1782 they attempted to lure a small militia led by Colonel John Todd (an ancestor of first lady, Mary Todd Lincoln) and famed frontiersman, Lt. Col. Daniel Boone.
Though the leaders of the patriot militia suspected they were being led into an ambush, Major Hugh McGary mounted his horse and stubbornly rode into the enemy trap. A 15-minute battle commenced killing Col. Todd and Lt. Col. Stephen Trigg and many of their men. Only Boone’s small force was left on the battlefield and, after he ordered a retreat, his son Israel was shot in the neck and killed. The death of Boone’s son and his defeat at Blue Licks would haunt him for the rest of his life.
During the 19th century, the springs attracted visitors wishing to take advantage of the mineral water found in the springs here. The Great Depression brought the construction of a Pioneer Museum here and lodge.
The multiple layers of a history here have left a varied group of ghosts throughout the park. Campers have encountered a mysterious black-clad woman who appears by campfires to warm her hands. Others have experienced Native American spirits and spectral British soldiers. The founder of the park’s museum was buried next to the building and is known to continue welcoming guests to his museum. Within the park’s lodge, the doors of the dining room are reported to open and close on their own accord.
North Carolina has a plethora of haunted, mystic, and legendary places. Some of these locations were covered in the early days of my blog, though they have been updated and rewritten when necessary.
Biltmore Greensboro Hotel 111 West Washington Street Greensboro
Built in 1903, the building that now houses the Biltmore was constructed as an “up-to-date and well appointed” office building for a textile manufacturer. When that company moved its offices to larger quarters, the building hosted other businesses and a post office before becoming an apartment building. According to a local ghost tour, during this time the apartments were used by ladies of the evening. After a disastrous fire, new owners in the late 1960s sought to turn the building into an upscale hotel. They hired noted local interior designer, Otto Zenke (who may be the spirit inhabiting the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department), to create an elegant and sumptuous boutique hotel that was opened under the name The Greenwich Inn. After renovations in 1992, the hotel reopened as the Biltmore Greensboro.
Two deaths within the building have left spiritual impressions on the Biltmore. During the building’s initial incarnation as offices for the Cone Export and Commission Company, which operated a number of a local textile mills, a young accountant, named as Philip in local legend, was discovered dead one morning in an alley outside. The reason for his death never came to light and speculation purports that he may have discovered inconsistencies in the company’s books. In fact, questions remain as to if Philip was murdered or died by his own hand.
Room 332 is believed to have once served as Philip’s office and his restless spirit has been blamed for activity in and around that room. Guests have been disturbed by the sounds of footsteps in the corridor that sound like someone walking on a bare wooden floor, despite carpeting. Others have seen the spirit standing at the foot of their beds or at the window.
The spirit of Lydia, a former resident and perhaps, a lady of the evening, also makes her presence known. Room 223 is her former room and guests have complained that the light in the room’s bathroom often turns itself on along with the faucet. The door to the room has problems staying closed while housekeepers continue to find long strands of red hair next to the sink in the bathroom, as well. A mother staying in the room several years ago reported that her son encountered a “pretty red-headed lady” in the bathroom. That room has been decorated in pink and gifts of lipstick have been left in the closet in order to appease the feminine specter.
Biltmore Greensboro Hotel. “History.” Accessed 4 May 2018.
Bordsen, John. “Find the most haunted place in these Carolina towns.” Dispatch-Argus. 31 October 2010.
Ford, Hope. “Haunted Biltmore: the Ghost Stories of Greensboro’s Hotel.” 4 July 2016.
Harper House Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site 5466 Harper House Road Four Oaks
With the exception of the coast, North Carolina was spared much of the fighting during the Civil War. It’s hard to imagine what John Harper and his family endured when they found their farm embroiled in battle in 1865. The family’s home was commandeered as a field hospital and their inner sanctum was disturbed by the screams and cries of the wounded, blood staining the floor, and piles of amputated limbs stacking up outside. The Harper family abandoned their home not long after the battle; perhaps due to the phantom screams and cries that were still heard in the house at night. The Harper House and the Bentonville battlefield have been preserved as a state park and visitors and staff continue to encounter paranormal phenomena.
One of the most interesting encounters was experienced in 1990 by a family who visited the Harper House. The family was guided by a woman through what they believed was a living history reenactment with wounded soldiers being brought into the house and treated as well as a civilian man who appeared as John Harper. When the family described what they saw to the staff at the visitor’s center, they were told that there was no such living history exhibition at the house.
Barefoot, Daniel W. North Carolina’s Haunted Hundred, Vol. 2: Piedmont Phantoms. Winston-Salem, NC, John F. Blair, 2002.
Toney, B. Keith. Battlefield Ghosts. Berryville, VA: Rockbridge Publishing, 1997.
High Hampton Inn 1525 Highway 107, South Cashiers
Set amid some 1400 acres in the Appalachians, the High Hampton Inn looks over a sheer mountainside that rises above a 55-acre lake. When I visited a few years ago, I was struck by the serenity and beauty but also the old-fashioned charm that seemed to envelop the resort. That same beauty and charm have given rise to a legend concerning a white owl.
High Hampton began as a hunting lodge for the wealthy Hampton family of South Carolina and in 1922, an inn was constructed on the property and the grounds opened to the public. Prior to the ownership of E.L. McKee, who built the inn, the property was owned by noted surgeon, Dr. William Halstead. Halstead did much to expand the property, purchasing nearby land and farms, among them the property of Louisa Emmeline Zachary.
Upon her marriage, Zachary’s property passed to her husband, Hannibal Heaton, who sold it to Halstead despite his wife’s threats to kill herself if he did. Shortly after the sale, Heaton discovered his wife’s body hanging in a barn with a large barn owl flying about. According to legend, a large white owl continues to haunt the grounds of the High Hampton Inn.
Williams, Stephanie Burt. Haunted Hills, Ghosts and Legendsof Highlands and Cashiers, North Carolina. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.
Horace Williams House 610 East Rosemary Street Chapel Hill
An interest in phrenology, the study of how the shape of the head affects intelligence and character, led to the interesting octagon design of the Horace Williams House. Construction on the home was begun in the mid-1850s by University of North Carolina chemistry professor Benjamin Hedrick, whose designs were based on the book, A Home for All or the Gravel Wall and Octagon Mode of Building, by phrenologist Orson Fowler. Fowler posited that the design of the home affected and influenced harmony between those living in the home. Subsequently, this book was important in the building of many octagon homes throughout the nation.
The home passed through a few hands until it ended up with Professor Horace Williams, a beloved and noted professor of philosophy. Upon Williams’ death in 1940, the home and contents were left to the university and the house has been preserved as a museum. Native American and Civil War artifacts discovered around the house indicate that some spiritual activity may be caused by a range of people who have inhabited the property in the past. Activity in the home includes the appearance of a professorial apparition of a gentleman, most likely that of Williams.
Ambrose, Kala. Ghosthunting North Carolina. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2011.
Bordsen, John. “Find the most haunted place in these Carolina towns.” Dispatch-Argus. 31 October 2010.
Körner’s Folly 413 South Main Street Kernersville
After a paranormal investigation of Körner’s Folly revealed evidence that the house may be haunted, the 85-year old granddaughter of the home’s builder Jule Körner, stated that, “he would be thrilled to death to know this was haunted. He always liked things that were out of the ordinary.” Indeed, Körner’s legacy is unique. The house was begun in 1878 and “completed” in 1880, though Körner continued to remodel the house until his death in 1924. Jule Körner made his name as an advertising painter for Bull Durham Tobacco but was also talented as a designer and he put his talents on display throughout the house.
It is believed that a number of spirits may dwell within this unparalleled edifice. Visitors and staff have spotted a woman as well as a child in Victorian clothing, but much of the activity is aural. During some recent paranormal investigations digital recorders have picked up a number of voices. One voice responded with curiosity to an investigator asking about setting up for EVPs, “What is EVP?” Another recorder picked up a voice saying. “Hauuuuunted.” According to the house museum’s paranormal advisor the spirits in the home are curious and happy to remain in this unique place. Strange stuff, indeed.
Ambrose, Kala. Ghosthunting North Carolina. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2011.
“Paranormal News: Korner’s Folly Certified Haunted.” Ghost Eyes: Most Haunted Places in America Blog. Accessed 6 February 2011.
Renegar, Michael and Amy Spease. Ghosts of The Triad: Tales from the Haunted Heart of the Piedmont. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2011.
Old Burying Ground Ann Street Beaufort
Among the oldest cemeteries in the state, Beaufort’s Old Burying Ground lies in a verdant peace under ancient oaks. Established in the early 18th century, this burying ground holds victims of the Tuscarora War which was fought in the area from 1711-1715. Other conflicts are also well-represented including the War of 1812, and the American Civil War which provides a member of the Union Army’s Colored Infantry.
Perhaps the most poignant grave here is that of a little girl. Bearing the inscription, “Little girl buried in rum keg,” this small plot is the origin of many stories, including a ghost legend. The girl was the progeny of a local family who longed to see Britain. Despite her mother’s worries, the girl’s father took her abroad with a promise that he would return the child to her mother. When the child passed during the journey home, the father preserved the frail corpse in a keg of rum. Instead of placing the small body in a coffin for burial, the parents decided to bury the child in the keg of rum.
The small grave is marked with trinkets and toys visitors have left as offerings to the little girl’s spirit and she is said to stroll the burying ground after dark. A member of the local historical society noted that the legend is bunk, but ghost tours continue to tell the story.
Ambrose, Kala. Ghosthunting North Carolina. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2011.
Bordsen, John. “Find the most haunted place in these Carolina towns.” Dispatch-Argus. 31 October 2010.
Antietam National Battlefield 5831 Dunker Church Road Sharpsburg, Maryland
Avenging and bright fall the swift sword of Erin
On him who the brave sons of Usna betray’d!
For every fond eye he hath waken’d a tear in
A drop from his heart-wounds shall weep o’er her blade.
We swear to avenge them! – no joy shall be tasted,
The harp shall be silent, the maiden unwed,
Our halls shall be mute, and our fields shall lie wasted,
Till vengeance is wreak’d on the murderer’s head.
Georgians should never be pissed off before breakfast. At least this was sentiment expressed by a Georgia soldier (many of whom were likely of Irish stock) from one of General John Bell Hood’s (the Hoods were of old Dutch stock, via New York and Kentucky) divisions when he wrote about the morning of September 17, 1862. The soldier complained, “Just as we began to cook our rations near daylight, we were shelled and ordered into formation. I have never seen a more disgusted bunch of boys and mad as hornets.”
General Robert E. Lee (of English stock) was attempting an invasion of Maryland from which he could terrorize Pennsylvania and, hopefully, bring about a swift end to the war. But, General George B. McClellan’s (from Scottish stock) Army of the Potomac had doggedly pursued him and barred his way towards the Keystone State.
In quiet cornfields on the outskirts of Sharpsburg, Maryland, Union General Joseph Hooker (of English stock) hurled his forces at the Confederates stationed near the Hagerstown Pike. Both armies fed multiple divisions into the conflagration in a cornfield watched over by a modest church built for a German Protestant sect, the Dunkers. Into this meat-grinder soldiers of vast and varied heritage met gun-barrel to gun-barrel with their brothers from Wisconsin, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas. By 10 o’clock that morning, some 8,000 men lay dead or wounded.
As carnage washed over Miller’s Cornfield, Confederates took up a position in an old farm road that decades of wagon wheels had eroded below the landscape, an old, sunken road. Around midday, Union forces were directed to attack this surprisingly strong position and each was mowed down. Fourth in line for this onslaught was the 69th New York Infantry, known as the Irish Brigade, led by General Thomas Francis Meagher.
Meagher was of solid Irish stock, having been born in the Irish city of Waterford in 1823. His father, a merchant and politician, was Canadian, though his father was born in County Tipperary, Ireland. Young Thomas Francis received his education at the hands of Jesuits in Ireland and later Britain before he settled in Dublin where he became involved in the Irish Nationalist movement.
In the village of Ballingarry, in South Tipperary, Meagher and other “Young Irelanders,” led an attack on a local police unit in 1848. After the police called in reinforcements, Meagher and the other rebels fled. They were arrested and put on trial for treason. The leaders of the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848 were sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered in the British tradition, but a public outcry led the judge to commute their sentence to being exiled to the British penal colony in Tasmania, Australia.
Arriving in Australia, nearly all of these political convicts escaped with Meagher and John Mitchel making their way for New York City where both settled and became prominent activists and journalists. Taking up the cause of slavery, Mitchel found his way to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he started the Southern Citizen newspaper, and later he served as editor for the Richmond, Virginia newspaper, the Richmond Enquirer. After the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, Meagher was moved to support the Union, despite previous sympathies with the South and his friend, Mitchel.
Of his decision to support the Union, Meagher wrote, “It is not only our duty to America, but also to Ireland. We could not hope to succeed in our effort to make Ireland a Republic without the moral and material support of the liberty-loving citizens of these United States.” He recruited his fellow countrymen and built Company K of the 69th Infantry Regiment, New York Volunteers, which was now being sent into the hail of gunfire and artillery towards the Sunken Road.
To remind his men of the Irish heritage, Meagher wanted to present each man with a shamrock before the battle, but as none were available, he presented the men with sprigs of boxwood instead. The ranks lined up for their charge into the valley of death while the brigade’s chaplain, Father William Corby, rode up and down giving the men conditional absolution. With their emerald green flags flapping in the breeze, the Irish Brigade marched into the fray with an old, Irish battle cry, “Faugh-a-ballagh!” or “clear the way.” Around 540 of his men were killed before the brigade was withdrawn from the field. Meagher reportedly fell from his horse with some reports that he was drunk, while the official Union report presented to General McClellan states that his horse had been shot.
Following the Irish Brigade’s bravery on the field of glory, the Union was able to beat back the Confederates from the Sunken Road, which earned this once peaceful farm road the gory moniker, “Bloody Lane.” The battle progressed south to a picturesque stone bridge on Antietam Creek where the battle concluded with nothing gained by either side. To historians, the battle proved to be the bloodiest day in American history with some 23,000 souls killed, wounded, or missing.
The battlefield at Antietam has been preserved by the National Park Service and it is considered one of the best preserved Civil War battlefields in the country. With all the blood that stained the battlefield that day, it’s no surprise that echoes of the battle still ring across the fields and vaporous martial apparitions continue to appear. One of the most commonly told stories from the battlefield concerns the a visit from a class from the McDonogh School, a private school in Owings Mills, Maryland. After touring the battlefield, the teacher allowed the students to wander the park, consider the events that took place there, and write their impressions. When the teacher began reading the students’ papers he was shocked to read that some students heard shouts coming from the Bloody Lane that sounded like someone singing a Christmas carol, something that sounded like “fa-la-la-la!” Was this the old Irish battle cry from the Irish Brigade of “Faugh-a-ballagh?”
In his 2012 book, Civil War Ghost Trails, former park ranger Mark Nesbitt includes another fascinating story that asks if the spirits of the Confederates killed at Bloody Lane may also be active. Some years ago, a group of Civil War reenactors decided to camp at Bloody Lane. Just after settling down, the uniformed reenactors began to hear whispering and moaning as well as feeling odd chills. One-by-one they escaped to the safety of their cars leaving one reenactor alone on the battlefield. As they settled into their cars, the men a shriek and saw the reenactor stumbling back from field.
Still shaking from his experience, the reenactor told his friends that he was laying within on the old road. He had heard the same sounds that frightened the others, but he only thought their imaginations were getting the best of them. Suddenly he saw a hand rise from the ground between his chest and his arm. With brute force the hand began to press on his chest as if to pull him into the earth. After he began screaming, the arm vanished.
One of my goals with this blog is to provide coverage of ghost stories and haunted places in a comprehensive manner. Perhaps one of the best ways to accomplish this is to examine ghost stories county by county, though so far, researching in this manner has been difficult. In my 2015 book, Southern Spirit Guide’s Haunted Alabama, I wanted to include at least one location for every county, though a lack of adequate information and valid sources prevented me from reaching that goal. In the end, my book was published covering only 58 out of 67 counties.
Further research has uncovered information for a few more counties and on Halloween of 2017, Kelly Kazek published an article on AL.com covering the best-known ghost story for every county. Thanks to her excellent research, I’ve almost been able to achieve my goal for the state.
Patsburg Bridge AL-59 over Patsaliga Creek Patsburg
An article from the Greenville Advocate notes that some possible paranormal activity has been experienced at this bridge. A few people have captured odd images, including orbs, in photographs taken here. One witness interviewed for the paper reported that a couple of people had died here as well as a body being discovered by a fisherman in the water below the bridge.
“Ghosts in Patsburg.” Greenville Advocate. 9 July 2009.
Crooked Creek Civil War Museum and Park 516 CR 1127 Vinemont
When he purchased this land, Fred Wise, the creator of the Crooked Creek Civil War Museum and Park, didn’t know its significance. Over time, Mr. Wise, who has a massive collection of Civil War relics and memorabilia, has uncovered the site’s story as the scene of the Battle of Crooked Creek.
Union Colonel Abel Streight conducted a campaign in Northern Alabama to cut o the Western & Atlantic Railroad in late April and May of 1863. As he and his men moved steadily towards Rome, Georgia via Gadsden, Streight and his men were dogged by Confederate forces under General Nathan Bedford Forrest. On April 30, after an engagement at Day’s Gap, forces skirmished here at Crooked Creek. The Union forces would push through, and on May 3 near Cedar Bluff in Cherokee County, they surrendered to Forrest’s Confederate forces. Afterward, Streight and many of his men faced imprisonment at Richmond, Virginia’s notorious Libby Prison.
Fred Wise has preserved much of the battlefield, making it accessible with walking trails and informational signage. Visitors trooping through the area have encountered several apparitions from both sides including a bleeding Confederate who begs for help. On the front lawn in front of the museum, a Union soldier has been spotted strolling with his rifle. Paranormal investigators took an infrared photograph of the ridge where part of the battle occurred which seems to show a line of soldiers near where Union soldiers held their ground.
Herbert, Keith S. “Streight’s Raid.” Encyclopedia of Alabama. 30 October 2007.
Langella, Dale. Haunted Alabama Battlefields. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.
Claybank Log Church East Andrews Avenue Ozark
The log Claybank Church was once like many other churches throughout the state of Alabama, though today, it is a rarity. So many log churches have been destroyed by fire or by neglect, that the Claybank Church is now unique, having been restored and maintained, despite not being regularly used. Here the early settlers at Claybank Creek built their church around 1830 and buried their dead in the field surrounding the building. The original structure was replaced in 1852 and that building has survived the turmoil of the Civil War, as well as the neglect that followed the church’s move to more populous Ozark. The church was acquired by the Claybank Memorial Association in the 1960s and was thoroughly restored in 1980.
In 2005, Carol Gilmer, owner and operator of the International Institute of Clinical Research (IIRC), a company that conducts research trials for drug manufacturers, began leasing space in Claybank Plaza, a property that backs up to the Claybank Church cemetery. Gilmer and her employees began to have strange experiences in the building. Voices and tinkling bells were heard when the building was empty; a heavy lab manual casually threw itself off a shelf in an empty room; and staff members saw shadow-like figures moving through the office. Gilmer’s interest in these odd incidents led her to write a book, The Ghosts of Claybank, where she connects the activity squarely to this historic church and cemetery.
“Claybank Log Church at Ozark added to the prestigious register.” Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. 16 December 1976. In Dale County–Claybank Church file, Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama.
Gilmer, Carol. The Ghosts of Claybank. Createspace, 2013.
Vaughan-Smitherman Museum 109 Union Street Selma
The Vaughan-Smitherman Museum has witnessed the panoply of Selma history with much of that history occurring within its halls. Built in 1847 as a school by the local Masonic lodge, this building served as a hospital during the Civil War and later as a public hospital between 1911 and 1960. Just after the Civil War, the building became the Dallas County Courthouse and then served as a military academy around the turn of the 20th century. After the building sat vacant for a few years, it was converted into a local history museum.
As a new museum employee was being given a guided tour some years ago, she made a somewhat disparaging remark near a portrait of William Rufus King, a Vice President of the United States from Selma. A moment later, a glass globe on a lamp nearby slammed down in its setting. After that, whenever the new employee entered, she made sure to greet the former vice president. Throughout the historic structure, footsteps are heard, toilets flush by themselves, the elevator seems to run when it’s not called, and the lights flicker mysteriously.
Floyd, W. Warner. National Register of Historic Places for the Dallas County Courthouse. 13 May 1975.
Higdon, David and Brett J. Talley. Haunted Alabama Black Belt. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.
“Paranormal weekend at landmark.” Selma Times-Journal. 24 June 2009.
Hitching Post 6081 AL-117 Mentone
One of the centerpieces of the scenic, mountain town of Mentone is the Hitching Post. Now housing a collection of businesses including a realty company and Crow’s Nest Antiques, this building was originally constructed in 1898 as a general store. Over the years the building has housed many businesses, including a popular dance hall on the second floor. Perhaps the female wraith spotted on the second floor here dates from that period.
Collard, Deborah. Haunted Southern Nights, Vol. 3: History and Hauntings of the Mentone Area. Deborah Collard, 2008.
Robinson Springs United Methodist Church 5980 Main Street Millbrook
This community of Robinson Springs has mostly been swallowed by the bustling town of Millbrook. The community’s Methodist church gracefully faces the bare wall of a CVS Pharmacy, but the church still greets members. In fact, some of the church’s members may have never left the building.
Methodists from the local area first organized around 1828, within the first decade of the state’s existence, and constructed a rude log church for services near here. With the growth of the area and a donation of land, the current church was constructed in the latter half of the 1840s. Amazingly, the church has seen few alterations from its original form. Perhaps the few changes may be a contributing factor in the church being haunted.
While churches often have paranormal activity, it is rare for pastors to call in paranormal investigators seeking answers. After hearing reports from a number of church members of the many strange goings on here, the pastor invited Southern Paranormal Researchers to investigate. According to a 2007 article in the Montgomery Advertiser, the group began experiencing odd activity within five minutes if their arrival.
Activity at the historic church runs the gamut from distracting things like the sanctuary’s sound system turning off and on during services to doors opening and closing on their own. Often, sounds will be heard from empty rooms including what sounded like a television during an investigation. When investigators searched for the source of the sounds, no television was found.
Mertins, Ellen and Barry Loveland. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for Robinson Springs United Methodist Church. September 1981.
Mullinax, Kenneth. “Spooked: Area’s scary sites have chilling tales.” Montgomery Advertiser. 31 October 2007.
Pritchard, Griffin. “Southern Paranormal Researchers chase ghosts and bust stereotypes.” Montgomery Advertiser. 14 July 2007.
Fort Crawford Cemetery Snowden Street East Brewton
In 2009 while searching for the exact location of Fort Crawford, archaeologists found nothing near East Brewton Baptist Church, where the fort was thought to have stood. A trench dug near the church produced nothing that indicated the presence of the log fort that once commanded the area a few years before the creation of the state in 1819. Finding information regarding the resident specters of the Fort Crawford Cemetery, and even just information on the fort itself, has been just as fruitless.
Surprisingly, the Escambia County heritage book provides nothing on Fort Crawford, though an article on Dale Cox’s excellent website, Exploring Southern History, provides a sketch of the fort’s history. A fort was constructed on a bluff over Murder Creek after the Creek War of 1813-1814 to monitor the activities of local Muscogee/Creek people and the Spanish in Florida to the south. Fort Crawford Cemetery, located near the believed site of the fort, may date to that period.
Reports of paranormal activity from the cemetery include the shade of a Confederate soldier who may prowl the grounds. Another encounter involved a pedestrian passing through the cemetery who was seized by a shadow figure. A 2011 video posted on YouTube from Paranormal Productions notes that the soldier is known to approach people asking, “Where is my bayonet?” The video also mentions the apparition of a young girl in a white dress seen here as well.
CSX Railroad—Coosa River Bridge CSX Railroad over the Coosa River Between the Memorial and the Meighan Bridges Gadsden
This current bridge was constructed in 1909 to replace the original railroad trestle that was built here in the 1880s. Initially, both bridges provided passage for trains as well as pedestrians and private vehicles. With the construction of the nearby Memorial Bridge in 1927, the trestle has been used solely for railroad traffic. CSX owns the bridge; please do not risk a trespassing charge.
Mike Goodson notes that in 1909 after the bridge’s construction, it was the scene of paranormal activity. An “unusual ghostly light” was observed near the middle of the bridge while passersby on the bridge at night heard disembodied sobbing. Apparently, one death occurred during the bridge’s construction, but Goodson fails to mention an even more tragic event that took place on the original trestle in 1906.
After the rape and murder of a white woman outraged locals gathered outside the city jail. The mob eventually demanded that the African-American suspects be handed over to them so that “justice” could be enacted. The mob seized Bunk Richardson, one of the suspects. He was dragged to the railroad trestle where the mob’s perverted justice was achieved at the end of a rope. Photographers captured two images of Richardson after the lynching that remain as reminders of this tragic event. Perhaps it is Richardson’s innocent spirit that returns as the light and disembodied sobbing.
Goodson, Mike. “Bridge on the river Coosa helped ease traffic flow.” Gadsden Times. 7 March 2006.
Goodson, Mike. Haunted Etowah County. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2011.
Thornton, William. “Lynching a dark chapter in city his- tory.” Gadsden Times. 10 February 2000.
Thornton, William. “Lynching only a vague memory.” Gadsden Times. 14 February 2000.
Musgrove Chapel Methodist Church CR 21, North Winfield
Within this rural church cemetery, the grave of Robert Lee Musgrove, a descendant of the family that founded this church, is said to bear the image of Musgrove’s wife-to-be. Musgrove, a train engineer for the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad running the line between Memphis, Tennessee, and Amory, Mississippi, was killed in an accident between Holly Springs and Potts Camp, Mississippi in 1904. There two trains collided killing five railroad employees after an operator in Holly Springs made a mistake and sent a second train onto the occupied line. Tradition says that at the time of his death, Musgrove was engaged to be married, and his funeral took the place of his wedding. Sometime after that, parishioners noticed that the image of a kneeling woman appeared on his stone, perhaps bearing the countenance of his fiancée.
Taylor, Troy. Beyond the Grave: The History of America’s Most Haunted Graveyards. Alton, IL: Whitechapel Press, 2001.
Windham, Kathryn Tucker. Jeffrey’s Latest 13: More Alabama Ghosts. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1982.
Dismals Canyon 901 CR 8 Phil Campbell
Legends abound throughout the beguilingly beautiful and remote Dismals Canyon. Despite its name—which is believed to have been granted by Scots-Irish settlers after a ruggedly beautiful spot in Scotland called “Dismals”—this sandstone gorge is a paradise with rock formations, waterfalls, champion trees, an amazing array of biological diversity, and gnat larvae that give off a luminescence at night called “dismalites.” Historically, this place was known to local Native Americans who may have hunted and conducted ceremonies in this mystical place.
In 1838, as the Native Americans of the southeast were being rounded up to be marched westward on what would become known as the Trail of Tears, Chickasaw and Cherokee may have been herded into the canyon here under guard from Federal troops. It is possible that one of the legends may relate to this time. After the death of her lover, an Indian maiden threw herself from the top of a bluff known as Weeping Bluff. Supposedly her image was etched upon the bluff following her death and it continues to weep for her and the Chickasaw who were removed from their homeland.
Attracted by the remoteness of this spot, outlaws may have hidden here. Local legends insist that the gorge may have hidden Vice President Aaron Burr on the lam after his infamous duel with Alexander Hamilton as well as bank robber Jesse James. Among the dusky paths and rocks of Dismals Canyon the spirits of these outlaws and Native Americans may still roam.
Franklin County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Franklin County, Alabama. Clanton, AL: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1999.
‘Twas the night before Halloween and all through the blog, little was stirring…
This move from Blogger to this new site has been tedious and time-consuming. I’ve tossed out a great deal of junky posts and put many posts aside that need to be updated and refreshed leaving me with many bits and pieces that should be republished in a different context. This is a selection of recycled pieces for Halloween.
East Coast/West Coast 138 St. George Street St. Augustine, Florida
This modest commercial building once housed Kixie’s Men’s Store and some odd activity. The shop employed a young tailor, Kenneth Beeson who would later serve as mayor for the city. While working late one evening he noticed a door opening by itself followed by the sweet scent of funereal flowers. After experiencing odd activity for a while, Beeson put out a tape recorder and set it to record just before he left. When he returned the following morning, he was shocked to discover a plethora of sounds including marching feet and guttural growls. Disturbed by these incidents, Beeson had a priest exorcise the building. The activity ceased.
Cain, Suzy & Dianne Jacoby. A Ghostly Experience: Tales of St. Augustine, Florida. City Gate Productions, 1997.
Lapham, Dave. Ghosts of St. Augustine. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 1997.
Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel Chetoogeta Mountain Tunnel Hill, Georgia
As the railroad spread its tentacles throughout the nation before the tumult of the Civil War, a route was needed from Augusta, Georgia to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Numerous obstacles stood in the way, but the biggest was Chetoogeta Mountain. Plans for a railroad tunnel dated to the second half of the 1830s, but work did not commence until 1848 with work completed two years later. The new tunnel was instrumental in Atlanta’s growth as a railroad hub and was a strategic feature for the Confederacy to protect during the Civil War.
The tunnel’s strategic importance led to a series of skirmishes being fought here leading up to the Battle of Atlanta. Following the war, the tunnel remained in service until 1928 when a new tunnel was built a few yards away. The old tunnel became overgrown with kudzu and was largely forgotten until 1992 when preservationists fought to save the tunnel. It is now the centerpiece of a park that features reenactments of the skirmishes fought at the site.
It is often re-enactors who have encountered anything supernatural at the site. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of documented accounts of spirits at Tunnel Hill. At least four books and a handful of good articles document the high levels of activity at this site. Accounts include the apparitions of soldiers seen both inside the tunnel and around it. Ghostly campfires, disembodied screams, spectral lantern light and the smell of rotting flesh (minus the presence of actual rotting flesh) have all been reported by re-enactors and visitors alike.
DeFeo, Todd. “Antebellum railroad tunnel still a marvel after all These years.” com. 22 June 2009.
Kotarski, Georgiana C. Ghosts of the Southern Tennessee Valley. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2006.
Underwood, Corinna. Haunted History: Atlanta and North Georgia. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2008.
Western and Atlantic Railroad Tunnel. Tunnel Hill Heritage Center. Accessed 28 November 2010.
Old Talbott Tavern 107 West Stephen Foster Avenue Bardstown, Kentucky
Continuously open since the late 18th century except for a period in the late 1990s when the tavern was being renovated following a disastrous fire, the Old Talbott Tavern has hosted an impressive array of visitors ranging from Daniel Boone to General George Patton. Perhaps one of the famous guests who has never checked out is outlaw Jesse James who stayed frequently in the tavern while visiting his cousin who was the local sheriff. With the claims of Jesse James’ spirit which may also roam the halls of Selma, Alabama’s St. James Hotel, James’ spirit may split the hereafter between two favorite locales. But James’ spirit is not the only spirit acting up in the Old Talbott Tavern. Other ghosts may include formers guests, owners and their families.
Old Louisiana State Capitol 100 North Boulevard Baton Rouge, Louisiana
When the state capitol was moved from New Orleans to Baton Rouge in 1846, the city donated land atop a bluff over the Mississippi for the capitol building. Architect James Dakin designed a Neo-Gothic building very much unlike the other state capitols which were often modeled on the U.S. Capitol building in Washington. The magnificent crenellated and be-towered structure was used as a prison and garrison for soldiers under the city’s Union occupation and during this time it caught fire twice leaving it a soot-stained shell by the war’s end. The building was reconstructed in 1882 but abandoned in 1932 for Governor Huey Long’s new state capitol.
Even before the capitol burned during the war, there was a ghost gliding through its halls. Pierre Couvillon, a legislator representing Avoyelles Parish, enraged by his colleagues’ corruption, suffered a heart attack and died. Though he was buried in his home parish, his spirit was said to reside in the capitol; perhaps checking up on his colleagues. When the capitol building underwent restoration in the 1990s, the spirit or spirits in the building were stirred up and activity has increased. Staff members and visitors have reported odd occurrences. One security guard watched as movement detectors were set off through a series of rooms while nothing was seen on the video.
Two organizations investigated the building in 2009 and uncovered much evidence. Louisiana Spirits Paranormal Investigations picked up a number of interesting EVPs including someone singing the old song, “You Are My Sunshine.” Everyday Paranormal, in their investigation had a few encounters in the basement of the building, the area used as a prison during the Union occupation. It seems that there are many spirits within the crenellated walls of the Old Capitol.
Duvernay, Adam. “Several Baton Rouge sites said to be haunted.” The Daily Reveille. 27 October 2009.
Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican, 2007.
Louisiana Spirits Paranormal Investigations. Old State Capitol, Baton Rouge, LA. Accessed 11 November 2011.
Southeastern Students. “Old State Capitol Still Occupied by Former Ghosts.” com. 29 October 2009.
Jericho Covered Bridge Jericho Road at Little Gunpowder Falls Harford County Near Jerusalem, Maryland
Straddling the county line between Harford County and Baltimore County over the Little Gunpowder Falls is the Jericho Covered Bridge, constructed in 1865. According to Ed Okonowicz in his Haunted Maryland, there are legends of people seeing slaves hanging from the rafters inside this nearly 88-foot bridge. Certainly, there is an issue with this as the bridge was constructed in 1865, after the end of both slavery and the Civil War. Other, more realistic legends, speak of a woman seen on the bridge wearing old-fashioned clothing and people having their cars stop inexplicably in the middle of the bridge.
Varhola, Michael J. and Michael H. Varhola. Ghosthunting Maryland. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2009.
Corinth Battlefield Corinth, Mississippi
Following the Confederate’s disastrous attack in April of 1862 on the Union forces at Shiloh, Tennessee (for a battle description see my entry on the Beauregard-Keyes House in New Orleans), the Union army laid siege for two days to the vital railroad town of Corinth, just over the state line. To save his army from annihilation, General P.T.G. Beauregard gave the appearance of reinforcement troops arriving and being put in place while efficiently moving his troops out of the city to nearby Tupelo. The Union army entered the city the following day to find it devoid of Confederates. In October of the same year, Confederates tried once again and failed to capture the city losing some 4,000 men (including dead, wounded and missing) in the process.
The battlefield on which these two battles were fought is now incorporated into the mid-sized city of Corinth. Portions of the battlefield and earthworks are now preserved as the Corinth unit of Shiloh National Military Park. As one might expect, some of those portions have spiritual artifacts remaining. Some of the best stories from Civil War battlefields come from re-enactors who have experiences while re-enacting battles and one of the primary reports of ghosts from the Corinth battlefield comes from a re-enactor whose story was documented by Alan Brown. This particular re-enactor heard the sound of a phantom cavalry and a few nights later, the sound of someone rummaging through her tent while camping on the battlefield.
Brown, Alan. Stories from the Haunted Southland. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.
North Carolina Zoological Park 4401 Zoo Parkway Asheboro, North Carolina
North Carolina lawyer and folklorist Daniel Barefoot has done much to preserve North Carolina and Southern legends and ghost stories in his books. His series, North Carolina’s Haunted Hundred provides a single ghost story or legend from each of the state’s one hundred counties. From Randolph County, smack dab in the middle of the state, comes the legend of the aptly named, Purgatory Mountain, now home to the NC Zoo. The state-owned zoo is the largest walk-through habitat zoos in the world and a major attraction in the region.
During the Civil War, much of rural North Carolina was resistant to seceding from the Union and, as a result, the state was the final state to secede. Still, many citizens, including the peaceable Quakers of Randolph County resisted joining the butternut ranks. Recruiters were sent to these areas to nudge and sometimes force the inhabitants to join. One particular recruiter in this area earned the nickname, “The Hunter,” for his harsh methods. He rounded up a group of Quaker boys, tied them roughly and marched them to Wilmington to join the army, but a few escaped and returned, bedraggled to their rural homes. When the recruiter returned, this group of escaped boys shot him outside of his cabin at Purgatory Mountain. His malevolent spirit is still supposedly stalking the crags of his mountain home.
Barefoot, Daniel W. North Carolina’s Haunted Hundred, Vol. 2: Piedmont Phantoms. Winston-Salem, NC, John F. Blair, 2002.
Carter House 1140 Columbia Avenue Franklin, Tennessee
By some accounts, the Battle of Franklin, November 30, 1864, was one of the bloodiest battles of the war. Some historians have even deemed it the “Gettysburg of the South.” Fought right on the edge of the town of Franklin, the battle hit very close to the home front and absolutely hammered the farm of the Carter family which was located at the center of the main defensive line. During the furious fighting, the Carters, neighbors and slaves cowered in the basement of the house, emerging after the battle to witness the carnage spread through their yard and around their house. The house and outbuildings still bear bullet holes, attesting to their experience.
Fanny Courtney Carter, who was 8 years old when the battle overtook her family’s farm, later recalled the day following the battle: “Early the next morning after the Battle I went to the field. The sight was dreadful. It seemed I could scarcely move for fear of stepping on men either dead or wounded. Some were clod and stiff, others with the lifeblood ebbing out, unconscious of all around, while others were writing in agony and calling ‘Water! Water!’ I can hear them even now.” Fanny’s brother, Tod, who had enlisted in the Confederate army was found some yards from the house, his body riddled with eight bullets, but still clinging to life. The family brought him into the parlor of his home where he died on December 2.
The pastoral fields that once surrounded the Carter House as well as the town of Franklin that saw so much blood that November day have mostly been lost to development though the spiritual imprint of the battle is still felt throughout the city. The spirit of Tod Carter may be one of the more active spirits at the Carter House. He has been seen sitting on the edge of the bed where he may have died and according to Alan Brown, he took a tour of the house, correcting the tour guide when she didn’t use the correct name or date and disappearing before he and the guide could descend to the basement.
Apparently he’s not the only lingering spirit. Poltergeist activity in the house has been attributed to Tod’s sister, Annie. Objects have moved from room to room and one visitor on a tour watched a figurine that jumped up and down.
Battle of Franklin (2009). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 13 December 2010.
Brown, Alan. Haunted Tennessee: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena Of the Volunteer State. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2009.
Rockledge Mansion 440 Mill Street Occoquan, Virginia
The town website for Occoquan (pronounced OK-oh-qwahn), Virginia states that the city, “has an inordinate amount of spooks per capita” and then goes on to list a number of locations in the town with ghosts. Among this remarkable collection of haunted locations is the magnificent Georgian mansion, Rockledge, which commands a literal rock ledge above Mill Street. The town was founded in the mid-eighteenth century as a port on the Occoquan River and during the Civil War this northern Virginia town served as a post office between the North and the South.
Quite possibly the work of colonial architect, William Buckland, Rockledge was built in 1758 by local industrialist John Ballandine. In the yard of this house the ghost of a Confederate soldier has been seen and possibly heard. One witness saw the soldier then noticed peculiar wet footprints on the front steps that appeared to be from hobnail boots, the kind that would have been worn by soldiers during the war. Many people have heard loud footsteps in the house as well as someone knocking at the door. So far, no source has identified this soldier.
Streng, Aileen. “Benevolent ghost believed to haunt mansion.” com. 27 October 2010.
Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for Rockledge Mansion. Listed 25 June 1973.
Berkeley Castle WV-9 Berkeley Springs
Berkeley Springs, also known as “Bath,” has attracted visitors who come to take the waters of the mineral springs located there. Overlooking this quaint town from a commanding position on Warm Spring Mountain sits Berkeley Castle, seemingly a piece of medieval Britain transplanted. Modeled and named after Britain’s own Berkeley Castle, the castle was built as a wedding gift from Colonel Samuel Suit for his bride, Rosa Pelham. The Colonel, who was quite a bit older than his bride, died before the castle was finished and his widow finished the building. She lived in the castle after his death and squandered the fortune she inherited and died penniless well away from the castle, but legends speak of her return.
The castle was purchased by paranormal investigators in 2000 but sold fairly shortly after that. Once open for tours, the castle is now primarily a private residence, though it may be rented for weddings, parties and other events.
Fischer, Karin. “Castle in Eastern Panhandle could be in need of a new lord this spring.” Charleston (WV) Daily Mail. 21 November 2000.
History Berkeley Castle. Berkeley Castle. Accessed 19 March 2011.
Robinson, James Foster. A Ghostly Guide to West Virginia. Winking Eye Books, 2008.
Built in 1967, this modern student dormitory building is supposedly the domain of the spirit of a young woman who committed suicide. Local lore relates that this young woman, distraught over a failed relationship or a pregnancy leapt to her death from her dorm room window. The spirit has been heard sobbing and seen walking the halls. She also gets the blame when student’s things go missing. When pressed, most university officials have denied that anyone has died in this building, though Tom Ogden notes that a university historian spoke of a suicide here.
Williamson, Amanda. “Gainesville and surrounding areas boast a collection of haunted tales.” Gainesville Sun. 28 October 2012.
Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park US-90 Olustee
In February of 1864, Union forces set out from occupied Jacksonville, Florida with the intent of making inroads into the state to cut supply lines, free slaves, and possibly recruit African-Americans for service in the Union army. Heading west towards Lake City, the Union forces under Brigadier General Truman Seymour encountered entrenched Confederates under the command of Brigadier General Joseph Finegan at Olustee Station near Ocean Pond. Among the union forces involved in this battle was the 54thMassachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, one of the first and most well-known African-American units.
Fighting through the thick forest of palmetto and pine, the almost equally pitted troops (5,000 Confederates versus 5,500 Union troops) fought throughout the afternoon of February 20. The Confederates repulsed the Union troops and inflicted heavy casualties, causing the Union to lose some 40% of their forces (203 killed, 1,152 wounded, and 506 missing, a total of 1,861 men) while the Confederates lost about 20% of their forces (93 killed, 847 wounded, and 6 missing, a total of 946 casualties in all). Union forces retreated to Jacksonville after being beaten back.
The battlefield, created as Florida’s first state park in 1912, is home to an annual reenactment during which re-enactors have had a number of odd experiences primarily involving full-bodied apparitions. One of the more interesting of these was an encounter between a re-enactor on a horse and a spectral Union soldier. The specter appeared and tripped the horse throwing the rider. Before the re-enactor could recover, he was smacked in the face by a rifle butt. Looking around, the shaken re-enactor searched for evidence of the soldier who tripped him, no footprints or any evidence was found. While no other documented encounters have been as violent, many have seen apparitions of soldiers.
Other tales recall the spectral sounds of war frequently heard here including the sounds of men shouting and gunfire. Investigators here have also captured some very interesting EVPs including a voice that responded, “Damn, I’m dead” when told that the spirit died in battle here.
Messick, Bonnie. “’Local Haunts’ TV show features Jacksonville ghost hunters.” 29 September 2010.
Holiday Inn Resort 11127 Front Beach Road Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach is often associated with the rowdy Spring Break activities of high school and college students. Over the past few decades as Spring Break has become more and more a riotous celebration, young men, feeling invincible thanks to youth and fortified by alcohol, have engaged in “balcony diving.” Climbing up buildings Spiderman-like, despite state laws banning the practice, some have fallen and been seriously injured or killed. The spirit that has been seen on the upper floors of this modern resort is reportedly decked out in typical Spring Break attire—a white t-shirt, colorful shorts, and sunglasses on a cord around his neck—but the figure is missing his head. Perhaps this spirit remains to warn others to not engage in the same dangerous behavior.
Lewis, Chad and Terry Fisk. The Florida Road Guide to Haunted Locations. Eau Claire, WI: Unexplained Research Publishing Company, 2010.
Florida State Prison 7819 Northwest 228th Street Raiford
When they find me they must kill me,
Oh Jesus, save my soul!
I can’t go back down to Raiford,
I can’t take that anymore.
–Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Four Walls of Raiford” (1987)
Shortly before his execution in the electric chair here, serial killer Ted Bundy confessed that he was afraid to die. Despite his personal fear, Bundy led more than 30 victims to face death throughout the west and in Florida. It was at the Chi Omega sorority house at Florida State University in Tallahassee in 1978 where Bundy attacked four sisters killing two of them and disappeared into the night. A few weeks later, Bundy abducted and killed a 12-year-old girl from her junior high school in Lake City. After being found guilty of these murders, Bundy was incarcerated here while he awaited his appointment with the electric chair, January 24, 1989.
A former guard reported in 2001 that several guards witnessed the apparition of Bundy “sitting casually on the electric chair,” smirking at them. So many staff members encountered the spirit that the warden could not find anyone willing to enter the execution chamber alone. Others saw Bundy in his former holding cell on death row. Blogger Lon Strikler of the blog, Phantoms and Monsters, published two emails he received regarding the spirit of Bundy. One email was from a local construction worker who saw a spirit resembling Bundy walk past him accompanied by the form of a young woman. Another email from an inmate reveals that inmates have frequently seen Bundy’s smirking spirit strolling through one of the housing units.
Ramsland, Katherine. “Ted Bundy’s Ghost.” Psychology Today. 27 October 2012
Strikler, Lon. “Recent ‘Ted Bundy’ Ghost Sighting.” Phantoms and Monsters Blog. 17 August 2015.
Word, Ron. “Survivors are haunted by memory of Ted Bundy 10 years after execution.” Seattle Times. 24 January 1999.
Ashley’s of Rockledge 1609 US-1 Rockledge
Some believe that Ethel Allen’s rough road to her grave included a stop at Jack’s Tavern, her favorite local hangout. Several years ago, I wrote about paranormal investigators conducting an EVP session at Ms. Allen’s grave in the Crooked Mile or Georgiana Cemetery on Merritt Island. After asking if she was present, investigators received a reply, “yes.”
On November 21, 1934, Ethel Allen’s mutilated body was found on the banks of the Indian River in Eau Gallie, some 16 miles away. The nineteen-year-old had been seen just a few days before when she stopped at a local packing house to say goodbye to a friend. Ethel was leaving to visit her mother, accompanied by a male acquaintance and she may have also stopped by her favorite local hangout, Jack’s Tavern, now Ashley’s of Rockledge. The Tudor-style restaurant has paranormal activity, some of which has been attributed to Ethel Allen.
A variety of sources state that Ethel may have been murdered within the walls of the restaurant in a storeroom (possibly near the famously haunted ladies restroom) or just outside the building. A local genealogy blog makes no mention of where Ethel may have met her end, but I get the feeling it probably was not in or around the busy tavern. The stories of the restaurant’s haunting are readily available though they seem to perpetuate different variations of the murder.
The activity runs the gamut from simple, cold breezes to voices and screams to full apparitions being seen and captured on film. Some sources also note that the activity does not seem to be limited to just the possible shade of Ethel Allen. There are other possible spirits including a child and an adult male. It seems that Ashley’s may be one of the most paranormally active restaurants in the state.
The sunny, yellow façade of the Beauregard-Keyes House on a relatively quiet section of Chartres Street does not belie the sometimes tragic history that has taken place within its walls. That quiet demeanor is shattered frequently by tour guides, with gawking tourists in tow, intoning one of the many “legends” about this house as they pass. According to their spiels, the house is inhabited by a pantheon of shades, some quite famous.
General Pierre Gustave Toutant-Beauregard, who occupied the house for about three years following the Civil War, was supposedly haunted by his defeat at the Battle of Shiloh. “…it’s General Beauregard whose presence at 1113 Chartres Street, and whose ghost seems obsessed with returning to the bloody scene of battle that traumatized him for the rest of his life—and beyond.”
Mary Beth Crain in her 2008 book, Haunted U.S. Battlefields continues, “In 1893, the year of the general’s death, people walking by the house late at night reported hearing ‘the voice.’ Someone seemed to be gasping ‘Shiloh…Shiloh’ over and over in a raspy chant that sounded as if it were coming from a great distance…Who else could ‘the voice’ belong to but General P.G.T. Beauregard, the man who throughout his life was haunted by the demons of the battle he needlessly lost? …There was terror in that one word, a sense of horror that was so convincing, those who heard it bolted as fast as they could.”
A Haunting Battle
For a name that is Hebrew for “place of peace,” Shiloh, Tennessee is associated with the stench of death and quite possibly haunted Beauregard after his defeat there. The battle, fought in early April, 1862, is often described as the first of the many bloody battles that would be fought during the Civil War.
Union troops under General Ulysses S. Grant were encamped on the banks of the Tennessee River near Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, while some twenty-odd miles away Confederate troops under General Albert Sidney Johnston and Beauregard, his second in command, were camped at Corinth, Mississippi. Union reinforcements under General Don Carlos Buell were expected to arrive from Columbia, Tennessee after which Grant would sweep down into Mississippi to begin slow disemboweling the Confederacy. Johnston, over Beauregard’s objections, aimed at attacking Grant’s forces before Buell’s arrival. Beauregard bowed to Johnston’s commands and prepared a battle plan along the lines of Napoleon’s advance at the Battle of Waterloo. Coincidently, Beauregard, due to his short stature and French heritage was known as “The Little Napoleon.”
The first assault hit the Union camps around 9:30 on the morning of April 6. Union troops were taken by surprise in the middle of breakfast as Confederate troops charged into their camps bearing the red battle flag emblazoned with the blue, starred St. Andrews Cross that had been designed by Beauregard. Many troops on both sides along the three-mile battle line were still green, and scared by the ferocity of battle, fled, with many of the Union troops fleeing towards the safety of the Tennessee River where they cowered under the bluffs. But one Union line held: composed mainly of Illinois and Iowa farmers. This line, along a sunken road through thick woods and a peach orchard under the command of Brigadier General Benjamin M. Prentiss, kept the Confederates at bay for some six hours. They endured charge after charge and almost point blank artillery fire. General Johnston led the final Confederate charge when a bullet severed his femoral artery from which he died a short time later. Command then passed to Beauregard.
Prentiss’ division maintained their position along the sunken road where the ferocity of fighting was dubbed “The Hornet’s Nest.” Confederates surrounded the area on three-sides and they massed artillery onto the position, pouring volley upon volley of cannon-fire onto the Union troops. At 5:30 in the afternoon, Prentiss and his remaining 2,200 troops surrendered. The remaining Yankees had been pushed back to the Tennessee. Surveying the situation, Beauregard surmised that he could easily wipe out the remaining troops the following morning.
The sun rose the next day on a Federal force of nearly 50,000 as Buell’s reinforcements had arrived during the night. This huge force now faced Beauregard’s 30,000 troops. Slowly but surely, Union forces sliced into the Confederates with the troops falling back all the way to Corinth, Mississippi. The battlefield was thoroughly littered with the dead and dying, more than had ever been killed in any war previously fought by the United States: some 3,477 dead with some 23,000 wounded.
Historian Shelby Foote described the battle as “a disorganized, murderous fistfight of one hundred thousand men slamming away at each other.” It was this murderous and costly battle that sickened Beauregard so that he took immediately sick leave without permission of Jefferson Davis, who demoted him. Grant’s responsibility in the blood bath led to his being replaced by General Henry Wager Halleck.
Beauregard’s Haunting Legacy
After losing his military rank, Beauregard’s rank was restored and he went on to serve admirably through the end of the war. He retired to the house in New Orleans that now bears his name where his lived quietly for three years. Over time, legend has risen speaking of a more sinister legacy left by Beauregard in the house. Some tenants of the house have spoken of hearing the sounds of battle, perhaps from Shiloh, within and without the house. Even more interesting is the story that tenants being awakened by the sound of battle have stepped into the ballroom only to walk into the midst of the battlefield of Shiloh. While perhaps the story of the battlefield appearing in the ballroom may be only the product of the story passing through a “multi-generational telephone game.”
Of course the lone, contemplative shade of Beauregard has also been reported throughout the house. Jeff Dwyer in his Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans reports that the General’s spirit has been seen peering out the home’s windows, even seen waltzing with a female, most likely his second wife (his first wife, Marie, died in 1850), Caroline. Interestingly, Beauregard and his wife, Caroline, never lived in the house together. The dashing military man and his bride married in 1860 on the eve of the war. The young couple spent much of the war apart and Caroline died in New Orleans in March of 1864 while it was under Union occupation. After receiving news of his wife’s passing, the stunned Beauregard continued to carry out his duties.
Following the war, without a job, money, or a wife, a chastened Beauregard refused to take the loyalty oath until after he was counseled to do so by his former Confederate peers, Generals Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston. He took the oath before the mayor of New Orleans around the time he took up residence in the elegant house on Chartres Street. He was offered positions in the militaries of Brazil, Romania and Egypt but refused the offers saying, “I prefer to live here poor and forgotten, than be endowed with honor and riches in a foreign country.” Perhaps he spent his time in the house in Chartres pining for his darling Caroline and regretting his military blunders, but that is only speculation. Novelist Frances Parkinson Keyes, who lived in the house in the mid-20th century promulgated this mythos in her 1962 novel, Madame Castel’s Lodger. The novel portrays a defeated Beauregard looking back over the remains of his life.
History of 1113 Chartres
Besides it’s three-year occupation by Beauregard, the home possesses quite an illustrious history. Built by Joseph Le Carpentier, an auctioneer, the house was designed by Francois Correjolles incorporated elements of Roman and Greek architecture. Le Carpentier is said to have started his business selling goods for the pirate, Jean Lafitte (who, incidentally, figures into many local ghost stories and legends), and was also grandfather to the master chess player Paul Morphy, who was born in the house.
A few writers mention Morphy among the pantheon of spirits in the house, though much of their information appears to be incorrect. Mary Beth Crain refers to Morphy as “Paul Munni,” though I can’t discern why. It states that he went insane while living in the house. While I have been able to determine that Morphy was in fact born in the house, his mother was Le Carpentier’s daughter, I can find nothing about his residency in the house as an adult. He returned to New Orleans towards the latter part of his life and “retired” from chess, having been victorious over all the world’s chess masters. While I’ve yet to find anything that specifically states that Morphy lost his sanity, he did live his life in seclusion. Morphy died at his home, which is now Brennan’s Restaurant at 417 Royal Street (which has a number of spirits, possibly even Morphy’s), after taking his usual afternoon constitutional and then taking a cold bath.
After leaving the hands of the Le Carpentier family, the house passed through a number of hands including those of Swiss Consul, John A Merle, whose wife created the garden surrounding the house. As the owners changed, the neighborhood changed; filling with Italian immigrants towards the end of the nineteenth century. The house was bought by Sicilian wine merchant, Pietro Giacona in 1904.
The Battle of Chartres Street
The Black Hand or La Mano Nero was an extortion racket commonly used among Italians and Italian Americans throughout the nineteenth and into the early part of the twentieth century, when the Mafia took on subtler methods of crime. New Orleans had already seen the tragic effects of such crime in 1890 with the assassination of police chief David Hennessy. The most common modus operandi for The Black Hand was to send the victims a letter, signed with a black handprint, threatening harm unless a specific amount of money was paid.
The Giacona family while living here found themselves victims of The Black Hand, in 1908, after receiving a letter demanding payment of $3000 or certain death. Events reached a zenith in the early morning hours of June 17. When Commander Thomas Capo of the Third Precinct Station arrived at the house around 2:45 AM, he witnessed everything in confusion:
I saw the old man standing on the gallery with the shotgun in his hand, while his son stood almost in the doorway with a rifle in his hands. On the gallery, two of the men were stretched out in death. Their shirts were covered with blood. In the yard, at the foot of the stairs, another man was lying. From its position in the yard, I judged that he was shot while running down the stairs, and had rolled to the ground. The table around which the men were seated before the shooting commenced was littered with watermelon rind and egg shells. Some half-filled wine goblets were also on the table.
A trail of blood led from the yard, over a wall and up and down a number of streets in the area. The trail led to Francisco Vitale who was found wounded at Bourbon and Ursulines Streets.
Pietro Giacona, his son Corrado, and a nephew, Pietro Bellonde, were all arrested for the murders of the Barraca brothers, Giovanni and Nuncy, and Cero Cusimano. Eventually, the Giaconas and the nephew were released. Upon their return, it is said that the house was turned into a fortress. The events of that early June morning were not easily forgotten and may continue to be re-enacted. Reports from people passing the house late at night have included the sounds of gunfire and shouting, the acrid smell of gunpowder and shadowy figures flitting around the fountain in the garden.
When the house was sold in 1925, Antonio Mannino, the new owner considered demolishing the house for either a warehouse or a macaroni factory. This possibility riled local preservationists who were disturbed by the loss of such a landmark. Beauregard House Inc. took over the house and in 1944, the group rented the house to novelist Frances Parkinson Keyes who occupied the house for some 25 years. During this time, she spearheaded a major renovation of the house while writing novels that included the house and former residents. She also created the Keyes Foundation which bought and now operates the house as a museum.
Spiritual remnants from this era may include Mrs. Keyes’ beloved cocker spaniel, Lucky. The dog died only a few days after his mistress’ death. Stories also tell of a large cat that is seen darting through and around the house but then disappearing. The cat is likely the shade of Caroline, a cat that took up in the house museum’s garden. Guests and guides in the house have felt a feline rubbing against their legs.
Though the current directors of the Beauregard-Keyes House deny the existence of spiritual activity in the house, it apparently hosts a legion of spirits. These denials keep investigators at bay, though the city’s many tour operators still walk and drive tourists past the house spinning creepy, and somewhat fictional tales battles on Chartres Street.
House in the Horseshoe State Park 288 Alston House Road Sanford, North Carolina
By all accounts, Philip Alston was trouble. A member of the prominent Alston family, some might describe him as a spoiled brat. The house Alston constructed at this horseshoe bend in the Deep River was among the first large plantation homes constructed in this region when it was built in 1772. As revolutionary tensions heated up throughout the colonies, Alston sided with the Patriot cause. Though he was fighting for the same ideals, even the Patriots took umbrage with Philip Alston. Another Patriot, Robert Rowan, even spoke to the governor of his dislike for Alston’s “domineering” and “tyrannical” attitude.
With the outbreak of fighting, squabbles between neighbors took on more deadly overtones throughout the frontier. Planter David Fanning of South Carolina remained loyal to the British crown and steadfastly rooted out Patriots throughout the area. A small militia under Fanning’s command attacked Alston’s home on the morning of August 5, 1781 in retaliation for the death of one of his men at the hands of some of Alston’s comrades. That morning, Alston, his wife Temperance, two children, and a small band of his men were at the large white house. When Fanning’s men attempted to attack the house one of the Tories was quickly felled by a bullet to the heart. Soon gunfire poured from the home’s windows while Alston’s children cowered in a fireplace inside.
A cart of straw was set alight and pushed towards the house which began to burn. Fearful of being burned out of the house, Alston sent his wife with a flag of truce to arrange surrender. Fanning agreed to allow Alston and his men to surrender. The Tories plundered the bullet-riddled house but did not burn it.
Philip Alston remained on his plantation for some years after the war and served in the state senate, though his roguish attitude lead to his fall from grace and in 1790, he was forced to sell his beloved home. Some believe that the rascal spirit of Alston may remain here in the form of footsteps heard in the home, disembodied whispers in the fireplace where the children were hidden, and orbs of light seen in the yard.
Barefoot, Daniel W. Spirits of ’76: Ghost Stories of the American Revolution. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair. 2009.
Bishir, Catherine W. and Michael T. Southern. A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.
Hauck, Dennis William. Haunted Places: The National Directory. NYC: Penguin, 1996.