Spirit of the Mountain—Stone Mountain, Georgia

Stone Mountain Park
1000 Robert E. Lee Boulevard
Stone Mountain, Georgia

When the Spanish Franciscan missionary, Pedro de Chozas, made his way through the South local natives spoke of a mountain further inland that was “very high, shining when the sun set like a fire.” This exposed, granite mountain dome, or monadnock, is one of the largest in the world, and was regarded with wonder by the Native Americans in the surrounding area.

Located between the territories occupied by the Cherokee and the Muscogee peoples, the dome was located at the junction of several major trails and served as a meeting spot. In previous millennia, this scared spot served as ceremonial and religious site. In fact, its summit had been walled in by an earlier people, though the wall, nor the reasons for its construction, have survived.

Stone Mountain, circa 1910, from “Granites of the Southeastern Atlantic States,” by Thomas Watson.

From the earliest settlement of white men in the area, the mountain attracted tourists and businessmen with interests in quarrying the high-quality stone. A pair of brothers, William and Samuel Venable, purchased the mountain in the late 19th century and established a quarrying business. In 1915, with interest being revived around the nation for the Ku Klux Klan by D.W. Griffiths’ film, The Birth of a Nation, a cross-burning was held at the summit to mark the reorganization of the KKK in Georgia.

A year later, the Venables deeded the mountain’s north face to the United Daughters of the Confederacy to create a monument for the Confederacy. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who would later carve the heads of four presidents at Mount Rushmore, was commissioned to create the carving which would memorialize Confederate president Jefferson Davis and generals Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson. Work halted in 1925 with the firing of Borglum and 47 years would pass before the carving was completed.

After the mountain was purchased by the state of Georgia in 1958, a park was established at the base of the mountain glorifying the Old South and the Confederacy. Over time, the park has cast off these themes and criticism has been leveled at the carving itself, most recently in light of the removals of Confederate monuments throughout the country.

The first surviving written account of the mountain describes it as, “one solid rock of circular form about one mile across. Many strange tales are told by the Indians of the mountain.” As I have conducted research on Southern hauntings for years, I have searched in vain for ghost stories from the mountain itself. While the Antebellum Plantation within the park is known to have many spirits within the historic structures that comprises it, I have found nothing about spirits on the mountain.

The north face of Stone Mountain with its carving, 2015. Photo by Pilotguy251, courtesy of Wikipedia.

In doing a search of the pages of the Atlanta Constitution that has recently been made available on Newspapers.com, I was delighted to come across the following article. Besides the description of this very strange apparition, what is interesting about this article is the inclusion of folklore about who and who cannot see ghosts.

One concern with this article is the first name of the man quoted throughout. His name is given as “Neger,” which, to me, seems too close to the pejorative “n-word.” Therefore, I have replaced his first name with “N.”

Atlanta Constitution
30 March 1946

‘Ghost of Stone Mountain’ Walks,
Declares Woman ‘Born in a Caul’

On ‘Sunrise Side’ of Big Rock

By Bill Boring
Constitution Staff Writer

STONE MOUNTAIN, March 19. Only people born in a caul have seen the ghost of Stone Mountain and N. Johnson is not one of them. But his wife is and she has seen the ghost on many occasions. Through N., she imparts this description of him.

N. calls him the “ha’nt of the rock” and described him as being neither white nor black but of a strange neutral color, and his eyes are not eyes at all but burning embers set in a skull and he always wears a flowing immaculate white robe.

Only people born in a caul have ever seen a ghost of any kind and while N.  was not born in a caul, he has some grounds for setting himself up as an authority on spooks. His wife has seen many ghosts and always passed along her knowledge of them to him and, moreover, N.  has had the rare privilege of checking the reaction of himself, a person who will never see a ghost, to the presence of one.

The first time N.’s wife saw the ghost of Stone Mountain, she suddenly shut up like a clam and didn’t say a word until he got home. N. knew that some strange thing had happened, for he had an odd feeling of walking through steam and his hat shot up from his forehead because his hair had stood straight up.

When they got home, his wife said: “Did you see that man in white walking between us?”

And so forever after when they would be walking and his wife would see the ghost N. would have that strange feeling of walking steam and he would be stricken by fear.

“Only people who can’t see ghosts are afraid of them,” says N.. “My wife was never afraid.”

N. says that the ghost haunts the “sunrise side” of Stone Mountain and that horses, which are particularly sensitive to ghosts, will never go around this side of the mountain and neither will dogs, which are more sensitive to ghosts than are horses, he says.

“Have you ever been walking with a dog when the dog would suddenly stop, for no reason at all,” says N., “and the dog would flip his tail between his legs and slink off in the opposite direction? The dog is seeing a ghost.”

Ghosts, according to N., take many shapes and forms. There are human ghosts and there are animal ghosts. There are headless human ghosts and headless animal ghosts. And then there are ghosts that just look like a whiff of smoke. You can never tell just what kind of ghosts you’re likely to run across.

There’s nothing much you can do about ghosts, according to N. They’re harmless and usually go away once whatever is bothering them has been removed. But there are several ways of laying them once they get to haunting you.

One way is to put a hole in a dime, slip a string through it and wear the dime as anklet. Another is to put sever rocks on an eastern window sill. Still another charm against ghosts is to sleep with a knife under your pillow; or the Bible.

Sources

  • Boring, Bill. ‘Ghost of Stone Mountain’ Walks, Declares Woman ‘Born in a Caul.’ Atlanta Constitution. 20 March 1946.
  • Freeman, David B. Carved in Stone: The History of Stone Mountain. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1997.
  • Stewart, Bruce E. “Stone Mountain.” The New Encyclopedia of Georgia. 25 May 2004.
  • Stone Mountain.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 2 November 2018.
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