Ill Defined and Unknown Cause of Morbidity and Mortality–North Carolina

Broughton Hospital
1000 South Sterling Street
Morganton, North Carolina

A Haunted Southern Book of Days–12 April

This article is a part of an occasional blog series highlighting Southern hauntings or high strangeness associated with specific days. For a complete listing, see “A Haunted Southern Book of Days.”

 

The strange phrase, “Ill Defined and Unknown Cause of Morbidity and Mortality” is typed in all caps on Betty Jo Eller’s death certificate. Essentially, the doctors at Broughton Hospital has no idea why this “petite and attractive” 31-year-old died on April 12, 1962 in her bed at the psychiatric facility. A short time earlier, Miss Eller’s twin sister, Bobbie Jean, had been discovered dead in a different ward. The bodies of these women bore no indication that they had been injured or even murdered, both had apparently passed away at nearly the exact same time, sending doctors into a tizzy to determine the cause.

The two young ladies were born with a stillborn brother, Billie, on August 19, 1930, in the Wilkes County, NC community of Purlear. Their father, Adolphus Worth, presumably was prominent in the community as a Baptist minister, though the family is buried in a Methodist church cemetery. It appears that the twins were diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent time at the hospital previously. When they died, they had only been in the hospital for less than a month after being withdrawn and refusing to eat, classic symptoms of schizophrenia, at home.

Once their nearly simultaneous deaths were discovered, the Associated Press picked up the story which was published in papers across the country.

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

As with many mental facilities, Broughton Hospital is no stranger to strange tales. It was the second mental institution established in North Carolina after the opening of the state’s first mental hospital in Raleigh. In the early 19th century, the treatment of mental conditions and disorders in this country was primitive to say the least. One of the first advocates for proper and modern care was the Maine-born Dorothea Dix. As a young educator, she was exposed to the harsh conditions imposed on the mentally ill when she visited a jail near Boston to teach a Sunday school class. Writing later, she was horrified to find, “Insane persons confined…in cages, closets, cellars, stalls, pens! Chained, naked, beaten with rods, and lashed into obedience!” Within two years, she was addressing the Massachusetts state legislature and achieving success in the male-dominated political realm.

After finding success in Massachusetts, she began traveling the nation advocating for the mentally ill wherever she went. She arrived in Raleigh in 1848 where she began lobbying for a state institution. In North Carolina, she plead for $100,000, half of the state’s budget, to create a hospital there. She faced an uphill battle not unlike the battle she faced elsewhere, but here she found an in for her legislation. In the same hotel where Dix was staying in Raleigh, she discovered the wife of legislator James C. Dobbins who was dying. Dix sat with her, comforting her, and reading from the Bible. When she expressed that she was near death, Dix asked for her husband’s support for her hospital bill.

Following his wife’s death, Dobbins made an impassioned plea for support of the bill in a speech that is considered a “legendary oration” in the state. The bill was overwhelmingly passed and a mental hospital in Raleigh began to take shape. Dix’s efforts were not forgotten when that institution was later named for her.

In 1875, a new hospital was ordered to reach the underserved areas in the western part of the state. The Western North Carolina Insane Asylum opened 29 March 1883 on 283 acres in Morganton. When the main building was found to be insufficient, more buildings were added in quick succession to provide room for a rapidly increasing number of patients. In 1890, the superintendent, Dr. Patrick Livingston Murphy, succeeded in changing the name of the hospital to the State Hospital at Morganton to reduce the stigma of the word “insane.” In 1959, the name was again changed to Broughton Hospital to honor the 60th governor of the state, Governor J. Melville Broughton.

In the latter part of the 20th century, endeavoring to end the abuses and the negligence in the country’s mental institutions, the federal government ordered reforms to the system and Broughton’s population plummeted from several thousand to several hundred.

As with many institutions of its type, Broughton maintains a population of dead residents who remain in spirit. Although many of its stories have not been documented, one of the hospital’s nurses set out to change that. Margaret M. Langley, R. N. collected numerous stories from her fellow employees and staff members and published them in a series of three books. It seems that the old hospital and its sprawling campus provides fertile grounds for paranormal activity. Langley includes her first paranormal experience in her first volume.

While working in Ward 27 South, the geriatric division, with an LPN, Langley stopped at the ward’s nurse’s station. At this time, the ward was a large room with twenty-five beds arranged around the nurse’s station all separated by curtains. A hallway connected this ward with an adjacent ward. As the nurse and LPN talked, Langley looked down the hallway and stopped mid-sentence. The LPN looked up and down the hallway where Langley was staring. “In the middle of the hallway a large cloud of mist floated.” Stunned, the pair watched “the mist fade away and disappear.” While a large patient bathroom was located just off that hallway, no one was in it and the mist did not appear to be shower steam.

A travel nurse related a haunting story to Langley: Some years ago, an unstable patient in one of the Broughton buildings located near “the highway” found their way into a stairwell where they hanged themselves in one of the windows. Presumably, this is one of the buildings near NC Highway 18. For years thereafter, drivers have seen the image of a woman hanging in the window; the sight sometimes causing accidents. These accidents occurred so frequently that hospital officials boarded up the window.

Throughout the hospital’s grounds spirits are active everywhere. In the employee’s cafeteria building, staff members have had their names called when they were alone. One staff member reported working in the cafeteria shortly before her shift started. As she cleaned tables and chairs, she began to hear the sounds of a piano playing and the doors opening and closing. Freaked out, she retreated to the employee smoking shack until her shift started and she was no longer alone.

In the early 2010s, a new modern building was added to the hospital grounds. Two construction workers told Langley stories of hearing the screams of a woman as they worked. One worker was working in the utility tunnels underneath the building when he began to hear this sustained screaming. Frightened, he asked a co-worker to help him check out the noise. They checked all of the tunnel where they were authorized to go with no avail. No one else was found there. Another worker on the top of the building heard the screams of a woman while he was welding; screams that were loud enough to be heard through all his welding gear.

In 1962, the Eller sisters were admitted to Broughton. The doctors seemed to have determined that one of the sisters was dominating the other. One of them would begin starving herself, influencing and forcing the other to do the same thing. Just a day before their unexpected deaths, the sisters were separated. Bobbie Jean remained in Ward 8, while Betty Jo was moved to Ward 12. Around 1 AM, a CNA was making rounds when she discovered that Bobbie Jean was dead. The doctor who was summoned, quickly sent someone to check on her sister in Ward 12. Betty Jo was found in the repose of death.

Both young ladies were known to be mischievous and staff in both wards have suggested that the pair may be behind the paranormal activity taking place there. In Ward 8, where Bobbie Jean passed away, staff and patients have witnessed a small blue orb of light hovering outside the dayroom windows. Two patients reported seeing the light outside their windows playing among the branches of the trees before disappearing. Another patient felt someone touching her and one night was pushed out of bed by an unseen force. The same patient had something play with her anklet, pulling it and allowing it to snap back. On Ward 12, staff members, including Ms. Langley, were unnerved by a feeling of being watched. Hopefully, the sisters are finding fun in their phantasmic hijinks.

Broughton’s sister hospital is Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro which I have also covered here.

Sources

  • Anthony, Robert G., Jr. and Ruth E. Homrighaus. “Psychiatric Hospitals.” org. 2006.
  • Broughton Hospital. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 19 January 2024.
  • Connelly, Bill. “Identical twins had similar illnesses, unexplained affinity.” Winston-Salem Journal. 14 April 1962.
  • Langley, Margaret M. Haunted Broughton More Tales from the Graveyard Shift. CreateSpace Publishing, 2010.
  • Langley, Margaret M. Haunted Broughton Book III, History and Horror. CreateSpace Publishing, 2016.
  • Langley, Margaret M. Haunted Broughton Tales from the Graveyard Shift. CreateSpace Publishing, 2009.
  • North Carolina State Board of Health, Office of Vital Records. Certificate of Death for Betty Jo Eller. 12 April 1962.
  • Smiley, David L. “Dorothea Dix.” 1 January 1996.
  • “Twins may have ‘willed to die.’” Winston-Salem Journal. 14 April 1962.
  • “Wilkes Baptist Minister Dies.” Greensboro Daily News. 8 November 1966.

Alabama’s Haunted Thirteen

Thirteen years ago, I started this blog and early on, I did a series of articles highlighting places in each of the thirteen states I cover. Those early articles have mostly been updated and separated into their own articles. Please enjoy this updated version of those early articles.

Bladon Springs Cemetery
Bladon Springs Road
Bladon Springs

 

A Haunted Southern Book of Days–9 January

This article is a part of an occasional blog series highlighting Southern hauntings or high strangeness associated with specific days. For a complete listing, see “A Haunted Southern Book of Days.”

 

Located near the Tombigbee River, this cemetery and its well-known ghost story recall another disaster that occurred here. In 1913 as the steamboat James T. Staples neared the bend in the river near here, it was rocked by an explosion sending twenty-six souls and the ship to the bottom of the river. Shrouded in mystery, however, are the events leading up to the sinking.

Bladon Springs Cemetery Alabama
Gates of Bladon Springs Cemetery, by Judyanne Waters, 2015. Courtesy of Find-A-Grave.

The ship’s captain, Norman Staples—the ship was named after his father—had lost the ship to creditors after experiencing a financial reversal in December 1912. Depressed with the loss of his ship, Norman Staples committed suicide just after the New Year. A few days later, the crew of the ship began to see the shadowy form of the ship’s former owner in the boiler room. Legend says that that crew quit and had to be replaced before the ship steamed north. Just prior to the ship’s explosion, the rats aboard reportedly began to flee the doomed ship.

Norman Staples was laid to rest in this cemetery along with his wife and three of their children, none of whom reached the age of six. Norman’s sad spirit is said to patrol the grounds of this cemetery, his eyes never averting from the river where his beloved ship went down.

Sources

  • Ward, Rufus. “Ask Rufus: Ghosts of the Tombigbee.” The Dispatch (Columbus, MS). 25 October 2014.
  • Hauck, Dennis William. Haunted Places: The National Directory. NYC: Penguin, 2002.
  • Higdon, David and Brett J. Talley. Haunted Alabama Black Belt. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.

 

D. E. Jackson Memorial Hospital
30338 Lester Road
Lester

If you hear screams emanating from this old, defunct Limestone County medical facility, they may not be ghosts. Over the past few years, this hospital has been transformed into a charity haunted house attraction at Halloween. According to local newspapers, this facility opened in the 1940s and served the Lester area until the 1990s. It was used as a drug rehab facility until it closed for good sometime thereafter. Prior to its closure, former staff whispered about paranormal activity. Volunteers working in the haunted house have reported hearing voices and seeing a locked door open on its own accord. Additionally, a lady in white has been spotted in and around the building.

Sources

  • Hollman, Holly. “Haunted hospital a prescription for frightening fun.” Decatur Daily. 1 October 2010.
  • Nicole, Ashleigh. “Northern Alabama’s Haunted Attraction: Lester Haunted Hospital.” Newsbreak. 24 September 2023.
  • Scripps, Lora. “Haunted hospital ready to scare you out of your wits.” News-Courier (Athens, AL). 22 September 2011.

 

George O. Baker House (private)
600 Dallas Avenue
Selma

As the Battle of Selma raged outside the George O. Baker House in April of 1865, seventeen women and children huddled within this 1854 Italianate home. Two gravely wounded soldiers took shelter here, and both were cared for despite being from opposite sides. The Confederate soldier was taken to the nearby hospital while the Union soldier languished in the hall. According to the home’s owner, “he was reported to be a kind one as some of the children here received peanuts from him just before he expired.” The blue-clad soldier died on the floor of the hall just under the staircase. His blood stains are still visible.

Over the years, many types of paranormal activity have been reported ranging from shadow figures to orbs to footsteps. One young man visiting the house some years ago, later told his mother he didn’t want to return because the “real old gentleman in the funny suit” had frightened him. Authors Higdon and Talley note that the house seems overwhelmed by a sense of sadness. The house has been investigated twice by two different paranormal teams and is featured on the Alabama Ghost Trail series on YouTube with a video of the owner speaking about the home’s ghost. Please respect the owners and residents of this private home.

Sources

  • Alabama Ghost Trail. “Baker Home.” YouTube. 19 July 2009.
  • Higdon, David and Brett J. Talley. Haunted Alabama Black Belt. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.

 

Kenan’s Mill
188 Dallas County Road 236
Selma

While investigating Kenan’s Mill with the Alabama Paranormal Association, author and investigator Dale Langella felt something touch her in the charcoal kiln. “That never happens to me. I never get so freaked out like that and scream. I’ve been grabbed by spirits before, but I guess I just wasn’t expecting that,” she told a reporter from the Selma Times-Journal. The spirits here seem to enjoy physically touching visitors. In her book, Haunted Alabama Battlefields, Langella describes the myriad ways that visitors have been touched.

One young lady visiting the mill one evening felt something grab her leg and heard a male voice saying, “Help me.” Looking down, the young lady was shocked to see a wounded Confederate soldier clutching her leg. Other visitors have felt a burning sensation on their buttocks or felt something tug at their clothing; all this in addition to apparitions and odd flashes of light that sometimes appear throughout the site. The Selma Times-Journal quotes Langella as remarking that the site is “highly active.”

Built in the 1860s, the mill remained in the Kenan family until it was donated to the Selma-Dallas County Historic Preservation Society in 1997. This site was quite active during the Civil War, serving as a collection point for Confederate forces throughout central Alabama; as a result, the grounds were used as a field hospital. After the war, the mill served many farmers in the local area. The mill is now operated as a museum.

Sources

  • Johnson, Ashley. “Paranormal society finds activity in Selma.” Selma Times-Journal. 29 August 2012.
  • Langella, Dale. Haunted Alabama Battlefields. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.

 

Kenworthy Hall (Carlisle-Martin House) (private)
AL 14
Marion

Among the most unique Southern plantation homes, Kenworthy Hall was built for cotton planter and factor Edward Kenworthy Carlisle. The home was once the seat of a 440-acre estate and plays host to a classic Alabama ghost tale. Designed by noted British-American architect Richard Upjohn, the house is modeled on an Italian villa and features a unique square tower that figures into the home’s ghost story. As one of Upjohn’s masterpieces, the house was named a National Historic Landmark in 2004.

Kenworthy Hall Marion Alabama
Kenworthy Hall with its campanile-like tower. Undated photo taken for the Historic American Building Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Kathryn Tucker Windham’s story of Kenworthy Hall centers on Edward Carlisle’s daughter, Anne. The young woman enjoyed spending time in the room at the top of the home’s tower. As young men across the South were signed up or called for military duty in the days leading to the Civil War, Anne’s beau was one of the first young men in the area to sign up.

He promised his lady that his slave would carry news to her and would carry a red flag if he had been killed. Keeping vigil in the tower room, Anne spotted the slave returning one afternoon bearing a red flag. She uttered a cry and threw herself over the railing of the staircase. Tradition speaks of that anguished cry still being heard on moonlit nights. Please respect the owners and residents of this private home.

Sources

  • Higdon, David and Brett J. Talley. Haunted Alabama Black Belt. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.
  • Mellown, Robert & Robert Gamble. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Kenworthy Hall. January 2003.
  • Windham, Kathryn Tucker and Margaret Gillis Figh. 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama, 1969.

 

McIntire-Bennett House (private)
1105 Sycamore Street
Decatur

One of the most storied houses in Alabama, the McIntire-Bennett House played a prominent part in state history throughout the 19th century. Completed around 1836 on a bluff overlooking the Tennessee River, the house’s strategic location brought it to prominence during the Civil War. As control of the city passed between Confederate and Union forces, the house served as headquarters for various generals, which is perhaps the reason why it was one of a handful of buildings left standing in town after the war. Following the war, the house was purchased by Joseph Hinds who served as U.S. Consul General to Brazil. Here, Hinds’ daughter Grace was born in 1879. She would marry British Lord Curzon and become a well-known socialite in the Gilded Age.

McIntire-Bennett House Decatur Alabama
McIntire-Bennett House, 1976. Photo by Alex Bush for the Historic American Building Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Legend holds that while the house was under Union control, it was receiving considerable fire from snipers located in the Old State Bank (see my entry on the bank here) building downtown. When one of the soldiers was shot and killed, his comrades had no way of disposing of the body. The soldiers cut a hole in the floor of the parlor and buried their friend under the house. The home’s current owner has been under the house, and his wife told the local paper, “There is dirt under there, and a hole cut out.”

The bedroom directly above that parlor is known as the “Ghost Room,” and it is here that a female wraith is said to appear to those in the room alone. She is supposed to lead people to the parlor and stand over the grave of the unfortunate soldier. While the home’s current owners have not encountered the female entity, they note that the room is apparently always much cooler than the rest of the house. The house remains a private residence, please respect the privacy of the owners and residents.

Sources

  • Gamble, Robert. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Rhea-McIntire House. 11 June 1984.
  • Godbey, Catherine. “Pre-Civil War era home features ghost room, tales of Union soldier buried there.” Decatur Daily. 4 December 2011.
  • Norman, Michael and Beth Scott. Historic Haunted America. NYC: TOR, 1995.

 

Old Morgan County Courthouse
24 Courthouse Square
Somerville

The oldest courthouse remaining in the state, this courthouse was built in 1837 to serve Morgan County. When the county seat moved to the bustling town of Decatur in 1891, the records were removed by an armed guard under cover of night to prevent locals from sabotaging the move.

Old Morgan County Courthouse Somerville Alabama
Old Morgan County Courthouse, by Chris Pruitt, 2012. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

In 2007 this historic courthouse, now a museum and community center, was investigated by the local Somerville Paranormal Apparition Team (SPAT). Among the evidence discovered in this Federal-style building were a handful of EVPs.

Sources

  • Floyd, W. Warner. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Somerville Courthouse. No Date.
  • Huggins, Paul. “Somerville’s ghost hunters.” Decatur Daily. 20 August 2007.

 

Phenix City Riverwalk
By the Chattahoochee River
Phenix City

The banks of the Chattahoochee River here have seen human activity for centuries. Evidence discovered in this area indicates that Native American villages had thrived along this river for centuries before white occupation. In the early 19th century, the eastern bank here saw the development of Columbus, Georgia, which would be incorporated in 1828, while this side of the river remained Indian territory inhabited mostly by Muscogee Creek and Yuchi people with a smattering of white pioneers.

Historic Marker Phenix City Riverwalk Phenix City Alabama
Historic Marker on the Phenix City Riverwalk, by Mark Hilton, 2013. Courtesy of the Historic Marker Database.

A historical marker along the Riverwalk commemorates the execution of six Muscogee and Yuchi men who were accused of attacking the village of Roanoke in Stewart County, Georgia. Roanoke was mostly destroyed, several white settlers were killed, and the six accused men were hung here for the attack in November of 1836.

This section of the river saw much development as the end of the navigable portion of the Chattahoochee River. Cotton and other goods from nearby plantations were loaded here on ships bound for the Gulf of Mexico, and Wilson’s Raiders swept this area in April of 1865, towards the end of the Civil War.

The Chattahoochee Riverwalk on both sides of the river apparently has a variety of activity. On this side of the river, walkers and bikers have been followed by shadowy spirits that have caused some bikers to have accidents. As this section of the river has seen so much historical activity, it is difficult to determine the identity of the spirits.

Sources

  • Serafin, Faith. Haunted Columbus, Georgia: Phantoms of the Fountain City. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2012.

 

Rowand-Johnson Hall
Campus of the University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa

Hurrying towards a class in Rowand-Johnson Hall some years ago, a student passed an elegant older woman on the sidewalk. Being a proper Southerner, he smiled and wished her a good morning. The woman smiled in acknowledgment and said nothing. Entering the lobby of the building he noted that the woman he saw was the same as the woman whose portrait graced the room: Marian Gallaway. He stopped into the office of the head of the theatre department saying, “I just saw Marian Gallaway.”

The department head replied, “Unlikely, she’s been dead for eleven years.”

Rowand-Johnson Hall, built in 1955, houses the university’s Department of Theatre and Dance and two theatres: the Marian Gallaway and the Allen Bales Theatres. The theatre names pay homage to two beloved professors: Dr. Bales, a speech professor and noted actor and director, and Mrs. Gallaway, longtime director of the University Theatre. While Dr. Bales is not believed to be among the numerous spirits on this most haunted of campuses, Mrs. Gallaway’s spirit has become a part of the campus’ ghostlore tradition.

When in doubt, young student actors will implore Mrs. Gallaway for guidance. “How’s my blocking, Mrs. Gallaway?” they will ask and glance towards the projection booth where her spirit is supposed to appear. Though, sources do not provide if her appearance answers their question. Mrs. Gallaway also still attends performances and is sometimes seen sitting in the second row by theatre patrons who recognize her from her portrait in the lobby. Other legends note that when theatre students are lollygagging and avoiding learning lines or studying that Mrs. Gallaway will slam doors and make loud noises in the building to correct these wayward students. Great theatre directors will even direct from the grave, it seems.

Sources

  • Cobb, Mark Hughes. “Who haunts the halls of Tuscaloosa?” Tuscaloosa News. 25 October 2009.
  • Higdon, David and Brett J. Talley. Haunted Tuscaloosa. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2012.
  • “UA Campus Tour: Rowand-Johnson Hall.” University of Alabama. Accessed 21 March 2013.

 

Samford Hall
Campus of Auburn University
Auburn

 

A Haunted Southern Book of Days–7 February

This article is a part of an occasional blog series highlighting Southern hauntings or high strangeness associated with specific days. For a complete listing, see “A Haunted Southern Book of Days.”

 

Standing at the heart of Auburn University and the university’s history is Samford Hall with its spectral guard still watching over things from the building’s bell tower. It was on this site that East Alabama Male College was founded in 1859 in a building that would be fondly dubbed “Old Main.”

Samford Hall Auburn University Alabama
Samford Hall, Auburn University, 2017. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV, all rights reserved.

With the coming Civil War, Old Main–along with the Presbyterian Church, now the university chapel (see my article on the chapel here)—was utilized as a Confederate hospital. Legend holds that the front lawn was stacked with the bodies of the dead some twenty-five feet across and about six feet high while awaiting interment in nearby Pine Hill Cemetery.

During this harrowing time, a Confederate guard watched over the living and dead below, from the pair of bell towers of Old Main. When Old Main was destroyed by fire in 1887, it was replaced by a larger, more elaborate building featuring two towers of different size. Though the original building is gone, the guard has been spotted upon his perch many times. One student hurrying past the tower one evening looked up to see a man with a rifle on his shoulder in the bell tower. A local mother who allowed her young son to play on the lawn in front was shocked when her son reported seeing a man in the tower who said that he had helped burn the building.

Sources

  • Kazek, Kelly. “Who wins the Ghost Bowl? An Alabama vs. Auburn challenge for Halloween.” com. 23 October 2013.
  • Ollif, Martin T. “Auburn University.” Encyclopedia of Alabama. 18 August 2008.
  • Sheehan, Becky. “Paranormal research team resurrects regional history.” Auburn Plainsman (Auburn University). 28 October 2013.
  • Serafin, Faith, Michelle Smith and John Mark Poe. Haunted Auburn and Opelika. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2011.

 

Shelby Springs Confederate Cemetery
Shelby County Road 42
Calera

Visitors among the quiet ranks of grave markers here have had a variety of experiences including full apparitions, unexplained lights after dark, and physical contact from unseen forces. This cemetery was established in 1863 not far from the Confederate hospital relocated here from Vicksburg, Mississippi after the city’s fall. While most of the graves here belong to Confederate soldiers, tradition holds that a few unmarked graves beyond the fence at the back of the cemetery are those of Union soldiers.

Sources

  • Johnston, Kim. Haunted Shelby County, Alabama. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.
  • Shelby County Heritage Book Committee. Heritage of Shelby County, Alabama. Clanton, AL: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1999.

 

Smith Hall
Campus of University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa

Within the hallowed halls of Smith Hall, much weirdness has been reported. From disembodied footsteps to the sounds of horses and carriage moving through the building, students and staff have had countless experiences in this building. Others have heard the droning of a lecturing professor and noisy students while a laboratory assistant working in the building’s basement was once pushed into and then locked in a closet by an unseen force.

Smith Hall University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
Alabama Museum of Natural History in Smith Hall, University of Alabama. Photo by AlabamaGuy2007, 2008, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Built in 1910, this magnificent Beaux-Arts structure was constructed to house Alabama Museum of Natural History as well as laboratories and classrooms. Named for Eugene Allen Smith, a university professor and Alabama State Geologist, the museum houses some of his personal effects, including his personal carriage, and perhaps his spirit may be one of those remaining here.

Sources

  • Crider, Beverly. “Crimson Hauntings: The Ghosts of UA.” com. 10 May 2012.
  • Higdon, David and Brett J. Talley. Haunted Tuscaloosa. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2012.
  • Windham, Kathryn Tucker. Jeffrey’s Latest 13: More Alabama Ghosts. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1982.

 

Weaver Castle (private)
625 Lauderdale Street
Selma

A handy man installing a ceiling fan in this historic home was asked, “What are you doing?” When he looked to see who was asking, he discovered an empty room. A resident some years ago had her dog reprimanded by an unseen presence. Her dog began barking, and a voice demanded, “Dog, shut up!” Her children were upstairs when that happened and had not been downstairs.

Weaver Castle Selma Alabama
Weaver Castle, by Altairisfar, 2011. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

William M. Weaver constructed this German Gothic style home in 1868 on property that had seen fighting during the Battle of Selma. Weaver passed away here in 1898 of, as the Alabama Ghost Trail asserts, a broken heart following the death of his son from kidney disease. Please respect the owners and residents of this private home.

Sources

  • Alabama Ghost Trail. “Weaver Castle.” YouTube. 19 July 2009.
  • Higdon, David and Brett J. Talley. Haunted Alabama Black Belt. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.

Five Hauntings in the ‘City Under Five Flags’

Pensacola occupies land on Pensacola Bay on the Gulf coast of Florida. Starting with the Spanish who created the first settlement in the continental U. S. on this bay in 1559, the city has existed under five different flags throughout its history. Besides the Spanish, the city has been ruled over by France, Great Britain, the Confederate States of America, and the United States, with each leaving their own marks, both physically and spiritually, on the city. This article looks at a selection of the haunted places here.

Blount Building
3 West Garden Street

Blount Building Pensacola Florida
Blount Building, 2008, by Ebyabe. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

In the early morning hours of November 1, 1905, fire destroyed several buildings on Palafox Street between Garden and Romana Streets including a building owned by lawyer William A. Blount. Following the fire, Mr. Blount commenced construction on a large, and most importantly, fire-proof seven-story structure to house his firm. The Blount Building, designed in the prevalent Chicago Style, was completed in 1907. In 2015, the building underwent a major renovation and it now houses offices of several firms and businesses. A 2005 article on Pensacola hauntings states that the structure “is no stranger to unusual and unexplained activity.”

Sources

  • Baltrusis, Sam. “Ghost Hunter: Pensacola’s Most Haunted.” inweekly, Pensacola Independent News. 20 October 2005.
  • Blount Building. Accessed 23 January 2023.
  • Blount Building. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 23 January 2023.

Old Sacred Heart Hospital
1010 North Twelfth Avenue

Old Sacred Heart Hospital Pensacola Florida
Old Sacred Heart Hospital, 2008, by Ebyabe. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

When it opened in 1915, Pensacola Hospital was the first comprehensive medical facility in the area. Just prior, a citizens committee was set up featuring several prominent locals, including members of the clergy, to bring about the construction of a hospital. The committee partnered with the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul to build and run the large institution. The Sisters insisted on engaging Hungarian-born architect Albert O. Von Herbulis to design the building in English Gothic style. The massive four-story building with two large wings opened in September of that year.

The Sisters operated the hospital as Pensacola Hospital until 1949, when the name was changed to Sacred Heart Hospital. In 1965, a new facility was constructed, and the institution left the large Gothic building. Several years later, the Pensacola Private School of Liberal Arts took over and operated within the building. After a decade of deferred maintenance, the building was condemned by the city for safety reasons. The following year, an investment group took over the old hospital restoring and renovating it for use as a business complex.

Today, the old hospital, now known as Tower East, is home to offices and businesses, with a popular pizza joint, O’Zone Pizza, occupying part of the old basement space. Since reopening, tales have emerged of the building being haunted. Some have suggested that the specter of one of the Sisters continues to glide through the old hospital’s halls, still going about her nursing duties.

Sources

Romana Street

Romana Street, named for the third Marques de la Romana, stretches from Pace Boulevard to the edge of Pensacola Bay and runs through much of the oldest portions of the city. From its earliest time, the city has been haunted by pirates. In its earliest days, pirates overshadowed the success and prosperity of Pensacola and even now they, and sometimes their victims, continue to the haunt the city in the form of apparitions and paranormal activity.

The legend of the ghost of Romana Street was created through the work of one of these bloodthirsty pirates. One evening in the 1820s a gang of pirates roaming the streets seized upon a young couple. Killing the man, the group tried to kidnap the young lady, but she put up a mighty resistance. With the large diamond ring she wore, the young lady gouged out the eyes of the pirate and he dropped her in pain. Enraged, he began swinging his cutlass blindly. A moment later, he was able to decapitate the young lady.

In the years since the senseless and bloody murder, people walking along Romana Street after dark have seen the specter of a young lady walking along the street without her head. Interestingly, this is not the only headless wraith in the area, a similar specter has been spotted in Government Street, and at a place called Lady’s Walk on Santa Rosa Island, just south of the city.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Pensacola. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2010.
  • Johnson, Sandra & Leora Sutton. Ghosts, Legends and Folklore of Old Pensacola. Pensacola, FL: Pensacola Historical Society, 1994.
  • Romana Street. Accessed 30 January 2023.

St. John’s Cemetery
610 North Spring Street

Once St. Michael’s Cemetery, near the heart of the old city, began to fill up, St. John’s Cemetery was opened in 1876. This cemetery now covers 26 acres a short distance from the city’s original municipal cemetery. Supposedly, the spirits of children and the 19th century outlaw Railroad Bill have been spotted here.

One of the most scandalous graves in this cemetery is that of Mary C. “Mollie” McCoy. She was one of the city’s best-known madams operating her upscale bordello on Zaragoza Street. After her death she was buried here, much to the chagrin of more respectable local ladies who eventually had the city remove the grave marker. But not before the marker acquired the reputation of bringing luck to the love lives of those that touched it. A new marker was erected here in 2012.

Sources

  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/94785186/mary-c-mccoy: accessed 19 February 2023), memorial page for Mary C “Mollie” McCoy (1843–4 Feb 1920), Find a Grave Memorial ID 94785186, citing Saint John’s Cemetery, Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida, USA; Maintained by Jimbob BillyJoe (contributor 47265124).
  • Moon, Troy. “Pensacola’s spooky past haunts the present.” Pensacola News-Journal. 15 October 2016.
  • Muncy, Mark and Kari Schultz. Creepy Florida: Phantom Pirates, the Hog Island Witch, the Demented Doctor at the Don Vicente & More. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2019.
  • John’s Cemetery. Pensepedia. Accessed 30 January 2023.

St. Michael’s Cemetery
6 North Alcaniz Street

This location has been broken out into its own blog entry and can be found at The glowing skeleton and friends.

Montgomery County Mysteries–Maryland

When I put together my spectral tour of US 29, I realized that a number of locales along the route haven’t been covered in this blog with Montgomery County, Maryland being one of those. Located just outside of the District of Columbia, Montgomery County has become a major Washington suburb in recent decades. It is also home to a number of fascinating hauntings.

Bethesda

Old Georgetown Road

A 2003 article discussing Maryland paranormal investigator Beverly Litsinger has a brief list of haunted places throughout the state including this road in Montgomery County. The article notes that people have had “disturbing sightings of a ghostly being” along this road. It goes on to say that several Civil War-era homes along the road are also haunted. No further information is available.

Sources

  • Brick, Krista. “Ghost-tracker has plenty of weird tales.” Frederick News-Post. 27 October 2003.

Glen Echo

Carousel at Glen Echo Park
7300 Macarthur Boulevard

The Glen Echo Park Carousel sports a menagerie of animals, including 39 horses, four ostriches, four rabbits, and a deer, tiger, giraffe, lion, and perhaps several spirits flitting amongst them.

Glen Echo Carousel, Glen Echo Park, Glen Echo, Maryland
The carousel in 2018, by Skdb. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Glen Echo Park opened as an amusement park in 1911 following a couple of decades as a National Chatauqua Assembly. The grounds were outfitted with dozens of rides as the premier park for family fun in the Washington, D. C. area. In 1921, park owners contracted the carousel building firm of Gustav and William Dentzel of Philadelphia to install this carousel for the delight of park patrons. For years, the animals and their accompanying Wurlitzer organ gave rides to guests until the park closed in 1968. After the park was acquired by the National Park Service in 1971, the carousel was restored and continues to delight riders to this day.

Karen Yaffe Lottes and Dorothy Pugh include in their 2012 book, In Search of Maryland Ghosts: Montgomery County, the experiences of a gentleman who spoke of seeing spirits at the carousel as an adolescent. In the 1960s, while this gentleman was around the age of thirteen, he began sneaking out of the house late at night and his excursions often took him to Glen Echo Park. On a couple occasions he heard the sound of the carousel’s organ playing and saw shadowy forms within the carousel’s round house. As he peeked through the windows, he saw a large group of people inside riding and standing around the ride. Oddly, this group was comprised of African-Americans and they were dressed in clothing reminiscent of the 1930s or 40s. On both occasions, the young man was frightened by this vision and fled the scene. This story is odd in that the park was not open to patrons of color until the late 1960s, just before it closed.

Sources

Clara Barton National Historic Site
5801 Oxford Road

Groundbreaking nurse, Clara Barton, spent the final fifteen years of her life residing in this odd building in Montgomery County. The wooden portion of the building had been prefabricated in the Midwest for use at disaster sites. In the case of this structure, it had been put together after the devastating flood in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1889 where the building served as the Locust Street Red Cross Hotel. After its emergency use came to an end, it was dismantled and shipped to Washington, D. C. with the expectation that it would be used for the next emergency. In 1891, it was erected in Glen Echo with some modifications and additions for use as the headquarters of Barton’s fledgling Red Cross.

Clara Barton House, Glen Echo, Maryland
The Clara Barton House, 2006, by Preservation Maryland. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Unfortunately, Barton’s dream of a fine headquarters was thwarted for several years by the lack of transportation and communications infrastructure but in 1897, the building finally became the national headquarters. Ever modest in her own personal needs, Barton took a bedroom at the back of the building. It is here that she spent the final years of her life of service to others.

Now, a National Historic Site operated by the National Park Service, visitors and, I suspect some staff (despite the Park Service’s official line that none of its sites are haunted), have encountered a woman in a green period dress, who may be the apparition of the famed Clara Barton, still going about her duties from the other side.

Sources

Olney

Olney Theatre Center
2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road

It seems that the spirits of the Olney Theatre Center don’t haunt the theatre itself, but rather one of the buildings where theatre staff and artists reside during performance seasons.

The company was initially created as a summer stock on a rural estate with Ethel Barrymore as its first associate director. Over the years it has attracted many of the leading lights of American stage and film, including Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Tallulah Bankhead, and the inimitable Helen Hayes, the First Lady of the American Stage.

An 1889 family home on the property, named Knollton, has served as cast housing since the founding of the company. Cast and staff who have lived in the old house have reported a variety of paranormal activities including apparitions and spectral sounds.

Sources

  • Lottes, Karen Yaffe and Dorothy Pugh. In Search of Maryland Ghosts: Montgomery County. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2012.
  • Olney Theatre Center. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 29 January 2022.

Rockville

Beall-Dawson House
103 West Montgomery Avenue

As the county’s Clerk of Court, Upton Beall wanted the prominence of his position reflected in his family home. He had this elegance home built in 1815 in this small crossroads village. Beall’s prominence even brought a visit from Lafayette during his 1824 grand tour of Maryland. The house remained in the Beall family until the 1930s when it was sold away from the family. It was later acquired by the county historical society who have used it as a museum for many decades.

Beall-Dawson House, Rockville, Maryland
The Beall-Dawson House, 2020, by Dbenford. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

As with many house museums, this house possesses its fair shares of creaks, groans, and disembodied footsteps, typical occurrences in many old houses. Some years ago, a docent working in the kitchen saw the apparition of a black man in old-fashioned clothing kneeling on the floor of the carriage entrance room laying bricks. The brick floor was laid in a herringbone pattern, with the bricks set in sand. This same apparition has been seen by a handful of people over the years. Has this man returned to worry about his carefully crafted floor?

Sources

Notes on Haunted North Carolina

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

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

Asheville

1889 WhiteGate Inn & Cottage
173 East Chestnut Street

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

Sources

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

Lewis Memorial Park Cemetery
415 Beaverdam Road

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

Sources

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

Bath

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

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

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

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

Sources

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

Bear Creek

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

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

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

Sources

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

Burke and Caldwell Counties

Brown Mountain

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

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

Sources

Burlington

Paramount Theatre
128 East Front Street

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

Sources

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

Buxton

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
46379 Lighthouse Road

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

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

Sources

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

Candler

Owl’s Nest Inn
2630 Smoky Park Highway

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

Sources

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

Stony Fork Picnic Area
711 Pisgah Highway

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

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

Sources

Chapel Hill

Carolina Inn
211 Pittsboro Street

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

Sources

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

Corolla

Currituck Beach Light
1101 Corolla Village Road

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

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

Sources

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

Greensboro

Aycock Auditorium
Campus of University of North Carolina, Greensboro

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

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

Sources

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

Kure Beach

Fort Fisher
1610 Fort Fisher Boulevard, South

A Haunted Southern Book of Days–15 January

This article is a part of an occasional blog series highlighting Southern hauntings or high strangeness associated with specific days. For a complete listing, see “A Haunted Southern Book of Days.”

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

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

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

Sources

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

Morganton

Broughton Hospital
1000 South Sterling Street

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

With the lobbying of Dorthea Dix, the state of North Carolina set out to build modern hospitals for the treatment of mental illnesses. The Western Carolina Insane Asylum opened in 1883 and continues to serve as a mental health facility, though with fewer patients and under the name Broughton Hospital. Most facilities treating mental illness have spirits and Broughton is no exception. Reports mention apparitions, disembodied screams, and eerie feelings haunting this facility. See my further coverage of this haunting in “Ill Defined and Unknown Cause of Morbidity and Mortality–North Carolina.”

Broughton’s sister hospital is Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro which I have also covered here.

Sources

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

New Bern

Attmore-Oliver House
510 Pollock Street

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

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

Sources

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

Orrum

Lumber River State Park
2819 Princess Ann Road

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

Sources

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

Raleigh

North Carolina State Capitol Building
1 East Edenton Street

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

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

Sources

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

Rockingham

Hudson Brothers Deli
115 South Lee Street

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

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

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

Sources

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

Weaverville

Inn on Main Street
88 South Main Street

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

Sources

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

Wilmington

Bellamy Mansion
503 Market Street

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

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

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

Sources

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

USS North Carolina (BB-55)
1 Battleship Road

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

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

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

Sources

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

Notes on Kentucky Hauntings

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

For other Kentucky hauntings, see my Kentucky Directory.

Auburn

Shaker Museum at South Union
850 Shaker Museum Road

Shaker Museum at South Union Kentucky
The main dwelling at the Shaker Museum at South Union, 1969. Photo taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) by E. R. Pearson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

This museum and its supporting organization preserve the historic Shaker village of South Union. The village was established by the Shaker religious sect in 1807 and was occupied until 1922. In the mid-1980s, a husband, wife, and their 6-year-old son visited the village and spent part of their day exploring the many buildings. In one particular structure, the husband and his son ventured upstairs and spied a strange opening in the wall. When they peered through it, they saw evidence of damage from a fire. A moment later, the pair felt something come through the opening and surround them with a strange energy that unnerved them.

Sources

  • Montell, William Lynnwood. Haunted Houses and Family Ghosts of Kentucky. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2001.
  • Shaker Museum at South Union. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 14 November 2020.

Barbourville

Pfeiffer Hall
Campus of Union College

Room 245 in this campus residence hall is home to a legend. In 1963, a student named James Garner attempted to close his dorm room window when he accidentally slipped out and died in the fall. Consequently, students to open the window of this room will have it slammed shut by the spirit.

Sources

  • Ogden, Tom. Haunted Colleges and Universities: Creepy Campuses, Scary Scholars, and Deadly Dorms. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2014.

Speed Hall
Campus of Union College

This building, built just after the turn of the 20th century, currently houses the college’s Office of Financial Aid. The apparition of a woman has been seen in this building and staff has experienced doors opening and closing by themselves. The identity of the woman is unknown.

Sources

  • Ogden, Tom. Haunted Colleges and Universities: Creepy Campuses, Scary Scholars, and Deadly Dorms. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2014.

Warfield Cemetery
KY 459

Legend holds that visitors to this cemetery are sometimes plagued by a spirit that follows them around and sometimes even following them home.

Sources

Bardstown

Chapeze House
107 East Stephen Foster Avenue

This large brick home was built in 1787 for Dr. Henri Chapeze, a French surgeon who arrived in this country with the Marquis de Lafayette. Local legend tells of Dr. Chapeze arriving home one day to find his wife in the arms of another man. His wife lost face and lived in shame while her cuckolded husband left town to settle in Ohio and start a new life. The house has been known for years to be haunted with the spirits of a young boy, possibly Chapeze’s son Benjamin, to whom he left this home, and a woman. The woman, who has been seen peering from the windows is sometimes seen without a face. Is this the visage of Chapeze’s unfaithful wife who lost face when her philandering was discovered?

Sources

  • Westmoreland-Doherty, Lisa. Kentucky Spirits Undistilled. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2009.

Jailer’s Inn Bed & Breakfast
111 West Stephen Foster Avenue

Jailer's Inn Bardstown Kentucky
Jailer’s Inn, 2009, by C. Bedford Crenshaw. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Occupying the old Nelson County Jail, which was in use from 1797 to 1987, the Jailer’s Inn allows guests to sleep in a space where criminals once served their sentences. These paying guests have encountered spirits of these criminals in the form of apparitions, and spectral sounds.

Sources

  • Newman, Rich. The Ghost Hunter’s Field Guide. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Press, 2011.

My Old Kentucky Home State Park
501 East Stephen Foster Avenue

Federal Hill My Old Kentucky Home Bardstown Kentucky
Federal Hill, 2015, by Firthpond1700. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

This state park preserves Federal Hill, the mansion of Senator John Rowan, which inspired the song “My Old Kentucky Home,” by Stephen Foster, a relative of Rowan’s. Spirits may roam both the house and the Rowan Family Cemetery nearby. John Rowan left instructions that following his death no memorial was to be erected over his grave. When family insisted on erecting a monument, his ghost has been blamed for toppling it.

Sources

  • Floyd, Jacob and Jenny. Kentucky’s Haunted Mansions. Seventh Star Press, 2017.
  • Landini, Leigh. “Things that go ‘bump’ in the night may be a mischievous may be a ghost in downtown Paducah.” The Paducah Sun. 31 October 1999.

Benham

Benham Schoolhouse Inn
100 Central Avenue

In 1926 the Wisconsin Steel Company, which had founded the small town of Benham as a coal camp, built an all-grades school. That school closed in 1992 and was converted into use as an inn. Guests have since reported run-ins with the spirits of former students.

Sources

Berea

Boone Tavern
100 Main Street North

Boone Tavern Berea Kentucky
Boone Tavern, 2009, by Parkerdr. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

A restaurant, hotel, and guesthouse affiliated with Berea College, Boone Tavern was built in 1909. A paranormal investigation in 2012 produced evidence of “an abundance of spirits.” Investigator Patti Star described the tavern to the Richmond Register as being like a “train station with spirits coming and going.”

Sources

  • Boone Tavern. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 27 November 2020.
  • Robinson, Bill. “Ghost hunters detect spirits at Boone Tavern.” Richmond Register. 2 April 2012.

Campbellsville

Hiestand House—Taylor County Museum
1075 Campbellsville Bypass

This small stone house is one of only 12 German stone houses standing in the state. According to Dennis William Hauck’s Haunted Places: The National Directory, residents of the home have experienced paranormal activity for years. The house now houses a county museum.

Sources

Clermont

Jim Beam American Stillhouse
526 Happy Hollow Road

Jim Beam is one of the largest producers of Kentucky bourbon producing more than a half million barrels a year. But is this famous distillery producing spirits beyond bourbon? It seems that the apparition of a woman has been seen in the old T. Jeremiah Beam House and other spirits have been encountered throughout the distillery and its grounds.

Sources

Cynthiana

Rohs Opera House
122 East Pike Street

This 1871 opera house is possibly occupied by a handful of spirits including children and a woman dubbed, “The Lady of the Opera House.” These spirits manifest themselves in a variety of ways including the children playing with people’s hair, strange noises, and apparitions.

Sources

  • Dailey, Bonnie. “The haunting of Rohs Opera House.” 8 August 2013.

Danville

Breckinridge Hall
Campus of Centre College

A Haunted Southern Book of Days–21 January

This article is a part of an occasional blog series highlighting Southern hauntings or high strangeness associated with specific days. For a complete listing, see “A Haunted Southern Book of Days.”

 

The spirit of a young man named Peter continues to haunt this dormitory. During a renovation in the 1990s several people saw his face on the wall of a particular dorm room. When they contacted painters to cover up the image, they could not find it.

Sources

  • Brummet, Jennifer. “Paranormal investigators use own time and money to seek out supernatural.” The Advocate-Messenger. 28 October 2007.
  • “Ghost hunter hopes to find paranormal activity at Centre.” The Centre College Cento. 27 October 2011.

Sutcliffe Hall
Campus of Centre College

A Haunted Southern Book of Days–21 January

This article is a part of an occasional blog series highlighting Southern hauntings or high strangeness associated with specific days. For a complete listing, see “A Haunted Southern Book of Days.”

 

A staff member working in this building reported “Sometimes I’d be in the building alone and would hear basketballs bouncing in Bowman Gym. I would go right to the gym door and look in, and there was never anyone in the gym playing basketball. But I could definitely hear the ball bounce.” The staff member also reported that during renovations workers would find their tools moved or missing.

Sources

  • “Ghost hunter hopes to find paranormal activity at Centre.” The Centre College Cento. 27 October 2011. 

Elsmere

Allendale Train Tunnel
Near East Covered Bridge Drive

This mis-named site is not an actual train tunnel, but rather a culvert that carries Bullock Pen Creek underneath a set of railroad tracks. Metal hooks protrude from above both ends of the culvert from which stems the legend that a man once hung himself here and he continues to haunt the site. However, there is no documentary to prove that the suicide ever happened.

Sources

Erlanger

Narrows Road

There are reports that drivers along this stretch of road a night have been pulled over by a police officer in an old-fashioned police car. As the officer approaches the car he vanishes, much to the surprise of the driver.

Sources

  • “Residents say Northern Kentucky Road is haunted.” 29 August 2016.

Frankfort

Buffalo Trace Distillery
113 Great Buffalo Trace

Buffalo Trace Distillery Frankfort Kentucky
Interior of one of storage houses at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, 2018, by Jaimin Trivedi. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Quite possibly the oldest distillery in the United States, the Buffalo Trace Distillery includes the oldest building in the county, Riverside House. Reports and an investigation by Patti Star reveal strange activity in Stony Point Mansion, formerly the home of Colonel Albert B. Blanton, a former president of the company. Riverside House, which is occupied by the distillery gift shop, is home to several spirits as well. In the storage space above the gift shop, a psychic detected the spirits of four men who continue to work in the hot, confined space.

Sources

Glenns Creek Distilling
3501 McCracken Pike

Formerly the Old Crow Distillery, Glenns Creek Distilling may be the habitation of spirits. The distillery’s owner, David Meier, told Roadtrippers that he frequently hears disembodied footsteps throughout the old buildings.

Sources

Liberty Hall
218 Wilkinson Street

Liberty Hall Frankfort Kentucky
Liberty Hall, 2018, by Christopher L. Riley. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

After an elderly aunt, Mrs. Margaret Varick, died following an arduous trip to Frankfort to console her niece, her spirit has remained in this National Historic Landmark. This 1796 home was built by James Wilkinson, founder of the city of Frankfort, and the home remained in the family for many years before opening as a house museum. Mrs. Varick’s spirit is said to help out in maintaining the house and her spirit may have been joined in her ethereal romps by a Spanish opera star who also died in the house during a visit in 1805.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Kentucky. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2009.

Harrodsburg

Harrodsburg Spring – Young Park
502 Linden Avenue

On the site of this park once stood the Harrodsburg Spring Hotel, which attracted visitors to take advantage of the spring. Early in the 19th century a young lady checked into the hotel alone. That evening, she appeared in the hotel’s ballroom where she danced all evening with a number of young men. As she danced with one eager suitor later in the evening, she collapsed and died. Since it was discovered that the young woman checked in under an assumed name, her identity remained a mystery. She was buried on the hotel property under a stone bearing the words, “Hallowed and hushed be the place of the dead. Step softly. Bow head.” Though the hotel is long gone, the young woman’s dancing apparition still appears in the park.

Sources

Hazard

Crawford Mountain Road

Author R. J. Stacy has had many experiences as he’s lived throughout the southeastern portion of the Commonwealth that he’s included them in his 2013 book, Spirits of Southeast Kentucky: True Personal Paranormal Encounters. In the mid-1990s, Stacy and his wife were driving this twisted mountain road one evening when they watched a bluish-white orb of light float slowly over their car and vanish in the woods on the other side of the road. Stacy reports that this road has seen a fair number of accidents, though he posits that one particular may be correlated with the orb. This accident, which occurred in August of 1975, was a hit and run with the driver at fault fled into the mountain forest. The driver was not found until several months later when he was discovered to have plunged off a cliff after fleeing the scene.

Sources

  • Stacy, R. J. Spirits of Southeast Kentucky: True Personal Paranormal Encounters. CreateSpace, 2013.

Jackson

Quicksand Road

Running south out of Jackson, the county seat of Breathitt County, this two-lane rural road was the scene of an accident in 2010 when a young man was struck and killed as he walked the thoroughfare in the early morning. Several motorists driving along this road have nearly hit a young man wearing a hoodie with the hood up and covering his face. When the driver stops to check on the pedestrian, they find no one in the road.

Sources

  • Stacy, R. J. Spirits of Southeast Kentucky: True Personal Paranormal Encounters. CreateSpace, 2013.

Lawrenceburg

Anderson Hotel
116 South Main Street

When a haunted attraction was opened inside the old Anderson Hotel in downtown Lawrenceburg in 2018, 50 of the roughly 400 people who entered took off after being frightened by the very real spooks that inhabit the building. Previously, the hotel had been abandoned for nearly 30 years. A few years ago, the owner of a restaurant that operated on the first floor of the hotel building called in a paranormal investigator to check out the odd sounds she frequently heard coming from the abandoned hotel above. As he investigated, he discovered that a number of tragic deaths, including several suicides, had left a remarkable amount of paranormal activity inside the empty building.

Sources

  • Carlson, Ben. “Dozens flee during debut of Lawrenceburg haunted house.” Lexington Herald-Leader. 3 October 2018.
  • “Closed hotel still has ‘guests.’” 26 October 2015.

Lebanon

St. Ivo Cemetery
St. Ivo Road

Named for St. Ivo of Kermartin, a 13th century French saint who is also the patron of abandoned children, this rural cemetery is reported to be the home to many children’s spirits. It is said that visitors often have cameras and other electrical devices malfunction while inside the cemetery.

Sources

Leslie County

Cutshin Road (KY 699)

For much of its route through rural Leslie County, two-lane Cutshin Road parallels Cutshin Creek. As author R. J. Stacy and his stepdaughter drove this road at dusk the pair watched a “transparent black mass floating across the road” in the headlights. This section of road has been the scene of many tragedies over the years, perhaps one of these has contributed to the shadowy apparition?

Sources

  • Stacy, R. J. Spirits of Southeast Kentucky: True Personal Paranormal Encounters. CreateSpace, 2013.

Lexington

Ashland – The Henry Clay Estate
120 Sycamore Road

Ashland The Henry Clay Estate Lexington
Ashland, 2007, by Analogue Kid. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

One of the most prominent politicians in the early 19th century, Henry Clay represented the state in both houses of Congress, served as Speaker of the House, and was appointed as Secretary of State under President John Quincy Adams. Clay created this large plantation just outside Lexington starting around 1806. Reports note that Clay’s presence has been noted inside the large home.

Sources

  • Ashland (Henry Clay estate). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 24 November 2020.
  • Newman, Rich. The Ghost Hunter’s Field Guide. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Press, 2011.

Loudoun House
209 Castlewood Drive

Loudoun House Lexington Kentucky
Loudoun House, 1940, by Lester Jones for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

This large, Gothic-revival private residence was constructed in 1851 and has been home to the Lexington Art League for many years. Stories of its haunting include the apparition of a woman in a Victorian gown and the sounds of merriment that are sometimes heard in the empty house.

Sources

  • Newman, Rich. The Ghost Hunter’s Field Guide. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Press, 2011.

London

Levi Jackson Wilderness Road Park
998 Levi Jackson Mill Road

Formerly a state park, this city park offers history, recreation, and several ghostly children that run around. During an investigation in 2011, several investigators were locked out of a building when they left to get more equipment and a rocking chair was seen to rock on command with no one sitting in it.

Sources

  • Brummet, Jennifer. “Paranormal investigators use own time and money to seek out supernatural.” The Advocate-Messenger. 28 October 2007.
  • Levi Jackson Wilderness Road Park. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 23 November 2020.

Louisville

3rd Turn Brewing
10408 Watterson Trail

This brewery occupies a building that was constructed in 1878 as a church in the Jeffersontown neighborhood of Louisville. According to one of the co-owners, the building had served as a Moose Lodge for some 60 previous. When the brewery moved in, a note was found instructing the little girl to behave herself and the new owners soon realized that they shared the old church with the spirits of both a little girl and a man. Co-Owner Ben Shinkle told Louisville Magazine that he once had an encounter with the man while getting ready to open on a Sunday afternoon. “I saw a guy standing there, but I was running downstairs and said, ‘Hang on. I’ll be right with you.’ I popped back up and nobody was there. And all the doors were locked.”

Sources

Seelbach Hilton Hotel
500 South 4th Street

Opening in 1905 after nearly two years of construction, the Seelbach Hotel soon became one of the most sought out hotels in downtown Louisville. For much of the 20th century it remained a glittering landmark, even inspiring F. Scott Fitzgerald as he wrote The Great Gatsby, though financial problems led to its closure in 1975. It was abandoned for only three years before a local actor bought it and began a restoration. Since reopening in 1982, it has continued to offer top notch service.

Seelbach Hotel Louisville Kentucky
Postcard of the Seelbach Hotel, 1905, by the Detroit Publishing Company.

An incident in the 1920s has led to the hotel being haunted by a “Lady in Blue” who is thought to be the spirit of Patricia Wilson. She and her husband checked in to the hotel and the couple arrived separately. Mrs. Wilson arrived, but her husband did not show up as he was killed in a car accident on the way. The unfortunate wife was found dead at the bottom of an elevator shaft a short time later and her spirit has continued to haunt the building for decades.

Sources

Waverly Hills Sanatorium
4400 Paralee Lane

Waverly Hills Sanatorium Louisville Kentucky
Backside of Waverly Hills Sanatorium, 2018, by Royasfoto73. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

With the rise of paranormal shows on television, Waverly Hills Sanatorium has established itself as one of America’s preeminent ghost-trekking locales. Construction began on this massive facility in 1911 to care for tuberculosis patients in a time before adequate treatments were available. The facility expanded and grew until streptomycin was introduced as a treatment leading to a decline in the number of TB patients. The facility closed in 1962 to reopen as a nursing home later that year. The nursing home closed in 1981 and the building has sat empty. Vandalism and the elements have caused some deterioration of the building since that time. Legends have surfaced that may explain the huge amounts of paranormal activity here.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Kentucky. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2009.
  • Starr, Patti. Ghosthunting Kentucky. Cincinnati, OH, Clerisy Press, 2010.
  • Waverly Hills Sanatorium. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 6 January 2010.

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave National Park
1 Mammoth Cave Parkway

Mammoth Cave Kentucky
Tourists explore the interior of Mammoth Cave, 2007, by Daniel Schwen. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The largest cave system in the world at nearly 400 miles, the name does not refer to its linear size but rather the huge rooms and passages that form the cave’s labyrinth. Since its discovery by Native Americans, the cave has been a source of medicine and saltpeter, shelter for various people including tuberculosis patients, a tourist attraction, and a burial chamber. It’s little surprise that numerous odd experiences have been reported, though, it should be noted that the cave’s unusual environment may alter one’s senses. Nevertheless, reports from the cave include apparitions in old fashioned clothing including the spirit of Stephen Bishop, an enslaved man who was one of the earliest guides and explorers of the cave.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Kentucky. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2009.
  • Olson, Colleen O’Connor and Charles Hanion. Scary Stories of Mammoth Cave. Dayton, OH: Cave Books, 2002.
  • Taylor, Troy. Down in the Darkness: The Shadowy History of America’s Haunted Mines, Tunnels, and Caverns. Alton, IL: Whitechapel Press, 2003.

Marion

Baker Hollow Road Cemetery
Baker Hollow Road

This country road outside Marion in rural Crittenden County along the Ohio River is supposed to be the site of much strangeness, especially at night. This cemetery, next to Baker Church, is actually two separate cemeteries located near the church building. People driving down Baker Hollow Road, running beside the church, have encountered a demonic dog in the road. Others have heard disembodied voices, and even apparitions hanging from the trees.

Sources

Maysville

Phillips’ Folly
227 Sutton Street

Phillips' Folly Maysville Kentucky
Phillips’ Folly, 2010, by Greg Hume. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

William B. Sutton built his grand home over the course of six years between 1825 and 1831. Evidence in the home’s basement may attest to its use as a stop on the Underground Railroad. It seems that Mr. Phillips may continue to be in residence here accompanied by his loyal dog. An investigation here in 2011 by the team from the show Ghost Adventures produced evidence that there are spirits here.

Sources

  • Maynard, Misty. “Ghost Adventures episode filmed in Maysville airs today.” Maysville Ledger-Independent. 12 May 2011.
  • Phillips’ Folly. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 24 November 2020.

Newport

Monmouth Street Antique Gallery
822 Monmouth Street

This antique store’s former name, Sin City Antique Gallery, pays homage to Newport’s rowdier days when members of the Cleveland Syndicate, operated by a group of gangsters, ran casinos and carried on illegal operations throughout the city. Housed in a building that once held a Kresge’s Five & Dime and possibly may have been used for more illicit activities, the owners of the antique shop have had multiple experiences with spirits within the building. Activity here includes disembodied footsteps and voices, alarms being tripped when no one is around, and items moving on their own accord. A paranormal investigator who has investigated this location described it as “one of the most active and haunted locations I’ve been to.”

Sources

Owensboro

Campbell Club
517 Frederica Street

Campbell Club Owensboro Kentucky
Campbell Club, 2013, by Nyttend. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Occupying the 1880 French Empire Gillem House, this private dining club closed in 2017 after operating here since 1959. One of the recent chefs noticed a woman sitting in the restaurant staring out the window. When he asked about her, no one knew anything but when one of the staff members approached her, they found no one there.

Sources

The Miller House
301 East 5th Street

The Miller House is a 1905 home that has been transformed into a restaurant. The home is also the residence of several spirits including a little girl who plays with a ball.

Sources

Theatre Workshop of Owensboro (TWO)
407 West 5th Street

Described as “one of the most haunted sites in Western Kentucky,” Owensboro’s Theatre Workshop was originally Trinity Episcopal Church, now Old Trinity Centre. TWO has occupied this 1875 building since 1973 and many of its staff have had encounters with some of the resident spirits here. Spirits include a young lady who is supposed to have hung herself in the bell tower, as well as a priest who, after stumbling upon her body, killed himself in the basement.

Sources

Paducah

C. C. Cohen Building
103 Market House Square

For the past several decades, occupants of this building have experienced all sorts of paranormal activity. This commercial building, built in 1850, has housed a number of businesses throughout its existence, most recently several restaurants have occupied the space. The building is named for the Cohen family who purchased the building around 1900. It is perhaps spirits of members of this family who continue to haunt the building today.

Sources

  • Landini, Leigh. “Things that go ‘bump’ in the night may be a mischievous may be a ghost in downtown Paducah.” The Paducah Sun. 31 October 1999.

Perryville

Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site
1825 Battlefield Road

The quiet stillness of rural Perryville was interrupted in October of 1862. On the 8th, Confederate forces fought Union forces in their attempt to seize control of the whole of the state. Their defeat on these farm fields led General Braxton Bragg to pull his forces all the way back to Tennessee following the bloody battle.

Perryville Battlefield Kentucky
Perryville Battlefield, 2006, by Hal Jesperson. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Not only did the Confederates leave their hopes of controlling Kentucky on the battlefield, but they left spiritual scars. “Many say vivid echoes of the past remain, usually after the sun goes down, in the form of booming cannons, soldiers’ voices, flickering lanterns, phantom horses, and other ghostly occurrences.”

Sources

Windsor, Pam. “Ghost soldiers.” Kentucky Living. October 2014.

Pikeville

Pikeville Cemetery
Cemetery Road

The grave of Octavia Hatcher is marked by a large monument topped with a statue of the deceased. Hatcher passed away in 1891 after being ill for some time and falling into a coma. A few days after burial, James Hatcher began to worry that his wife may not have been dead at all when she was buried. After exhuming her coffin, it was discovered that she was indeed alive when she was buried and had tried to claw her way out of her grave. A handful of rumors have since sprung up regarding the creepy monument including that the statue may turn its back on occasion. Others have heard the sound of “mewling” near the grave and have witnessed the apparition of Hatcher strolling through the cemetery.

Sources

  • Quackenbush, Jannette. West Virginia Ghost Stories, Legends, and Haunts. 21 Crows Dusk to Dawn Publishing, 2017.

Prospect

Sleepy Hollow Road

With a name coming from Washington Irving’s classic tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, it’s no surprise that this road is haunted. Along this stretch some drivers have been followed by a mysterious car only to discover, when it passes, that it is a hearse. In some cases, the cars may have been run off the road by the strange vehicle. The road also includes a classic Cry Baby Bridge where the wails of a child are still heard. During the Satanic Panic of the 1970s and 80s, stories of devil worshippers also sprang up along this thoroughfare.

Sources

  • Gee, Dawne. “Kentuckiana’s Monster, Myths and Legends – Sleepy Hollow Road.” 31 July 2014.

Richmond

White Hall State Historic Site
500 White Hall Shrine Road

White Hall Mansion Richmond Kentucky
White Hall, 2009, by Jim Bowen. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

This huge Italianate mansion was the home of noted anti-slavery Kentucky legislator Cassius Clay. It remains the home of several ghosts including the possible spirit of the famed politician.

Sources

  • Landini, Leigh. “Things that go ‘bump’ in the night may be a mischievous may be a ghost in downtown Paducah.” The Paducah Sun. 31 October 1999.

Scottsville

Allen County War Memorial Hospital
99 Hill View Drive

Opened in 1952, this low-rise community hospital provided locals with medical attention for many years. Until it’s closure in 1994, many lives were brought into and exited life here, with spiritual reminders being left behind. Kentucky’s great collector of ghostlore, William Lynnwood Montell, notes the experiences of a nurse here in his 2001 Haunted Houses and Family Ghosts of Kentucky. This nurse spoke of hearing the crying of an infant coming from one of the rooms, though when she investigated, no one and nothing was found.

After the building was closed and abandoned, a local man leased the property for use as a haunted attraction, only to hear the same crying of an infant as they cleared the brush. As these stories began to emerge, many other locals began to speak of their strange experiences in the old hospital. The remains of the hospital have recently been renovated for use as apartments for low-income veterans.

Sources

  • Butler, Telia. “Throwback Thursday – The Haunted War Memorial Hospital.” 8 October 2020.
  • Montell, William Lynnwood. Haunted Houses and Family Ghosts of Kentucky. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2001.
  • Starr, Patti. Ghosthunting Kentucky. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2010.

Stanford

Isaac Shelby Cemetery State Historic Site
6725 KY 300

This historic site preserves the estate and cemetery of the state’s first governor and has been investigated for paranormal activity.

Sources

  • Brummet, Jennifer. “Paranormal investigators use own time and money to seek out supernatural.” The Advocate-Messenger. 28 October 2007.
  • Isaac Shelby Cemetery State Historic Site. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 23 November 2020.

Stanton

Nada Tunnel
Nada Tunnel Road (KY 77)

Heading into the dramatic Red River Gorge on Kentucky Route 77, the road narrows at the Nada Tunnel. This roughly carved tunnel is only wide enough to allow a single car to pass at a time and doesn’t have lighting inside.

Nada Tunnel Stanton Kentucky
Nada Tunnel, 2010, by Patrick Mueller. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Originally carved to allow trains to carry timber to Clay City, but over time it has come to carry automobile traffic. Legend says that one of the construction workers was killed here by a dynamite blast and that both a green orb seen near here and moaning heard inside the tunnel may be attributed to his restless spirit.

Sources

Shulhafer, Rachel. “Most people don’t know the story behind this hidden tunnel in Kentucky.” OnlyInYourState. 24 October 2016.

Van Lear

Van Lear Coal Miner’s Museum
78 Miller’s Creek Road

The community of Van Lear was incorporated as a coal mining town in 1912 and named for Van Lear Black, the director of the Consolidated Coal Company. The building housing the museum was constructed a year later as an office for the coal company, as well as housing the city hall and several businesses. The community is now unincorporated, and the building now serves as a museum. Along with artifacts detailing the area’s history the museum is in possession of a number of spirits.

Sources

  • Starr, Patti. Ghosthunting Kentucky. Cincinnati, OH, Clerisy Press, 2010.

Walton

Abner Gaines House
150 Old Nicholson Road

Abner Gaines House Walton Kentucky
Abner Gaines House, 2020, by Joekaush35. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The oldest house in the town, the Abner Gaines House has served as a tavern, inn, private residence, and stagecoach stop in its early history. With so many people passing through, the house has experienced more than its fair share of violence, death, and suicide have left spiritual legacies that have manifested themselves as apparitions and odd sounds. The house has since been restored and is operated as the Gaines Tavern History Center.

Sources

  • “Mystery Monday: Real Haunted House.” 10 November 2014.
  • “Strange and Supernatural Happenings at The Abner Gaines House.” Boone County Reporter. 26 July 1899.

West Point

Fort Duffield Park & Historic Site
Fort Duffield Road

In the fall of 1861, Fort Duffield was built overlooking West Point to protect the Union’s supply base there. During the following winter, many succumbed to an outbreak of measles which took the lives of 61 soldiers. Possibly as a result, spirits of those soldiers remain around the site of the fort.

Sources

  • Coulter, Amber. “Fort Duffield tours highlight paranormal accounts.” News-Enterprise. 25 October 2012.
  • O’Neill, Tom. “Ghost walk to be held at Fort Duffield.” Courier-Journal. 31 October 2012.

Wilder

Bobby Mackey’s Music World
44 Licking Pike

Perhaps one of the most infamously haunted places in the country, this country-western bar, owned by singer Bobby Mackey, has been plagued with paranormal activity for years. While some of the legends of this place have been called in to question, there is little doubt that the activity is high, and the spirits of both kinds are plentiful.

Sources

  • Mayes, Cynthia Bard. “Just how haunted is the Bluegrass State?” com. 31 October 2012.

Cherry-picked history—Goldsboro, North Carolina

This is the fourth entry in my Twelve Days of Southern Spirits Series celebrating traditional ghost story telling over Christmas.  

Cherry Research Farm (formerly Cherry Hospital)
604 Farm Road
Goldsboro, North Carolina

Ghost stories pop up in unusual places. These stories are often so entwined with history that these tales and stories pop up in places that are often unexpected. Today’s example is a story that appears in Modern Farmer magazine. While its pages usually discuss practical subjects such as antibiotic use in chickens or soy production, an article about sustainable agriculture research in North Carolina piqued my interest. It seems that the haunted grounds of Cherry Hospital in North Carolina have become an agricultural research station since the hospital’s move to its new, urban facility.

Cherry Hospital Goldsboro North Carolina
An undated postcard of Cherry Hospital.

“You must have heard,” the agricultural scientist remarks in the article, “Cherry Hospital has a strange history.” The history of the hospital recalls the brutal treatment of the mentally ill, and even worse, the archaic views of race that persisted in the South in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Throughout the 19th century, states established facilities to deal with the mentally ill and those who stood apart from society. Mental illness encompassed people who thought beyond their social station, independent women, those with “unnatural sexual desires,” and masturbators; as well as the depressed, anxious, and those with more serious mental illnesses. During Reconstruction, many of these facilities were actively segregated and new facilities created for African-Americans. This is where Cherry Hospital was established.

The North Carolina Asylum for Colored Insane opened its doors in 1880. The facility operated specifically for African-Americans until the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 when the Cherry Hospital—as it was renamed in 1959 for former governor R. Gregg Cherry—was forced to open its doors to all North Carolinians. Thousands of acres surrounding the hospital were cultivated by patients in what is now deemed “horticultural therapy.” These vast acres have been overseen by the state’s Department of Agriculture since 1974.

An undated postcard of Cherry Hospital.
An undated postcard of Cherry Hospital.

However, Cherry Hospital’s treatment of its patients has not always just included the genial sounding horticultural therapy. Patients have endured a cavalcade of therapeutic abuses including electroshock therapy and being placed in cages as well as simple neglect. An entire ward of the hospital was closed in 2008 after a patient was neglected for almost an entire day. That patient died after being found unresponsive. In 2016, the original hospital closed and moved into a new facility within the city limits of Goldsboro. Since much of the land surrounding the original hospital was owned by the state department of agriculture, the whole facility has been transformed into the Cherry Research Farm.

Perhaps the saddest story from this facility became the subject of a 2007 book, Unspeakable: The Story of Junius Wilson. A 17-year-old African-American man, Junius Wilson, was incarcerated here in 1925 on charges of rape. The young man could not communicate verbally, except through grunts and hand gestures, which were interpreted as being signs of mental illness. Mr. Wilson spent most of his life at Cherry Hospital before a social worker identified him as simply being deaf. Wilson’s grunting and wild gesticulation was simply a form of sign language used by African-Americans in the South. He was released and allowed to live his remaining days in a small cottage on the hospital grounds where he passed away in 2001.

Of course, the environment in places of such mental and physical travail, is often imprinted with profound human emotions: the despair of depression, the anguish of anxiety, or perhaps the confusion that marks disorders like schizophrenia. Rumors of hauntings have been passed among locals for years. In fact, the Modern Farmer mentions that some of these rumors and stories have been documented in a book. I suppose this is Margaret Langley’s series of books on Cherry’s sister facility, Broughton Hospital in Morganton. The third volume of her series includes stories from other mental facilities and hospitals in the state.

Langley, an R.N. who worked at Broughton, began collecting ghost stories during her time at the hospital. These stories eventually included stories from a number of other hospitals including Cherry from which she published several. Most of these stories involved elevators. One particular story involved a staff member who boarded an elevator only to notice someone else walking up to the doors as they were closing. Hitting the open doors button, the staff member was surprised when the doors opened to reveal no one else on the other side. Another staff member reported hearing the elevators operating in a portion of a building under renovation. These buildings were not occupied at the time and the elevators required keys to function.

Other than this source, there are few other texts that specifically speak to the haunting of this facility except for storyteller Randy Russell’s 2014 book, The Ghost Will See You Now: Haunted Hospitals of the South. In it, Russell explores stories of band music being heard within the facility. The hospital did have a band for patients and Russell reports that this band may still play on accompanied by the shuffling of feet as patients danced and whirled.

Sources

  • Barth, Brian. “The strange, horrifying history of Cherry Research Farm in North Carolina.” Modern Farmer. 11 December 2017.
  • Burch, Susan. Unspeakable: The Story of Junius Wilson. Chapel Hill, NC: U. of NC Press, 2007.
  • Cherry Hospital. org. Accessed 30 December 2019.
  • Langley, Margaret. Haunted Broughton, Book III: History and Horror. CreateSpace, 2016.
  • Russell, Randy. The Ghost Will See You Now: Haunted Hospitals of the South. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2014.
  • “Ward where mental patient died closes at Cherry Hospital.” WRAL. 22 August 2008.

A cupola seaman—Louisville, Kentucky

This is the third entry of my Encounter Countdown to Halloween. There are only 28 more days until All Hallows Eve!

United States Marine Hospital
2215 Portland Avenue
Louisville, Kentucky

There’s something quite jaunty about the cupola atop the old U.S. Marine Hospital in Louisville. The rest of the building is stately and noble and almost bows to travelers as they cross the Ohio river into Kentucky; perhaps it’s a gracious bow of warm Southern welcome. But the little cupola adds a certain joyful flair to this staid structure, almost like a hotel bellman’s pillbox cap.

US Marine Hospital Louisville Kentucky ghosts haunted
The U.S. Marine Hospital with its jaunty cupola, 2007. Photograph by Censusdata, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Travelers have been passing this spot for nearly two centuries and they have been greeted by this landmark. Almost a hundred years ago, the Dixie Highway was routed across the steel lace of the Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Bridge from New Albany, Indiana into the bustle of Louisville’s Portland neighborhood. Automobile traffic over the Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Bridge ceased in 1979 and rerouted to Interstate-64 and its nearby concrete bridge. The interstate rushes past the sober hospital with its jolly cupola at Exit 3 as it hurries towards the spaghetti bowl interchange with I-65 and I-71.

Built by the Federal government to provide healthcare to boatmen operating on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers and Great Lakes. This hospital was situated here on the Ohio River, for the “beneficial effect of a view of the water, and the impressions and associations it would naturally awake in the minds of men whose occupation were so intimately connected with it.” After the decline of the Marine Health Service in the late 19th century, the facility continued to operate as a hospital and later as quarters for medical professionals until 1975.

The now ancient building saw a multi-million-dollar restoration of its exterior some years ago, though the interior remains unusable, except for a few ground-floor rooms. Efforts to restore the entire structure have yet to succeed.

During the restoration in 2004, a painter working inside heard someone whistling down one of the hallways. When the painter realized that he was alone in the building he grew more curious. A few days later he was working with another painter and the two decided to take a smoke break on one of the building’s galleries. As they walked into the unrestored portion of the building, painter’s co-worker accused him of staring at him and making him uncomfortable. The painter denied that he was staring at him and said he was only concentrating on his work.

“So, we stepped out onto the gallery and lit up our cigarettes, and it just weird all of a sudden. The hair stood up on our necks and the whole place just felt all staticky and like it was charged with energy or something. It got real cold, too, just like an icy wind blew in, and when that happened, my buddy just sort of looked at me as if to ask what was going on.”

The two men were standing facing one another, the painter standing against the railing his back to the railing, while his co-worker was looking out towards the river. Suddenly, the co-worker appeared to see something, and his eyes got big. When the painter turned to see what his companion was looking at, there was a man standing next to him.

Staring at the man in disbelief, the pair was aghast when he simply vanished before their eyes. “He just sort of appeared for a moment or two, and then he was gone. It was almost like we were seeing an old-fashioned picture.” The painter described the man as appearing like “an old-time sailor.” He was wearing “tight, striped pants and a short jacket and a straw hat.”

George Caleb Bingham Jolly Flatboatmen in Port 1857
George Caleb Bingham’s “Jolly Flatboatmen in Port,” 1857. Dating to the period when the Marine Hospital opened, it depicts men who might have been patients here. The description of the seaman seen by the two painters resembles some of the men in this work. This painting hangs in the St, Louis Museum of Art.

After the spectral vision vanished, the co-worker fled back inside the building and refused to talk about what had just happened. The painter, however, told his story to Louisville author and tour guide David Domine, who included it in his 2006 Phantoms of Old Louisville. Hopefully, this magnificent building with the jaunty cupola can be fully restored as old mariners continue “blurring the fine line between the Here and Now and the There and Then.”

Sources

  • Brooks, Carolyn. National Historic Landmark Nomination Form for the United States Marine Hospital, Louisville, Kentucky. 15 March 1994.
  • Domine, David. Phantoms of Old Louisville: Ghostly Tales from America’s Most Haunted Neighborhood. Kuttawa, KY: McClanahan Publishing, 2006.
  • United States Marine Hospital of Louisville. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 3 October 2019.

Eight-sided Spirits–Kentucky

N. B. This article has been expanded and revised 16 December 2019.

Octagon Hall
6040 Bowling Green Road
Franklin, Kentucky

As the birthplace of both Abraham Lincoln and his Confederate counterpart Jefferson Davis, Kentucky could be considered the birthplace of the American Civil War. Though, when its Southern neighbors began to secede from the Union, the state attempted to remain neutral. When the Confederate army invaded the state and occupied Columbus, Kentucky on the Mississippi River, all hell began to break loose. A Confederate shadow government was created to oppose the Unionist state government already in place and the state joined the Confederacy in December of 1861. The provisional capital at Bowling Green had to be evacuated the following year and some eight to ten thousand fleeing soldiers camped on the grounds of Andrew Caldwell’s estate with its unique eight-sided home outside of Franklin. The soldiers only camped on the estate overnight before heading into Tennessee.

Two days later, pursuing Union troops swept through the plantation and continued to frequently search the grounds for hidden Confederates while they held the area. Wounded soldiers, knowing of the Caldwell’s pro-Confederate leanings, sought out the house as a hiding place. A story told by the Caldwell family involves soldiers being hidden in the cupola that once topped the house. Mr. Caldwell kept bees in the cupola and Confederates would be dressed in bee suits and hidden there. When Union troops would search the house, the bees prevented them from searching the cupola

haunted Octagon Hall Franklin Kentucky ghosts
Octagon Hall, 2008, by Kentondickerson. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

 

Andrew Jackson Caldwell began construction on this unique plantation home in 1847 completing it in 1859. The home’s location: on the Nashville & Louisville Turnpike (now U. S. Route 31W) and the Louisville & Nashville Railroad (about a mile east of the road) made this home a landmark for travelers and locals alike. Throughout the home’s history it remained a private residence until 2001, when the Octagon Hall Foundation took over the house transforming it into a house museum.

A host of spirits remain at Octagon Hall. Some investigators have suggested that the building’s unusual shape and limestone bricks may exacerbate the hauntings. Keith Fournier, a paranormal investigator who investigated the house many times, told the Bowling Green Daily Times that the house is “probably one of the most haunted sites in the country. For its size…there’s more evidence caught in that location than for any other location oi its size in the country.”

haunted Octagon Hall Franklin Kentucky ghosts
Rear view of Octagon Hall, 2008, by Kentondickerson. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

One of the primary spectral residents is the spirit of Mary Elizabeth Caldwell, daughter of Octagon Hall’s builder. Young Mary was around seven years of age when she died in 1854. Legend purports that the child was playing in the kitchen when her dress caught fire. During some of his investigations, Fournier has heard the child weeping in the house accompanied by the deep male voice speaking in a Southern drawl.

The museum’s executive director had an experience with the child’s spirit only three or four weeks after his arrival. “We were doing renovations in the basement and I saw a little girl. I thought she was a tourist and I said, ‘can I help you?’’ When the child vanished, he stood there with his mouth agape. Many others have seen other spirits roaming the grounds including Confederate soldiers and shadow figures.

Sources

  • Episode 2. “Octagon Hall.” Most Terrifying Places in America, Season 7. Travel Channel. Originally aired 22 October 2010.
  • French, Jackson. “SyFy’s ‘Ghost Hunters’ to lead ghost hunt at Octagon Hall.” Bowling Green Daily News. 13 April 2018.
  • History.” Octagon Hall Museum. Accessed 16 December 2019.
  • Kentucky in the American Civil War. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 13 December 2010.
  • Swietek, Wes. “Sites throughout the region full of ghostly lore.” Bowling Green Daily News. 10 October 2015.
  • Westmoreland-Doherty, Lisa. Kentucky Spirits Undistilled. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2009.

A Southern Feast of All Souls—Patient Souls at the Park

E. P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park
3000 Freys Hill Road
Louisville, Kentucky

 On a cool Sunday morning in Fall, like today, it’s not hard to imagine that E. P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park is teeming with life. Joggers, bikers, walkers, and families with children throng the paths, playgrounds and Activities Center in the park unknowing of the patient souls that still roam these grounds. Some of these souls may still suffer the effects of the mental illnesses that afflicted them in life. There is some indication that death may not end the mania, though I would prefer to believe that these poor patient’s souls have passed on leaving only the confused energy that they exuded in life.

One of the park’s paths. Photo 2008, by TeleD, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The grounds of this modest state park were home to Native Americans for centuries before the intrusion of white men into the utopian “Kaintuck” territory. The land was later settled by the Hite family. According to an article from Louisville TV station, WDRB, Isaac Hite died from injuries sustained in a Native American attack here.

In 1869 the state of Kentucky acquired the land and began construction on the State House of Reform for Juvenile Delinquents at Lakeland. This facility evidently went through a series of name and purpose changes with adults being moved to the facility. Around 1900, the facility became Central Kentucky Asylum for the Insane.

Throughout the 20th century, the hospital was investigated a number of times after allegations of corruption and abuse surfaced. The old hospital was closed in 1986 with patients being moved into a newer facility nearby. After sitting abandoned for a decade, the deteriorating hospital buildings were demolished by the state. The land near the old hospital that had once served as a farm was converted into a state park in 1974. The park was named for E. P. “Tom” Sawyer, distinguished local judge and county executive who was the father of journalist Diane Sawyer.

Main building of the Central State Hospital, ca. 1920. This is one of the buildings demolished in 1996. Courtesy of Asylum Projects.

While the park grounds were not actually the site of the hospital, they are still possibly occupied by the spirits of some of the patients who died there. Many of the graves of former patients are unknown and may be scattered throughout the park’s property. Paranormal investigators within the park have captured numerous EVPs, especially around the Sauerkraut Cave. Legend holds that patients who became pregnant were brought to the cave and some of those infants were possibly disposed of here. Others mention that the cave was also used by patients trying to escape the facility. For someone escaping through the cave without flashlights or other equipment, it is likely that the escapees got lost and died within the labyrinth.

Of the cave, an article on Louisville.com quotes the park’s naturalist as saying, “They say it’s kind of a sad place. There’s people trapped there, spirits trapped there. There’s a man who’s angry and they say he’s not letting any of the other spirits go.” Indeed, one recent paranormal investigation captured the image of a large burly man within the cave. Should you take some time to visit the park, be mindful of the patient and not so patient spirits of patients who still reside here.

Sources