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

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 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.

The Wraiths of Winchester, Virginia

N.B. This article was originally posted as part of “A Spectral Tour of the Shenandoah Valley,” which I published in 2014. Seeing that the article needed some serious work, I have decided to shift some things around and post each city as a separate article.

Winchester, Virginia’s twisting history certainly makes it fertile ground for hauntings.

Chartered in 1752, the city was one of the most important cities in the region during the 19th century. Nine major roads converged along with the Winchester and Potomac Railroad, making this a crucial market town.

With the coming of the Civil War, the city’s location made it a prize coveted by both armies. It would famously change hands many times during the war. Three major battles took place here with a host of smaller battles and skirmishes taking place throughout the region. This bloody history has most certainly left a spiritual mark on the Shenandoah and especially on Winchester.

Winchester’s ghosts have been documented primarily in Mac Rutherford’s 2007 book, Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. There is a ghost tour, Ghost Tours Old Town Winchester, Virginia, which is hosted occasionally.

The tour is arranged alphabetically by street, with the sites in order by street address south to north and east to west.

East Boscawen Street

Mount Hebron Cemetery
305 East Boscawen Street

Encompassing four different cemeteries, Mount Hebron holds some of the oldest burials in the city. Two of the cemeteries within its precincts date to the mid-18th century, while the large Stonewall Confederate Cemetery was created just following the Civil War. This may also be the most haunted section of this cemetery. The marker for the Patton Brothers, George and Tazewell (Col. George S. Patton was the grandfather of General George S. Patton who lead American forces during World War II), has some reported activity with it involving a lone figure seen near it. Wearing a military greatcoat and peaked hat, the figure walks towards the marker and disappears. Legend holds that the figure may be none other than Nazi Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. During the 1930s, Rommel was one of a number of German military leaders who spent time in the area studying the military tactics of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson.

Mount Hebron Cemetery Winchester Virginia
Entrance and Gate House for Mount Hebron Cemetery. Photo 2010,
by Karen Nutini, courtesy of Wikipedia.

While the Confederate dead—some of whom were unknown—were buried in the cemetery here, the Union dead were buried across Woodstock Lane in the National Cemetery. Mac Rutherford notes that people living in the area and passersby just after sundown have seen gray figures rising from the Confederate section of Mount Hebron and making their way across the street towards the National Cemetery.

Sources

  • History. Mount Hebron Cemetery. Accessed 21 September 2014.
  • Klemm, Anna and DHR Staff. National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for Mount Hebron Cemetery. 25 July 2008.
  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.
  • Toney, B. Keith. Battlefield Ghosts. Berryville, VA: Rockbridge Publishing, 1997.

West Boscawen Street

38 West Boscawen Street, private

One of Winchester’s most accomplished daughters, the singer Patsy Cline, is associated with this building. It was here, at the G&M Music Store, where Cline bought her first guitar and made some of her first recordings. Visitors to the room that once housed the recording studio have experienced a coldness and claim to have felt the spirit of the famed singer.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

125 West Boscawen Street, private

This circa 1790 home is now occupied by a law firm. Like many buildings throughout the city, this structure served as a hospital for the wounded during the Civil War. Employees of the businesses that have occupied this space over the past few decades have reported hearing footsteps regularly and feeling a cold chill in certain rooms.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Fuller House Inn
220 West Boscawen Street

This magnificent home was constructed in 1854 incorporating the late 18th century servants’ quarters from the Ambler Hill Estate. On the eve of the Civil War, the house was purchased by prominent local dentist, Dr. William McPherson Fuller. This building was also commandeered for use as a hospital during the Civil War and that may explain the presence of a soldier who has been seen in the house. The house serves as an intimate event space and lodging.

Sources

  • Varhola, Michael J. Ghosthunting Virginia. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2008.

South Braddock Street

South Braddock Street
Between Cork and Boscawen Streets

Soldiers from the Civil War have been seen along this street. After the First Battle of Winchester on May 25, 1862, which was a Confederate victory, Union forces retreated along this street. According to Mac Rutherford, they held their formations along this street until they reached the center of town where they broke rank and ran for their lives. The reports of soldiers seen here usually include large formations of many soldiers.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Braddock Street United Methodist Church Parking Lot
Intersection of South Braddock and Wolfe Streets, Southeast Corner

This block has spiritual activity from two different wars. The Braddock Street United Methodist Church Parking Lot has possible activity dating to the French and Indian War (1755-1762). During that war, Fort George, one of two forts built in the area under the purview of Colonel George Washington, stood near here. This piece of property was used for drilling recruits and Colonial soldiers have been seen in the area and in the building that once occupied this site.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

North Braddock Street

Kimberly’s (Lloyd Logan House)
135 North Braddock Street

Lloyd Logan, a local tobacco merchant, built this home around 1850 and it was considered one of the finest homes in town. When war came, the house was taken over by Union generals Franz Sigel and later by Philip Sheridan. Under orders from General Sigel, Lloyd Logan was thrown in jail and the house and most of its contents were confiscated for army use. Logan’s wife and daughters were later removed from the house and unceremoniously dumped along the Valley Pike. This incident may contribute to the spiritual activity within the home.

From Braddock Street, look up at the two windows on the south side of the second floor. Passersby have seen the figure of a man pacing and throwing his hands into the air. One witness described him as not “really clear, sort of gray and fuzzy. I think he was even pulling at his hair.” Employees of Kimberly’s have also seen the man in that room and state that he is accompanied by a woman crying in the corner.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

West Cork Street

Cork Street Tavern
8 West Cork Street

Occupying a pair of early 19th century residences, the Cork Street Tavern has a pair of ghosts, though there seems to be some uncertainty as to why they’re there. Much of the structure’s history is well-known except for the period during Prohibition when the building may have been used as a speakeasy and brothel. The pair, nicknamed John and Emily by the restaurant staff, have both made their presence known with a variety of activity. Apparitions of both have been seen in the building while Emily’s voice has been heard calling, “John,” a number of times. A spirit has also been known to trip female patrons walking into the non-smoking section. The level of activity here is high enough that it led an investigator to remark during a 2009 investigation that “nothing holds a candle to Cork Street.”

Sources

  • History. Cork Street Tavern. Accessed 17 September 2014.
  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.
  • Varhola, Michael J. Ghosthunting Virginia. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2008.
  • Williams, J.R. “Paranormal investigators examine Cork Street Tavern for ghost activity.” The Northern Virginia Daily. 3 August 2009.

South Loudoun Street

Water Street Kitchen
(formerly Old Town Café)
2 South Loudoun Street

This large, brick building was originally the family home of the prominent Holliday family and this was the home of Frederick Holliday who served as governor during the 19th century. The building has seen a variety of uses including post office, a dry goods store and drug store. Since its use as a restaurant, the owners have discovered that the building is also the residence of two ghosts. A male spirit has been seen ascending the stairs from the basement, though he always just stops and stares upon reaching the top. A woman’s spirit has been seen entering the building’s front door and rearranging items on the shelves inside the restaurant.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Red Lion Tavern Building
204-208 South Loudoun Street

This historic tavern building was constructed in 1784 by a German-born Revolutionary War veteran named Peter Lauck. He is known to have had seven daughters, one of whom may still be seen and heard in the building. People recently working in the building have been thanked by a soft, feminine voice saying, “danke.” The shadowy figure of a woman in colonial dress is sometimes seen when the voice is heard.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007. 

North Loudoun Street

Old Court House Civil War Museum
20 North Loudoun Street

Of all the buildings throughout Winchester that were impacted by the Civil War, the biggest impact was possibly on this building which was constructed in 1840 as the Frederick County Court House. The building served as a hospital and, after the Third Battle of Winchester, a prison for captured Confederates. Many of the scars left on this building including the graffiti left on the walls by soldiers from both sides have been preserved. The building has also been the scene of some rather intense spiritual activity.

old frederick county courthouse winchester virginia
Old Frederick County Court House, 2011, by Saran Stierch. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Some spiritually sensitive passersby have witnessed gray forms huddled in the building’s courtyard where Confederate prisoners were kept. In the old courtroom, voices have been heard ranging from faint whispers to obnoxious shouting and the cries of the wounded that once crowded this space. During the building’s renovation, workers had tools and equipment moved. Three workers walked off the job when scaffolding was moved from one side of the room to another during a lunch break.

Sources

  • Austin, Natalie. “Local ghost expert shares stories of the supernatural.” The Northern Virginia Daily. 30 October 2004.
  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

33 North Loudon Street 

Near this address be on the lookout for a young woman in Civil War era clothing hurrying along the street with a shawl wrapped around her shoulders. This is believed to be the spirit of Tillie Russell, a local woman who legend calls, “The Angel of the Battlefield.”

A small engagement occurred at Rutherford’s Farm outside of Winchester on July 20, 1864. Union forces attacked a Confederate division on General Stephen Ramseur throwing that division into confusion. Capt. Randolph Ridgeley of the 2nd Virginia Volunteer Infantry was seriously wounded when Tillie Russell found him and nursed him through the night. Ridgeley was found the next morning being cradled by Miss Russell and survived his wounds.

For years, people have seen the spirit of Miss Russell leaving the building at 33 North Loudoun pulling her shawl about her shoulders as she heads off towards the battlefield at Rutherford’s Farm.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Village Square Restaurant and V2 Piano Bar and Lounge
103 North Loudoun Street

These two establishments occupy a series of haunted structures all built in the early 19th century. Spirits flit and float throughout the restaurant, but the V2 Piano Bar and Lounge has the real story to tell. This building formerly housed Miller’s Apothecary which opened on this site in the mid-18th century. The apothecary was operated by the Miller family until 1992 when they decided to shutter the business. Subsequent owners of the building have all had run-ins with the resident spirits including Jeanette, a young woman who lived with the Miller family in the 18th century.

Perhaps one of the saddest stories of this location comes from the Civil War. Union soldiers from the 29th Pennsylvania Infantry were quartered in the upstairs rooms. A young African-American male was lynched by the group in a tree just outside the building. The pacing of boots and the shouts of arguing soldiers are still heard here.

Sources

  • Varhola, Michael J. Ghosthunting Virginia. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2008.

Taylor Pavilion
125 North Loudoun Street

In its heyday, the Taylor Hotel offered the grandest accommodations in the city. Opening about a decade before the Civil War, the hotel provided accommodations to many of the generals leading troops through the area during the war. Sadly, one of the red-headed call girls who served at the hotel still lingers in this building.

In 2011, the old hotel was purchased by the city and renovated to hold five apartments and restaurant space as well as an outdoor events venue. Apparently, something doesn’t like the restaurant space, though. Kitchen staff have reported that grease burners, often turned off at night, will be found to be on in the morning. One cook installed surveillance cameras to put an end to this. However, he saw that the burners were turned off by the night staff, though they were found on again that morning.

Sources

  • Brehm, Brian. “Spirits frequent several Winchester haunts.” Winchester Star. 24 October 2017.
  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

151 North Loudon Street
(formerly Olde Town Armory and Heirlooms)

Originally constructed as the Arlington Hotel, this building houses a ghost that is known to make a bathroom run every morning. Past operators of a shop here reported that the front door would frequently open by itself followed by the sound of footsteps racing into the store and up the stairs. The water in the bathroom would be turned on in the upstairs bathroom. After some time, the spirit began leaving a penny outside the bathroom door. In one case, the spirit left a penny on the floor and placed a penny on the breasts of a female mannequin being stored just outside the bathroom.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Brewbaker’s Restaurant
168 North Loudoun Street

With a core dating the late 18th century, this old commercial building has been home to a continuous line of restaurants since 1910. However, the history does not explain the apparition of a young woman who appears near the fireplace. A photograph taken here some years ago seemed to show the shadowy figure of a man wearing boots; a figure some have interpreted as a Confederate soldier.

Sources

  • Brehm, Brian. “Spirits frequent several Winchester haunts.” Winchester Star. 24 October 2017.
  • History of Our Building. Brewbaker’s Restaurant. Accessed 24 September 2014.
  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

West Piccadilly Street

Phillip Williams House
(formerly Joe’s Steakhouse)
25 West Piccadilly Street

A Confederate officer is frequently seen staring out the windows of this circa 1845 mansion. Legend holds that this is the spirit of Colonel George S. Patton (the same one buried in Mount Hebron Cemetery above) who died here September 19, 1864 from injuries sustained during the Third Battle of Winchester. He is believed to have passed away on the second floor.

Sources

  • Austin, Natalie. “Local ghost expert shares stories of the supernatural.” The Northern Virginia Daily. 30 October 2004.
  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Handley Regional Library
100 West Piccadilly Street

Handley Library Winchester Virginia
The glorious Beaux-Arts facade of the Handley Library.
Photo 2011, by Missvain, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Opened in 1913, this glorious Beaux-Arts library was constructed as a gift to the city of Winchester from coal baron, Judge John Handley. The face of a man with a “drooping mustache” has been seen peering from the windows of the building’s rotunda. A full apparition of a man with a mustache and wearing a frock coat has been seen by library staff inside the building. Perhaps Judge Handley is checking up on his gift?

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Indian Alley

Figures of very tall Indians have been witnessed along this street. There are a number of legends dating to the 18th century regarding very tall Native Americans who once lived in the area. Perhaps the spirits of these original inhabitants return? The Indians are generally seen during the first and last light of the day.

Sources

  • Austin, Natalie. “Local ghost expert shares stories of the supernatural.” The Northern Virginia Daily. 30 October 2004.
  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Located southeast of downtown is this site:

Abram’s Delight
1340 South Pleasant Valley Road

One of the best places to understand the early history of Winchester is in the restored home of the Hollingsworth family, one of the first white families to settle in the area. Built by Abraham Hollingsworth in the mid-18th century, the house remained in the family until the City of Winchester purchased it in 1943. The house is apparently haunted by spirits of family members who once lived there. The family’s mill, which is now home to offices for the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society, is also the scene of some paranormal activity. Please see my blog entry (An independent spirit—Winchester, Virginia) for further information.

13 Southern Roadway Revenants

Since I started my blog, I have been hesitant to use random encounters from online. Of course, while many of these stories are hard, nay impossible, to prove, some of them do ring with a sense of truth. For a writer like me, one of the most difficult tasks in my research is finding good, firsthand accounts of ghostly encounters, especially for areas where there is a general lack of documented stories (i.e. books, newspaper articles, etc.).

Recently, I have become fascinated with the Ghosts of America website. This website collects stories from people throughout the country. While many of these accounts talk about ghosts in private homes, some discuss specific locations. While wading through this vast collection, I’m looking for specific accounts that not only mention specific locations but have a sense of authenticity as well.

Please note, I cannot guarantee that any of these places are truly haunted or that these accounts are totally truthful.

Since my last article on haunted roads and bridges in Alabama, I decided to look at encounters in every state that I cover. These are the results.

Brown Street
Altoona, Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama was named for the English city of Birmingham—one of the earliest industrial cities in the Western world. Altoona, Alabama, which was founded around the turn of the 20th century as a coal-mining town, was named for the great Pennsylvania coal-mining town of Altoona. Likely, the town supplied coal for the burgeoning steel industry centered in nearby Birmingham.

There’s not much to the community of Altoona; Main Street is Alabama Highway 132 as it heads southwest to Oneonta in neighboring Blount County, traveling east you’ll connect with US 278. A post office and several stores form the center of the town with small homes radiating outward.

Brown Street branches off Main Street and winds through rural woods with sporadic houses lining its side before it terminates south of town. An anonymous poster to Ghosts of America documented an interesting encounter on this street. A woman was driving this street at night when her car broke down within 500 yards of 11th Avenue. She pulled off the road and called her husband to come get her.

As she waited on the side of the road, she noted that she felt comfortable as she was familiar with the area. An old Dodge drove past her and she watched as it turned around to check on her. As the vehicle passed her again, she saw an elderly man driving. Slowing down, the mysterious driver smiled at her and nodded, “as if to let me know I would be fine.” Reaching for her phone, the woman looked to see if her husband was nearby. As she looked up again, the vehicle was nowhere in sight, and the witness realized the old Dodge had made no sound at all.

Sources

New York Avenue, Northwest
Washington, DC
 

New York Avenue begins auspiciously at the White House heading northwest towards Maryland. As one of the original avenues laid out by Pierre Charles L’Enfant, this thoroughfare originally began at the Potomac River southwest of the White House, but over time those sections of the avenue have been consumed by development, so now only a block remains south of the White House. According to L’Enfant’s plan, the avenue terminated at Boundary Street (now Florida Avenue), though support was garnered around the turn of the 20th century to extend the road into Maryland. This was finally accomplished in 1931.

As New York Avenue stretches northeast away from the hubbub of downtown Washington, its monumental nature falls away and it begins to take on a more plebeian flair as it sidles up to the Amtrak Railyards. Upscale businesses are replaced with light industrial and pedestrian commercial development. Efforts to redevelop the corridor were discussed in 1980 and up through the early 2000s, though much of that work has not come to fruition. A 2005 study of the most crash-prone intersections in the city concluded that five were located on New York Avenue, with the top one being the intersection with Bladensburg Road.

New York Avenue Washington DC
The intersection of New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road, 2016. Photo by Famartin, courtesy of Wikipedia.

An encounter posted to Ghosts of America makes note of the avenue’s dicey reputation, especially after dark. “Larry” however, decided to use it as a shortcut around 3 AM one morning. As he waited at a stoplight, a disheveled man approached his car and stopped in front. The light turned green and the man continued to stand in front of his car. Larry honked, though the strange man continued standing there. As he backed his car up to go around, Larry realized that the man did not have legs and was seemingly floating in mid-air. Terrified, he sped away from the scene.

Sources

Melrose Landing Boulevard
Hawthorne, Florida
 

Melrose Landing Boulevard is a sparsely inhabited road through rural Putnam County, Florida, near the towns of Hawthorne and Melrose. According to a poster named Sarah on Ghosts of America, it was along this road that her father and brother came upon a woman standing in the road “in a dress that looked to be out of the 1700’s.” She appeared suddenly, and the truck didn’t have time to stop before passing through her.

Around 3 AM on November 1, 2009, All Saints’ Day, the day after Halloween, Sarah turned onto the road at the same place where her father and brother had their earlier incident. As she drove down the road she passed a woman walking “with her long dress all gathered up in her arms.” Realizing that she might need to check on the woman, she turned around and discovered no one around. Sarah also noted that she was returning home from working at a seasonal haunted attraction and was driving a hearse. She considered that the oddity of someone encountering such a vehicle on such a day might have frightened the mysterious woman and that she may have fled into the woods, though Sarah doubted it.

Sources

Bemiss Road (GA 125)
Valdosta, Georgia

Connecting Valdosta with Moody Air Force Base and Fitzgerald, GA 125 is named Bemiss Road in Valdosta as it heads towards the small community of Bemiss. A poster on Ghosts of America named Arturias revealed that he drove this road frequently at night over the course of fifteen years. During that time, he witnessed people walking along the road, though on three occasions he “noticed coming up on them that they didn’t have legs under the streetlights. Looked faded out.”

After these experiences, he heard the road referred to as the “Highway of Death.” I can find nothing online to prove or disprove whether this is actually the case and why.

Sources

Baker Road
Fort Knox, Kentucky

Branching off of US 31W, Baker Road serves as a truck entrance to Fort Knox. A post on Ghosts of America from someone going by the handle, Redfraggle, was apparently written by one of those truck drivers who frequently drives Baker Road late at night. While headed towards the Brandenburg Gate, this driver had to swerve “to avoid hitting a dark-haired woman crossing the road.” Dressed in a muumuu, the woman appeared solid and the driver stopped to check on her. The woman only looked at him with a “broken hearted” expression and vanished.

Fort Knox Kentucky entrance sign
A sign at one of the entrances to Fort Knox. Photo 1999, by 48states, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The driver reports that he has seen the woman many times but doesn’t stop for her. In addition, this apparition has appeared along this stretch of road to his fellow drivers.

Please note that this road is on a military base and off limits to the public.

Sources

Fort Knox, Kentucky Ghost Sightings. GhostsofAmerica.com. Accessed 30 July 2020.

Albany Lights
Elbert Stewart Road
Albany/Independence, Louisiana Area

About five miles north of Albany and five miles west of Independence is Elbert Stewart Road, home to the locally known Albany Lights. I can find no other reference to these lights online or in any of my research.

A submission from Larry on Ghosts of America, describes his experiences with the lights throughout his life. According to the post, Elbert Stewart Road was once called Dummy Line Road. The term “dummy line” refers to railroads that were constructed to serve the timber as it cut huge swathes of land throughout the South the end of 19th and into the early 20th centuries. Presumably, these lines were called “dummy” because they did not connect to the transportation rail lines.

The story of the lights involves a brakeman who was killed when he failed to pin the coupling between two cars and was crushed. The lights are supposed to be the brakeman’s signal “that the pinning was made.”

Larry explains that some years ago the road was named for his grandfather and that at 49 years of age, he recalls the lights appearing all his life. Interestingly, he points out that if you have photographic equipment on you, the lights will not appear (what about cellphones?). Otherwise, viewers have an 80% chance of seeing the hazy, bluish colored light.

Interestingly, he notes that the phenomenon has been investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Geographic Society. None of these investigations were successful as they all had photographic equipment on them.

A comment on the post from a nearby resident states that they have encountered the lights here “plus much more.”

Sources

Church Road Cemetery
Church Road
Broomes Island, Maryland

Occupying a small peninsula extending into the Patuxent River, the community of Broomes Island plays host to a haunted cemetery. Not only do spirits haunt the cemetery, but they apparently have spilled out onto surrounding streets. This location is documented in Ghosthunting Maryland by the father and son duo of Michael J. and Michael H. Varhola. The Varholas describe a ritual where someone circles the cemetery three times at night, after which a fog rolls in the laughter of young girls can be heard.

A post on Ghosts of America mentions that the cemetery has numerous spirits which have spilled out into the nearby streets where they “scream and laugh.” A comment on this post is from a newspaper delivery man who has encountered the spirit of a young boy who told him and his mother to leave. Afterwhich, they saw it run past the car windows.

Sources

MS 33 Bridge over the Homochitto River
Rosetta, Mississippi

Less than a mile north of the unincorporated community of Rosetta in the Homochitto National Forest, Mississippi State Route 33 crosses the Homochitto River on a fairly new bridge. This bridge has seen multiple iterations as the shallow river erodes the stream banks. For nearly two centuries a ferry crossed here which was eventually replaced by a bridge. That bridge was replaced in 1941. The new bridge was damaged during a flood, and it was repaired and extended in 1956.

By 1974, the bridge was again needing work and it was extended again. Just two months after completion, the bridge was washed out during a flood. This washout claimed the lives of two men who were reportedly standing on the bridge. The current bridge was completed by the MDOT in 1978, though it too, has been extended around 2014.

Homochitto River bridge Rosetta Mississippi 1974 flood
This shows the damage done to the bridge during the April 1974 flood. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

A brief post on Ghosts of America states that phantom headlights have been seen on this bridge heading southbound but disappearing before they cross the full length of the bridge.

Sources

South Queen Street Bridge over the Neuse River
Kinston, North Carolina

A couple from out of town was staying at “the hotel that sits right next to the Queen Street Neuse River Bridge,” presumably the Red Carpet Inn and Suites. After dark they walked across the road to get dinner from Hardee’s. As they made their way back to their hotel, they began to hear the sounds of “men screaming, ‘stop the fire’ and the sounds of water splashing” coming from the direction of the bridge. The sounds continued with the noise of a battle. At the same time, they both smelled the odor of cigar smoke. They ran back to their room.

The following day, they mentioned the incident to the hotel manager and were told that a battle was fought there during the Civil War, and that guests routinely report hearing and seeing things around the bridge. The couple reported their experiences on Ghosts of America.

In fact, this was the site of the Kinston Bridge which came under attack by Union troops on December 14, 1862. After defending a defensive line south of the bridge, Confederate troops retreated towards the bridge and crossed into town. Thinking that all his men had crossed, General Nathan Evans ordered his men to set the bridge aflame. However, a number of Confederate troops still remained on the opposite side and were now taking the brunt of artillery fire from both Union troops and their own men on the other side of the bridge.

As these men began to run for the bridge they realized that it was in flames and many were captured by Union forces. General John G. Foster sent his men to douse the flames and continue across the partially destroyed bridge into Kinston. As Evans retreated away from town, Union soldiers looted and destroyed parts of the city.

Sources

US 1
Between Bethune and Cassatt, South Carolina

Stretching between Key West., Florida and Fort Kent, Maine, US 1 is the longest north-south road in the country. While this highway passes through many busy urban areas, it also passes through quiet, rural areas such as this area of Kershaw County. Michael posted on Ghosts of America about his experience on this lonely stretch of road around 12:30 at night.

As he passes through an undeveloped area, Michael passed a woman walking on the side of the road. He noticed that she had an “old mottled blanket wrapped around her. The entire figure was so very pale. Her hair was blonde, and the blanket appeared to have dark dots on it.” As he passed her, he wondered why someone would be out on a chilly night on this lonely stretch of road. Looking in his rearview mirror, he could only see darkness. The following night he was on the lookout for the woman, but she did not appear. After arriving at work, he told some of his co-workers about the experience only to have someone come in from the next room saying that they had seen the woman as well. Their description matched his, all the way down to the blanket.

Sources

Dolly Parton Parkway
Sevierville, Tennessee
 

An employee for an industrial laundry posted on Ghosts of America that two of his drivers had strange experiences on Dolly Parton Parkway. The first encounter involved a driver as he drove into work around 2:30 AM along Dolly Parton Parkway. He encountered a thick fog, and “came upon 4 men in old tattered clothes pushing a cannon across the road.” Slamming on the brakes, he sat and watched as the men rolled the cannon across the road without noticing him or his car. Going into work, the shaken driver told his supervisor of his experience.

The second encounter also involved a man driving the same stretch of road in the very early morning also driving through a thick patch of fog. “His entire windshield froze completely over with frost to the point where he had to pull over and scrape it with his license.” Interestingly, the temperatures that morning were quite warm.

The poster, Leslie, Googled the area and discovered that a battle was fought near the roadway during the Civil War. Though a small battle, the Battle of Fair Garden was furious, and led to roughly 250 casualties. Most curious is a detail on the recently installed marker near the battlefield: the battle was fought on a cold January morning in a heavy fog.

Sources

East Virginia Avenue (US 460)
Crewe, Virginia

A resident East Virginia Avenue named Larry reported seeing a man walking the street with a lantern in this small Virginia town. He notes that he and his family have lived on the street as long as he can remember and that he has seen this apparition the entire time. While he knows of no other neighbors who have witnessed it, several of his relatives have seen it. One relative visiting from out of town went out to smoke in the front yard around midnight and watched an orange light glide down the street. As the light came closer, it vanished.

The town of Crewe was created in 1888 by the Norfolk & Western Railroad—later Norfolk Southern—as a site for locomotive repair shops. The necessity of the repair shops decreased towards the middle of the 20th century.

Sources

West Virginia State Route 2
New Cumberland, West Virginia

Hancock County is the northernmost county in West Virginia, and the South. It pushes up between Ohio and Pennsylvania, and one side of the county is defined by the Ohio River. New Cumberland is one of the towns located on the river. WV 2 runs through the heart of the town.

A post on Ghosts of America from John describes an incident that happened to him as he was driving southbound on WV 2 in New Cumberland in the spring of 1974. As he and his passenger neared railroad tracks and a bridge, “a ‘man’ stepped out in front of my vehicle. He turned and looked directly at me as the hood of my car went through him.” Then he suddenly disappeared. He continues, “I actually saw the upper part of his body in the middle of my hood. The lower part was inside the front of the car.” Reportedly, the man had white hair and beard, and “wore a ‘brimmed’ hat.”

downtown building New Cumberland West Virginia
This building sits at the intersection where WV 2 makes a dog leg in downtown New Cumberland. Photo 2015 by Carol Highsmith, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

In tracing the route of WV 2 through New Cumberland, I could only locate one place where a bridge and railroad tracks are close together: at the bridge over Hardin Run. Going southbound, the railroad crossing is about 200 feet after the bridge. Is this where the mysterious apparition appeared to a frightened driver in 1974?

Sources

The curious canines of Surgoinsville—Hawkins County, Tennessee

Terror in the Tri-Cities—Tennessee & Virginia

The Tri-Cities Region encompasses the extreme northeastern corner of Tennessee and part of southwest Virginia, surrounding the major cities of Kingsport and Johnson City in Tennessee, and Bristol, VA/TN, which is situated astride the state line. This area, in the heart of Appalachia, is noted for its culture, mountain lore, and ghost stories.

This series looks at a representative haunting in each of the region’s counties and it’s one independent city.

Legend of the Long Dog and Friends
US-11W north of Surgoinsville

Perched on the state line with Virginia, Hawkins County is one of the oldest counties in Tennessee. Two major paths make their way through the borders of this county. The Holston River snakes its way through much of the county on its route from Kingsport to Knoxville where it converges with the French Broad River to create the might Tennessee River. The river provided mobility to Native Americans and later settlers to the area.

The Natives also trod a path near to the river that was later dubbed the Great Indian War Path which connected the heart of the Muscogee Nation in Alabama through to what would become Upstate New York. European settlers would later claim this path and use it as they migrated throughout the Appalachians. As settlers claimed the area, the path was utilized as a stage coach route from Knoxville to Kingsport. This road is now followed by US Highway 11 West.

In the late years of the 18th century and into the early 19th, these paths attracted hordes of settlers, but also highwaymen and bandits who preyed like wolves on the unwary travelers, which gave rise to many stories and legends in these parts. Kathryn Tucker Windham, the great Alabama storyteller, published her version of one of these legends from the small town of Surgoinsville in her 1977 book, 13 Tennessee Ghosts and Jeffrey.

The opening parts of her story, which are likely fictional, describe a common sighting of the “Long Dog” on the road just northeast of Surgoinsville. However, the heart of her piece includes the legend of the “Long Dog” and the experience of Marcus Hamblen, a member of a prominent local family. The legend that she confers involves one of the most famous of the bandits to haunt the state of Tennessee: the infamous John Murrell.

Known as the “Great Western Land Pirate” and the “Rob Roy of the Southwest,” John Murrell was among the most notorious of the thieves and highwaymen who prowled the South. Born in Virginia in 1806, Murrell spent his formative years in Williamson County, Tennessee (just outside of Nashville, this county includes Franklin). Around the age of 16, he was imprisoned for horse theft and remained in the state prison in Nashville until 1830. Upon release, he resumed a rollicking life of crime and recruited others to join his band of outlaws. This dubious group primarily operated along the Mississippi River and along the Natchez Trace from Natchez to Nashville until Murrell’s arrest and conviction for stealing a slave in 1834. For this theft, he served ten

John Murrell bandit
Portrait of John Murrell made during his second time in the state prison in Nashville.

years in prison before he was released in 1844 having been reformed. Later that year Murrell died in Pikeville, Tennessee.

It seems, however, that Murrell’s real life does not hold a candle to his oversized legend. Much of his legend was spurred on by an 1835 pamphlet written by one of the primary witnesses against him. This pamphlet accused Murrell of inciting a slave rebellion, one of the top fears for planters of that era. As a result of the pamphlet, slaveholders and law enforcement throughout Mississippi questioned, tortured, and even hung some of their slaves along with white outsiders who were implicated as being members of Murrell’s gang.

Returning to the legend that haunts the landscape outside of Surgoinsville, Murrell and his men attacked a family camping under a large white oak there. The family’s dog attempted to defend his family from the marauders but was as brutally slaughtered as well as his family. As a result, the spirit of this dog has been known to appear to travelers along this road near the old oak.

One of the more remarkable encounters happened to a young man named Marcus Hamblen. Walking the road one night, Hamblen was shocked to see a luminous and abnormally long dog approach from behind the old white oak. Hamblen picked up a fence rail and swung it at the animal when it got close enough, but the rail passed cleanly through the creature. As he ran the dog continued his pace until the phantom disappeared suddenly at a particular curve in the road. Hamblen supposedly kept his eye out for the curious canine and continued to see his spectral friend many more times.

Since the old road was paved and named the Lee Highway, sightings of the luminous Long Dog have grown fewer and fewer. Since the Lee Highway was designated US Route 11 West, sightings have nearly stopped, though the white oak is still alive and continues to preside over the now four-lane highway. It should be noted that the oak is on private property, though it can easily be viewed from the road.

Maxwell Academy Surgoinsville Tennessee
Maxwell Academy in 2015, by Brian Stansberry. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

This area is no stranger to spectral activity. Heading north from Surgoinsville, just past the old white oak, turn left onto Stoney Point Road. After a short distance, the road turns a corner and a marvelous antebellum brick building comes into view, this is Maxwell Academy. Built around 1852, this building was originally used by the congregation of New Providence Presbyterian Church and also utilized by a school established by the church. The building that still stands was constructed on this site in 1901, to replace the original structure lost in a fire. It seems that the voices of children are still heard within the old building. Justin Guess notes that during an ice cream social held in the building guests were treated by sounds above them, though no one was upstairs.

New Providence Presbyterian Church Surgoinsville Tennessee
New Providence Presbyterian Church in 2015, by Brian Stansberry. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

After the academy building became too cramped to hold both the students and the church, a new church was constructed across the road. It should be noted that the congregation of New Hope Presbyterian Church (214 Stoney Point Road) was among the earliest congregations founded in the state of Tennessee, having been founded in nearby Carter’s Valley in 1780. The church moved to this site around 1800 and the peaceful cemetery surrounding the church dates to this time.

tombstone Colonel George Maxwell
The grave of Colonel George Maxwell, 2018, by Glennster. Courtesy of Find-A-Grave.

Among the souls who rest here is Colonel George Maxwell, a veteran of the American Revolution who served at the Battle of Kings Mountain. After Maxwell’s death in 1822, a legend has sprouted that a large black dog guards his grave. It is unknown if this dog is the spirit of a former companion or just a spectral guardian protecting the spirit of the military veteran. In addition to this curious canine, phantom footsteps are supposed to be heard around this grave at night.

Sources

  • Brown, John Norris. “The Legend of the Long Dog.” Ghosts and Spirits of Tennessee (now defunct). Accessed 18 July 2017.
  • Brown, John Norris. “New Providence Church.” Ghosts and Spirits of Tennessee (now defunct). Accessed 18 July 2017.
  • Grigsby, Blanche. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for New Providence Presbyterian Church, Academy, and Cemetery. 8 March 1976.
  • Guess, Justin H. Weird Tri-Cities: Hawkins County, Tennessee. Kindle Edition, 2012.
  • Libby, David J. “John Murrell.” Mississippi Encyclopedia. 11 July 2017.
  • Sakowski, Carolyn. Touring the East Tennessee Backroads. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 1993.
  • Windham, Kathryn Tucker. 13 Tennessee Ghosts and Jeffrey. Tuscaloosa, AL: U. of AL University Press, 1977.

The scarab’s sting—Georgetown, South Carolina

Cleland House (private)
405 Front Street
Georgetown, South Carolina

N.B. This article was originally published as part of my 2011 article, “Ghosts of Georgetown, SC.”

Standing proudly on the corner of Front and St. James Streets among the oak and moss shaded residential section of Georgetown, the Cleland House is among the oldest houses in town, having been built in 1737. From this corner it has witnessed the whole panoply of American history, some of it even passing over its thresholds.

During the American Revolution, the Prussian General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben; French generals Baron Johann de Kalb and Gilbert de Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette; made visits to the house while they were giving aid to American forces. Later, Vice President Aaron Burr stayed at the home while visiting his daughter, Theodosia.

Cleland House Georgetown South Carolina ghost haunted
The Cleland House, 2011, by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

The story behind this house reads very much like an old-fashioned ghost story. Anne Withers, possibly related to John Withers who is listed on the historical marker in front of the house as one of the owners, fell in love with a dashing sea captain. After one of his voyages he returned to Georgetown, and presented his fiancée with a rare gift, an ancient Egyptian bracelet, which featured a series of scarabs.

The scarab, an Ancient Egyptian amulet representing the common dung beetle, is found throughout the ancient world. Some scarabs were used as ornaments, while others were used as seals. During the era of the New Kingdom (1535-1079 BCE), scarabs began to be included in the wrappings of mummies. To the ancient Egyptians, the lowly dung beetle symbolized resurrection and new life as it laid its eggs within animal dung which it rolled into a ball. In the ancient religion, the beetle, personified as the god, Khepri, was believed to roll the sun into the sky.

Ancient Egyptian Scarabs
A selection of Ancient Egyptian Scarabs in the Bibel + Orient Museum, Freiburg, Switzerland. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Anne Withers, the blushing bride, saved the bracelet to wear on her wedding day. After putting on her wedding gown, she placed the bracelet on her wrist and carried on with her other preparations. Just as she was about to descend the staircase of the Cleland House, the bride let out a scream and fell down the stairs. By the time she tumbled to the floor at the foot of the stairs, she was dead.

Rushing to her side, her family discovered blood dripping from underneath the bracelet. When it was removed, the scarabs were found to have tiny legs that had dug into the bride’s pale flesh.

Leaving Georgetown soon after his fiancée’s death, the heartbroken took the bracelet to London where it was examined by a chemist. He discovered that the legs on the scarabs had been rigged to open by the warmth from human skin. Each leg contained poison that would be injected into the hapless victim. He surmised the bracelet had been made to afflict the person who stole the artifact from a tomb.

Ever since Anne Withers’ wedding day death, her form, still wearing nuptial white, has been seen in the gardens of the Cleland House.

A search of cemetery records on FindaGrave.com does not bring up a burial for Miss Withers.

Sources

  • Huntsinger, Elizabeth Robertson. Ghosts of Georgetown. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 1995.
  • Roberts, Nancy. Southern Ghosts. Orangeburg, SC: Sandlapper,1979.
  • Scarab. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Accessed 6 July 2019.

The Giving Tree—Athens, Georgia

Tree That Owns Itself
277 South Finley Street
Athens, Georgia

…the Tree was happy…
–Shel Silverstein, “The Giving Tree,” 1964

When I read Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree as a child many moons ago, I found the story disturbing. There is more than a bit of sadness in this story of altruism, and I found that disquieting. Perhaps this was one of my first introductions into that grey area where noble ideals spar with reality. That place where morality and immorality square off, where the dramatic tension lies between the blacks and whites of good and evil.

Tree That Owns Itself Athens Georgia
The Tree That Owns Itself in 1910, by Huron Smith for the Field Museum.

The legend of Athens, Georgia’s Tree That Owns Itself exists in this same grey realm of fact and legend. When I stumbled across this 1916 article while browsing the historic newspaper collection of the Digital Library of Georgia, I was happy to be able to add this story to my collection on Athens. Unfortunately, the bottom corner of the paper has been torn and part of the paragraph describing the phantom is lost. 

The Daily Times-Enterprise
Thomasville, Georgia
July 1, 1916
Courtesy of the Digital Library of Georgia

GHOST HAUNTS TREE THAT OWNS ITSELF
_____
AT LEAST THAT IS STORY COMING
OUT FROM ATHENS, AND
THERE IS MUCH SPECULATION
OVER REPORT.
_____

Atlanta, July 1—Has the ghost of William Jackson come back to haunt the Tree That Owns Itself?

That’s the tale they are telling in Athens, Ga., where on a big hill in the center of the city stands a giant white oak, the only tree that owns itself, trunk, twig and leaf, together with eight feet of land on all sides.

Early in the nineteenth century William Jackson was one of the largest plantation owners of Clarke county. Under the white oak, which is four or five hundred years old, he used to sit and direct his slaves at work. When he died, this paragraph was found in his will:

“For and in consideration of the great love I bear this tree and the great desire I have for its protection for all time, I convey entire possession of itself and all land within eight feet of the tree on all sides.”

Now comes the report that a phantom has been seen beneath the Tree That Owns Itself.

[page torn]…mist of a man, fading is-
[page torn]…a man with powdered
[page torn]…a broad hat
[page torn]…and laces and frills sitting there under the tree, with one hand resting gently on the bark.

Was it the ghost of William Jackson?

Ask the boys of that college town—they don’t know.

A surprisingly thorough article on Wikipedia examines the legend and its inconsistencies, noting that the first documented version of the tree’s legend appeared in the Athens Weekly Banner in 1890. That article, couched in the heroic language of the period, describes the tree as seeming to “stand straighter, and hold its head more highly and proudly as if we knew that it ranked above the common trees of the world.” The 1890 article continues with the history of the tree but noting that the tree’s deed of ownership is mysteriously missing from the county’s records.

Postcard of the Tree That Owns Itself Athens Georgia
The original Tree That Owns Itself shortly before it fell in 1942. Postcard from the Boston Public Library.

Since 1916, the original tree succumbed to rot and fell on October 9, 1942. The Athens Junior Ladies Garden Club took up the cause of the tree and replaced it with a sapling grown from one of the original oak’s acorns. The current tree, sometimes deemed “Son of the Tree That Owns Itself,” continues to flourish from its space on South Finley Street. The tree is now surrounded with a retaining wall and a chain barrier with a plaque denoting the tree’s ownership of itself. Perhaps Col. William Jackson still appears on occasion to rest beneath the stately branches that he gave so much for?

Son of the Tree That Owns Itself Athens Gerogia
Son of the Tree That Owns Itself, 2005, by Bloodofox, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Sources

  • “Deeded to itself.” Athens Weekly Banner. 12 August 1890.
  • “Ghost haunts tree that owns itself.” Daily Times-Enterprise (Thomasville, Georgia). 1 July 1916.
  • Tree That Owns Itself. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 19 June 2019.

Alabama Hauntings—County by County Part IV

One of my goals with this blog is to provide coverage of ghost stories and haunted places in a comprehensive manner. Perhaps one of the best ways to accomplish this is to examine ghost stories county by county, though so far, researching in this manner has been difficult. In my 2015 book, Southern Spirit Guide’s Haunted Alabama, I wanted to include at least one location for every county, though a lack of adequate information and valid sources prevented me from reaching that goal. In the end, my book was published covering only 58 out of 67 counties.

Further research has uncovered information for a few more counties and on Halloween of 2017, Kelly Kazek published an article on AL.com covering the best-known ghost story for every county. Thanks to her excellent research, I’ve almost been able to achieve my goal for the state.

For a further look at Alabama ghosts, please see my Alabama Directory.

See part I (Autauga-Cherokee Counties) here.
See part II (Chilton-Covington Counties) here.
See part III (Crenshaw-Franklin Counties) here.
See part IV (Geneva-Lawrence Counties) here.
See part V (Lee-Monroe Counties) here.
See part VI (Montgomery-Sumter Counties) here.
See part VII (Talladega-Winston Counties) here.

Geneva County

“Big Oak”
Robert Fowler Memorial Park
South River Street
Geneva

Big Oak, 2006, by AlabamaGuy2007. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Before the establishment of Geneva County, early settlers gathered under the massive, leafy branches of what is now known as the Big Oak or Constitution Oak. This live oak’s age and size have led to its inclusion in the list of Alabama Famous and Historic Trees. Supposedly the huge branches of the tree have been used for hangings and the spirits of those who died here may continue to haunt this location.

Sources

Greene County

Oakmont Bed & Breakfast
107 Pickens Street
Eutaw

As workers were working on the restoration of Oakmont, a spirit in the house wanted more heat. After continuing to find a heater on in the home, construction workers taped the control knob so that the heat could not be turned on. However, the spirit thought otherwise and turned the heat on again.

Built in 1908 as a wedding gift for Mary Elizabeth and Charles Alexander Webb, it was not until Oakmont began the transformation into a bed & breakfast that the owners discovered that they might have to share the house with spirits. After the restoration, numerous spectral sounds began to be heard including tremendous crashes and disembodied footsteps. It doesn’t appear that this bed and breakfast is open any longer.

Sources

  • Smith, Terry L. and Mark Jean. Haunted Inns of America. Crane Hill Publishers, 2003.

Hale County

Moundville Archaeological Park
634 Mound State Parkway
Moundville

Between approximately 1120 C.E. and 1450 C.E., Moundville was the site of a large city inhabited by the Mississippian people, predecessors to the tribes that the Europeans would encounter when they began exploring the South about a century later. At its height, this town was probably home to nearly 1,000 inhabitants. Stretching to 185 acres, the town had 29 mounds of various sizes and uses: some were ceremonial while others were topped with the homes of the elite.

Visitors and staff have often mentioned a certain energy emanating from this site. A Cherokee friend of mine visited and while atop one of the mounds let out a traditional Cherokee war cry. Afterward, he noted that there was a palpable change in the energy. Dennis William Hauck speaks of the “powerful spirit of an ancient race” that “permeates this 317-acre site.” Southern Paranormal Researchers notes that park staff has witnessed shadow figures, odd noises, and doors opening and closing by themselves in the buildings on the site. Higdon and Talley add orbs and cold spots found throughout the location to the list of paranormal activity here.

Sources

  • Blitz, John H. “Moundville Archaeological Park.” Encyclopedia of Alabama. 26 February 2007.
  • 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.
  • Southern Paranormal Researchers. Paranormal Investigation Report for Moundville Archaeological Park. 10 February 2007.

Henry County

Legend of Huggin’ Molly
Abbeville

For over a century, a legend has dwelled in the dark streets of Abbeville: the legend of Huggin’ Molly. This specter is thought to target children on the streets after dark. Most versions describe Molly as a large woman who prowls the dark streets in search of children walking alone. After pursuing a child, she would embrace them and scream in their ear. Most sources agree that this tale was perhaps created to frighten small children and keep them from staying out too late, though the story has remained. In fact, a restaurant named after the legendary figure has recently opened.

Sources

  • Legend of Huggin’ Molly.” Huggin’ Molly’s Restaurant. Accessed 13 July 2015.
  • Smith, Michelle. Legends, Lore and True Tales of the Chattahoochee. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.

Houston County

Columbia Manor
306 South Main Street
Columbia

During the Halloween season, this unassuming white frame house is home to nightmares of the fictional kind. However, this house is home to real nightmares as well. Built in 1864, this home has served several uses including serving as a hospital and later a sanitarium for those suffering from pellagra, a severe vitamin deficiency.

Following renovations to transform the house into a haunted attraction, the spirits have begun to act out. The owner of the house told the producers of the BIO Channel show, My Ghost Story, about tools that would go missing only to be found in their original location a short time later, mysterious footsteps, and the shade of an older gentleman that the owner and another volunteer saw standing in the house. He also mentioned the swinging of a chandelier in the foyer which a paranormal investigator has linked to the suicide by hanging of a nurse there.

Sources

  • “Enter at your own risk; they dare you.” Dothan Eagle. 18 August 2014.
  • “Haunting Columbia Manor.” Dothan Eagle. 19 October 2013.
  • My Ghost Story, Episode 3.3. Biography Channel. 29 October 2011. 

Jackson County

Russell Cave National Monument
3728 CR-98
Bridgeport

One of the most significant archaeological sites in the state, Russell Cave has revealed evidence that this site has been in use by humans for at least 8,000 years. That evidence includes human remains, pottery shards, spear points, arrowheads, and charcoal from ancient fires. The remains of various animals, including some prehistoric species, have also been unearthed here.

Entrance to Russell Cave, 2014, by Fredlyfish4. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Within the cave, some visitors have experienced an uneasy feeling, sometimes even sensing ghostly presences while others have heard spectral sounds and seen apparitions. With thousands of years of human occupation, it’s no surprise that spirits remain here.

Sources

  • Kidd, Jessica Fordham. “Russell Cave.” Encyclopedia of Alabama. 22 September 2010.
  • Penot, Jessica. Haunted North Alabama. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2010.

Jefferson County

Bessemer Hall of History Museum
1905 Alabama Avenue
Bessemer

While the Bessemer Hall of History Museum displays an eclectic mix of items from Bessemer’s past, including a cell door from the local jail where Martin Luther King, Jr. was briefly incarcerated, it appears that a former exhibit may still be haunting this building. For many years, the museum displayed the mummy of a local woman who had taken her life in 1906. Hazel Farris shot and killed her husband during a domestic incident at their home in Louisville, Kentucky. After neighbors summoned the police, Farris shot and killed three of them and fled the state.

Beautiful Hazel settled in Bessemer and confessed her crimes to a man with whom she had fallen in love. He betrayed her to the police, and Hazel ingested arsenic, ending her life. Her corpse was sent to a local funeral home which only put the unclaimed body in storage where it mummified. The funeral home began to charge admission to view the grisly final remains of Miss Farris, and over the course of many years, the mummy was loaned to various exhibitors. In 1974, the museum borrowed the mummy as part of a fundraiser, and the museum displayed it for quite some time.

Southern Railway Depot (now home to the Bessemer Hall of History Museum), 1992, by Jet Lowe. Photo taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

After the mummy’s exhibition in 1981, the museum placed it in permanent storage. National Geographic produced a documentary about Hazel’s corpse in 2002 with various scientists examining it before it was eventually cremated. The old train depot that has housed the museum since 1994 has had some paranormal activity through the years, some of which has been attributed to Hazel. Lights turn off and on within the old building, and other odd sounds have been heard.

Sources

Lamar County

Old Stage Coach Inn
Jackson Military Road
Moscow

Also known as the Moore-Hill House, this circa 1834 stagecoach stop was the scene of a murder in 1881. A Mrs. Armstrong was killed by an African-American man with a grappling hook on a chain. After the gruesome killing, the cook ran out the back door and alerted the men working in the nearby fields. The supposed murderer was hunted down and lynched in the front yard. This event is believed to be the cause of paranormal activity in and around the house. Tradition speaks of a glowing orb that is seen in the front yard and the spirit of Mrs. Armstrong clanking down the stairs with the hook and chain that killed her.

When I initially wrote the above entry for my book way back in 2015, I struggled with how little information existed about this house and the grim murder that took place here. As I was visiting the library yesterday, I decided to take a second look at the research for this particular location. Evidently, I didn’t look hard enough the first time.

Situated on Andrew Jackson’s Military Road, a route constructed after the War of 1812 connecting Nashville, Tennessee with New Orleans, the Moore-Hill House was built for James Moore, an early politician in the state. For many years the house served as a stagecoach inn, but it was an incident in 1881 that gave the house a notorious reputation. According to family legend, a Mrs. Armstrong was killed by an African-American man with a grappling hook on a chain. After the gruesome killing, the cook ran out the back door and alerted the men working in the nearby fields. The supposed murderer was hunted down and lynched in the front yard. After consulting newspapers of the period, the events did not take place exactly as family memory recalls.

Two brief reports appearing in area newspapers in December of 1881 attest that the murder was bloodier that family legend recounts. An African-American man (described in one newspaper as a “crazy negro”) attempted to seize one of the Armstrong children. The child’s mother, Mrs. Winchester Armstrong, and her mother tried to wrestle the child away and both were killed. The newspaper reports that the child’s mother was struck in the head with an ax. Moments later, Mr. Armstrong approached and shot and killed the assailant.

Sources

  • “A heart-rending murder…” Pickens County Herald and West Alabamian (Carrollton, AL). 7 December 1881.
  • Hill, Beulah and Pat Buckley. “History.” Accessed 6 June 2015.
  • “Horrible murder of two women by a crazy negro.” The Marion Times-Standard. 14 December 1881.
  • Kazek, Kelly. “Few historic stagecoach inns and taverns survive across Alabama, take a tour.” com. 14 August 2014.
  • Lamar County Heritage Book Committee. Heritage of Lamar County, Alabama. Clanton, AL: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2000.

Lauderdale County

Forks of Cypress
Jackson Road
Florence

Crowning a hill above Jackson Road are the skeletal remains of the graceful Forks of Cypress, built in the latter half of the 1820s. Until it burned in June 1966, the house was known as one of the grandest homes in the area. James Jackson, an Irish-born venture capitalist who moved to the area in 1818 and is considered the founder of the city of Florence, constructed the home.

Ruins of Forks of Cypress, 2010, by Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy of the George S, Landreggar Collection of Alabama Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Even before a conflagration destroyed the house, it was known to be haunted, and spirits may continue to roam the picturesque ruins. The Jackson family cemetery not far from the house has also seen some paranormal activity. Debra Johnston records an incident whereby a visitor to the cemetery one afternoon encountered a young man on horseback. As he talked with the strange young man, he realized the young man was one of the sons of James Jackson. The visitor was astonished when he shook hands with the man and watched him vanish before his eyes.

Southwest of the ruins, a bridge spanned Cypress Creek until its recent demolition. Known as “Ghost Bridge,” the bridge was associated with a typical crybaby bridge story. The woods near the bridge, tradition holds, are supposed to be haunted by a spirit carrying a lantern, a possible holdover from a skirmish fought here during the Civil War.

Sources

  • Farris, Johnathan A. & Trina Brinkley. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for Forks of Cypress. 2 May 1997.
  • Johnston, Debra. Skeletons in the Closet: True Ghost Stories of the Shoals Area. Debra Johnston, 2002.

Lawrence County

Henry Hill
CR-25
Mount Hope

Almost as common as Cry Baby Bridges throughout the South are “Gravity Hills;” roads or hills where a car put in neutral will seemingly be pushed up an incline. Along County Road 25, just outside of the community of Mount Hope, is a dip in the road where legend has it a man named Henry was killed. Most legends have Henry’s car breaking down along this road and him trying to push it out of the way when he was struck and killed by another vehicle. When a car is stopped here, Henry still dutifully pushes the car to safety to prevent another driver from having to endure a similar end.

Sources

Encounter with a Gentleman—New Orleans

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar
941 Bourbon Street
New Orleans, Louisiana

In the world of paranormal stories and legends, many people often speak in generalities when talking about hauntings. Singular personal encounters are sometimes grouped together in describing hauntings therefore, a frightening encounter of hearing a voice may be reduced to “disembodied voices have been heard.” A singular incident which may be very telling may sometimes be stripped of detail and even importance as an author retells the event. Indeed, I am guilty of this as well, though I’d like to rectify this in highlighting specific encounters with Southern ghosts.

As I have been searching for events, I have come to realize just how these generalizations sometimes harm the subjects they are describing. Where a plethora of fascinating stories may exist, these encounters may be grouped together rendering the nature of a particular haunting in general terms. At times, generalizations about a particular location may serve to obscure the singular encounters. This problem often tends to rear its head when places gain notoriety for being haunted; places like the famous Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar in New Orleans.

After searching a number of sources on New Orleans ghosts, I finally was able to locate a long and very detailed description of an encounter at this most famous and historic of NOLA watering holes. This encounter is documented in Dan Asfar’s 2007 Ghost Stories of Louisiana. The author tells of a couple spending their honeymoon in New Orleans. After taking a ghost tour, the couple stumbled upon the bar and was drawn into the curious building, though their ghost tour had made no mention of it being haunted.

Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar French Quarter New Orleans Louisiana ghosts haunted
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, 2004, by Lobberich. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Once inside, the wife was enchanted by the dark and crowded bar: “You couldn’t see across the bar because it was so dark and crowded inside, but it was so special. It’s hard to explain, but it was so real inside, you know? We could have been sitting down there 200 years ago, and I think it would have looked very much the same.” After sitting down, the wife felt an odd chill, though she dismissed it after it dissipated quickly.

The chill returned a few minutes later, “It wasn’t like a normal cold from cold weather. It was more as though the cold was coming from inside. I felt it like a cold hand in my back. It came so fast it made me jump in my seat.” Her husband noticed behavior and asked if she was ok. She asked him if he felt the cold, but he did not. The woman rose to head to the restroom and she felt something following her as she walked. The feeling left her in the restroom and she calmly returned to her table.

Upon sitting, she noticed an odd gentleman nearby. He was standing among a group of people talking, though they did not seem to notice him. “It was dark, but from what I could see, he was a very handsome man. He had broad shoulders. It was hard to see his face clearly, but I could see that he had a very big mustache, and also a big hat.”

She saw him and the cold, clammy feeling she had felt before resolved and the young woman felt “normal again.” “Even though I couldn’t see his face too clearly in the dark, I knew this man was smiling at me.” She felt herself smiling back.  Her husband noticed and inquired as to who she was smiling. She turned away for a couple to second to ask, “Can you see that man?” When she pointed to where the smiling gentleman had been standing there was no one there. 

portrait of Jean Lafitte New Orleans pirate ghost legend
An anonymous, early 19th-century portrait purported to be Jean Lafitte. From the Rosenberg Gallery.

Later, when the couple was on a history tour, the guide described Jean Lafitte and mentioned that his spirit is supposedly seen within this building that he supposedly built.

This ramshackle structure may be one of the oldest buildings in this ancient city, but like everything else in this city, that is arguable. Most likely, the building was built in the 18th century, most likely the latter portion of that century. Legends hold that this building was associated with the famous pirate, Jean Lafitte, a swashbuckling and romantic hero who appears in countless Louisiana legends and ghost stories.

Lafitte is supposed to have used this building as a cover for his operations within the city. Here he may have carried on operations dealing with ill-gotten goods as well as some of the “black ivory” (African slaves) that may have also dealt with. Historians have argued that the building may have never actually been used as a blacksmith shop, though others imagine that a hammering blacksmith may have served as a good cover for the illicit dealings taking place in the back of the building.

Woven into this legendary history are mentions of ghosts, including the possible shade of Lafitte. While imbibing in Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, be on the lookout for a smiling gentleman. If you see him, smile back but don’t look away.

Sources

  • Ambrose, Kala. Spirits of New Orleans: Voodoo Curses, Vampire Legends, and Cities of the Dead. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2012.
  • Asfar, Dan. Ghost Stories of Louisiana. Auburn, WA: Lone Pine Publishing, 2007.
  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2007.
  • Flynn, Katherine. “Historic Bars: Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar in New Orleans.” Preservation Nation Blog. 20 November 2014.
  • Sillery, Barbara. The Haunting of Louisiana. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2006.
  • Snell, Charles W. National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings of Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. 10 May 1968.