The Joy of Secs—New Southern Spirit Library Acquisitions

And by “secs” I’m referring to second hand books, what did you think I meant?

Southern Spirit Guide spent yesterday traipsing around North Georgia, particularly through the old train tunnel at Tunnel Mountain, which I will feature shortly, but also through one of my favorite used books stores, McKAY USED BOOKS (7734 Lee Highway), just over the state line in Chattanooga, Tennessee. McKay Used Books, with locations in Knoxville and Nashville as well, is a feast for bibliophiles. It is literally a warehouse of used books, CDs, DVDs with a huge range of topics including an excellent selection of books on ghosts.

To my knowledge, McKay is not haunted, though there is an old Confederate Cemetery next door, but, they have a fine array of books on ghosts and hauntings. I arrived with my Southern Spirit Library inventory in one hand and my debit card in the other. Within 15 minutes, I had 24 new additions to my library, all relating to the South in some shape or form. Really, this collection is remarkable as it spans the South from Baltimore to Key West with a number of books on the Southern Appalachians. If you find yourself looking for haunted places in Chattanooga (or Knoxville or Nashville), you may want to swing by the McKay location to peruse their ghost books, I know I left a few things on their shelves.

Of course, there’s a reason why this entry is so named. Last night I traveled back to Atlanta and stayed with friends. We went out and I was left with little time to really look through my new purchases. I was scheduled to work today, so I hustled back to LaGrange this morning to work. Since Sundays are slow I took my box of books in with me to look through when I had little to do. There is so much on and under the counters in the drug store where I work that I left the box sitting on the counter in the consultation booth while I helped customers.

One of my coworkers is a ghost hunter and enthusiast, so I invited her to look through the books with me. She pulled out a small, gray book, Ghosts Around the House by Susy Smith (World Publishing, 1970) and began flipping through it. The book opened to a section of photographs, the first featuring a picture of the Audubon House in Key West and I noticed there were two items stuck in the book. They were both old, black and white photos, the first of which had something that was very white. I picked up the photos and quickly realized I was looking at a nude female on all fours. The second photograph showed the same female, in an outdoor setting, smilingly reclining nude. Amateur pornography! Hardly what I expected to find in an innocent book on haunted houses! My coworker and I began laughing hysterically and she, of course, had to share it with the rest of the employees in the store who all find it amusing. I placed the photos back in the book and buried it under a few other books.

Later this afternoon one of elderly regular customers sauntered in. This Sunday school teacher is certainly the epitome of the proper and very religious Southern woman. I had just left the store to make a delivery when this customer entered and while she was being helped, she waited in the consultation booth. Since, as luck may have it, righteousness and curiosity are two traits that don’t quite cancel each other out, she began perusing my box of ghost books and naughtiness, quickly stumbling onto the pictures in question. The suddenly stricken matron asked a coworker if she knew there was “filth” in the box. The coworker replied that we had just discovered the photos and would be disposing of them in short order.

I returned to the store to find the usually chatty matron to be rather cool. Now I know she was suspecting that I was a pervert. I’ll happily add that to my list of descriptives: paranormal researcher and writer, actor, musician, bibliophile, pervert… I think it fits rather nicely.

Ok, in order to pull this blog entry out of the gutter, I’ll breakdown the latest library acquisitions:

John Kachuba’s Ghosthunters: On the Trail of Mediums, Dowsers, Spirit Seekers, and other Investigators of America’s Paranormal World seems like an interesting exploration for someone like me who, as of yet, has not actually investigated ghosts in a physical sense.

Two books about Tennessee’s most famous paranormal episode, the Bell Witch: Charles Bailey Bell and Harriet Parks Miller’s The Bell Witch of Tennessee (1972 reproduction of the original published in 1934) and The Infamous Bell Witch of Tennessee by Charles Edwin Price.

Two books on Civil War ghosts: Christopher K. Coleman’s Ghosts and Haunts of the Civil War and Nancy Roberts’ Civil War Ghosts and Legends.

Five “anthology” type books covering American ghosts: James Reynolds’ Ghosts in American Houses, Hans Holzer’s More Where the Ghosts Are: The Ultimate Guide to Haunted Houses, Charles A. Columbe’s Haunted Places in America, Nancy Roberts’ Animal Ghost Stories, and the previously mentioned book with additional naughtiness.

Two books on Civil War ghosts: Christopher K. Coleman’s Ghosts and Haunts of the Civil War and Nancy Roberts’ Civil War Ghosts and Legends.

Three anthologies about the South: S. E. Schlosser’s Spooky South: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore, Edrick Thay’s Ghost Stories of the Old South and Randy Russell and Janet Barnett’s Ghost Dogs of the South.

Five state and regional related books: Tally Johnson’s Ghosts of the South Carolina Midlands; Nancy Roberts’ North Carolina Ghosts and Legends; James V. Burchill, Linda J. Crider and Peggy Kendrick’s The Cold, Cold Hand: Stories of Ghosts and Haunts from the Appalachian Foothills and an earlier book by the same group with Marcia Wright Bonner, Ghosts and Haunts from the Appalachian Foothills; and Randy Russell and Janet Barnett’s The Granny Curse and Other Ghosts and Legends from East Tennessee.

Finally six local books: Taylor’s The Ghosts of Williamsburg, Vol. II, Maggie Carter-de Vries’ Ghosts of Amelia [Amelia Island, Florida] & Other Tales, Suzy Cain and Dianne Jacoby’s A Ghostly Experience: Tales of St. Augustine, Florida, Melissa Rowell and Amy Lynwander’s Baltimore Harbor Haunts: True Ghost Stories and two books by David L. Sloan on Key West, Florida: Haunted Key West and Ghosts of Key West.

I’ll keep the naughtiness in its original spot in the book.

The Audubon House with naughtiness, in situ. Photo by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

“Dear Mrs. Windham, it’s all your fault.”

Dear Mrs. Windham, it’s all your fault.
 –Elizabeth Parker’s dedication to Mobile Ghosts: Alabama’s Haunted Port City


Mrs. Windham, I can blame the following on you:

  • a deep and abiding obsession with ghosts
  • a deep and abiding love of Southern folklore
  • a library of some 260 “ghost books” including a number of your books
  • many hours spent reading ghost stories
  • my love for Christ Church and its magical cemetery at St. Simons Island, Georgia
  • an all-consuming blog
  • a conviction that storytelling can change the world


  • the desire to become a storyteller and change the world.

I blame all these things on you and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Kathryn Tucker Windham, one of the foundations upon which Southern ghost writing is based, passed into the spiritual realm yesterday afternoon. Mrs. Windham dreamt of being a reporter in a time when proper young ladies did not do such a thing. Undeterred, she became a noted reporter and columnist, shattering a glass ceiling for millions of other women in Alabama and throughout the South. She published her first book of ghost stories in 1969, documenting and enshrining many notable Southern hauntings. Her dedication to telling and preserving these tales inspired countless young people including myself.

Kathryn Tucker Windham in 2007. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

I first heard Mrs. Windham’s story of “The Eternal Dinner Party” in Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery told by a professional storyteller at the local library here in LaGrange. Soon after, I received a copy of 13 Georgia Ghosts and Jeffrey as a birthday gift from my grandparents. This book has remained a beloved treasure on my book shelf ever since. When I started this blog last year, I opened with a story I first heard from her.

I’d like to imagine that as Mrs. Windham passed over yesterday afternoon that she paused under the sprawling, moss-laden oaks of Bonaventure Cemetery. It was during a dinner party in a magnificent plantation home here at the end of the 18th century that a fire broke out. The hosts, undeterred by their personal disaster, calmly continued the party outside lit by the light of the burning house. At the end of the night, a toast was made:

“May the joy of this occasion never end,” the gentleman proposed. It seemed a strange toast on such a night.

The guests drank the toast and then, following the lead of their host, they shattered their glasses against the trunks of the Bonaventure oaks.

And here at Bonaventure people passing late at night still hear distinctly the sounds of a dinner party in progress: the clatter of dishes, the tinkle of silverware, the voices and laughter of guests, and then the shattering of crystal glasses.

Hearing these festive sounds, the passers-by nod and say,

“It’s still going on, the eternal dinner party at Bonaventure.”

Mrs. Windham, enjoy the party.


  •  “Alabama legend Kathryn Tucker Windham dies.” Montgomery Advertiser
  • Windham, Kathryn Tucker. 13 Georgia Ghosts and Jeffrey. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1973.


Review of Barbara Sillery’s ‘The Haunting of Mississippi’

While the initial mission of this blog has so far been to explore haunted locations, I think it’s very important to also cover the sources for much of this information. This morning, I was very excited to discover a package in the mail from Finally, Barbara Sillery’s The Haunting of Mississippi, published just this month by Pelican Publishing, had arrived!

For those long-term readers of this blog, you will be well familiar with my complaints about the lack of books about Mississippi. So far, I’ve only been able to find two books: Kathryn Tucker Windham’s 13 Mississippi Ghosts and Jeffrey, published in 1974, and Sylvia Booth Hubbard’s Ghosts! Personal Accounts of Modern Mississippi Hauntings, published in 1992. So basically, a book has been published every roughly 20 years.  While there is other information available in other books and sources, these are the only books devoted completely to the Magnolia State.

I must confess, I’ve only had this book in my hands for a few hours and have only had a chance to read the first two of twenty-four chapters, but what I’ve read is excellent. Skimming the table of contents, I do see many locations that I’m already familiar with and that Windham and Booth have covered, though, judging from the first two chapters, Sillery explores these subjects far more in depth than I’ve seen elsewhere.

Among these familiar hauntings are Vicksburg’s McRaven House and Anchuca; Natchez’s King’s Tavern, Stanton Hall and Linden; and Columbus’ Temple Heights and Waverly. While information on these hauntings is widely available, Sillery provides well-researched history as well as reports of recent unusual phenomenon.

haunted McRaven House Vicksburg Mississippi
McRaven House, Vicksburg, Mississippi, 2016, by Zamburak. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

But there are some locations that have not been on my radar such as Tupelo’s Lyric Theatre (which I have since covered here), the ghosts of the city of Greenville and the old state capitol building in Jackson (I’m beginning to think ALL state capitol buildings, old and new, must be haunted). Sillery has done well to add to the list of Mississippi’s hauntings.

I’m very excited to continue my reading!

Barbara Sillery. The Haunting of Mississippi. Pelican Publishing, Gretna, LA, 2011. $17.95.