A Southern Feast of All Souls—Encountering the Souls of Petersburg

Paranormal Petersburg, Virginia & the Tri-Cities Area Pamela K. Kinney
Schiffer Publishing, 2015

When the producers and designers for Steven Spielberg’s recent film Lincoln, were scouting for historic landscapes to use in the film, Petersburg, Virginia came in very high on the list. It can often be difficult to find cities where lines of historic buildings are uninterrupted by modern intrusions, though Petersburg has those. Along with these lines of historic structures the city also has ghosts, many of them and author Pamela Kinney set out recently to meet some of them.

Kinney is often very lucky in her investigations. She seems to be able to capture really great evidence often without the myriad equipment that other investigative teams often lug about. She’ll go into a location with a voice recorder, a camera, and perhaps a Ghost Box. After asking a few prescient questions, she’ll often leave with some interesting answers. While some authors, myself included, simply investigate from the comfort of their desk or a library table, Kinney does the footwork to personally meet many of the ghosts herself.

The range of sites covered in Paranormal Petersburg, Virginia & the Tri-Cities Area provides a unique view into the plethora of hauntings in Petersburg and the surrounding area including Colonial Heights, Dinwiddie, Hopewell, Chester and Ettrick-Matoaca. Included in this book are Civil War sites, historic churches, a sushi restaurant, theatres, an old motel, cemeteries, and a splendid collection of historic homes. Lavishly illustrated with color photographs, the book is a fun and informative guide to this most historic region of Virginia.

Copies of the book are available at the following sites:

Schiffer Publishing


Barnes and Noble

I have reviewed several of Ms. Kinney’s books including Virginia’s Haunted Historic Triangle: Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, & Other Haunted Locations, 1st Edition and its 2nd edition

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.

Blazing Trails Through History and Lore—Review of “Haunted Chattanooga”

Research is a form of trailblazing. There are mountains and unexplored regions of data and information. A researcher combs through this wilderness, marking the trail and finding their way to the most scenic and interesting vistas. In publishing, the researcher is publicizing that trail and permanently marking it for their readers and other researchers to follow. In publishing a book, a researcher is establishing a grand trunk line that many will follow and they enable those other intrepid explorers to blaze their own trails from that.

Chattanooga, Tennessee stretches out before Lookout Mountain along the banks of the Tennessee River. Photo 2077, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

When I first started researching the paranormal a few years ago, I was amazed to find that there were many places where authors had blazed few trails. Major Southern cities like Chattanooga, Tennessee; Montgomery, Alabama; Jacksonville, Florida and Columbia, South Carolina, among others, lacked books and in some cases, even basic resources on their ghosts and hauntings. However, that list has recently gotten shorter with Jessica Penot and Amy Petulla’s recently published Haunted Chattanooga. A trail has finally been blazed through Chattanooga, a city whose ghosts had, until recently, not been fully explored in print.

Penot and Petulla are marvelous guides to Chattanooga’s spiritual side. Among the the locations they discuss are places that have been explored elsewhere, but they include quite a few locations that I’ve not seen discussed. They explore Hales Bar Dam which has very recently become a hotspot for paranormal investigation along with the ghosts of the Chattanooga Campus of the University of Tennessee which could be just as much a hotspot. Here the Hunter Museum’s elderly wraith is documented with a singing spirit in the Thurman Cemetery.

The authors have done a good job at plumbing the depths of Chattanooga’s history of hauntings as well. Legends and stories of haunted places that no longer exist are woven in with modern experiences. Stories of the old Hamilton County jail, which no longer exists, rub shoulders with modern hauntings in the Raccoon Mountain Caverns.

Both authors have a marvelously readable and relaxed writing style. This contributes much to the readers’ journey through the text. Overall, Penot and Petulla have carved a wonderful trail to be followed by future researchers into the haunted heart of Chattanooga.

Haunted Chattanooga By Jessica Penot and Amy Petulla is a part of the Haunted America series by History Press, $19.99.

A Garden of History—Pamela K. Kinney’s Virginia’s Haunted Historic Triangle

Virginia’s Haunted Historic Triangle: Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, & Other Haunted Locations
Pamela K. Kinney

Schiffer Publishing, 2011

A paranormal researcher and writer is like a gardener. They tend to stories that have been cultivated by others; they add and correct facts; update reports of paranormal activity; and generally maintain stories. They also seek out seeds of information and work to grow these into full stories. If a story isn’t tended it may simply pass into the realm of legend.

Pamela K. Kinney works hard tending the large garden of ghost stories that abounds in Virginia’s Historic Triangle. Her recent book, Virginia’s Haunted Historic Triangle: Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, & Other Haunted Locations, covers a region that has served as a cradle of the nation, and a burial ground for so many who fought to create and preserve this union. Here are found battlefields and plantations, taverns and churches, historic hotels and Holiday Inns; all replete with a palpable sense of deep history. This is a region where spirits swarm over the land, reminding us of the lives they once lived.

Pamels K. Kinney Virginia’s Haunted Historic Triangle: Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, & Other Haunted Locations

This spiritually fertile ground has been well tended by other authors from the aristocratic Marguerite DuPont Lee in her Virginia Ghosts (first published in 1930), to the prolific L. B. Taylor, Jr. and his many volume Ghosts of Virginia. Kinney endeavors to tend stories that were first documented by these authors, adding new reports of activity as well as her own impressions and experiences at each of these locations. She covers such notable hauntings as Shirley and Berkeley Plantations, Williamsburg’s Ludwell-Paradise House and Peyton Randolph House, the Yorktown Battlefield, and Fort Monroe.

But Kinney does a good job tending to much lesser known locations as well, including the modern hotels along Richmond Road, Rosewell Plantation, and Bluebird Gap Farm. I was particularly impressed by her chapter on the Crawford Road Bridge in York County. It’s a somewhat forgotten place with a chilling history. I know this is my first introduction to this story and I cannot locate another published source on this location. Kinney has taken a location that’s poorly documented online, and grown a wonderful chapter on it.

Not only does Kinney cover the spiritual side of the area, but she includes chapters on Sasquatch sightings, UFOs, and the Cohoke Light. This a marvelous guide to the supernatural in this extraordinary region. With her previous books on Virginia ghosts, Haunted Virginia: Legends, Myths and True Tales, and Haunted Richmond, Virginia, I hope Pamela will continue her marvelous work in this state’s spiritual garden.

I have reviewed several of Ms. Kinney’s books including Paranormal Petersburg, Virginia & the Tri-Cities Area and the 2nd edition of this book.

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 Amazon.com. 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.