Florida Hauntings, County by County–Part I

This is part one of a project to examine a ghost story from every single county in Florida.

See part I (Alachua-Brevard Counties) here.
See part II (Broward-Clay Counties) here.

 Alachua County

Beaty Towers
University of Florida
Gainesville

Beaty Towers, 2011, by Porsche997SBS. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Built in 1967, this modern student dormitory building is supposedly the domain of the spirit of a young woman who committed suicide. Local lore relates that this young woman, distraught over a failed relationship or a pregnancy leapt to her death from her dorm room window. The spirit has been heard sobbing and seen walking the halls. She also gets the blame when student’s things go missing. When pressed, most university officials have denied that anyone has died in this building, though Tom Ogden notes that a university historian spoke of a suicide here.

Sources

  • Dailey, Erin. “Feeling brave? Gainesville’s greatest haunts.” Gainesville Scene. 30 October 2013.
  • Enkerud, Mark. “UF campus holds decades of legends, ghost stories.” Independent Florida Alligator. 16 August 2009.
  • Ogden, Tom. Haunted Colleges and Universities. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2014.
  • Williamson, Amanda. “Gainesville and surrounding areas boast a collection of haunted tales.” Gainesville Sun. 28 October 2012.

Baker County

Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park
US-90
Olustee

 In February of 1864, Union forces set out from occupied Jacksonville, Florida with the intent of making inroads into the state to cut supply lines, free slaves, and possibly recruit African-Americans for service in the Union army. Heading west towards Lake City, the Union forces under Brigadier General Truman Seymour encountered entrenched Confederates under the command of Brigadier General Joseph Finegan at Olustee Station near Ocean Pond. Among the union forces involved in this battle was the 54thMassachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, one of the first and most well-known African-American units.

Olustee Battlefield entrance sign, 2007. Photo by Ebyabe. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Fighting through the thick forest of palmetto and pine, the almost equally pitted troops (5,000 Confederates versus 5,500 Union troops) fought throughout the afternoon of February 20. The Confederates repulsed the Union troops and inflicted heavy casualties, causing the Union to lose some 40% of their forces (203 killed, 1,152 wounded, and 506 missing, a total of 1,861 men) while the Confederates lost about 20% of their forces (93 killed, 847 wounded, and 6 missing, a total of 946 casualties in all). Union forces retreated to Jacksonville after being beaten back.

The battlefield, created as Florida’s first state park in 1912, is home to an annual reenactment during which re-enactors have had a number of odd experiences primarily involving full-bodied apparitions. One of the more interesting of these was an encounter between a re-enactor on a horse and a spectral Union soldier. The specter appeared and tripped the horse throwing the rider. Before the re-enactor could recover, he was smacked in the face by a rifle butt. Looking around, the shaken re-enactor searched for evidence of the soldier who tripped him, no footprints or any evidence was found. While no other documented encounters have been as violent, many have seen apparitions of soldiers.

Other tales recall the spectral sounds of war frequently heard here including the sounds of men shouting and gunfire. Investigators here have also captured some very interesting EVPs including a voice that responded, “Damn, I’m dead” when told that the spirit died in battle here.

Sources

  • Battle of OlusteeWikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 27 November 2010.
  • Brown, Alan. Stories from the Haunted South. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.
  • Lapham, Dave. Ghosthunting Florida. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2010.
  • Messick, Bonnie. “’Local Haunts’ TV show features Jacksonville ghost hunters.” 29 September 2010.

Bay County

Holiday Inn Resort
11127 Front Beach Road
Panama City Beach

 Panama City Beach is often associated with the rowdy Spring Break activities of high school and college students. Over the past few decades as Spring Break has become more and more a riotous celebration, young men, feeling invincible thanks to youth and fortified by alcohol, have engaged in “balcony diving.” Climbing up buildings Spiderman-like, despite state laws banning the practice, some have fallen and been seriously injured or killed. The spirit that has been seen on the upper floors of this modern resort is reportedly decked out in typical Spring Break attire—a white t-shirt, colorful shorts, and sunglasses on a cord around his neck—but the figure is missing his head. Perhaps this spirit remains to warn others to not engage in the same dangerous behavior.

Sources

  • Lewis, Chad and Terry Fisk. The Florida Road Guide to Haunted Locations. Eau Claire, WI: Unexplained Research Publishing Company, 2010.

Bradford County

Florida State Prison
7819 Northwest 228th Street
Raiford

When they find me they must kill me,
Oh Jesus, save my soul!
I can’t go back down to Raiford,
I can’t take that anymore.

–Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Four Walls of Raiford” (1987)

Shortly before his execution in the electric chair here, serial killer Ted Bundy confessed that he was afraid to die. Despite his personal fear, Bundy led more than 30 victims to face death throughout the west and in Florida. It was at the Chi Omega sorority house at Florida State University in Tallahassee in 1978 where Bundy attacked four sisters killing two of them and disappeared into the night. A few weeks later, Bundy abducted and killed a 12-year-old girl from her junior high school in Lake City. After being found guilty of these murders, Bundy was incarcerated here while he awaited his appointment with the electric chair, January 24, 1989.

A former guard reported in 2001 that several guards witnessed the apparition of Bundy “sitting casually on the electric chair,” smirking at them. So many staff members encountered the spirit that the warden could not find anyone willing to enter the execution chamber alone. Others saw Bundy in his former holding cell on death row. Blogger Lon Strikler of the blog, Phantoms and Monsters, published two emails he received regarding the spirit of Bundy. One email was from a local construction worker who saw a spirit resembling Bundy walk past him accompanied by the form of a young woman. Another email from an inmate reveals that inmates have frequently seen Bundy’s smirking spirit strolling through one of the housing units.

Sources

  • Ramsland, Katherine. “Ted Bundy’s Ghost.” Psychology Today. 27 October 2012
  • Strikler, Lon. “Recent ‘Ted Bundy’ Ghost Sighting.” Phantoms and Monsters Blog. 17 August 2015.
  • Word, Ron. “Survivors are haunted by memory of Ted Bundy 10 years after execution.” Seattle Times. 24 January 1999.

Brevard

Ashley’s of Rockledge
1609 US-1
Rockledge

Ashley’s, 2010, by Leonard J. DeFrancisci. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Some believe that Ethel Allen’s rough road to her grave included a stop at Jack’s Tavern, her favorite local hangout. Several years ago, I wrote about paranormal investigators conducting an EVP session at Ms. Allen’s grave in the Crooked Mile or Georgiana Cemetery on Merritt Island. After asking if she was present, investigators received a reply, “yes.”

On November 21, 1934, Ethel Allen’s mutilated body was found on the banks of the Indian River in Eau Gallie, some 16 miles away. The nineteen-year-old had been seen just a few days before when she stopped at a local packing house to say goodbye to a friend. Ethel was leaving to visit her mother, accompanied by a male acquaintance and she may have also stopped by her favorite local hangout, Jack’s Tavern, now Ashley’s of Rockledge. The Tudor-style restaurant has paranormal activity, some of which has been attributed to Ethel Allen.

A variety of sources state that Ethel may have been murdered within the walls of the restaurant in a storeroom (possibly near the famously haunted ladies restroom) or just outside the building. A local genealogy blog makes no mention of where Ethel may have met her end, but I get the feeling it probably was not in or around the busy tavern. The stories of the restaurant’s haunting are readily available though they seem to perpetuate different variations of the murder.

The activity runs the gamut from simple, cold breezes to voices and screams to full apparitions being seen and captured on film. Some sources also note that the activity does not seem to be limited to just the possible shade of Ethel Allen. There are other possible spirits including a child and an adult male. It seems that Ashley’s may be one of the most paranormally active restaurants in the state.

Sources

  • Boonstra, Michael. “1934 Murder of Cocoa’s Ethel Allen.” Michael’s Genealogy and Brevard County History Blog. 9 April 2011.
  • History. Ashley’s of Rockledge. Accessed 3 November 2014.
  • Jenkins, Greg. Florida’s Ghostly Legends and Haunted Folklore: Vol. 1 South and Central Florida. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 2005.
  • Neale, Rick. Brevard’s spookiest spots are dead center for teams of specter-spotters.” Florida Today. 27 October 2013.
  • Thuma, Cynthia and Catherine Lower. Haunted Florida. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2008.
  • Walls, Kathleen. Finding Florida Phantoms. Global Authors Publications, 2004.
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