This is part two 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.
335 Southeast 6th Avenue
When viewed from the New River, the Stranahan House is nestled among many large buildings, an apt context for the site from which this city sprang. Frank Stranahan moved to Florida in 1893 to operate the ferry across the New River here. He also built a trading post to encourage trade with the Seminole Indians who lived on the opposite shore. After marrying the local schoolteacher, Ivy Cromartie, Stranahan eventually constructed the current house in 1901 as a wedding gift. The house served as an office for Stranahan’s many business interests as well as a family home for many years until a series of events in the 1920s began to sap his business interests.
In 1926, Florida was struck by a massive hurricane that moved ashore near Miami resulting in hundreds of deaths and striking a tremendous blow to business interests throughout the state. Saddled with financial ruin and a diagnosis of prostate cancer—which was untreatable at the time—Frank Stranahan attempted suicide. As a result, Stranahan was confined to a local sanitarium. With his death being imminent, his wife wrote to the sanitarium pleading for her husband’s release so he could die at home. Once he was finally released, Stranahan could not find his way out of the abyss of depression and not long after his homecoming, he chained himself to a sewer grate and threw himself into the river. Despite valiant attempts to rescue him, Stranahan drowned.
Ivy Stranahan continued living in the house and filled its rooms with borders to make ends meet. Continuing her husband’s community activism, Stranahan worked to build Fort Lauderdale into a modern and vibrant community. Eventually, she rented out the first floor of the house as a restaurant while continuing to live on the second floor. She died in 1971 and left the house to her church who eventually sold it to the local historical society. The house was restored as a house museum in the early 1980s and is open to the public.
The house remains the home of Frank and Ivy Stranahan who are still very much spiritually in residence along with several other spirits including a small Seminole girl who collapsed and died at the front door. The house has opened at various times for ghost tours. In 2003, an article in the local paper described the spooky experiences a group of schoolchildren had on a tour, “”Some smelled perfume, the eyes in Frank’s portrait downstairs moved, laughter came from the vents in the dining room, and one child felt someone tap him on the shoulder when he was upstairs.” An article from later that year recounts that docents in the house have experienced doors opening and closing by themselves, beds being found in disarray moments after being made, and the odor of lilac perfume believed to be one of Ivy Stranahan’s favorite.
- Carr, John Marc. Haunted Fort Lauderdale. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2008.
- Kneale, Dennis. “Campaign planned to save historic Stranahan house.” Fort Lauderdale News. 13 August 1981.
- LeClaire, Jennifer. “Stranahan House gets in the Halloween spirit.” Sun-Sentinel. 24 October 2003.
- Wallaman, Brittany. “Putting tourists in good spirits.” Sun-Sentinel. 1 September 2003.
Information on a Calhoun County haunt was not available when this article was first created. I have recently explored the haunting of the Old Calhoun County Jail in Blountstown.
Indian Spring Cemetery
5400 Indian Spring Road
The resting place of the 20th governor of Florida and founder of Punta Gorda, Albert Gilchrist, Indian Spring Cemetery was laid out by him on land donated to the city by city councilman, James Sandlin. A nearby spring feeding into Alligator Creek may have been used by Native Americans, thus the name. Over its nearly 150 years of existence, more than 2000 souls have been laid to rest here under the moss-draped oaks.
Paranormal activity here consists of audio phenomena with sounds of weeping, wailing heard within the empty cemetery. Cemetery lights, a phenomenon where orbs of lights are scene around burial locations, have also been experienced here. Dave Lapham includes the experience of a local who, while walking with her mother and her dog, witnessed orbs of light floating about three to four feet above the ground. Fearing the lights, the group fled.
- Charlotte County Government. “Indian Spring Cemetery.” Accessed 4 September 2017.
- Lapham, Dave. Ghosthunting Florida. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2010.
Crystal River Archaeological State Park
3400 North Museum Point
The Crystal River on Florida’s west coast is one of many natural wonders in the state. Fed by warm waters from some 30 natural springs, the Crystal River is known for its large numbers of West Indian Manatees who luxuriate in the gently heated water. On the river banks, Native Americans built their own utopia, the remains of which are preserved in Crystal River Archaeological State Park.
This state park encompasses a complex of six mounds that include burial mounds; middens, or refuse mounds; and platform mounds atop which high-status officials may have lived. Among the mounds are two remarkable steles, or stone monuments, one of which features the crude likeness of a human face. Steles are generally regarded as a feature found among the civilizations of Central America, and very rarely found among North American civilizations.
For her 2004 book, Finding Florida Phantoms, Kathleen Walls spoke with a ranger who reported that voices had been heard among the mounds when no one was present, and some apparitions have apparently been spotted here as well.
- Cox, Dale. “Crystal River Archaeological State Park—Crystal River, Florida: Prehistory on the Crystal River.” com. Accessed 5 September 2017.
- Walls, Kathleen. Finding Florida’s Phantoms. Global Authors Publications, 2004.
Old Clay County Jail
21 Gratio Place
Green Cove Springs
The Florida Times-Union has deemed the Old Clay County Jail to be a place where it is always Halloween. Paranormal investigators have deemed the building to be one of the most active that many of them have seen.
Built by the Pauly Jail Company in 1894, the building saw its last inmate in 1972. The building now serves as home to the Clay County Archives. Like most corrections facilities, this building has seen the worst of society and a number of tragedies in its long history. Among the tragedies was the assassination of a sheriff, an inmate suicide, five executions and another suicide on the front lawn.
Reports of activity from the jail include voices, apparitions, and hair-pulling. Activity has become so well known that the Clay County Historical Archives website features a page describing the haunted conditions of the building.
- Buehn, Debra W. “Old Clay County Jail stars in Local Haunts’ TV show Sunday.” Florida Times-Union. 1 April 2010.
- Clay County Historical Archives. Ghosts in the Old Jail. Accessed 9 October 2014.