Mountainside Theatre: A Personal Experience

Mountainside Theatre
688 Drama Drive
Cherokee, North Carolina

If you’ve read this blog for awhile or have checked the very brief bio to the right of this entry you’ll know that I’m an actor. If you didn’t know, my secret is out. By nature, theatre people tend to be very superstitious and it’s noted that any theatre worth its salt should have a ghost. The Mountainside Theatre is no exception.

Three of the best summers of my life were spent working in Cherokee at the Mountainside where the outdoor historical drama, Unto These Hills, has been performed every summer since 1950. The Appalachians hold a particular charm and having lived there, even just a few months, I truly feel that part of my heart is there. Of course the atmosphere of living among fellow theatre people—who possess tremendous energy, intelligence and creativity—enhances that experience. And the parties and Bohemian life was awesome as well!

Cherokee lies at the heart of the Qualla Boundry Cherokee Indian Reservation, the seat of the Eastern Band of Cherokee. The Mountainside Theatre was built to house Kermit Hunter’s play, Unto These Hills, which tells the story of these particular Cherokee people. The drama utilizes both hired actors and members of the Cherokee community in telling the story and for many of the locals the drama has become a family tradition with grandparents performing alongside their grandchildren and sometimes great-grandchildren.

My first year in Cherokee, I played the role of the Lieutenant, a rather gruff, white Federal officer who viewed the Cherokee with contempt. In the scene depicting the beginning of the Trail of Tears, I led the march just behind Major Davis and took a position standing on a boulder on the side stage, rifle in hand, watching as the Cherokee marched off towards Oklahoma. Nightly I would look into the faces of these people walking in the steps of their ancestors and would see scowls and expressions of outright hatred, even from people that I considered friends offstage. It was a moving experience to see history recreated and see the consequences of that same history juxtaposed into that.

Entrance to the Mountainside Theatre, November 2012. Photo by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

The theatre itself is a huge open air amphitheatre that can seat a few thousand. The theatre is surrounded by forest and the backstage area has been constructed to preserve the tree line that gives the theatre a wonderful sylvan quality. The stage and side stages include trees, shrubbery and boulders to complete the picture. Behind the back wall of the stage there is a covered walkway with a props storage area just off stage left. Below this walkway, the terrain drops a bit further which is spanned by a covered walkway, called “The Bridge,” that connects the stage to the rest of the backstage area. Wrapping around the side of the mountain is a long building with the stage manager’s office, costume shop and dressing rooms. At the very end of this building, parallel to the driveway leading up the hill to cast housing, is the laundry room and a small porch called the “laundry porch.”

Entrance to the Mountainside Theatre, November 2012. Photo by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Except for the very top tier of the actors hired for the production, most other performers in the show served double duty either doing technical work (the Actor Techs or ATs) or working in the costume shop. I worked in the costume shop and part of my duty was to do laundry once a week after the show. Once the show was up and running, everyone went on to “Cherokee Time” where bedtime was sometime between 4AM to sunrise and wake up time was around noon or sometime thereafter. None of us usually had to be at work at the theatre until 6PM, so many of us became partially nocturnal.

Within a few days of my first arrival on “The Hill,” I began to hear stories and legends about the area. One of the costumers in those first few days had gone down to the theatre late one evening for some quiet. As he sat in the empty theatre he heard the sound of a horse running around the theatre. Interestingly, there were no horses in the area nor had any ever been used in the show. Other stories began to surface from some of the longtime cast members of others having odd experiences in the theatre at night. I can recall hearing one story of someone sitting in the theatre alone only to turn his head to see someone sitting in the row behind him staring straight ahead, trancelike.

Another story involved a particular former cast member, since deceased, who would sit on the laundry porch during the show. It was said that people driving past the theatre would still occasionally glimpse her sitting on the porch. An even further tale told of the techies who fired guns offstage for sound effects seeing a Cherokee dancing among the trees in the dark woods offstage. In some versions of the story he was seeing floating some feet off the ground as he danced.

The one legend that I heard almost invariably involved the Cherokee Little People, or Yun’wi Tsundsdi. I described this mythic race in my article on Chimney Rock, please see the article for a better description. In the lore of the area, the Mountainside Theatre had been constructed on ground that was sacred to the Yun’wi Tsundsdi. During the day, the theatre was lent to humans for their uses, but at night it returned to their territory. We were taught to announce ourselves whenever we went to the theatre at night. When we reached the bridge we would call out, “I mean you no harm, don’t mind me.” Failure to do so would cause the Little People to play tricks on you.

However, theatre people do love a good story. I’m not sure how much of this was truly real and how much had been concocted to scare naïve new “Hillbillies.” Nonetheless, this was the mythology that was in place.

At least I thought this was mostly mythology until one night. It was my laundry night and I had dutifully put a load of laundry in the wash. The evening was fairly quiet and there wasn’t much partying. Not really being a partier myself I had been in my room reading a book about the Yun’wi Tsundsdi. Around 3AM I walked down the hill to the laundry room to put the load of laundry in the dryer. As I walked, I muttered the Cherokee name of the Little People repeatedly in an attempt to commit it to memory. It’s a fun name to say. However, I didn’t realize that it also calls them.

I put the laundry in the dryer and started back up the hill to my room in the Boy’s Dorm. Between the end of the laundry porch and the first of the cabins of “Lower Suburbia” there is maybe 100 feet (by my estimation and I’m a poor judge of distance). On one side of the drive is forest with laurel and rhododendron growing thickly among the pines. From this thick forest I suddenly heard the sound of high pitched giggling. It was not drifting down from the ever present crowd at the picnic table outside of the Girl’s Dorm, it was coming from the forest next to me. I stopped for a moment and tried to peer into the shadows. There wasn’t anything to be seen. I uttered a tentative, “Hello?” but it was met with silence.

The view from the laundry porch towards the woods where I heard giggling, October 2012. Photo by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Again, the giggle issued from the thick shrubbery and again I said hello. No answer. The night time cacophony of the Appalachians can be quite startling to an outsider from the scream of the bobcat (which I thought was a woman being raped when I first heard it) to the various night birds (nighthawks and owls), but this was none of those. It was a childish giggle. Once more I heard it coming from the thick woods directly in front of me. At that point the instinct of fight or flight kicked in and I flew; up the hill and back to the safety of my room. Having been reading about the Yun’wi Tsundsdi, I assumed that it was them that I heard. This was confirmed the next day by a close Cherokee friend.

I can only describe what happened. I’ve thought about it many times since and searched for a more likely explanation, but I can find none. That was my only experience on The Hill. There were times when I would find myself alone at the theatre during my laundry night and I would feel uncomfortable; that feeling of not being alone and sometimes being watched.

While I cannot say for certain that the Mountainside Theatre is haunted, it’s certainly a place that could easily inspire such stories. The play Unto These Hills, although in a different form from Kermit Hunter’s original version, is still performed nightly during the summer and the theatre is open to visitors during the day. Tickets for the show may be purchased at the Cherokee Historical Association Offices, also known as “The Hut,” (which is also haunted) at the bottom on the hill in the village at 564 Tsali Boulevard.


A tornado victim returns–William Winston House

Winston House
Deshler High School Campus
200 Northeast Commons Street
Tuscumbia, Alabama

N.B. Edited 4 March 2019.

1874 Alabama tornado ghost haunt William Winston House Judith Winston victim Tuscumbia haunting Deshler High School
William Winston House, 2010. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith. From the George F. Landegger Collection of Alabama Photographs in Carol Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

In recent days, tremendous storms and tornados cut their way across the South. The storms affected Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee and especially hard hit was Alabama. Northern Alabama felt the brunt of the storm in urban areas like Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Huntsville; but also in small towns like Cullman, Rainsville, and a little town in Franklin County with the unusual name, Phil Campbell. Just north of Franklin County is Colbert County and its seat, Tuscumbia. It was here that a tornado in the late nineteenth century left a spiritual mark.

On November 22, 1874, as a tornado bore down upon her home, Judith Winston, the lady of the house tried to take cover. She failed, and was crushed beneath rubble. Her sons pulled her from the wreckage still alive, but she lived only a little while. According to Debra Johnson, she breathed her last in the front bedroom on the eastern side of the house.

Tuscumbia, Alabama began its rise to prominence as the town of Occocopoosa, along the military road completed in 1820 by General Andrew Jackson linking Tennessee with Louisiana. The town’s name was changed to Big Spring in 1821 and the next year to Tuscumbia. The richness of the area’s land and the abundance of game brought settlers to the area along with business and eventually the railroad. Tuscumbia rose as one of the leading cities in the region.

Among early settlers were members of the prominent Winston family. Descended from Captain Anthony Winston, a cousin of Dolly Madison and Patrick Henry, the Winstons fought at the side of Andrew Jackson and acquired land in Virginia, Tennessee, and finally Alabama. Further descendants would serve as governors of both Alabama and Mississippi as well as a senator from Alabama.

William Winston began construction on this magnificent edifice in 1824, and it was completed nine years later. This Georgian house is the largest remaining antebellum house in the city. It remained in private hands until 1948 when it was purchased by the City of Tuscumbia for the new campus of Deshler High School. Restoration efforts began on the house in the early 1980s and these efforts were boosted by the home being placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Since that time, the home has served as a house museum and events space.

1874 Alabama tornado ghost haunt William Winston House Judith Winston victim Tuscumbia haunting Deshler High School
The magnificent “flying staircase” in the Winston House, 2010. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith. From the George F. Landegger Collection of Alabama Photographs in Carol Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Mrs. Winston may be the source of some rather interesting phenomena that has occurred in the house. One woman setting up chairs for her daughter’s wedding was disturbed by the chairs rattling by themselves. Upset, the woman questioned the home’s curator and was told that Mrs. Winston simply wanted an invitation to the event. Once the mother of the bride issued an oral invitation, the rattling ceased. Debra Johnston also credits Judith Winston’s spirit with the “weeping walls” in the downstairs entry hall when there is the threat of a storm.

Jessica Penot, author of Haunted North Alabama and the Ghost Stories and Haunted Places Blog, identifies one of the spirits in the home as William Winston, the home’s builder. She states that his spirit has been seen standing at the top of the stairs and wandering through the halls. She also speaks of white figures seen through the windows of the house at night after it is closed.


  • April 25-28, 2011 tornado outbreak. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 1 May 2011.
  • Garfrerick, Beth. “National Register Nomination Boosts Tuscumbia Restoration.” The (Tuscumbia, AL) Times-Daily. 21 January 1982.
  • Johnston, Debra. Skeletons in the Closet: True Ghost Stories of The Shoals Area. Debra Johnston, 2002.
  • Penot, Jessica. Haunted North Alabama. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2010.
  • Thornton, Linda. “Tuscumbia.” Encyclopedia of Alabama. 22 May 2009.

The Haunted Inns of Lake Lure, North Carolina

Hickory Nut Gorge was viewed as a vacation destination as early as 1880. That year, Chimney Rock, a 315 foot granite monolith that overlooks the gorge, was made accessible by a series of stairways. In 1904, Chimney Rock was purchased by Dr. Lucius Morse with the aid of twin brothers Hiram and Asahel. Dr. Morse envisioned a mountain resort community within the gorge all surrounding a mountain lake. In 1925, work began on damming the Rocky Broad River and the lake had begun to fill by 1927 when the both town of Lake Lure was established and the Lake Lure Inn opened. The area has grown into a notable resort destination and the Morse family recently sold Chimney Rock to the state of North Carolina to create a state park. Of course, with such activity the area has seen in the past century, it’s no surprise that there are spirits.

Chimney Rock from the visitors’ center parking lot, the closest I could get, unfortunately. Photo 2012, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Lodge on Lake Lure
361 Charlotte Drive

Opened initially as a retreat for highway patrolmen and their families, the Lodge on Lake Lure was created as a memorial to George Penn, a highway patrolman shot and killed in the line of duty. It’s only appropriate that this 1937 lodge, opened to the public in 1990, would be the current residence of Mr. Penn. His gentle spirit has been seen in Room 4 when he tends to stroll into the occupied room, walk about and then disappear into the closed, and sometimes locked, door.

One former innkeeper referred to the spirit as “naughty.” She reported that he would often steal the toilet paper out of Room 2. When puzzled guests would turn up at the front desk inquiring about the missing toilet tissue, the innkeeper invariably knew that Penn has probably taken the paper out of Room 2 again. Other activity reported from the spirit includes moving flower arrangements and at one time throwing a glass goblet against the wall when someone stated that they wished the ghost would do something. If you stay at the Lodge on Lake Lure, just be sure to keep such wishes to yourself.

1927 Lake Lure Inn and Spa
2771 Memorial Highway

Interest in the spirits of the Lake Lure Inn has risen recently with the publication of a photo taken inside the inn by the Events and Catering Manager in November of last year. The photo, showing an ice sculpture prepared for an event, also shows a figure standing behind the sculpture. While the figure is very fuzzy, the face appears to be that of a young boy or man. The photo may be viewed here.

The 1927 Lake Lure Inn. Photo 2012, by Lewis Powell IV,
all rights reserved.

Lake Lure’s initial popularity with the construction of the Lake Lure Inn and the filling of Lake Lure was believed to be on the rise. The hotel was visited by such names of the period as novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, President Calvin Coolidge and future president Franklin Roosevelt. But no one could have predicted the Great Depression that would follow the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and how it would sink the economy and, by extension, resorts like Lake Lure. The Inn limped through the 1930’s until the outbreak of World War II.

In 1943, the Third Army Air Force leased the Lake Lure Inn for use as a convalescence home for wounded and shell-shocked soldiers. One soldier who spent time at Lake Lure later described it as “a benediction of nature on us all after the horrors of war.” An army band under the direction of Albert Hague (who was later an actor on Broadway and in the role of Professor Shorovsky in the TV series Fame) would serenade dances or while the patients stared off at the sun-dappled lake.

The army’s use of the inn ended in 1945 and the inn has remained popular. Though there are some ghosts left over from the inn’s more painful moments. Lon Strickler’s marvelous blog, Phantoms and Monsters, provides the account of a former inn staff member who had a few run-ins with the spirits. The staff member speaks of seeing shadows in the spa area and having their name called by a man with a low-gravelly voice.

The staff member continues and describes the other spirits said to be witnessed by guests including a woman who was supposedly murdered in the 1930s in Room 217. A man, believed to be Dr. Lucius Morse, has been seen in the dining room. Articles on recent paranormal investigations speculate that he may also be the spirit seen and heard in the spa.

Paranormal Scene Investigators, a paranormal investigation group from nearby Forest City, has performed a number of investigations of the inn and always seem to have discovered very interesting evidence. Among some of the more interesting evidence is a woman’s scream recorded on two occasions in Room 217, where the murder may have taken place. Oddly, the screams, recorded on two separate occasions, sound almost identical. Other evidence includes an interesting photo of a ball of energy in one room. While the group cannot conclusively state that the inn is haunted, they will state that there is paranormal activity. Certainly, the spirits here and at the Lodge have picked lovely spots to spend eternity.


  • Baughman, Scott. “Things weren’t normal at this LL convention.” The (Forest City, NC) Daily Courier. 11 March 2009.
  • Bunch, Pam. “Guests, ghosts share Lake Lure Inn.” The (Forest City, NC) Daily Courier. 28 February 2007.
  • Chimney Rock State Park. “History: Lake Lure and Hickory Nut Gorge Tell a Story.” Chimney Rock State Park Website. Accessed 22 April 2011.
  • Chimney Rock State Park. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 22 April 2011.
  • DePriest, Joe. “A place that healed sore soldier’s souls.” The Charlotte Observer. 23 November 2003.
  • Evans, Laura. “Scare up a spooky place to stay.” The News & Observer. 10 January 2007.
  • “Ghost hunt a high-tech operation.” The (Forest City, NC) Daily Courier. 28 February 2007.
  • Justice, Birchette T. “Chimney Rock and Lake Lure.” in The Heritage of Rutherford County, North Carolina, Vol. 1. Winston-Salem, NC: Hunter Publishing, 1984.
  • Strikler, Lon. “Ghostly Gatherings at the Lake Lure Inn.” Phantoms and Monsters. 21 December 2010.
  • Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2001.

Of Fowl and Phantoms–Haunted Dauphin Island, Alabama

Whenever I visit the coast, I find myself thinking about the impermanence of things. As someone who has always believed in historic preservation, I’m always saddened when I see historic places destroyed, especially through the ignorance or perhaps the arrogance of man. Of course, when the destruction is wrought by nature, it’s sad as well. Along the coast, there’s always a threat of hurricanes and now add the threat of rising sea levels with global warming and I’m deeply saddened for beautiful places like Dauphin Island.

Hurricane Katrina roared ashore at Dauphin Island in 2005 and decimated the western end of this barrier island. A further barrier island, Sand Island, protected the eastern end of the island from the devastation. When I visited the island in 2008, the western end had been mostly rebuilt and I could only shake my head and wonder if these homes would survive the next big hurricane. Of course, since my visit, the sugar-white sands have been spoiled by oil from the BP spill, though I hope much of that has been cleaned up.

On the lush eastern end of the island, the section that survived the wrath of Katrina, Dauphin Island boasts nationally known birding habitat. The island is one of the first bits of land spotted by neo-tropical migrants as they migrate from their wintering grounds in Central and South America and take flight over the Gulf of Mexico. Many of these species alight to rest in the parks and bird sanctuaries among the vacation homes and birders flock to the island to see this plethora of warblers, tanagers, vireos and thrushes. There’s a large Audubon Bird Sanctuary adjacent to Fort Gaines that attracts birders throughout the year and where I saw my first pair of Black-throated Green Warblers (Dendroica virens); two perky brightly colored fellows that had attracted a good deal of attention from birders who had gathered nearby.

Indian Shell Mound Park
Cadillac Avenue

While my interest in ghosts predates my interest in birds, I didn’t do any research on the island’s legends before my trip. The purpose of the trip was solely to add birds to my life list; otherwise, I would have paid more attention to the island’s more historic and haunted features. I’m sure the thought passed through my mind that there might be more to the Shell Mound than just history and birds. I have a distinct memory of feeling an odd chill upon arrival. As birds are most active in the hours just before and after dawn, I arrived fairly early at the Shell Mound to start birding. Stepping out of the car into the cool of an April morning I was flabbergasted by the sound of calling owls.


One of the ancient oaks at Indian Mound Park, 2010. Photo by Jeffrey Reed, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The owls, it turns out, were cooing Eurasian Collared Doves (Streptopelia decaocto), a non-native species that has begun spreading through the Southeast.

Even in full daylight, the park is a bit creepy. The mounds are covered in dense undergrowth and massive ancient oaks laden with Spanish moss. I realized fairly quickly that I was apparently alone in the park and I felt a bit of trepidation exploring the winding park paths by myself. After reading one of the historical signs, the thought that here I was among hundreds of years of history sent a chill down my spine. My attention was quickly diverted (ADD perhaps?) by some slight movement near the top of one of the looming oaks. Picking it up with my binoculars, it was my first Blackpoll Warbler (Dendroica striata), the first bird of a day that would add some 40 new species to my life list.

The shell mounds are evidence of hundreds of years of human visitations to Dauphin Island. These mounds are known as middens, which are basically ancient trash heaps. The island was visited by Native Americans beginning during the Mississippian period (roughly 1100 to 1500 C.E.) who harvested oysters and fish probably during the summer months. Both the oysters and fish could be consumed on the spot or dried for later use. The oysters would be steamed by wrapping them in seaweed and placing them on heated coals. The steam would cause the oysters to open and the shell would be discarded near the fire. One writer suggested that one of the mounds of the six in the park may have reached a height of 50 feet.

With them, the natives also brought a variety of plants to the area, many of which, while not native, have thrived in the semi-tropical environment of the island. Even centuries after the native’s final visit to the island, these plants remain. The magnificent live oak trees on and around the middens are believed to have witnessed the native’s oyster and fish roasts and the first arrival Spanish in 1519. Over the centuries, these branches have hosted nearly 400 different species of birds as they passed the island on their migrations.

Certainly, the oaks may still witness the spirits of natives who still stalk the humid nights. There are tales of strange goings on after dark in the park, though I have not been able to locate any specific reports of these nocturnal activities. Indeed, there is a possibility that native spirits and others may be still rambling about, but I have found no distinct evidence of this.

While the idyllic life of the natives could have continued for centuries, the Mississippian period ended shortly after the Spanish began exploring the Southeast hacking their way through the forests and the natives. Around this time, the Mississippian peoples were replaced by the Choctaw and Muskhogee (also known as the Creek) Peoples who visited the island like their previous brethren. The French first visited the island in 1699 under Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, who would establish the city of Mobile and the entire Louisiana colony. Upon arrival, d’Iberville encountered a number of human skeletons and named the island “Massacre Island.” Some historians speculate that a hurricane had eroded a burial mound exposing the skeletons that the French discovered. The name would stick for some time but was later changed to honor the son of the French king, the Dauphin. Of course, the pronunciation has been eroded over time with the final nasal syllable being replaced by an anglicized “fin” so the name sounds more akin to the word “dolphin.”

Fort Gaines
51 Bienville Boulevard

After visiting the Shell Mounds and seeing a few birds, I moved on to try my luck at the Audubon Bird Sanctuary. My path took me through the forest of the sanctuary and through the campground on the opposite side and towards the eastern tip of the island around Fort Gaines. While the fort may look intimidating from both land and sea, the real threat is the sea. When construction on the fort began in 1819, the project quickly ran over budget and the plans had to be redrawn as the fort sat too close to the water and high tides would flood the construction.

Aerial view of Fort Gaines, 2002, showing its proximity to the sea, rock breaks, and jetties protecting it. Photo by Edibobb, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Over time, the threat from the sea has been constant. Hurricanes have eroded the beach next to the fort causing parts of the masonry to collapse. The collapsed portions have been repaired, but the fort is still under threat from nature just as it was under threat from Admiral David Farragut’s Union naval forces in August of 1864.

With the tide of war turning against the Confederacy, the Union fleet under Farragut set out to capture the ports of Mobile thus tightening the vice grip they held on the Confederacy. Fort Gaines to the west and Fort Morgan to the east guarded the entrance to Mobile Bay. Mines or “torpedoes,” as they were called in that period, were scattered in fields across the entrance forcing ships into a narrow channel near the heavily fortified and gunned Fort Morgan. When the Union fleet arrived on the morning of August 5, the guns of Fort Morgan opened fire. Even losing the USS Tecumseh, the Union fleet continued into the bay with Farragut famously lashed to the rigging of the USS Hartford yelling, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”

Painting of the action at Fort Morgan by Louis Prang, ca. 1884. This is similar to the action Ft. Gaines experienced.

Upon entering the bay, the specter of the ironclad CSS Tennessee loomed ahead. Fighting just a mile north of Fort Gaines, the Tennessee and a number of smaller gunboats took on the Union fleet. Finally, exhausted and basically dead in the water, the Tennessee surrendered. The fight turned towards Fort Gaines and volleys of ammunition were poured onto the masonry structure for almost three days. It is said that at one point in the fighting, the monitor gunboats fired upon the fort from almost point blank range. On August 8, battered into submission, Colonel Charles Anderson surrendered the fort and the nearly 800 men inside.

Since that day of defeat, the fort served as a military post through World War II, but it has not again seen action. The cries of men and the boom of guns have been replaced by the gentle susurrant sea breeze and the cries of wheeling seabirds. But still, spiritual elements still linger.

In researching the haunting of Fort Gaines, I’ve only come across one specific sighting. Many sites online describe Fort Gaines as being haunted but don’t venture into specifics. An article by Michael Baxter, “Ghostly Getaway to Dauphin Island,” describes the experience on one island resident driving past the fort at night. The resident and a friend witnessed the apparition of a woman walking along the battlements. She walked for a bit, stopped, looked at her observers and faded slowly. A number of sources also speak of paranormal investigations on the fort, but I can find no actual reports of such. Like Shell Mound, there is certainly a reason that Fort Gaines could be haunted, but little specific evidence.

There are other stories of ghosts walking the beaches and streets of Dauphin Island, but again, little that is verifiable or specific. Michael Baxter’s article, really one of the best sources of island tales speaks of a number of wandering spirits but these are hard to pin down. Of course, as the island continues into another century eroded by wind and sea I wonder if the birds or even the spirits will remain.


Mysteries of Pinewood Cemetery–Florida

N.B. This articles was revised 3 June 2020.

Pinewood Cemetery
Erwin Road
Coral Gables, Florida

It’s hard to imagine among all the modernity that is South Florida that this area has been settled for many centuries. Native Americans lived here until pressure from the government and white settlers began forcing them out starting in 1822, just after Florida became a state. With most of the Native Americans gone white settlers began building cabins and farming, some with slaves. The area would remain a quiet backwater until Henry Flagler began shaping Florida’s new image in the latter part of the century and speculators and developers began buying land.

Bit by bit, the old Florida succumbed to developers’ vision and disappeared under new construction.  Pinewood Cemetery, a piece of Old Florida, disappeared in a forest with its tombstones and graves weathering then later broken and vandalized by hoodlums in search of a thrill. The cemetery was forgotten by most of the living and left for some time to the vigilant care of the cemetery’s own spirits.

Pinewood Cemetery’s air of desolation and dereliction has spawned mysterious stories and legends. A 2006 article on the cemetery in The Miami Herald mentions that neighbors have spoken of midnight burials in the cemetery. Ghost tales have also emerged telling of shadow people, strange noises and, more commonly, odd feelings. One paranormal investigation discovered a large cleared circular patch where nothing was growing, possible evidence that late night rituals may also be held there. The group’s psychic investigators felt that some animal sacrifices may have been conducted there. Regardless, according to evidence gathered by investigators, most of the spirits in the cemetery seem to simply be curious residents intending no harm to the living.


Pinewood Cemetery Coral Gables Florida
Graves in the forest at Pinewood Cemetery. Photo 2007, by Deathbecomezher, courtesy of Find-A-Grave.

Before the establishment of the large City Cemetery (which may also be haunted) in Miami and the city’s official incorporation in 1896, Pinewood was the main cemetery south of the Miami River. Once the city cemetery established, most of the burials north of the river were removed there, while Pinewood remained quietly in its forest home. Some legends speak of the Pinewood site as originally a burial ground for the area’s Tequesta Indians, though there’s no hard evidence of this. The first pioneer burials are said to have occurred around 1855 and included some of the area’s earliest settlers. The cemetery’s “official” history does not appear in the historical record until the land was deeded to the Trustees of Pinewood Cemetery in 1897.

Over the next 30 or so years the cemetery accepted burials. Included among those buried during this time were Dora Perry Suggs, a young mother who disappeared during a walk from the local general store. Her body was discovered in deep woods by a search party and she was interred in Pinewood in 1905. The cemetery was cleaned up following the great 1926 Miami hurricane, a category four storm that did considerable damage and caused between 250 and 350 deaths. Over time, the cemetery was neglected and trees and legends grew up around it.

Monument in Pinewood Cemetery Coral Gables Florida
Monument erected to the unknown dead of Pinewood Cemetery. Photo 2007, by Deathbecomezher, courtesy of Find-A-Grave.

Some notice was taken of the cemetery’s plight in the 1960s, but no action was taken. Development also began to encroach on the 4 acre cemetery. Stories have appeared of construction workers finding bones as they dug foundations adjacent to the cemetery. At the time, only a small portion of the possibly 250 burials in the cemetery were even marked, many tombstones having been stolen or broken. In 1983, the City of Coral Gables created an advisory board to oversee the cemetery and steps have been taken to preserve and restore the cemetery. Headstones have been erected to replace missing stones. Interestingly, current plans leave the cemetery in its wooded, natural state rather than clearing it. This preserves the more park-like setting and creates a place where local students and residents can explore nature and Old Florida history side by side.


  • 1926 Miami hurricane. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 26 March 2011.
  • Bonawit, Oby. “History of Pinewood (Cocoplum) Cemetery.” Tequesta: The Journal of the Historical Association of Southern Florida. Vol. 1, No. 38. 1978.
  • Del Marmol, Sebastian. “Spend a Spooky Morning at Pinewood Cemetery for Pioneer Day This Saturday.” Miami New Times. 18 March 2011.
  • Herrera, Ana I. “Pioneers remembered at Pinewood Cemetery celebration.” 20  March 2011.
  • History of Florida. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 24 March 2011.
  • League of Paranormal Investigators, Inc. Investigation Report for Pinewood Cemetery, October 2008. Accessed 25 March 2011.
  • McGrory, Kathleen. “Pioneering Spirits.” The Miami Herald. 27 August 2006.
  • Miami. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 25 March 2011.

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.


A Ghost at the Gartrell Monument

Marietta City Cemetery
381 Powder Springs Street
Marietta, Georgia

Thanks to a wonderful friend of mine, I now have a marvelous new blog header. The angel tops a monument to Mary Annie Gartrell erected by her sister Lucy. Tradition has it that Lucy visited her sister’s grave twice a week dressed in black mourning clothes. Over time, with Lucy’s biweekly appearances, she became known around town as the “Lady in Black.”

Gartrell Monument, 15 January 2011, the snow is not a usual occurrence in Georgia. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV, all rights reserved.

Marietta, located northwest of Atlanta and now a part of a the Atlanta metro area, was chartered in 1834, sometime before the creation of Atlanta. Of course every growing town needs a burying ground and the City Cemetery was established around the time the city was chartered. Over time, it has become the resting place for a cross-section of Marietta’s citizens and during the Civil War, many Confederate soldiers from throughout the South were buried in the adjoining Confederate Cemetery.

The ranks of Confederate Dead in the Confederate Cemetery adjoining the Marietta City Cemetery, 15 January 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV, all rights reserved.

Over time, ghosts have been reported in the cemetery. The earliest reports, according to the cemetery brochure published by the Marietta Department of Parks and Recreation, come from a cemetery sexton in 1895 who reported a number of figures in the cemetery. Legend holds that the Gartrell Monument is still visited by a “Lady in Black” over a half-century after the death of Lucy, the original Lady in Black.

Update: 1 November 2017. Since the changeover to a new blog, I have retired my original header, though I’m still using a picture of the Gartrell Monument.


  • Akamatsu, Rhetta. Haunted Marietta. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2009.
  • Marietta City Cemetery and Confederate Cemetery Brochure. Marietta, GA: Marietta Department of Parks and Recreation. No Date.
  • Scott, Thomas A. “Marietta.” New Georgia Encyclopedia. 30 September 2003.

The haunts of Washington, D.C.

N.B. This article was edited and revised 2 September 2020.

Though I haven’t really touched on it much yet, the geographical region for this blog includes the District of Columbia. When it was established in 1790, the district was not based in a specific state and instead is under the direct supervision of the Federal Government. With the drama that has and continues to occur in this monumental city, it’s no surprise that there are spiritual remnants. The spirits of past presidents, politicians and their families, civil servants and common people are found throughout the city, from the White House to the Capitol and beyond.

Congressional Cemetery
1801 E Street, SE

Congressional Cemetery, 2008. Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Established as a private burying ground in 1807, this cemetery was later deemed the Washington Parish Burial Ground. About ten years later, space was designated for the burial of government officials and legislators. Cenotaphs, monuments to persons buried elsewhere, were also erected here to memorialize certain notables. Over time, as the burial spot for many of Washington’s elite, this became known as the Congressional Cemetery, though it was not officially a congressional entity.

Among the many famous people who rest here are three who are believed to remain in this plane of existence. John Philip Sousa, was a bandleader and composer known for such patriotic standards as The Washington Post March and Stars and Stripes Forever, he also invented the sousaphone, a type of marching tuba. Legend has it that the bass tones of a sousaphone are sometimes heard around Sousa’s grave.

Famed Civil War-era photographer Mathew Brady, whose stunning images captured the horrors of war is also buried here. After the war, Brady expected that the government would purchase his photographs. When they declined to do so, Brady was left in a penurious state. After being forced to sell his New York studio, he died penniless. His spirit has been reported wandering among the graves of some of those same government officials who denied him compensation.

In 1824, Choctaw Chief Pushmataha, considered by some historians to be the greatest of the chiefs to serve this particular tribe, journeyed to Washington to argue against further concessions of his tribal lands. While on this trip, he fell ill and died and was given full military honors in his burial in this cemetery. Despite his eloquent arguments against the removal of his people, the Choctaw were removed from their homeland. It is possible that his spirit remains here causing trouble at the graves of those who spurned his people after his death.


  • Congressional Cemetery. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.Accessed 20 December 2010.
  • Hauck, Dennis William. Haunted Places: The National Directory. NYC: Penguin, 2002.
  • John Philip Sousa. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 20 December 2010.
  • Mathew Brady. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 20 December 2010.
  • Ogden, Tom. Haunted Washington, DC: Federal Phantoms, Government Ghosts, and Beltway Banshee. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot, 2016.
  • PushmatahaWikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 2 September 2020.
  • Taylor, Troy. Beyond the Grave: The History of America’s Most Haunted Graveyards. Alton, IL: Whitechapel Press, 2001.

Decatur House
1610 H Street, NW

Decatur House, 2009. Photo by Tim1965, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Overlooking Lafayette Park and situated just down the street from the White House stands the Decatur House which is open as the National Center for White House History, a joint effort of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the White House Historical Association. Built in 1818 by Commodore Stephen Decatur, a naval hero of the War of 1812, the house was designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, America’s first professional architect and the designer of the U.S. Capitol Building. Decatur lived in the house only a little more than a year before he was killed in a duel with Commodore James Barron. Decatur’s spirit has been seen standing at a window perhaps contemplating the duel that would end his life while his wife’s piteous spirit has been heard and felt throughout the house.


  • Hauck, Dennis William. Haunted Places: The National Directory. NYC: Penguin, 2002.
  • Decatur HouseWikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 2 September 2020.
  • McCurry, Jason. “Decatur House” in Jeff Belanger’s Encyclopedia of Haunted Places. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books, 2005.
  • Reportedly haunted locations in Washington, D.C. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 20 December 2010.

Independence Avenue
In the vicinity of FAA Headquarters

FAA Headquarters on Independence Avenue, 2009. Photo by Matthew Bisanz, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Much of early Washington was built on the backs of African-American slaves. Two of the most notorious slave markets, the Williams Slave Pen and the Robey Slave Pen were ironically located along Independence Avenue near what is now the headquarters of the Federal Aviation Administration. Witnesses in the area report the clanking of chains and screams in this area.


Indonesian Embassy
(Walsh-McLean Mansion)
2020 Massachusetts Avenue, NW

Indonesian Embassy (Walsh-McLean Mansion), 2008. Photo by Josh Carolina, courtesy of Wikipedia.




The Walsh-McLean Mansion is an architectural gem and currently the home to the Indonesian Embassy and several mysteries. The home was owned by the wealthy Edward Beale McLean, owner and publisher of The Washington Post. In 1911, he purchased the famed Hope Diamond, which he presented to his wife, socialite Evelyn Walsh McLean. The purchase went through despite the rumors of a curse attached to the stone.

For eight years the McLeans avoided any tragedy that could be blamed on the stone. As a series of misfortunes befell the family, the press labeled the diamond a “talisman of evil.” These tragedies included the death of the McLean’s son in an automobile accident, their eventual divorce, their daughter from an overdose of sleeping pills, Edward’s dive into insanity, and Evalyn’s demise from disease in 1947. It is Evalyn’s spirit that is supposedly seen descending the grand staircase of the house.


  • Edward Beale McLeanWikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 2 September 2020.
  • Ganschinietz, Suzanne. National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for Indonesian Embassy. Listed 18 January 1973.
  • Hauck, Dennis William. Haunted Places: The National Directory. NYC: Penguin, 2002.
  • Holzer, Hans. Where the Ghosts Are: The Ultimate Guide To Haunted Houses. Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press, 1995.
  • Hope Diamond. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 22 December 2010.

National Building Museum
(Old Pension Building)
440 G Street, NW

National Building Museum, 2010. Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid, courtesy of Wikipedia.
The faux-onyx Corinthian columns in the National Building Museum, 1918. Photo by National Photo Company, courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Some of the first paranormal phenomena witnessed in the 1885 Old Pension Building were odd faces appearing on the simulated onyx Corinthian columns in the main court of the building. In 1917, on the eve of the death of “Buffalo” Bill Cody, a guard saw the veins in the onyx take on the shape of a Native American head and a buffalo. Other faces seen on the columns include George and Martha Washington and eventually got so bad the columns were painted over. Following the painting, the spirits took to the halls in the form of shadowy figures.


  • Hauck, Dennis William. Haunted Places: The National Directory. NYC: Penguin, 2002.
  • National Building Museum. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 22 December 2010.

Octagon House
1799 New York Avenue

The Octagon House, 2009. Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Octagon House is described by the National Park Service as “a zenith in Federal architecture in the United States, through its brilliant plan which combines a circle, two rectangles, and a triangle, and through the elegance and restraint of the interior and exterior decoration.” Construction on this magnificent manse began in 1798 and was completed two years later. The house was home to Colonel John Tayloe, one of the wealthiest planters in Virginia and his spirit as well as the spirits of two of his daughters have been seen in the house. One daughter died after plunging over the stair’s railing. Among other spirits reported is that of Dolley Madison who spent time in house when it served temporarily as Executive Mansion after the White House was burned by the British.


  • Holzer, Hans. Where the Ghosts Are: The Ultimate Guide To Haunted Houses. Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press, 1995.
  • National Park Service. “Octagon Hall.” Accessed 22 December 2010.

United States Capitol Building
Capitol Hill

Among the more interesting legends of this most legendary city is that of Statuary Hall in the Capitol. The magnificent domed chamber originally served as the chamber for the House of Representatives in the first half of the nineteenth century. When the House of Representatives moved into a new chamber, legislation was put forth to use the room to celebrate prominent Americans with each state adding statues of two of its most prominent citizens. The collection of statues has grown to the point where only 38 are actually located in the hall with the remainder of the collection scattered throughout the Capitol. The legend associated with this room is that on the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, the statues all climb down from their pedestals and dance to celebrate another year of the Republic’s survival. According to Dennis William Hauck, the guard who swore he saw this happen was dismissed.

For information on a ghost from the Library of Congress’ original location within the Capitol that may continue to haunt the building see my article on the haunted libraries of D.C.


  • Hauck, Dennis William. Haunted Places: The National Directory. NYC: Penguin, 2002.
  • National Statuary Hall. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 20 December 2010.

Woodrow Wilson House
2340 S StrOeet, NW

Woodrow Wilson House, 2008. Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The shade of our 28th president, Woodrow Wilson apparently appears in two places: Blair House and his home in the northwestern part of the city. Also facing Lafayette Square near the Decatur, Cutts-Madison and White Houses, all of which are haunted, the Blair House is now the official state guest house. According to Michael Varhola, Wilson’s spirit has been seen rocking in a rocking chair in one of the bedrooms. His spirit is also seen in the home he occupied following his presidency and where he subsequently died in 1924. Wilson’s “slow shuffle” aided by a cane, which he used following a stroke in 1919, has been heard frequently in this house.


    • Blair House. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 22 December 2010.
    • Hauck, Dennis William. Haunted Places: The National Directory. NYC: Penguin, 2002.
    • Varhola, Michael J. Ghosthunting Virginia. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2008.
    • Woodrow Wilson House (Washington, D.C.). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 22 December 2010.

A few notes on the Old Phenix Regional Hospital

Old Phenix Regional Hospital
18th Street
Phenix City, Alabama 

A front page article in this past Tuesday’s Columbus (GA) Ledger-Enquirer featured this possibly haunted location and presented a number of interesting issues regarding ghosthunting. The article, entitled, “Haunted Hospital?” covers a recent incident where a couple entered the abandoned hospital. After neighbors summoned the police, the couple, who claimed to be conducting a séance, was asked to leave.

By default, it seems most hospitals have some spiritual activity; not only residual activity, but intelligent spirits that have not been able to leave the confines of the place where they died. Throughout the nation and, of course the South, there are numerous hospitals that are known for their spiritual activity. Among them are locations like Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky, an abandoned tuberculosis hospital; the Old South Pittsburg Hospital in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, an abandoned regional hospital that closed fairly recently but is now open for paranormal investigations; and Milledgeville, Georgia’s Central State Hospital, once one of the largest mental institutions in the nation, it is now confined to a handful of buildings sitting on a mostly abandoned campus. Even hospitals still in operation may be counted among those that are haunted including Anniston, Alabama’s Stringfellow Memorial Hospital.

Phenix City, located just across the Chattahoochee River from Columbus, Georgia, is the product of the merger of two smaller towns, Girard and Brownsville, which consolidated in 1923. The city acquired a reputation as “Sin City, USA” in the first half of the twentieth century. Organized crime, prostitution and gambling were rampant in the city until a group of citizens banded together to reclaim the city. After the less moral elements of the city were done away with, the city has remained mostly a sleepy bedroom community for Columbus.

The large Phenix Regional Hospital facility opened in 1947 and was heavily in debt when Columbus Regional Health Systems purchased the hospital from the city in 1993. Columbus Regional intended on replacing the facility with a new hospital, but the plans fell through. When the hospital was closed in 2002, the land that had been purchased for the new hospital was used for a rehabilitation hospital instead with Phenix City residents having to seek medical attention in Columbus instead. The old hospital facility was boarded up and put up for sale. According to the article, neighbors have witnessed the homeless and vandals entering the deteriorating building.

Nationwide, ghosthunting is still considered by the general public to be the realm of thrill-seeking teenagers looking to scare themselves silly in dark, abandoned places. Certainly the couple conducting a séance in Phenix Regional doesn’t aid that reputation. With the rise in interest in the paranormal in recent years, many groups have been formed that are respectably investigating locations after procuring the proper permission to investigate. The investigations attempt to document hauntings using practices accepted by the paranormal community; a far cry from silly teenagers and off the cuff séances.

The article doesn’t cite any particular paranormal activity at the hospital. In fact, it is written from a rather close-minded point of view; discounting the mere existence of anything beyond this realm of possibility. I hope in the near future, the editors would take a more open-minded view of the supernatural.


  • Barnes, Kirsten J. “Haunted Hospital?” Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. 7 December 2010.
  • Lange, Jennifer. “Hospital was victim of economics.” Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. 9 April 2002.
  • Phenix City – Russell County Chamber of Commerce. History Highlights Phenix City, Alabama. Accessed 10 December 2010.

“We fired our guns and British kept a’comin”–Chalmette Battlefield

We fired our guns and the British kept a’comin.
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago.
We fired once more and they began to runnin’ on
Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.
from “The Battle of New Orleans” by Jimmie Driftwood, recorded by Johnny Horton in 1959.

Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve
8606 West St. Bernard Highway
Chalmette, Louisiana

The Battle of New Orleans by American painter, Thomas Moran, 1910.

Situated a few miles southeast of the city of New Orleans, the Chalmette Battlefield is the site of America’s greatest victory in the War of 1812. The British first threatened the city with the arrival of a flotilla just off of Lake Pontchartrain. The Americans attempted to block the British from landing but were defeated in the brief Battle of Lake Borgne on December 18, 1814. An attack by the Americans on the British position, once they landed on the 23rd, was successful only in keeping the British on their toes, though their maintained their position. General Andrew Jackson’s American troops dug in and created earthworks on Chalmette Plantation right along the Rodriguez Canal and bounded on both sides by cypress swamps and the Mississippi River that became known as “Line Jackson.”

Undated map of the battle line and line of attack. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

At the Ursuline Convent in New Orleans (see my entry on the convent here), prayers were raised by the sisters to the Virgin Mary to ensure an American victory and protect the city. The sisters had prayed a few years earlier in 1812 when fire ravaged the city. Miraculously, the flames were swept away from the convent by a sudden change in direction. The sisters’ prayers were answered on the morning of January 8th when the British launched their main attack in darkness and heavy fog. Perhaps as an answer to the sisters’ prayers, the fog lifted to reveal the troops marching towards the American’s fortifications. Exposed to brutal artillery fire, the British lost many of their senior officers quite early on leaving the soldiers in the field without direction. Despite being outmanned by British forces, the Americans held their ground and incurred few losses. The British, on the other hand, lost 291 soldiers including two generals with over 1,200 wounded and nearly 500 captured or missing.

This decisive American victory served as the final engagement of the War of 1812, despite its occurrence after the end of the war. The war officially ended in Belgium with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on Christmas Eve, 1814, some two weeks previous to the battle. Following the tumult of battle, the site returned to its agrarian origins and the Beauregard House was built on part of the battlefield around 1830. The entrenchments, especially those in the area around the National Cemetery, were reused by Confederate and later, Union, forces during the Civil War. Towards the end of the war, a national cemetery was established for the burial of Union troops who had died in the area. The cemetery has seen over 15,000 burials and is now closed. Attempts to memorialize the site date to 1855 when construction began on a marble tower on the battlefield which was completed in 1908.

Modern photo of the battlefield with the remains of the “Line Jackson” earthworks, battle monument and the Beauregard House. From the National Park Service.

The Battlefield and National Cemetery now comprise a unit of the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve, which preserves a series of cultural and natural resources that represent the rich history and ecology of the region. The park is named for the nineteenth century pirate, Jean Lafitte, who worked in some of the areas preserved in the park and who also came to the aid of the American’s before and during the battle. The spirit of Lafitte is one of the spirits that is said to haunt Destrehan Plantation which I wrote about in the entry on the River Road plantations of Louisiana.

Battlefields appear frequently in paranormal literature. Seemingly, the more important the battle, the more haunted the battlefield and the Chalmette Battlefield is no exception. Though finding good information on the haunting of this battlefield is not as easy. There are two primary sources for information on the ghosts of the battlefield: Jeff Dwyer’s excellent Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans and a blog from the Southern Area Paranormal Society. Outside of these sources, there is information on the haunted, but its validity is questionable.

Jeff Dwyer’s book provides good information on the battle, but he doesn’t say too much about what supernatural elements have been experienced there. He states that cold spots have been felt and that sensitive people have felt a “pulling sensation as if gravity has increased many times.” My skeptical side is apt to not usually believe “feelings” that people may get in a location, especially if that’s the only indication of paranormal activity.

The other main source for what is taking place in the battlefield involves a good deal more information. The Southern Area Paranormal Society discusses the battlefield and two nearby forts in their blog. Activity they mention on the battlefield include apparitions and voices. They also mention that activity has been reported in the Beauregard House including the sound of footsteps and possible shadow people.


  • The Battle of New Orleans. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 19 November 2010.
  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican, 2007.
  • Greene, Jerome A. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for Chalmette Unit. Listed 6 July 1987.
  • Jean Lafitte. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 22 November 2010.
  • Manley, Roger. Weird Louisiana: Your Travel Guide To Louisiana’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets. NYC: Sterling, 2010.
  • Southern Area Paranormal Society. Fort Beivnue, Chalmette Battlefield & Fort Pike. 19 May 2009.