Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Some Alabama Hauntings, Briefly Noted

This entry was originally posted 16 January 2013, it has been edited and expanded a bit.

Bama Theatre
600 Greensboro Avenue

Architect David O. Whilldin employed a theme of simplicity versus the exotic in his design for the Bama Theatre. The façade of the theatre utilizes limestone (a stone believed to possibly conduct paranormal energy) cut in the simplified geometry of Art Deco and Moderne lines. Step into the lobby though, and a patron will find themselves immersed in the exuberance of an Italian Renaissance courtyard modeled on that of the Davanzati Palace in Florence. Perhaps Whilldin’s theme was meant to illustrate the condition of so many Americans during the Great Depression: leading simple and austere lives on the outside with vivacious, imaginative and highly cultured lives inside. Opening in 1938 and built with funds from the Works Progress Administration, the Bama Theatre can be considered one of the last of the great American atmospheric movie palaces.
Marquee of the Bama Theatre, 2010, by Carol M. Highsmith.
Courtesy of the George F. Landegger Collection of Alabama
Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith's America, Library of Congress,
Prints and Photographs Division.

The identities of the spirits at the Bama Theatre are mysterious. While research into the theatre’s past has revealed no deaths to link to the haunting, this may be a case of residual energy remaining after years of crowds visiting the theatre. One particularly interesting story from the theatre involves an employee who arrived early one morning. As he was making coffee, he heard the elevator moving. He stood at the doors expecting to greet the rider but when the doors opened, he was greeted with a blast of icy air. This is perhaps the most chilling of the paranormal events in this building. Others working in the building have reported shadow figures, odd lights, and the distinct feeling of being watched. The building was investigated by the Alabama Paranormal Research Team in recent years, though little evidence to support a haunting was uncovered.

Alabama Paranormal Research Team. Investigation Report on The Bama
     Theatre, Tuscaloosa, AL. Accessed 29 November 2012.
Higdon, David & Brett J. Talley. Haunted Tuscaloosa. Charleston, SC:
     History Press, 2012.
“Our History.” Bama Theatre. Accessed 4 May 2013.

Bluff Hall
405 North Commissioners Avenue

The fortunes of Demopolis’ Lyon family reflect the rise and fall of the entire state during the 19th century. While the family owned a large plantation, Bermuda Hill, outside of town, it required a home in town for business and social functions. This home, Bluff Hall, was constructed in 1832 by Allen Glover for his daughter Sarah and her husband Francis Strother Lyon.

Bluff Hall, 2008, by Altairisfar. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The revised WPA guide to the state describes the house as “fortress-like in its strength and severity,” an apt description for the magnificently sited home. Occupying one of the bluffs above the Tombigbee River, the home illustrates the Lyon family’s remarkable and powerful position in the region. Francis Lyon, the home’s first owner, served in the Alabama State Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Confederate Congress, all the while running his plantation at Bermuda Hill. The home remained in the Lyon family until just after the turn of the 20th century when another family purchased it as a residence. The Marengo County Historical Society purchased the home in 1967 and restored it to its antebellum glory.

Since its purchase by the historical society, evidently no one had stayed the night in the home until 2003. A group of people staying overnight encountered odd sounds during the evening. When the President of the local Chamber of Commerce went to investigate, she was confronted with the apparition of a child on the stairs. Local historians have suggested that the child was the spirit of Leonidas Mecklenburg “Merk” Polk, Francis Lyon’s grandson and grandson to Confederate General Leonidas Polk, who passed away in the home of scarlet fever in 1877.

“Area rich in ghost stories, folk lore.” Demopolis Times. 30 October
Bluff HallWikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 14 December
Francis Strother Lyon. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed
     14 December 2012.
Hendrix, Barry H. “Image may have been real.” Demopolis Times.
     5 November 2003.
Walker, Alyce Billings. ed. Alabama: A Guide to the Deep SouthNew 
     Revised Edition. NYC: Hastings House, 1975.
Interstate 65
Between Evergreen and Greenville

The roughly 40 mile stretch of I-65 between Evergreen, in Conecuh County, and Greenville, in Butler County, is the setting for a legend. Like much of the state of Alabama, this area was initially part of the huge nation of the Muscogee or Creek people. After Alabama’s creation in 1819, these native lands were flooded by land-hungry white pioneers and tensions rose as the natives watched the theft and degradation of their homeland. Skirmishes between the two groups brought violence and orders of removal from Washington. Thousands of Muscogees were forcibly removed from their rich and fertile homeland and resettled in the dry and barren Oklahoma territory.

The Muscogee left behind villages, farmland, hunting grounds, trails, and the bones of their ancestors. According to legend, I-65 cuts a swath through part of this sacred Muscogee territory and, as a result, this section of interstate is cursed. One commonly quoted statistic on this stretch of road states that “between 1984 and 1990, there were 519 accidents, 208 injuries, and 23 deaths on this 40 mile stretch of highway, though the road is straight, even, and well maintained.”

Many of these accidents are supposedly caused by something, possibly a human figure, darting across the road. A 2002 Birmingham News article says that Native American spirits are seen in this area, “some as tall as 50 feet, towering over the pine trees in the interstate median.” Other reports involve bright lights temporarily blinding drivers. Then again, this may just be another old Indian curse legend.

Granato, Sherri. “Haunted America: Interstate 65 in Evergreen,
     Alabama." Yahoo Voices. 24 October 2011.
Hauck, Dennis William. Haunted Places: The National Directory. NYC:
     Penguin, 2002.
Haveman, Christopher. “Creek Indian Removal.” Encyclopedia of
     Alabama. 23 February 2012.
MacDonald, Ginny. “Boootiful Alabama: Don’t let night catch you
     driving alone.” Birmingham News. 31 October 2002.

These profiles are among 300 haunted locations throughout Alabama that I have covered in my book, Southern Spirit Guide's Haunted Alabama: AGuide to Ghostlore, Legends and Haunted Places, now available on Amazon. Get your copy today!

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Southern Feast of All Souls—Feast Wrap Up

The feast is done, the table has been cleared, the guests have left, the spirits have quietly returned to their rest, and the veil between our world and the next has been restored. This season has been great for articles about the haunted South so, I’m wrapping up this Southern Feast of All Souls with a look at some of the new (to me) haunted places that were covered in the news media.

Colby Building
191 North Foster Street
Dothan, Alabama

An investigator from Circle City Ghost Hunters said of the Colby Building in downtown Dothan, “Somebody once upon a time put their heart and soul in the building.” Perhaps that soul is still here. According to an October 29th article in the Dothan Eagle, this group investigated the building after numerous reports of paranormal activity in the building surfaced.

While working on my recent book about haunted Alabama, I had a heck of a time trying to find anything on the Dothan area. As the seventh largest city in the state by population, there should be more information on hauntings in the area, sadly there was nothing reliable. Therefore, I was rather excited to see this article appear. The Colby Building was built in 1938 as a J.C. Penney’s Department Store and has since hosted a number of businesses. The building was redeveloped by a private/public partnership in 2008 and currently houses two restaurants, Colby’s on North Foster Street and Bella’s in the back of the building on West Troy Street.

Employees and guests have had experiences in the building including things moving on their own and seeing figures. Others have had their names called and the employees have nicknamed the spirit “’Rachel’ because all kinds of crazy stuff happened.” (I’m presuming this a reference to the television show Friends.) The owner of the restaurants was delighted to host an investigation when Circle City Ghost Hunters inquired about investigating there. The article notes that the activity is explained by a story involving the death of a young woman on the building’s third floor in the 1950s.

Ingram, Debbie. “Plans unveiled for $2.4 million Penney building project.”
     Dothan Eagle. 18 August 2008.
Sailors, Jimmy. “Circle City Ghost Hunters conducting investigation in
     downtown Dothan.” Dothan Eagle. 29 October 2015.

Suntan Arts Center (Don Vicente Building)
3300 Gulf Boulevard
St. Pete Beach, Florida

Adjoining the Don CeSar Beach Resort, a palatial pink dream from the Jazz Age, is the Don Vicente Building which was built just prior to the grand hotel to serve as offices during the hotel’s construction. Over the years, the building has seen many incarnations serving as offices for the hotel, a bank and even a firehouse. The building has housed the 50 year old Suntan Arts Center for many years. The center provides classes and support for the local arts community.

The center hosted a ghost tour this year highlighting the paranormal activity that has been experienced in the building. For many years people within the building have encountered the spirit of a man in a white suit. As this building did serve as an office for Thomas Rowe, the hotel’s founder, this spirit has been identified as him. During an investigation of the building in 2013 by SPIRITS of St. Petersburg, the group got a response when Rowe’s name was mentioned. Besides Mr. Rowe’s white-suited spirit there may be other spirits within this building as well.

“Self-guided ghost tour departs from Suntan Arts Center.” TBN
     Weekly. 28 September 2015.
SPIRITS of St. Petersburg Paranormal Investigation Group. “Report
     for Suntan Arts Center.” Accessed 8 November 2015.

Porter Hall
Mercer University
Macon, Georgia

Porter Hall, a residence hall on the campus of Mercer University, one of the oldest private universities in Georgia, possibly has something mysterious residing on its fourth floor. One student reported that she “heard things like chairs being dragged across the pine, like a hard pine floor.” The fourth floor is not accessible to students and used for storage. Reportedly, only the dorm’s resident advisor has access. When students complain of noise from that floor, the resident advisor will check it out and find the floor empty of living beings.

     locations across campus.” WGXA.  30 October 2015.
Top 5 Hauntings of Mercer University.” Gateway Macon. Accessed 23
     October 2015.

Westover Terrace
905 West Main Street
Richmond, Kentucky

When the current owners of Westover Terrace began restoration on the house after they acquired it in 1995, the house was severely dilapidated and vandals had defaced parts of the interior. A pentagram had been painted upstairs, walls and windows had been smashed, and the mantelpieces and radiators had been stolen. Local kids occasionally prowled the creepy house in search of ghosts in this former funeral home. The current owners did not realize they acquired ghosts with this magnificent 1881 home.

As work progressed, the owners and contractors began to have odd experiences including loud crashes and bangs that sounded like sledge hammers being used and heavy furniture being moved. The voice of a little girl was heard asking workers what they were doing and warning them on occasion. While doing repair work on a staircase, one particular board was removed several times. After the owner used a hydraulic nail gun to attach the board, the board disappeared entirely. When the owners finally moved into the home in 2005, the activity seemed to quiet down. Evidently, the ghosts are pleased with the renovations. This is a private home, please respect the owners’ privacy and observe the house from the street.

King, Critley. “The haunted history of Richmond.” Richmond
     Register. 29 October 2015.

Green Light Bridge
Green Light Road
Winnsboro, Louisiana

An article about Louisiana hauntings from the Shreveport Times highlighted this very interesting location near Winnsboro in Franklin Parish in the northeast portion of the state. The origin of the road’s odd name has been lost to history, but is possibly related to the paranormal green light that is supposed to emanate from underneath the bridge and along the banks of the stream here. The article does not name the creek, but after looking at Google maps, it seems that the road only crosses one stream, Turkey Creek, in its course from LA-15 to its termination at Dummy Line Road.

The possible reasons for the odd green light are varied. A church once existed on one side of the creek and sometime in the mid-20th century a man was hung from a tree in front of the church. A fatal car accident that occurred here may be related to the activity as well. A woman lost her life when her car crashed into a tree. There is also speculation that the woman was frightened by the mysterious green light.

“’Haunted’ Louisiana: Tales of Terror from Shreveport and beyond.”
     Shreveport Times. 30 September 2015.

Glen Burnie Regional Library
1010 Eastway
Glen Burnie, Maryland

Librarians at the Glen Burnie Regional Library have been spooked by something within this 1969 library for many years. Odd sounds have been heard by staff when they have closed the building at night while books have been pushed to the floor by unseen hands. Staff called in the Maryland Ghost Trackers to investigate. During the investigation, the investigators made contact with a number of male spirits who are apparently hanging around and enjoy making a bit of trouble now and then.

     Capital Gazette. 23 October 2015.
     28 October 2015.

Ole Tavern on George Street
416 George Street
Jackson, Mississippi

There are several ghosts still patronizing the Ole Tavern on George Street according to a Halloween article from Jackson, Mississippi news station, WAPT. The article highlights a recent investigation of this establishment by the Mississippi Paranormal Research Institute. Employees of the popular eatery have had several eerie encounters with a few possible spirits here.

One employee saw a woman sitting at the bar one morning as he opened up. He had just removed the padlock from the door when he saw the woman. Realizing that no one was in the building, the employee returned to his car until someone else arrived. This spirit is believed to be the spirit of a prostitute who once worked in the building and committed suicide here in the 1970s. The investigation produced evidence that this woman may remain in the building with some other spirits.

“Ghost hunters seek answers from ‘Bitter Hooker.’” WAPT. 31
     October 2015.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Southern Feast of All Souls—Passover

Happy Halloween and a Blessed Samhain!

Haunted Hotel on Ursulines
623 Ursulines Avenue
New Orleans, Louisiana

Exodus, Chapter 12
King James Version

21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. 22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

A dark lord passed over New Orleans on the night of March 18th, 1919. Instead of a demand that each home’s occupants paint their doors with lamb’s blood, he ordered that a jazz band be at full swing within each home. At fifteen minutes past midnight on this Tuesday night the city’s dance halls were filled to capacity while the strains of jazz poured out of homes throughout the city. Clarinets wailed while trombones tramped up and down scales stomping the precious blue notes that flavored this music. Crooners of all colors sang of love lost and regained against a backdrop of banjos, trumpets and tubas. Thousands of feet kicked up in time to the syncopated rhythms. This was a city at its most alive fearing the shroud of death that was lurking somewhere with axe and razors at the ready. Death did not sting that night. The dark lord would return in August to continue his spree.

The mysterious Axeman of New Orleans was never caught. Between May 1918 and October 1919, at least twelve people were attacked and killed at the hands of this heinous killer. As most of the victims were of Italian origin, many suspected that the crimes were associated with the Mafia that was active in the city. Someone claiming to be the killer wrote to The Times-Picayune:

Hell, March 13, 1919

Esteemed Mortal:

They have never caught me and they never will. They have never seen me, for I am invisible, even as the ether that surrounds your earth. I am not a human being, but a spirit and a demon from the hottest hell. I am what you Orleanians and your foolish police call the Axeman.

When I see fit, I shall come and claim other victims. I alone know whom they shall be. I shall leave no clue except my bloody axe, besmeared with blood and brains of he whom I have sent below to keep me company.

If you wish you may tell the police to be careful not to rile me. Of course, I am a reasonable spirit. I take no offense at the way they have conducted their investigations in the past. In fact, they have been so utterly stupid as to not only amuse me, but His Satanic Majesty, Francis Josef, etc. But tell them to beware. Let them not try to discover what I am, for it were better that they were never born than to incur the wrath of the Axeman. I don‘t think there is any need of such a warning, for I feel sure the police will always dodge me, as they have in the past. They are wise and know how to keep away from all harm.

Undoubtedly, you Orleanians think of me as a most horrible murderer, which I am, but I could be much worse if I wanted to. If I wished, I could pay a visit to your city every night. At will I could slay thousands of your best citizens, for I am in close relationship with the Angel of Death.

Now, to be exact, at 12:15 (earthly time) on next Tuesday night, I am going to pass over New Orleans. In my infinite mercy, I am going to make a little proposition to you people. Here it is:

I am very fond of jazz music, and I swear by all the devils in the nether regions that every person shall be spared in whose home a jazz band is in full swing at the time I have just mentioned. If everyone has a jazz band going, well, then, so much the better for you people. One thing is certain and that is that some of your people who do not jazz it on Tuesday night (if there be any) will get the axe.

Well, as I am cold and crave the warmth of my native Tartarus, and it is about time I leave your earthly home, I will cease my discourse. Hoping that thou wilt publish this, that it may go well with thee, I have been, am and will be the worst spirit that ever existed either in fact or realm of fancy.

The Axeman

In a very recent article from the New Orleans ABC affiliate, WGNO, highlighted the possible, albeit tenuous, connection between the axe murderer and the Haunted Hotel on Ursulines. Located within the French Quarter, I’ve found nothing on what makes this hotel haunted, in fact the hotel does not appear to have a web presence. The article doesn’t provide much more information than to say it is an extended stay hotel and that it may be haunted by the spirit of the Axeman. Information on the haunting comes from a ghost tour company, which are often not reliable. In this case, the hotel was apparently investigated and something indicated that a particular corner of the courtyard had paranormal activity. The readings somehow indicated that the spirit may have killed someone and hid in that particular corner.
A 1919 newspaper map of the Axeman's killings. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
The 1919 map of the killings doesn’t show any murders taking place in the French Quarter, so there’s really nothing to connect the Axeman with this particular building, other than some anomalous readings during a paranormal investigation. Ursulines Avenue, however, boasts a fairly impressive roster of spirits as it slices through the famous French Quarter. As you stroll these ancient streets, think what it must have been like on the night of the Axeman’s Passover with jazz spilling from every open window warding off an axe and razor bearing dark lord as he passes over.

     Picayune. 23 October 2011.
Axeman of New Orleans. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. 31
     October 2015.
Taylor, Troy. “The Axeman’s Jazz.” Prairie Ghosts. 2004.
     hotel in the French Quarter.” WGNO. 27 October 2015.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Southern Feast of All Souls—Patient Souls at the Park

E. P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park
3000 Freys Hill Road
Louisville, Kentucky

On a cool Sunday morning in Fall, like today, it’s not hard to imagine that E. P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park is teeming with life. Joggers, bikers, walkers, families with children, throng the paths, playgrounds and Activities Center in the park, unknowing of the patient souls that still roam these grounds. Some of these souls may still suffer the effects of the mental illnesses that afflicted them in life. There is some indication that death may not end the mania, though I would prefer to believe that these poor patient’s souls have passed on leaving only the confused energy that they exuded in life.
One of the park's paths. Photo 2008, by TeleD, courtesy of Wikipedia.
The grounds of this modest state park were home to Native Americans for centuries before the intrusion of white men into the utopian “Kaintuck” territory. The land was later settled by the Hite family. According to an article from Louisville TV station, WDRB, Isaac Hite died from injuries sustained in a Native American attack here.

In 1869 the state of Kentucky acquired the land and began construction on the State House of Reform for Juvenile Delinquents at Lakeland. This facility evidently went through a series of name and purpose changes with adults being moved to the facility. Around 1900, the facility became Central Kentucky Asylum for the Insane. Throughout the 20th century, the hospital was investigated a number of times after allegations of corruption and abuse surfaced. The old hospital was closed in 1986 with patients being moved into a newer facility nearby. After sitting abandoned for a decade, the deteriorating hospital buildings were demolished by the state. The land near the old hospital that had once served as a farm was converted into a state park in 1974. The park was named for E. P. “Tom” Sawyer, distinguished local judge and county executive who was the father of journalist Diane Sawyer.
Main building of the Central State Hospital, ca. 1920. This is
one of the buildings demolished in 1996. Courtesy of Asylum
While the park grounds were not actually the site of the hospital, they are still possibly occupied by the spirits of some of the patients who died there. Many of the graves of former patients are unknown and may be scattered throughout the park’s property. Paranormal investigators within the park have captured numerous EVPs, especially around the Sauerkraut Cave. Legend holds that patients who became pregnant were brought to the cave and some of those infants were possibly disposed of here. Others mention that the cave was also used by patients trying to escape the facility. For someone escaping through the cave without flashlights or other equipment, it is likely that the escapees got lost and died within the labyrinth.

Of the cave, an article on Louisville.com quotes the park’s naturalist as saying, “They say it’s kind of a sad place. There’s people trapped there, spirits trapped there. There’s a man who’s angry and they say he’s not letting any of the other spirits go.” Indeed, one recent paranormal investigation captured the image of a large burly man within the cave. Should you take some time to visit the park, be mindful of the patient and not so patient spirits of patients who still reside here.

Central State Hospital. Asylum Projects. Accessed 25 October
Central State Hospital (Kentucky). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
     Accessed 25 October 2015.
E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
     Accessed 25 October 2015.
E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park History. Accessed 25 October 2015.
Jones, Elizabeth F. Kentucky Historic Resources Inventory form for
     Central Kentucky Lunatic Asylum. 17 October 1979.
     Legacy of Lakeland Asylum.” Louisville.com. 10 October 2014.
Sutter, Chris. “Exploring paranormal activity at E. P. Tom Sawyer Park.”
     WDRB. 24 October 2015.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

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

Review of 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. Author Pamela Kinney set out recently to meet some of them.

Kinney is 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.

For further information and to read a chapter of this book, see Kinney's blog book tour visit here.

Copies of the book are available at the following sites:

Barnes and Noble

A Southern Feast of All Souls—Newsworthy Souls

A collection of hauntings from recent news.

Brandi’s Blues Café
424 West Beacon Street
Philadelphia, Mississippi

The chat Brandi’s Blues Café was working in the kitchen early one recent morning. Startled by a loud bang he continued working until he heard water running in the sink. He walked over, turned the sink off and returned to his work. Glancing up he saw a figure standing near the kitchen door. It was “about 6 ft. It had a little pot belly. I saw it for three or four seconds.” Thinking it was a co-worker, the chef returned to work. After discovering he was alone in the building he began to hear footsteps and he left the building until his co-workers showed up.

After researching the history of the building and the area, it was discovered that a man was executed in a nearby street in the 1940s. Paranormal investigators brought in to investigate did pick up an EVP response when they spoke the name of the man executed.

Gater, Harold. “Is this Mississippi blues café haunted?” The
     Clarion-Ledger. 24 September 2015.
Jennings, Lindsey. “Haunted Philadelphia Café Investigated.”
     WTOK.  24 September 2015.

McRaven House
1445 Harrison Avenue
Vicksburg, Mississippi

The new owners of the McRaven House, often described as the most haunted house in the state, have been very busy restoring the historic house and mingling with the home’s famous ghosts. In one interaction, the new owners captured an EVP of a female’s voice saying, “That’s a funny old clock.” The house has a number ghosts covering nearly all periods of the home’s history from the late 18th century to the present day. McRaven is now open to visitors for history and haunted history tours.

Norris, Alana. “McRaven House opens its doors Friday.” Vicksburg
     Post. 28 September 2015.

Old Chatham County Jail
145 Montgomery Street
Savannah, Georgia

The Savannah Ghost Research Society has recently deemed the Old Chatham County Jail to be “the most haunted place” in this paranormally active city. Ryan Dunn, founder and head of the society told the Savannah Morning News, “We came in with a lot of equipment and pretty much investigated the place. We caught a lot with audio. We did capture a couple with thermal imaging and thermal cameras.” Dunn notes that the group captured more audio evidence here than they have captured at any other investigation.

The old jail is a formidable modern building that stands out from the historic buildings which surround it within the venerable Savannah Historic District. In use as a detention facility until 1989, the building has since been used for storage of archival records and, for Halloween, the building is being used for a haunted house called “Panic in the Pen,” and hosting paranormal tours as a fundraiser by the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff called in paranormal investigators to help add some real life terror to this already terrifying building.

Employees in the old facility have noted paranormal activity here since the building’s retirement as a correctional facility. One of the sheriff’s deputies remarked that he remembers hearing doors slam and footsteps in the building at night.

Hoagland, Karen. “Old Chatham County Jail investigated for paranormal
     activity.” Savannah Morning News. 13 September 2015.
Ray, Brittini. “Investigators: Old Chatham County jail ‘’most haunted
     place in Savannah.” Savannah Morning News.  1 October 2015.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Southern Feast of All Souls—A Book of Souls

Mid 19th-century era illustration of the attack on Fort Mims. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

In the hot, humid August air of a Deep South summer in 1813, the stench of blood mingled with smoke at Fort Mims. A pall of shocked silence hung over the bodies of men, women and children; a mix of races, Muscogee Creek, white, enslaved Africans; all laying together among the burning ruins of the frontier stockade where they sought shelter. The Red Stick Creeks who attacked the fort had been victorious and still exclaimed their glee in war cries as they disappeared back into the thick scrub forest surrounding the forest.

As the town of Athens, Alabama was sacked by Union troops in May 1862, 16-year-old Nannie Donnell lay in her bed suffering from scarlet fever. On the lawn of her family’s house, now known as the Donnell House, the noisy soldiers drank and caroused despite pleas from the family to allow the child to sleep in peace. Nannie Donnell soon left this world accompanied by Yankee music, but does she still return to the room where died?
The Donnell House, 1935, by Alex Bush for the Historic American
Buildings Survey (HABS), courtesy of the Library of Congress,
Prints and Photographs Division.
On December 1, 1888 Richard Hawes took his daughter, Mary, to East Lake in Birmingham. A few hours later he left without his daughter. Her limp, lifeless body was discovered a few days later under the cool waters of the lake. Her father was arrested not long after for her murder as his train pulled into the city with his new bride. After it was discovered that his wife and other daughter had been murdered as well, Birmingham exploded in outrage. Hawes left this world from the end of a rope, but his daughter’s frail spirit may still linger by the lake.

State Attorney General nominee Albert Patterson left his office in the Coulter Building in downtown Phenix City on the evening of June 18, 1954. Known as “Sin City, USA,” Phenix City had been rife with corruption and organized crime for years and Patterson had pledged to clean it up. He walked to his car in the small parking lot between his office building and the Elite Café. Shots rang out and Patterson stumbled to the sidewalk in front of his office building where he collapsed and died.

With each of these events they entered not only the annals of the history of Alabama but the state’s folklore as well. Folklore speaking of ghosts and spirits has developed around each of these historic sites and many others throughout the state. My first book, Southern Spirit Guide’s Haunted Alabama: A Guide to Ghostlore, Legends and Haunted Places, explores, county-by-county, location-based ghostlore throughout the state of Alabama. Each entry is based on the most reliable sources including interviews with eyewitnesses to paranormal activity at many locations. Explore haunted Alabama with Southern Spirit Guide and get your copy today! Available on Amazon!