Thursday, January 27, 2011

Haunted Mississippi

A selection of ten hauntings from around the state of Mississippi. As always, I must restate my complaint about the lack of sources on Mississippi ghosts. One of my goals in this “Haunted South State by State” series is to provide a wide variety of ghosts throughout each state as well as a variety of locations. With the lack of sources on Mississippi this has been quite difficult. Therefore, I have a number of hauntings from Natchez and a number of locations that are large plantation homes.

Chapel of the Cross
674 Mannsdale Road
Madison
Chapel of the Cross, 2008. Photo by Natalie Maynor, courtesy
of Wikipedia.

This small Gothic revival chapel in rural Madison County appears to have been taken right out of the English countryside. There is some speculation on the designer but history tells us the actual labor on the church was performed mostly by slaves. Conceived originally as the plantation chapel for the Johnstone family’s Annandale Plantation, Margaret Johnstone continued construction after the death of her husband and willed the church to the local Episcopal diocese upon her death. It is Margaret’s daughter, Helen, who legend purports is the weeping woman seen at the grave of her fiancĂ©e, Henry Grey Vick who was killed in a duel only days before their planned wedding date.

Corinth Battlefield
Corinth
Confederate dead at Battery Robinette after the Second Battle
of Corinth. Battery Robinette is one of the preserved areas of
the battlefield. Photo published in The Photographic History
of the Civil War in Ten Volumes.

Following the Confederate’s disastrous attack in April of 1862 on the Union forces at Shiloh, Tennessee (for a battle description see my entry on the Beauregard-Keyes House in New Orleans), the Union army laid siege for two days to the vital railroad town of Corinth, just over the state line. To save his army from annihilation, General P.T.G. Beauregard gave the appearance of reinforcement troops arriving and being put in place while efficiently moving his troops out of the city to nearby Tupelo. The Union army entered the city the following day to find it devoid of Confederates. In October of the same year, Confederates tried once again and failed to capture the city losing some 4,000 men (including dead, wounded and missing) in the process.

The battlefield on which these two battles were fought is now incorporated into the mid-sized city of Corinth. Portions of the battlefield and earthworks are now preserved as the Corinth unit of Shiloh National Military Park. As one might expect, some of those portions have spiritual artifacts remaining. Some of the best stories from Civil War battlefields come from re-enactors who have experiences while re-enacting battles and one of the primary reports of ghosts from the Corinth battlefield comes from a re-enactor whose story was documented by Alan Brown. This particular re-enactor heard the sound of a phantom cavalry and a few nights later, the sound of someone rummaging through her tent while camping on the battlefield.

Dunleith
84 Homochitto Street
Natchez
Dunleith, 1936 by James Butters. Photo taken for the Historic
American Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of
Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

In the city of Natchez, a city filled with huge, historic mansions, Dunleith sits proudly with its 26 huge Tuscan columns amid the grandeur. The house occupies the site of John Routh’s 18th century plantation, Routhlands. When that house burned, Routh’s son-in-law built Dunleith in 1855. Amid the grandeur of Natchez’s homes, there are also many spirits including the lonely woman who still plays the harp at Dunleith, over a century after she arrived.

Grand Opera House
2206 Fifth Street
Meridian
Grand Opera House, now part of the Riley Center for Education and
the Performing Arts, 2008. Photo by Dudemanfellabra, courtesy of
Wikipedia.

When visitors arrived at Meridian’s Grand Opera House, they ascended a flight of stairs into the magical and enlightening world of theatre, something certainly above the dirty streets outside. This magnificent world was accessible for 37 years, before “The Lady,” as the opera house was called possibly after the portrait of the woman just under the center of the proscenium arch, was closed to the public by its doting owners. Opened by German-Jewish businessmen and half-brothers I. Marks and Levi Rothenberg, the opera house stood as a beacon of culture in the vast sandy plains of Mississippi.

The opera house attracted many of the great names of the theatrical world ranging from the mysterious genius of the French actress, Sarah Bernhardt to the rich tones of the “Black Patti,” Sissieretta Jones, one of the first great African-American opera singers and minstrels. When motion pictures began to dominate the entertainment industry throughout America, the theatre was converted to a motion picture house in 1920. The Saenger theatre company rented the theatre in 1923 and when they wished to close the theatre and gut the building in 1927, Marks and Rothenberg took them to court to stop it. Instead, the theatre was shut up to lay sleeping until work began to restore the theatre for use by Mississippi State University. The Grand Opera House is now a part of the Riley Center for Education and the Performing Arts.

Of course, every theatre must have its ghost and the Grand Opera House is no exception. “The Lady” boasts a lady who sings. Perhaps stirred up by renovations, a female voice has been heard singing in the main house when the building is quiet.

King’s Tavern
619 Jefferson Street
Natchez
King's Tavern, 1934 by Ralph Clynne. Photo taken for the Historic
American Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of
Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

One of the few mid-18th century buildings standing in the state of Mississippi, King’s Tavern is the home of the legend of Madeline. Historical records indicate that the building became a tavern under Richard King around 1789 serving travelers at the end of the Natchez Trace a path to Nashville, Tennessee. Little is known of Madeline, other than her spirit seems to be the most active in the building. Besides making her presence known through appearances, she also plays with the faucets and manipulates objects and doors throughout the tavern turned modern restaurant.

Linden
1 Linden Place
Natchez
Linden, 1938 by Frances Benjamin Johnston. Courtesy of the Library of
Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Another of Natchez’s stately antebellum homes, Linden was built around the end of the 18th century. Now a bed and breakfast, both Linden’s owners and guests has spotted visitors from a different era including a man in a top hat.

Merrehope
905 Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Drive
Meridian
Merrehope, 2008. Photo by Dudemanfellabra, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Merrehope whose name is a combination of the words Meridian, restoration and hope, is an architectural combination in itself. The home began as a three-room cottage in 1858 and over the years has been added to be each subsequent owner. Of course, some of these owners have remained in spirit as well. Young Eugenia Gary, the teenage daughter of Merrehope’s second owner, John Gary, died of consumption in the house and has remained. Her gentle spirit has been reported by staff and visitors alike. Another, more mischievous spirit may also haunt the Periwinkle Room where staff have seen a human-shaped indention on the bed. When Meridian Star reporter Jennifer Jacob was interviewing a staff member for an article about the haunting, her recorder picked up a “ghastly inhuman screech,” unheard by the interview participants.

Monmouth Plantation
36 Melrose Plantation
Natchez
Monmouth, 1972 by Jack E. Boucher. Photo taken for the Historic
American Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of
Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

The heavy, pondering footsteps of John A. Quitman are believed to be heard in his former home, Monmouth Plantation. Quitman, who purchased the house in 1826, served in the state house of representatives and state senate, then as governor before serving in the Mexican-American War. Upon his return, he was elected as a Representative to Congress. While in Washington, Quitman contracted the “National Hotel Disease,” a mysterious epidemic that struck guests of the National Hotel and is believed to have been caused by poison introduced into the hotel’s food. Quitman died at Monmouth in 1858, but still may be heard there.

Rowan Oak
Old Taylor Road
Oxford
Rowan Oak, 2000. Photo by Gary Bridgman, courtesy of
Wikipedia.

Maybe nothing ever happens once and is finished.
--- William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom! (1936)

If the theory holds, residual hauntings are just this, something that happens but is never finished; a haunting where the dead still walk, cry, talk, or laugh among the living.  These things are still heard at Rowan Oak the former home of perhaps the greatest, most complicated and certainly most haunted of Southern writers. The house was built around 1840 by Colonel Robert Shegog and purchased by Faulkner in 1930. The deteriorated state of the house matched the deteriorated condition of the rural South even over half a century after the Civil War. Faulkner, habitually low on money, performed much of the restoration himself. He and his wife experienced odd occurrences in the house and he explained it with the legend of Shegog’s daughter, Judith who he said died trying to sneak out of the house for a tryst with her lover. Researchers, however, have discovered that Judith never existed, but odd sounds still resonate through the old house. Perhaps they are the sounds of life that is unfinished?


Springfield Plantation
Mississippi 553
Fayette
Springfield in an undated postcard from the Cooper Collection,
Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Like Linden in Natchez, Springfield also dates to 1790 and it was here the following year that the controversial marriage between Andrew Jackson and Rachel Robards took place. The controversy stems from questions regarding whether the bride was still technically married to her first husband. The owners of the house have experienced a plethora of odd sounds throughout the house including eighteenth century music coming from the old ballroom.

Sources
Brown, Alan. Stories from the Haunted Southland. Jackson,
     MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.
Chapel of the Cross. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
     Accessed 25 January 2011.
Dunleith. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 27
     January 2011.
Goeldner, Paul. National Register of Historic Places
     Nomination form for Dunleith. Listed 14 September
     1972.
Hubbard, Sylvia Booth. Ghosts! Personal Accounts of
     Modern Mississippi Hauntings. Brandon, MS: Quail
     Ridge Press, 1992.
Jacob, Jennifer. “Merrehope: Meridian’s Haunted Mansion.”
     The Meridian Star. 28 October 2007.
John A. Quitman. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 27
     January 2011.
Maddox, Dawn. National Register of Historic Places
     Nomination form for Monmouth. Listed 26 April 1973.
Merrehope. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 25
     January 2011.
Mitchell, Dennis J. “Grand Opera House of Mississippi.”
     Mississippi History Now. September 2006.
National Hotel Disease. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
     Accessed 27 January 2011.
Rettig, Polly M. National Register of Historic Places
     Nomination form for Rowan Oak. Listed 23 May 1968.
Second Battle of Corinth. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
     Accessed 27 January 2011.
Siege of Corinth. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
     Accessed 27 January 2011.
Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the South. Winston-Salem,
     NC: John F. Blair, 2001.
William Faulkner. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
     Accessed 26 January 2011.
Windham, Kathryn Tucker. 13 Mississippi Ghosts and
     Jeffrey. Tuscaloosa, AL: U. of Alabama Press, 1974.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Haunted Maryland

A selection of ten haunted places from the Old Line State, Maryland.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
2145 Key Wallace Drive
Cambridge
View of the tidal marshes at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge 2009.
Photo by Jcantroot, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge preserves some 27,000 acres of tidal marshes, forest, freshwater ponds and other rich habitat. Created in 1933, this wildlife refuge also preserves an important piece of the Atlantic flyway for migratory birds. According to legend, this rich land was stalked by a demonic mule that attacked loggers and fishermen in the days before this was a refuge. Locals hunted the creature down and led it to a stretch of quicksand which swallowed the mad mule, but while the animal has crossed over, it’s spirit is still found wandering in this wild place.

Bladensburg Dueling Ground
Highway 450
Colmar Manor
View of the Bladensburg Dueling Grounds taken between
1910 and 1926. Photo by the National Photo Company, courtesy
of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

When Washington outlawed dueling within the limits of the district, the hotheaded politicians and gentlemen of the district needed a place to “defend their honor.” They chose a little spot of land just outside the district in what is now Colmar Manor, Maryland. The activities at the dueling ground provided the name for the nearby waterway, Dueling Creek or Blood Run, now blandly called Eastern Branch. When the city of Colmar Manor was established in 1927, the city used dueling imagery on its town crest including a blood red background, a pair of dueling pistols and crossed swords.

Senators, legislators and military heroes are among the hundred or so men who dueled at this place in some fifty duels that are known and countless others that took place at this spot. Commodore Stephen Decatur was killed here in a duel with Commodore James Barron in 1820 and Representative John Cilley of Maine, who knew little of firearms, died here after combat in 1838 with Representative William Graves of Kentucky. The spirit of Stephen Decatur has been seen here along with other dark, shadowlike spirits that still stalk the old dueling grounds. The bloody grounds are now a park that stands silently amid the roaring sprawl of suburbia.

Fort McHenry
2400 East Fort Avenue
Baltimore
The sally port of Fort McHenry, 2005. Photo by ScottyBoy900Q, courtesy of Wikipedia.

From the deck of the British ship HMS Tonnant in Baltimore Harbor during the British bombardment of Fort McHenry, lawyer Francis Scott Key was inspired by the sight of the fort’s flag still waving after the smoke cleared on the morning of September 14, 1814. The poem, “The Defense of Fort McHenry,” was sung to the tune of a song, “To Anacreon in Heaven,” and became our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The star-shaped fort named for Washington’s Secretary of War served valiantly in the War of 1812 and protected the city of Baltimore from the advances of the British navy.

Few deaths occurred in the fort during the British bombardment, though the fort did serve as a prison during the Civil War and later a hospital during World War I. Though many spirits have been reported throughout the fort, there are three notable spirits. One spirit may be that of Lieutenant Levi Clagett, one of the few men killed when a British bomb struck the gun emplacement on Bastion 3. Often mistaken for an actor, Clagett’s spirit has been seen by visitors and staff around the bastion where he was killed. The other two notable spirits are that of a woman and also a soldier who committed suicide in the fort in the late nineteenth century.

Jericho Covered Bridge
Jericho Road at Little Gunpowder Falls
Near Jerusalem and Kingville
Jericho Covered Bridge, 2009. Photo by Pubdog, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Straddling the county line between Harford County and Baltimore County over the Little Gunpowder Falls is the Jericho Covered Bridge, constructed in 1865. According to Ed Okonowicz in his Haunted Maryland, there are legends of people seeing slaves hanging from the rafters inside this nearly 88-foot bridge. Certainly, there is an issue with this as the bridge was constructed in 1865, after the end of both slavery and the Civil War. Other, more realistic legends, speak of a woman seen on the bridge wearing old-fashioned clothing and people having their cars stop inexplicably in the middle of the bridge.

Landon House
3401 Urbana Pike
Urbana
Landon House, 2009.
Photo by Acroterion, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places as the Stancioff House, the Landon House has a rather unusual history. Legend speaks of the house originally being built on the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg, Virginia as a factory before it was dismantled and transported to its current location in the 1840s. We do know from historical records that Rev. R.H. Phillips, who moved the house, established a girls seminary in the house and later a boys military institute in the house prior to the Civil War. In the days leading up to the horrific Battle of Antietam, 17 September 1862, Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart stayed in the house and held a gala ball. Whatever mirth remained from the ball was overcome by horror as the wounded and dying poured into the house following Antietam. Numerous apparitions and large amounts of paranormal activity has been experienced throughout the house, particularly the basement. A weekend-long investigation of the house in 2004 by the Western Michigan Ghost Hunters Society uncovered activity in most rooms of the house and throughout the grounds.

Maryland State House
State Circle
Annapolis
Maryland State House, 2006.
Photo by Gbaddorf, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Considered the oldest state house remaining in legislative use, the Maryland State House was completed in 1779. Legend tells of a plasterer working on the dome who fell to his death and is still seen roaming throughout the building and grounds. Visitors still visit the building hoping to catch a glimpse of Thomas Dance, the plasterer.

Mount Ida
3691 Sarah’s Lane
Ellicott City
Drawing of Mt. Ida called "A Sketch from Rock Hill" by R.C. Long,
from a lithograph by Thomas Campbell of Baltimore, 1835. Courtesy of the
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

Built for William Ellicott, grandson of one of the founders of Ellicott City, Mount Ida overlooks the city and his home to a key-rattling ghost. Miss Ida Tyson, the last of three maiden sisters who inherited the house, lived in the house until her death in the 1920s. It is noted that “Miss Ida” loved this house; perhaps her spirit has returned to watch over her beloved Mt. Ida?

Schifferstadt
1110 Rosemont Avenue
Frederick
Schifferstadt, 2008.
Photo by Acroterion, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Numerous spirits may inhabit this German colonial house in Frederick, Maryland. German immigrants began to pour into Pennsylvania through the urging of William Penn in the late seventeenth century among them Jacob Bruner who arrived in Philadelphia in 1728. Bruner purchased land in Frederick and constructed this house around 1758. Consequently, it is the oldest building in the city and considered the finest German colonial house in the nation. Schifferstadt’s ghosts include a young boy named Isaiah who is known to play with neighborhood children and a young woman who was possibly a midwife.

USS Torsk
Baltimore Maritime Museum
Baltimore
USS Torsk, 2008.
Photo by SHerseyDC, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Located on Baltimore Harbor, the Baltimore Maritime Museum consists of four ships and one lighthouse. At least three of the four ships, the USS Constellation, the USCGC Taney, and the USS Torsk are haunted. The lightship Chesapeake may very well be haunted, but I have not seen anything that specifically states that. Called the “Galloping Ghost of the Japanese,” the Tench-class, diesel-electric submarine, USS Torsk was launched towards the final years of World War II. She served meritoriously along the Japanese coast where she torpedoed and sunk the final Japanese warship sunk during the war. At some point in its history, a sailor standing on the deck was killed when the submarine was forced into a dive. Legend says his spirit in stuck on the deck eternally attempting to get back into the ship.

Westminster Hall and Burying Ground
500 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore
Westminster Church and Burying Ground from
an 1857 postcard issued by E. Sachse & Co.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token…
--- “The Raven,” Edgar Allen Poe

Deep in the darkness of night every January 19th, the birthday of Edgar Allen Poe, a mysterious individual appears briefly at his graveside in the Westminster Burying Ground to perform an annual rite. The black-clad man bears three roses (possibly for everyone in the grave which includes Poe, his mother-in-law and wife) and a half-filled bottle of Martell cognac. He drinks a toast to the grave and, leaving the roses and cognac, slips silently back into the night. This mystic and very appropriate ritual has taken place every year since 1949 in memory of America’s master of horror. Sadly, news has just come this week from The Baltimore Sun that, for the second year in a row, the mysterious visitor has not shown up. Perhaps the tradition has ended?

Besides Poe’s grave, the Westminster Burying Ground, which opened long before the Westminster Church was built, features the graves of many veterans and generals of the American Revolution as well as numerous prominent citizens of Baltimore. Due to the high water table, many of the graves are above ground so that when the church was later constructed, it was built over graves which remain in the catacombs under the church. Since the church’s congregation was disbanded, the hall has been restored for public function. Reports of paranormal activity include the sound of the church’s organ playing (it has been fully restored, but it has been heard when the building was empty and locked) and apparitions seen and heard.

William Paca House
186 Prince George Street
Annapolis
William Paca House, 2009.
Photo by Pubdog, courtesy of Wikipedia.

At times, the apparition of a man in colonial dress, quite possibly Declaration of Independence signer and former Maryland governor William Paca, is seen staring out of the upper windows of his home in Annapolis. One of a handful of important and haunted Georgian houses in the city, the William Paca House was designed by him along with gardens and outbuildings. In the late 19th century, the house became a hotel and when the hotel owners considered demolishing the house in the 1960s, local preservationists rallied to save it. The house and grounds have been fully restored and operate as a museum.

Sources
Baltimore Maritime Museum. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
      Accessed 14 January 2011.
Bray, Nicole. “Landon House” in Jeff Belanger’s Encyclopedia
     Of Haunted Places. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books,
     2005.
Fort McHenry. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
      Accessed 20 January 2011.
Francis Scott Key. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
      Accessed 20 January 2011.
Frederick County Landmarks Foundation. Schifferstadt
Hauck, Dennis William. Haunted Places: The National Directory.
     NYC: Penguin, 2002.
Jarvis, Sharon. Dead Zones. NYC: Warner Books, 1992.
J. E. B. Stuart. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed
     20 January 2011.
Jericho Covered Bridge. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
      Accessed 20 January 2011.
Kaltenbach, Chris. “Mysterious Poe visitor doesn’t show for
     2nd year.” The Baltimore Sun. 19 January 2011.
Maryland Historical Trust. Stancioff House. Accessed 21 January
     2011.
Okonowicz. Ed. Haunted Maryland. Mechanicsburg, PA:
     Stackpole Books, 2007.
Paca House and Garden. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
      Accessed 21 January 2011.
     Maryland.” Ghosts of the Prairie. 1998.
Taylor, Troy. “The Ghost of Mt. Ida.” Ghosts of the Prairie. 1998.
United States Fish & Wildlife Service. Blackwater National
     Wildlife Refuge Brochure. August 2008.
USS Torsk (SS-423). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
      Accessed 14 January 2011.
Varhola, Michael J. and Michael H. Varhola. Ghosthunting
     Maryland. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2009.
     Encyclopedia. Accessed 20 January 2011.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Six Month "Blog-iversary"

Six months ago I started this blog not even sure if it would last. Like many bloggers who start off with good intentions, the blog lasts a few months and then life takes over and the blog goes dormant. I hoped this would remain going for at least a few months and now, six months later, it’s going quite well.

There are some people I would like to thank for their help and support with this blog. My parents, of course, for being just that: parents, but really the best parents in the world. My sisters, Lauren and Lindsey for their love and support and my upcoming trip to Charleston, SC. My best friends, Daniel, Troy, Andrew and Scott who have all helped in a variety of ways including putting up with innumerable discussions of haunted places, ghosts and research.

I’m grateful for my friend, Conrad, who created the marvelous header and helped me take a number of photographs around the Atlanta area. You will see these images in upcoming entries.

In addition, two great bloggers: Jessica Penot of the blog Ghost Stories and Haunted Places and also the author of Haunted North Alabama and Courtney Mroch of the blog Haunt Jaunts have both been inspirational and very supportive of this blog. Thank you!

I must also mention the staff of my local Starbucks who now know me and my regular order quite well.

Finally, I’d like to thank all of my readers! You are the main reason I have continued!

Thank you!
Lewis

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 occurance 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.

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

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Update on West Point, Georgia's Atkinson House

Back in mid-October, I attended and wrote about the ghost walk I attended in West Point, Georgia. I have just received some information regarding the Atkinson House from a reader who married into a related family and spent much time in the house. She is also well acquainted with Mrs. Atkinson who lived in the house through the late 20th century. The reader stated that she heard nothing about nor experienced any paranormal activity in the house. Mrs. Atkinson, she stated, loved telling family stories and would have likely told ghost stories about the house if they existed.

In the world of ghost stories, it is not uncommon to hear stories about a location only to find that it may not really be haunted or that parts of the story may be exaggerated or fabricated. One of the goals of this blog is to provide an array of views on a particular location. This information is truly another piece in the puzzle that is our historical legacy; a legacy that includes both historical fact and legend.

My appreciation to the reader who provided me with this information.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Haunted Louisiana

A selection of 10 haunted places from around Louisiana.

Antoine’s Restaurant
713 St. Louis Street
New Orleans
Antoine's Restaurant, 2007. Photo by Infrogmation,
courtesy of Wikipedia.

Antoine Alciatore, like so many Europeans at that time, dreamed of making it big in the United States and immigrated in 1838 to make good on those dreams. After a couple years struggling in New York City, he set his sights on that most French of cities, New Orleans, and he opened his own restaurant, Antoine’s. In 1868, the restaurant moved to its current location that now boasts 14 unique dining rooms. Alciatore left New Orleans in 1874 bound for Marseilles where he died; while his beloved restaurant was left in the hands of his son and his family has continued to own and run the restaurant. Antoine continues to return to check up on this famed New Orleans institution and he continues to be seen in the Japanese and Mystery Dining Rooms. Other specters in 19th century clothing have been seen peering from the mirrors in the washrooms as well.

Beauregard Parish Jail
Courthouse Square
DeRidder
Beauregard Parish Jail. 2005. Photo by DanielCD, courtesy of
Wikipedia.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, jails and prisons were often built using powerful architecture to convey the strength and power of the justice system and as a deterrence. The squat, Gothic revival jailhouse with thick walls on courthouse square in DeRidder is a marvelous example and one of the few, if the only, jail to utilize “collegiate Gothic,” a style popular with college and university buildings. Certainly, it looks haunted and it apparently is. Figures have been seen throughout the jail by police and inmates (the building closed to inmates in 1984). Louisiana Spirits Paranormal Investigations conducted two investigations in the old jail that produced EVPs and some photographic anomalies. The ghosts are believed to be the spirits of two murderers hung in the staircase of the jail. This YouTube clip provides a great look at the interior of the jail.

C. E. Byrd High School
3201 Line Avenue
Shreveport
C.E. Byrd High School, 2009. Photo by Allison Foley, courtesy of Wikipedia.

When Dr. Clifton Ellis Byrd, superintendant of schools for Caddo Parish, died a few months after the high school named for him opened, his body lay in state in the foyer of the school as students were marched past the open casket; probably not the most auspicious beginning for this new school. While there are no reports of the apparition of Dr. Byrd, two students who died in the school have been seen. A young woman who drowned in the school’s pool, which as a result was emptied and turned into a dance studio and gym, has been seen in the area still attired in her old-fashioned bathing suit. Shortly before World War II, a young Junior ROTC cadet was mysteriously found shot in the school’s sub-basement, his uniformed spirit has also been reported.

Chretien Point Plantation
665 Chretien Point Road
Sunset
Chretien Point Plantation, 1940. Photo by Richard Koch
for the Historic American Building Survey (HABS). Courtesy of
the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Throughout Louisiana history and paranormal history, the name of pirate Jean Lafitte appears quite frequently. It is of no surprise that Lafitte figures into the history and haunting of Chretien Point Plantation. Hyppolite Chretien, the plantation’s owner, was a friend and associate of Lafitte who used the plantation to do business. Upon Hyppolite’s death, his wife, Felicite, took over running the plantation. The temptation for one pirate was too much and one night he stormed into the home attempting to rob the mistress of the house. Felicite met him on the stairs with a necklace in hand and as the pirate approached she shot him in the head with the pistol she had concealed in her skirts. The pirate’s spirit, now known as Robert (pronounced in the French manner, “roh-BAIR”), still roams the house and plays with coins left by guests. Felicite and some of her children have also been seen roaming the grounds of the plantation.

Front Street
Natchitoches
Front Street, Natchitoches, 2009. Photo by Billy Hathorn, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Founded in 1714 by the French, Natchitoches was named for a local Native American tribe. Front Street features a number of historic buildings, the oldest general store in the state and an apparition in a Civil War uniform. According to Roger Manley in Weird Louisiana, there is some question as to the identity of the spirit or even whether the uniform is Confederate or Union. The best candidate for the identity of this ghost may be Brevet Brigadier General Napoleon McLaughlin who was part of the Union occupation forces. He was gunned down by outlaws on Front Street in 1872.

Kenilworth Plantation
2931 Bayou Road
St. Bernard
Kenilworth Plantation, 2010. Photo by Infrogmation, courtesy of Wikipedia.

One of the most interesting features of Kenilworth Plantation, built is 1818, is how it was built: without nails, using only pegs and mortising. It is here that a pair of antebellum lovers stroll, both missing their heads.

Laurel Valley Plantation Village
595 Louisiana Highway 308
Thibodeaux
The Sugar Refinery Building at Laurel Valley Plantation, 1979.
Photo by Jet Lowe for the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER).
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Just outside of Thibodeaux, located in the “sugar bowl” a group of parishes known for their sugar plantations, is the Laurel Valley Plantation Village, one of the largest remaining sugar plantations in the country. Among the buildings still standing are many of the workers cabins, a school and church and the remains of a sugar refinery. A small museum has been installed in the village general store. The “Sugar Bowl” was the scene of a strike of sugar workers in 1887 the devolved into the Thibodeaux Massacre where between 30 and 300 mostly African-American strikers were killed. While I have not seen anything yet that specifically links the strike and massacre with Laurel Valley, it’s not hard to assume that workers from there were involved and possibly killed. Perhaps these may be among the spirits that have been witnessed in the plantation village. Reports include voices, apparitions and the smell of food cooking.

Old Louisiana State Capitol
100 North Boulevard
Baton Rouge
Old Louisiana State Capitol, 2009. Photo by Avazina, courtesy of Wikipedia.

When the state capitol was moved from New Orleans to Baton Rouge in 1846, the city donated land atop a bluff over the Mississippi for the capitol building. Architect James Dakin designed a Neo-Gothic building very much unlike the other state capitols which were often modeled on the U.S. Capitol building in Washington. The magnificent crenellated and be-towered structure was used as a prison and garrison for soldiers under the city’s Union occupation and during this time it caught fire twice leaving it a soot-stained shell by the war’s end. The building was reconstructed in 1882 but abandoned in 1932 for Governor Huey Long’s new state capitol.

Even before the capitol burned during the war, there was a ghost gliding through its halls. Pierre Couvillon, a legislator representing Avoyelles Parish, enraged by his colleagues’ corruption, suffered a heart attack and died. Though he was buried in his home parish, his spirit was said to reside in the capitol; perhaps checking up on his colleagues. When the capitol building underwent restoration in the 1990s, the spirit or spirits in the building were stirred up and activity has increased. The activity includes doors opening and closing on their own, shadow figures and security alarms being tripped.

Pirate’s Alley
New Orleans
Pirate's Alley, between 1920-6. Photo by Arnold Genthe,
courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs
Division.

In the hours just before or after sunset in the French Quarter, a monk is heard and sometimes seen slowly walking and singing parts of the Latin mass where Pirate’s Alley intersects with Chartres Street. This is just behind St. Louis Cathedral where St. Anthony’s Garden is now located. The monk is the spirit of Pere Dagobert de Longuory reliving one of his greatest acts. In 1769, when the Spanish took control of the city five insurgents were tried and executed, their bodies left to rot where they were shot by a firing squad. Pere Dagobert miraculously retrieved the bodies of the five, performed a mass for them and buried the bodies all under the noses of the Spanish authorities who had forbid such action. According to Jeff Dwyer, Pere Dagobert’s spirit is one of the mst frequently witnessed ghosts in New Orleans.

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
499 Basin Street
New Orleans
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, 2003. Photo by Flipper9, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1, the oldest of three such named cemeteries in New Orleans, opened as part of a new urban design in 1789, a year after a great fire that destroyed much of the city. It was opened as the city’s main burial ground and has seen a parade of famous citizens buried there including the famous “Voodoo Queen,” Marie Laveau, whose grave has become a site of pilgrimage for practitioners and tourists alike; Paul Morphy, the great chess player who was associated with the haunted Beauregard-Keyes House; and possibly Delphine LaLaurie, the former mistress of a house on Royal Street that is haunted. The spirit of a woman wearing a “tignon” or a seven-knotted handkerchief has been seen in and around the cemetery and identified as Marie Laveau.

Legends from the 1930s speaks of cab-drivers avoiding the cemetery for fear of picking up a disappearing hitchhiker who appeared outside the cemetery. It seems that St. Louis No. 1 is home to many restless spirits who are seen walking through the labyrinth of above-ground crypts. One spirit of a man is even said to stop visitors and inquire as to the location of his grave.

Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium
705 Elvis Presley Avenue
Shreveport
Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium, 1995. Photo by Dtobias, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Certainly the great Elvis Presley could have hardly imagined that Grand Avenue, just outside the Municipal Memorial Auditorium in Shreveport where he played one of his first gigs, would one day bear his name. Indeed, this venue, which hosted the Louisiana Hayride radio show, provided a springboard for the careers of many musical legends including Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. As with any theatre worth its salt, “The Muni” is haunted. The lights and fly system (the system of ropes and battens that raise and lower scenery and lights) seem to have a mind of their own while the theatre is plagued by disembodied footsteps, clapping, laughing and coughing. Perhaps a spectral audience is restlessly waiting for another phenomenal musical performance.

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