Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pictures from Augusta, Georgia -- The Ezekiel Harris House and Sibley Mill

Ezekiel Harris House 
1822 Broad Street

My very first entry (and Part II) in this blog concerns this late-18th century home. When I wrote the entry, I could not find a usable modern photograph of the house. On my return from Charleston, I stopped to photograph the house. The house is now owned by the Augusta Museum and the house is now only open by appointment. The house does seem to be requiring some maintenance. The yard needed mowing, a chimney has crumbled and the kitchen garden is deplorable. Despite this, the house still stands proudly above Broad Street.

Historical marker for the Ezekiel Harris House.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Ezekiel Harris House.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Front door. Compare this to the 1934 image in the original article.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

The back of the house with the "haunted" stairwell.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Sign for tours by appointment only.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

A crumbling chimney.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

The desolate kitchen garden.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Sibley Mill
1717 Goodrich Street

This historic mill sits on the site of the Confederate Powder Works constructed in 1862. The large chimney out front is the only remaining part of that original building. The mill behind it was constructed after the war as a textile mill. This site was convered as part of my article on Haunted Georgia.

Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Locked In -- Charleston's Magnolia Cemetery

70 Cunnington Street
Charleston, South Carolina

A moss-draped drive through the cemetery.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

After wandering through Magnolia Cemetery in awe for almost two hours I began to make my way out. The cemetery has winding drives through its oak shaded acres with a posted speed limit of 15 miles per hour. Not wanting to miss anything, I was probably driving slower than that when I approached the massive cemetery gates. The gates were closed and a chain and large padlock secured them. A number of expletives left my mouth and panic quickly set in. A couple of Northern Mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottis) loudly scolded me from atop an adjacent tombstone. The welcome sign listed rules for the cemetery but no number in the event that you’re locked in with the dead. As I dialed 911, I prayed that I would not face a fine or worse for missing the very obvious sign stating that the gates would close at 6PM. It was 6:15.

In this city of so many fine homes and buildings, only I would first head to the cemetery. But, this place is so much more than just a resting place for the dead, it’s truly an art museum, a guide to three centuries of art and architecture and a habitat for native plants and wildlife. Wandering among the graves were Domestic and Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) and Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos). I passed a couple of ponds within the cemetery and was excited to see a dead tree in the center of one pond with a number of water birds perching on it. Even better, were the two “Life Birds” I saw there: Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) and American White Ibis (Eudocimus albus).
A snag in the main pond with perching waterbirds. Two Wood Storks
are perched at the top with two White Ibises underneath. A Cattle
Egret is perched on the right with a Great Egret in the background.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

For a taphophile, Magnolia Cemetery is heavenly. Everywhere there is marvelous funerary art and symbolism. As I walked and was fed upon by legions of mosquitoes (I won’t acknowledge their scientific name as they don’t deserve it) I had to pass graves that in most cases I would be drawn to in order to pursue more interesting graves. By the end of the first hour, I took to riding in my car to avoid the mosquitoes and trying to photograph the most interesting graves closest to the drive.
The large, Gothic Revival monument to Elbert P. Jones,
died 1 April 1852. Designed by architect Francis D. Lee and
constructed by E. Greble of Philadelphia.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Among the more notable monuments is the grave of Rosalie Raymond White. Situated next to one of the ponds, the White family plot has some fascinating art, but particularly interesting is the grave of young Rosalie who died less than a year after her birth. There is a hooded cradle and under the hood, the likeness of the child. According to Denise Roffe in her Ghosts and Legends of Charleston South Carolina, the likeness is a death mask and one of the few such things on a grave in the United States.
Grave of Rosalie Raymond White.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

The death mask of Rosalie Raymond White.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Another prominent monument is that William Washington. I viewed this one from the car, so I couldn’t get all the information, but it appears to be a cenotaph (a monument to someone who is buried elsewhere) to this notable figure from the American Revolution. The monument, surrounded by an unusual circular iron fence (I’ve not seen one, though they were numerous in this cemetery), is a large marble column with an ivy garland wrapped around it. At the base of the column is a rattlesnake, a creature I’ve not seen at all in funerary art. The snake is taken from the early American Gadsden flag, the first flag carried into battle by the Continental Marine Corps during the American Revolution, which bears the words, “Don’t Tread On Me.” This flag has most recently been adopted by the Tea Party.
The monument to William White; a Doric column with
a rattlesnake entwined at the base.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

This monument was designed by E.B. White and constructed by W.T. White, the city’s most prominent stone carver and monument builder. As I wandered the cemeteries of Charleston, in nearly every graveyard I found monuments with White’s signature. Nearby, another marvelous monument by White is the stone for the Rev. I.E.H. Seymour. Topped with the statue of a praying woman, the stone bears a wonderful crest. An hourglass is encircled by an ouroboros, an ancient symbol meaning cyclicality; thus in this, the cyclicality of time or that even in death, life is created. This idea is strengthened by a wreath which can mean victory in death. The wings, however, are harder to interpret and I have yet to find an explanation. On this same stone is also the image of a bee, another symbol that I cannot yet interpret.
The crest of the Seymour monument.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Not far away is the monument for Hugh Swinton Legare, who served two years as a state legislator, South Carolina Attorney General, then as a state Representative to the United States House and then United States Attorney General under President John Tyler. The monument consists of a large marble Corinthian column sitting on a large base. One side of the base is carved with the national crest with a bald eagle, while the opposite site bears images from the South Carolina state crest with a wonderfully carved palmetto tree with a pair of shields underneath back with 12 spears (representing the other 12 colonies); all sitting on a fallen tree. The palmetto’s significance comes from a battle fought on Sullivan’s Island near Charleston, June 28, 1776, between colonists and the British. The colonists had built a fort of palmetto logs and the British cannon fire seemed to bounce right off. The dead tree represents the defeated British fleet. This monument was also built by White and is signed “W.T. White/Steam Marble Works/115 Meeting St”.
The Legare monument.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.
The South Carolina crest on the Legare monument.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Lagare died in 1840 in Boston, Massachusetts while attending ceremonies for the unveiling of the monument at Bunker Hill. He was buried in the Mount Auburn Cemetery there. Interestingly, this is one of the cemeteries upon which the designs for Magnolia Cemetery are based. Mount Auburn, coupled with New York City’s Greenwood Cemetery provided the inspiration for the “Garden Cemetery,” a type of cemetery found throughout the United States. These cemeteries, created in park and garden-like settings were a departure from the usual church yards where most people were buried. In 1857, Lagare’s remains were exhumed from his Boston burial place and he was re-interred here among the magnolias.

Magnolia Cemetery was founded in 1850 on the grounds of the former Magnolia Umbra plantation. The old plantation house still stands in the center of the cemetery. Laid out by South Carolina architect Edward C. Jones, the rules for governing the cemetery were copied from those of Mount Auburn and Greenwood. This sacred parcel of land has become the resting place of many of Charleston’s most prominent people.

Nearby is another stone carved with state symbolism including a wonderful, freestanding palmetto. The monument is for James Brown Boyd, Sergeant of the Palmetto Guards of the 2nd South Carolina Regiment. He was killed at the battle of Sharpsburg, Maryland (usually called Antietam), September 17, 1862. This is not a White monument and is signed “D.A. Walker.” The palmetto sculpture is signed, “A. F. Chevreaux, Sculptor”.
The Confederate section.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

According to Denise Roffe, this cemetery may have a few spirits wandering around. In one story, a brother and sister were fishing in the nearby Cooper River. When the little girl’s favorite doll fell in the water, she dove in to retrieve it and her body was found later clutching the doll. Her spirit has been seen in the company of a Civil War soldier, said to be her father. When the two are approached, they both vanish as the little girl giggles. Another spirit is also a young girl seen near the burial site of Annie Aiken.
Part of the burial lot for the crew of the CSS Hunley, the
Confederate submarine that sank in Charleston harbor after
sinking the USS Housatonic. Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell
IV, all rights reserved.
The cemetery is massive and I easily could have spent many hours here, but the swarms of mosquitoes feeding on me every time I got out of the car began to be too much. That’s when I decided to leave, and good thing as I found the locked gates.
The Egyptian Revival W.B. Smith mausoleum.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

A jolly man in a pickup truck pulled up as I spoke to the 911 operator. He had the key. Thank God. I told him I was so bowled over with Magnolia Cemetery that I had lost track of time. Smiling he listed some facts about the place: it contained around 33,000 interments (a number that is still growing) on 154 acres. I’m glad I’m not yet one of those who have found their rest here.

I've cross-posted this in my cemetery blog, The Southern Taphophile, with additional photographs.

Hugh Swinton LegareWikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 30
     July 2011.
Jacoby, Mary Moore and John W. Meffert. Charleston: An Album from
     The Collection of the Charleston Museum. Dover, NH: Arcadia Press,
McNulty, Kappy and Nenie Dixon. National Register of Historic Places
     Nomination form for Magnolia Cemetery. 23 August 1976.
Roffe, Denise. Ghosts and Legends of Charleston, South Carolina. Atglen,
     PA: Schiffer, 2010.
Seal of South CarolinaWikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 30
     July 2011.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Adieu to Charleston, South Carolina

I bid farewell to Charleston this morning. As Shakespeare said, “parting is such sweet sorrow;” so true! As we drove along SC 30, I looked upon the peninsula of Charleston from across the Ashley River with the spires of St. Michael’s and St. Philip’s standing so proudly above the rooftops of the city. Above all, the minimalist supports of the Ravenal Bridge soared into the sky above the Cooper River. I whispered a farewell, but she haughtily did not reply, only sitting in her morning mist and silence. I will return to her embrace again.

The spire of St. Michael's rises grandly above Broad Street.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

I spent most of the week wandering the city photographing its landmarks and cemeteries. I took a day trip to the quiet, oak-shaded city of Georgetown, about an hour and a half north of Charleston. I took a ghost tour and ate some fine food throughout the trip.

The creepy and fear inspiring facade of the Old City Jail.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

First, the ghost tour: I took the Ghosts and Dungeon tour from Bulldog Tours. I must admit I’m still a novice to ghost tours. In my life, I’ve taken a grand total of three ghost tours: a professional tour in Savannah; an amateur tour, sponsored by a local historical society, in West Point, Georgia and this professional tour in Charleston. My first tour, in Savannah, was positively dreadful. The group on the tour was huge and the guide had to scream to be heard by all. A ghost story told in a scream loses its effectiveness. There was only a handful of stories told and, with the exception of one, a common ghostly hitchhiker story set in one of the squares, they were all familiar. In addition, the guide appeared tipsy, if not outright drunk. I took the tour on the recommendation of a friend who had worked for the company as a guide and he said I must have just gotten a bad tour.

Houses along the Charleston Battery. Residents watched the opening
volleys of the Civil War in the attack on Fort Sumter from the rooftops.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

The West Point tour was, on the other hand, delightful. It was a steal at $5 and it exposed me to a number of stories I wasn’t familiar with. I wrote a review of it here.

The Charleston tour was equally as good. While not as cheap, the tour was well organized and the guide, Cason, was well informed. The tour really began in the musty Provost Dungeon under the Old Exchange Building. We entered the dungeon in very low light and the wax figures scattered in tableaux throughout are hidden in shadow and can be frightening if you’re not expecting them. My only complaint about this portion would be that there was a little too much history; I think it might have been better and more frightening to spend more time talking about the paranormal activity that has been experienced within the dungeon. The guide, however, did point out that the chains near the “Charleston Tea Party” tableaux tend to swing on their own. While the guide was talking about the adjacent tableaux, I turned around to see one of the chains swinging. Perhaps the spirits were saying hello?

The "Charleston Tea Party" tableaux in the Provost Dungeon.
The chain at the very left of the photo was swinging when I turned around.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

After leaving the dungeon, we tramped through the humid and rainy streets of Charleston. The stories were a mix of ghost stories and history with a delightful anecdote about a salver of dinner rolls, former Vice President Dick Cheney and his visit to the Hibernian Society. It was interesting to hear that Poogan, the dog for whom the restaurant, Poogan’s Porch, is named does not haunt the restaurant. Often, ghost tours seem to think that all ghost stories are true, this one had a bit more skepticism. The tour ended with our guide telling a couple of personal stories. which were certainly a nice touch.

Another plus was the size of the group. The tour I took in Savannah that was so awful had a group of about 40, which was just too large. For this tour, we had a group of maybe 15 to 20. It was much more intimate and the others on the tour were not distracting. I would highly recommend Bulldog Tours if you’re looking for a ghost tour in the area.

I also added a few books to my ghost library:

Tally Johnson’s Ghosts of the Pee Dee. History Press, 2009 – Covering the ghosts of the Pee Dee River region of South Carolina. Johnson has written a number of books about the region and this is the first of his in my library.

Terrance Zepke’s Best Ghost Tales of South Carolina. Pineapple Press, 2004 – I have a few of Zepke’s other books and I look forward to cracking the spine on this.


Lowcountry Voodoo: Beginner’s Guide to Tales, Spells and Boo Hags. Pineapple Press, 2009 – I’m hoping this will give a good deal of background to many South Carolina stories, especially those involving the Gullah people.

Bruce Orr’s Six Miles to Charleston: The True Story of John and Lavinia Fisher. History Press, 2010 – John and Lavinia Fisher, the proprietors of Charleston’s Six Mile House, were accused of robbing and killing numerous travelers who stopped at their tavern. Their story fits in with the haunting of Charleston’s Old City Jail.

Elizabeth Huntsinger Wolf’s Georgtown Mysteries and Legends. John F. Blair, 2007 – The author’s previous two books on Georgetown provided resources for my visit to Georgetown this week. I was very happy to see there is another book on this area.

Ed Macy and Geordie Buxton’s Haunted Charleston. History Press, 2004 and Haunted Harbor: Charleston’s Maritime Ghosts and the Unexplained. History Press, 2005. Both of these books provided sources for my own personal ghost tour of Charleston’s haunted places yesterday.

My dinner at 82 Queen.
Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

I’d also like to recommend four of the fine restaurants where I ate. The Mustard Seed (1970 Maybank Highway, James Island) has three locations and served the best Pad Thai I’ve ever had. I had some boxed up to take home and it was even better the second time. Dinner at 82 Queen (82 Queen Street, duh!) was so nicely presented I had to take a picture. My duck with a marvelous salad was perfectly cooked and the She-Crab Soup was incredible! Tommy Condon’s Irish Pub (160 Church Street) was a great place for lunch and is also haunted according to Denise Roffe. BLU Oceanfront at the Tides on Folly Beach (1 Center Street) was a brilliant end to a great trip. Their tapas served with an ocean view was interesting and delicious!

Thanks to my mother and my sister, Lauren.

Stay tuned for further tales from Charleston which will be coming out in the next few days!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Haunting the Holy City—Charleston, South Carolina

To borrow a term from another blogger, I’m “Haunt Jaunting” off to Charleston for a few days. My show will close tomorrow after a successful run and my week of teaching theatre camp came to an end yesterday. I can really use a vacation, even if I spend most of it photographing the city (possibly Georgetown and Columbia, SC and Augusta, GA, as well) for two blogs.

Charleston is the apotheosis of so much of what I love about the South. It’s also the setting of one of my favorite novels, Pat Conroy’s The Lords of Discipline. Conroy’s alternating adulation and disdain for the city are so marvelously outlined in the prologue to the book. I’ll let him speak for himself.

Broad Street looking towards St. Michael's Church, 2010.
Photo by Khanrak, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The city of Charleston, in the green feathery modesty of its palms, in the certitude of its style, in the economy and stringency of its lines, and the serenity of its mansions South of Broad Street, is a feast for the human eye. But to me, Charleston is a dark city, a melancholy city, whose severe covenants and secrets are as powerful and beguiling as its elegance, who demons dance their alley dances and compose their malign hymns to the dark side of the moon I cannot see. […]

Though I will always be a visitor to Charleston, I will always remain one with a passionate belief that it is the most beautiful city in America and that to walk the old section of the city at night is to step into the bloodstream of a history extravagantly lived by a people born to a fierce and unshakable advocacy of their past. To walk in the spire-proud shade of Church Street is to experience the chronicle of a mythology that is particular to this city and this city alone, a trinitarian mythology with equal parts of the sublime, the mysterious, and the grotesque. But there is nothing to warn you of Charleston’s refined cruelty. […]

Entering Charleston is like walking through the brilliant carbon forest of a diamond with the light dazzling you in a thousand ways, an assault of light and shadow caused by light. The sun and the city have struck up an irreversible alliance. [from The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy, 1980]

But, really so much of the Holy City’s image in my mind is based upon Conroy’s writing. As a Bicentennial Baby, I have a false nostalgia for the South Carolina low country in the 1960’s all from his books like The Prince of Tides, Beach Music, The Water is Wide, The Great Santini and South of Broad. The soundtrack for this region in my mind is Motown with The Drifters warbling about hanging out on rooftops and under boardwalks, Mary Wells singing about her guy while The Temptations croon about their girl and Martha and The Vandellas blissfully battle a heatwave in their hearts. It all makes we want to don my penny loafers and dance a Carolina shag on a verandah next to the Atlantic.

As the region comes to mind, these nostalgic images merge with the history and the legends. African spirituals strike up: drums and rattles pound with shuffling feet and murmuring chants from the slaves and the lilting dialect of the Gullahs fill the air. The rhythmic tramp of marching feet from the British, Colonial, Union and Confederate armies interrupt those sounds. Marsh birds soar above grey sand beaches while I drink sweet tea and perhaps a genteel mint julep. Grey men walk the beaches warning of hurricanes and white clad wraiths flit through the halls of old homes and cemeteries. The low country is romantic, beautiful and sad; an ancient woman in a decaying mansion still clad in her wedding finery dreaming of the married life she never had.

The highly modern Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge over the Cooper River.
This is the longest cable-stayed bridge in the Western Hemisphere.
Photo 2007, by bbatsell, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Much has been written of the regions legends and ghosts. One of the earliest books on Charleston is Margaret Rhett Martin’s Charleston Ghosts. Recently, three books by Edward Macy and Julian Buxton III have appeared with Denis Rolfe’s Ghosts and Legends of Charleston and Cathy Pickens’ Charleston Mysteries: Ghosts Haunts in the Holy City. A number of books about ghosts of South Carolina have also been published that include Charleston. It’s a fairly well-documented region.

My trip will consist mostly of visiting and photographing as many haunted locations and cemeteries as I can. I’ll also be taking a ghost tour one evening and I plan to write about that as well. Perhaps I’ll take away an experience from the Holy City, but with the choosy spirits of Charleston, I doubt it, however, I’ll be once again in the cold embrace of the Holy City.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Legends of Long Island—Long Island of the Holston

Holston River
Kingsport, Tennessee

Had this four mile long, half mile wide island been located in any other river in Tennessee it would not possess the significance that it has. This spit of land could be called the birthplace of Tennessee and even Kentucky for the treaties signed with the Cherokee that opened their lands to settlements by the white man. One possible origin for the name for the state of Tennessee, from the language of the Yuchi Indians, “Tana-see,” possibly meaning “the meeting place,” may be derived from this island. It is no wonder that the Federal government named Long Island a National Historic Landmark in 1960.

The island is located near the junction of the North and South forks of the Holston. The Holston flows southwest towards Knoxville where it meets the French Broad River creating the mighty Tennessee River. Nearby, the Great Indian Warpath, a major trail leading to the northeast from central Tennessee, brought many natives past this island. This island served as an important ceremonial site for the Cherokee Indians who occupied this area until the late 18th century. The island was a sacred ground for rituals but also for councils and treaties. So sacred was this island that, according to a number of sources, it was forbidden to kill or molest anyone on this sacred ground.

The first major intrusion of whites into the area occurred with Colonel William Byrd’s expedition in 1761 which constructed Fort Robinson near the river junction. When the outpost was abandoned a short while later, the Cherokee resumed control of the area. However, the building of the fort only emboldened white incursions into the area. Hunters, explorers and the occasional courageous settler were soon found in the lands surrounding the island. When Daniel Boone, that great trailblazer to the Kentucky territory, arrived in March of 1775 with an axe-wielding crew to cut a trail to the new territory, the real trouble began. Long Island became the starting point for Boone’s Wilderness Road, bringing hundreds of thousands of white settlers through the area.

With the outbreak of war, many of the Cherokee sided with the British due to the increasing pressure from frontiersmen and by the middle of 1776 they had worked to free the area from whites. Colonial soldiers set out from Eaton’s Fort near the junction of the Holston’s two forks and crushed the Cherokee in battle at the Long Island Flats on August 20. The next year, a treaty was negotiated on Long Island ceding much of the Cherokee lands in East Tennessee and everything east of the Blue Ridge to white settlers. However, the Cherokee still maintained possession of Long Island, though Joseph Martin and his Native American wife, Betsy, established a trading post there; the first white settler on the island.

While many Cherokee had cleared out of the newly claimed area, there were still attacks on white settlements. A peace was negotiated at Long Island in 1781 just before the end of the Revolution. The activity of settlers increased and a boat yard was established on the river, opposite the western tip of the island. The year 1805 saw a number of treaties ceding the remaining Cherokee land in the area to white settlers including Long Island. Legend says that among the natives to leave the island for the last time was a medicine man who laid a curse on the island that no white would be able to comfortably settle on the island. Around the island, the city of Kingsport was created with the merger of Christianville and Rossville in 1822. The island was later incorporated into the town.

Parts of the island were developed and residences sprang up, but, according to the legends, insanity and crime occurred on the island in higher rates than elsewhere in Kingsport. Perhaps the curse was beginning to take its toll? Over time, the legend has been oft-repeated receiving additions on occasions such as the addition from the era of World War II.

Folklorist Charles Edwin Price recounts this tale in his Haints, Witches, and Boogers: Tales from Upper East Tennessee; this tale is recounted in a few other sources, but apparently based upon Price’s version of the tale. The tale, according to Price, tells of Amos Ross, whose son was a Marine in the war. On leave, his son and his son’s girlfriend at the time, went out to Long Island one evening to spend some time together. Ross, a fine upstanding Christian, worried that his son was committing a mortal sin followed the couple out to the island. Finding the couple in flagrante delicto, Ross became enraged and attacked, killing them both. After the incident, legend says, he was never seen again, though couples necking on the island, which may have been a “Lovers Lane” were occasionally attacked by the enraged man or at least his spirit. While this is a marvelous tale, it does leave some questions. Unfortunately, without access to the Kingsport papers of the World War II, era, I cannot prove this is just a legend or if it is grounded in fact.

Besides this violent morality tale, there are other incidents occurring on the island. Again, these tales are told without specific reports of incidents. After dark, it is said that Native Americans have been seen on the island. Campfires are seen blazing with natives dancing about and performing rituals. In the early morning mist on the river, warriors have been seen gliding along silently in their canoes.

Sadly, much of the historic nature of the island is now gone. In 1996, the historical integrity of the island had been so depleted that the National Park Service, administrators of the list of National Historic Landmarks, suggested that the island be delisted. While the landmark designations has not been removed, much of the island is now heavily industrialized. Viewing the island via Googles Maps, it appears that most of the island is now paved over and covered with industrial development. The western portion of the island is now the location of a park and baseball fields are quite obvious, but little of the island’s original sylvan nature remains. The city of Kingsport, realizing the enormous value of having this marvelous landmark in town has done some work towards attracting visitors.

In 1976, a mere three acres of the island were given to the Eastern Band of Cherokee. These acres are a part of a park on the western end of the island, but the island still remains heavily industrial. It’s not hard to imagine that spirits returning to this haunted island, paddling around in the morning mist, don’t even recognize their spoiled sacred island.

Brown, Alan. Haunted Tennessee: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena
     Of the Volunteer State. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books,
Brown, John Norris. “The Long Island Curse.” Ghosts &
     Spirits of Tennessee. Accessed 14 July 2011.
Lane, Matthew. “Tribes discuss role of Long Island in King’s
     Port on the Holston.” Kingsport Times-News. 17 May 2007.
Long Island (Tennessee). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
     Accessed 14 July 2011.
McGuiness, Jim. “Tales of paranormal activity abounds in
     Tri-Cities region.” Kingsport Times-News. 28 October 2007.
Mooney, James. History, Myths and Sacred Formulas of the
     Cherokees. Asheville, NC: Bright Mountain Books, 1992.
Price, Charles Edwin. Haints, Witches, and Boogers: Tales from
     Upper East Tennessee. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair,
Rettig, Polly M. National Historic Landmark Nomination form
     for Long Island of the Holston. 4 June 1976. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Update—Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building

200 South Kanawha Street
Beckley, West Virginia

In my very first Newsbyte, I covered this location in Beckley and recently, a little bit more information has been released about it. Briefly, the building is a theatre opened in 1931 as a memorial to veterans of World War I. During the opening ceremonies for the building, hastily erected bleachers collapsed with a few injuries but no deaths. Legend holds that one of those injured was a band member named Bob. For the remainder of his life, Bob suffered neck problems and was offered a small apartment in the basement of the building. After his death, his spirit has reportedly been encountered.

As I pointed out in the original newsbyte, the structure was investigated by Eastern States Paranormal who encountered a great deal of evidence. Patricia Marin, a writer on the paranormal for recently wrote an article about some of the evidence from that investigation that has recently been publicized by the group. The investigation began slowly, but when the group took a break they heard a sound similar to “a herd of elephants running across the stage.” After that, activity filled the space. Sounds included someone, possibly Bob, walking across the stage, response knocking and a sound akin to tap dancing. Some of this evidence has been posted to the website of Eastern States Paranormal, here.

Theresa Racer’s marvelous blog, Theresa’s Haunted History of the Tri-State, includes an entry on this location and provides a few more details on the history and the haunting of this structure. According to her, the building has served a variety of uses including a temporary courthouse, county library, YMCA and community center. After my last entry on the building, a good friend of mine who is from Beckley revealed that he had taught art classes in the building.

Racer includes the rumor that the building may be built near a Civil War era graveyard which was used by a local hospital during the war. She notes that two locations nearby, the old Beckley Junior High School (occupied by Mountain State University) and a radio station, may all be haunted by Civil War era spirits associated with the cemetery.

According to Marin’s Examiner article, the building will be taken over by Theatre West Virginia next month.

     July 2011.
     (Newsbyte).” Southern Spirit Guide. 8 November 2010.
     Theresa’s Haunted History of the Tri-State. 2 March 2011.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Introducing The Southern Taphophile

Please note, this blog is back in service and new updates will be forthcoming.

I have started a new blog, The Southern Taphophile. This blog explores Southern cemeteries, their art, heritage and traditions. It will also include information on cemetery hauntings. Please take a moment to check it out!

Thank you for reading!

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Piece of Marietta’s History – The Root House Museum (Newsbyte)

145 Denmead Street
Marietta, Georgia

The internet has made mounds of information available for mining. Among these mounds of information are content sites like, Associated Content and Suite101. Sometimes denigrated as “content farms,” these sites provide a platform for writers on all levels and can also provide some financial income as well. Certainly these sites may be mined for information on haunted places and they can produce junk but also occasional gems, like this article from Rhetta Akamatsu.

Akamatsu, the author of the recent Haunted Marietta, has provided a well-researched and informative article on The Root House Museum. Built around 1845, this middle class residence has been moved twice in the name of progress and has finally been preserved by the Cobb Landmarks and Historical Society some two blocks away from its original location. The house is now open as a house museum with costumed docents guiding visitors through the home filled with period furnishings and gardens planted with plants appropriate to the period.

The house was the home to William Root, the town’s first druggist and a merchant. While residing here, Root was a founder of St. James Episcopal Church and served as its Sunday School Superintendant for many years. He also served as the county coroner for two terms. His family did experience a loss in the house, one of his sons died at a young age which was sadly a common occurrence at the time.

According to Akamatsu there has been paranormal activity experienced in the main bedroom of the house. Some have claimed to see the spirit of a woman, quite possibly that of Mrs. Root. Both the article and the book report that Mrs. Root’s spirit has been seen by passersby peering from the bedrooms windows. The book goes on to explain that the room contains an antique rope bed that is sometimes appears to have been slept in when the house is opened in the mornings. The bed, it is noted, is tightened every night before the house is closed. Sleep well, Mrs. Root!

Akamatsu, Rhetta. Haunted Marietta. Charleston, SC:
     History Press, 2009.
     GA.” 30 June 2011.
The Root House Museum.” Cobb Landmarks and Historical
     Society. Accessed 1 July 2011.