Friday, April 20, 2012

“Lord willing and the creek don’t rise!”—Lake Washington, Mississippi (Haunt Brief)


The marvelous phrase, “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise,” occurs frequently in Southern dialogue with some changes (i.e. “God” or “Good Lord” instead of just “Lord” and sometimes plural creeks or “Creek” capitalized). Initially, this phrase did not refer to “creek” as in a body of water, but to the Creek People (now known as the “Muscogee”). According to Google Knol, this phrase originated with the great Indian Agent, Benjamin Hawkins, in the 18th century when he responded to a presidential request to travel to Washington with, “God willing and the Creek don’t rise.”

In a recent news piece from WLBT News, the NBC station in Jackson, Mississippi, a mistake in the spelling of a word made me think of this wonderful turn of phrase. A reporter from the station spent an evening investigating one of the historic showplaces on Lake Washington. He described the group as hearing “a few knocks and creaks downstairs,” though the article reads “a few knocks and creeks downstairs.” It certainly made me chuckle.

The group was investigating the exceedingly atmospheric Susie B. Law House. Neglected for quite some time, this house now hides under a shroud of vines. Underneath this organic, house-shaped shroud is a two-story, white Greek revival house with a columned portico extending from the front. Barbara Sillery in her magisterial The Haunting of Mississippi (which I reviewed here), mentions that a smaller version of the house exists as a playhouse not far from the main house and crushed by a tangle of vines. The house’s appearance has led to its use as a filming location twice, though I cannot find the identities of either film.

Vines cover the portico of the Susie B.
Law House. Photo 2010 by Tinkerbrad.
Released under a Creative Commons
License.

The reporter, Walt Grayson, and the paranormal team, Delta Paranormal, investigating the house recently encountered more than groans and creaks from downstairs. An upstairs door closed itself and was moments later caught on tape opening and closing. The proprietor of a local bait shop, Bait n’ Thangs, who is interviewed in the video also appears in Sillery’s book. He had an odd experience while passing by the Law House a few years ago before the house became so covered in vines. He saw a light in the empty house and as he got closer witnessed a little old lady in a white nightgown ascending the staircase with an oil lamp in her hand. He considered calling the sheriff, but he knew the house was empty and something just wasn’t right. After reporting the woman to descendents of the Law family, he discovered that he’d seen the apparition of Susie B. Law.

The house is one of the showplaces built near Lake Washington, considered the “most beautiful lake in the world.” In the early 19th century many families were attracted to the oxbow lake and built magnificent mansions on its shores along East Lake Washington Road in the hamlet of Glen Allan. Among the most important homes was the Italianate red-brick house, Mount Holly. It was important enough that the 1938 WPA guide to the state devotes a paragraph to describing the home’s “walls […] 2 feet thick and the ceilings 14 feet high.” It goes on to note the “rosewood staircase, rounded niches for statuary, frescoes, walnut woodwork and great oven.” The circa 1856 home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, but more recently, it has become known for its ghosts.

Mount Holly, 2010, by Tinkerbrad.
Released under a Creative Commons
License.

Like the nearby Law House, Mount Holly sits derelict. It is here that the bait shop owner also had a bizarre experience. Whilst showing a couple historians through the house, the local fishing guide had a door slammed in his face. Moments later, he witnessed a figure running away from the door. Evidently spirits in both houses enjoy their door closing abilities.

Neglect shows on both of these magnificent homes. Neither is currently open to the public so I have not added addresses to this entry. In the video, the bait shop owner mentions that he hopes paranormal investigations could provide the money to at least stabilize the Law House. Mount Holly needs just as much work and could also benefit from paranormal investigations. It’s also noted in the video that the area has received a great deal of rain recently; rain that can cause damage to both edifices. Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise these houses can be saved.

Sources
Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration.
     Mississippi: A Guide to the Magnolia State. NYC: Viking Press,
     1938.
     saving.” WLBT NBC News. 17 April 2012.
Sillery, Barbara. The Haunting of Mississippi. Gretna, LA; Pelican
     Press, 2011.
     Washington.” Preservation in Mississippi. 25 February 2010.
     Don’t Rise.’” Version 3. Knol. 2009 Jul 31.

3 comments:

  1. One of the movies, is produced by Charles Aragon and the title right now is "Haunted" Directed by Victor Costa. Delta Paranormal Project is the team that has been investigating the location. They will be having a fundraiser to raise money to restore this majestic old lady on June 23rd at the Southern Star Campground on lake Washington.There will be a small number of tickets sold to go in and investigate the location. If you would like to attend contact the group at www.deltaparanormalproject.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. The film director's name is Victor Salva not Costa. He is a well known director who has written Jeepers Creepers 1 and 2 and currently Jeepers Creepers 3 is in pre production. He also wrote directed Rosewood Lane, Powder and many more.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I went into Mount Holly over the summer late one night about 3 AM. It is boarded up but you can sneak in through the back porch by climbing through a hole in the wood. I had heard of a girl going in there and getting attacked by something demonic... she came out with claw marks on her back. Me and this girl went to check it out one night... got upstairs in the main room facing the upper balcony with the double doors. Heard a loud noise behind me like someone had stomped on the floor then felt a hand grab me out of thin air. Ran out of there with the quickness. I have explored many paranormal places in the Delta including Gates of Hell in Satartia, Witches Well off Woodyard rd in Belzoni, etc.

    This time in Mount Holly something seems to have followed me back. The girl I am currently with called me the other night (not the same girl that went in the house with me) and told me about this vision or dream she had. Said it was a figure showing her gruesome beatings of slaves in a basement, and kept mentioning a hidden basement in this house. She described the house and that there was a hidden door in the floor of a room by the side porch of the house, and how the person in the dream pointed to a grate in a concrete circle in front of the house and told her "that goes to the basement". Now remember, this girl I'm with tells me this, and is from Virginia and has never been to the Delta or Mount Holly. We both are in school at MSU. I remembered Mount Holly having a grate out front and a side porch so I showed her a picture of the Mansion and asked if that was the house in her dream. She literally almost threw up...it was the exact same one.

    I was on the phone with her today talking about the same subject, driving across town. My phone went static and I heard this EMF sounding crap over the phone like a voice but not able to tell what it said then my dashboard lights started flickering.

    That was the whole reason I ran across this site I was searching for some historical info on Mount Holly and seeing if anyone had died there or slave records. I'm literally starting to freak the F out. This story is 100% true, I have always believed and had a strong interest in Paranormal but this is a little much for me with my limited knowledge on the subject.

    ReplyDelete