Monday, February 29, 2016

The Haunted Jukebox and Associates—Earnestine and Hazel’s, Memphis

Earnestine and Hazel’s
531 South Main Street       
Memphis, Tennessee

On Christmas Day 2006 Karen Brownlee, bartender and manager of Earnestine and Hazel’s in Memphis, and a coworker were discussing the death of The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, earlier that morning. As the discussion continued the voice of the recently silenced singer erupted from the jukebox proclaiming, “I feel good!” The shocked employees stared at each other as Brown joyfully crooned, “I got you!” Was the soul singer speaking through the jukebox or was it just a coincidence?

At Earnestine and Hazel’s the jukebox is known to have a mind of its own and plays according to discussion or sometimes the thoughts of patrons and employees at the bar. Another time a group of friends celebrating a woman’s divorce were greeted by the jukebox blaring Tammy Wynette’s “D-I-V-O-R-C-E.” Some time later a paranormal investigator was discussing exorcisms and the jukebox cheekily piped up from the corner with the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.” Interestingly, many of the performers of these songs passed across the floors of this most historic dive bar and some even slept here when Earnestine and Hazel were renting the rooms upstairs.

Sisters Earnestine Mitchell and Hazel Jones owned this bar for many years. The unassuming commercial building standing in the shadow of Memphis Central Station was initially a pharmacy. When the pharmacist, Abe Plough, became famous from his line of hair products and Coppertone brand suntan lotion, he gave this modest building to the sisters. They ran the business as a café and rented rooms upstairs by the hour. While not outright supporting the trade of the many prostitutes who plied their trade here, Earnestine and Hazel chose to turn a blind eye. Earnestine’s husband owned a nightclub nearby and would often bring the performers to the café after their shows. Many of the best names in music ranging from B.B. King to Wilson Pickett to Tina Turner passed through the doors of Earnestine and Hazel’s establishment.
Earnestine and Hazel's, 2012, by Thomas R.
Machnitzki, courtesy of Wikipedia.
In turn, Earnestine and Hazel became confidants to many patrons and, as Karen Brownlee writes, continue to do so even after their deaths in the 1990s. Tragedy struck Brownlee in 2007 when her son was shot and killed. Sobbing over the death of her son, she sat at the end of the bar and began to talk to God and the late Mrs. Earnestine in earnest. After asking for a sign that her son was alright she noticed a baby bird emerge from one of the booths, walk towards the door and fly off. Moments later and older woman entered the bar and asked if she was ok. Brownlee told her what had happened and the woman comforted her. The woman left but soon returned with a sterling silver necklace with a bird. Brownlee had not seen the woman before nor since, but she’s adamant that it was Mrs. Earnestine.

Not only are the stalwart former owners still around, but many of the former patrons are still living it up at Earnestine and Hazel’s. Former owner George Russell would regularly hear voices and clinking glasses when the bar was empty. The sounds of partying would carry on long after the living patrons had departed. But its not only sounds that are experienced, apparitions are sometimes seen here as well. The apparition of a man carrying a white pillar candle has been observed walking in the bar and paranormal investigators captured the apparition walking on the street in front of the bar about 3 AM.

Stories circulate of prostitutes either committing suicide or being murdered upstairs as well. Perhaps that explains the patrons who feel someone grab their hands at the top of the staircase. This feeling is sometimes accompanied by an overwhelming sense of sadness. When in Memphis if you wish to spend some time among the past, stop into Earnestine and Hazel’s, enjoy a Soul Burger, say hello to the sisters, maybe take the hand of a long-dead prostitute at the top of the stairs, and maybe the jukebox will cheekily pipe up with an appropriate song to accompany your visit.

Brownlee, Karen. “This is what it’s like to work at the Most
     Haunted Bar in America.” Vice. 31 May 2015.
Coleman, Christopher K. Ghosts and Haunts of Tennessee.
     Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2011.
History. Earnestine and Hazel’s. Accessed 29 February 2016.
Holmes, Kevin. “Is Memphis a hotbed for paranormal activity?”
     ABC 24. 29 October 2010.
Pickrell, Kayla. “Haunted Memphis: Earnestine and Hazel’s.”
    Memphis Commercial Appeal. 17 July 2012.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Southern Index of Higher Ed Haunts—West Virginia

I’ve embarked on a project to comprehensively document haunted college and university sites throughout the South. When I first conceived of this project, I imagined I would only have about 200 or 300 locations, but after scouring my personal indices of locations, I ended up with over 500.  

Please note that the references quoted at the end of each entry are only those sources that specifically talk about the hauntings. If you have experienced a haunting at any of these locations, know of other haunted college and university locations not included here, or have a correction, please email me at I’d love to hear your story and include that information here.

Bethany College, Bethany

Alexander Campbell Mansion & God’s Acre CemeteryThis mansion and cemetery, the former home and burial site of religious leader and Bethany college founder Alexander Campbell, are now owned by Bethany College. Campbell’s spirit has supposedly been spotted within the small, hexagonal study building on this estate. The spirit of Campbell’s young son Wickliffe, who drowned nearby, may make appearances within the house. Legend holds that the low stone wall entirely surrounding the cemetery across the road may hold spirits within this historic family cemetery, thus the numerous stories involving encounters here between the living the dead. 6, 10, 16, 22

Cochran HallA spirit in this 1910 residence hall’s first floor guest apartment still makes its presence known, though it has yet to be identified. 25, 27

Grace Phillips Johnson Memorial Visual Arts CenterOriginally constructed as Irvin Gymnasium in 1919, this structure is home to visual arts classes and possibly the spirit of the building’s namesake. Security guards have reported that they encountered the spirit of Ms. Johnson while others have reported that the eyes in her portrait follow people around the room. 25, 27

Old Main Clock TowerA student’s suicide is reenacted at the iconic clock tower on Old Main. Lore states that a female may have committed suicide here by leaping from the clock tower to her death. 11

Phillips HallThis 1929 residence hall may be home to two ghosts: Sarah, a student who hung herself in the attic and a sailor who died as he was either visiting a student or sneaking out of the building when it served as navy housing during World War II. 8, 11, 27

Bluefield State College, Bluefield

Mahood HallOne of the oldest buildings on the campus of this historically black college, Mahood Hall is believed to be the home of a little girl’s spirit. For years, students have awakened here to find themselves face to face with a little girl who quickly disappears. A 2010 investigation by Black Diamond Paranormal Society captured several EVPs and a brief video showing a figure passing by an open doorway in the supposedly empty building. 12

Concord University, Athens

Sarvay HallComments on Theresa Racer’s blog post about Concord University note that this dormitory may be fairly active. 13

Wilson HallThe third floor of this early-1960s era dormitory is supposed to be quite paranormally active. Blogger Theresa Racer’s post on Concord University notes that a student may have committed suicide in room 320, though comments on this post reveal that other rooms on the floor may also be active. 13 
Halliehurst at Davis & Elkins College, 2014. Photo
by Generic1139, courtesy of Wikipedia.
Davis & Elkins College, Elkins

Graceland Inn and Conference CenterOne of two Victorian mansions (the other being Halliehurst, see below) constructed as summer homes for a pair of friends, businessmen and later senators, Henry Gassaway Davis and Stephen Benton Elkins. Their families later donated the grand estates to create a campus for the small, Presbyterian-affiliated college established by Henry Davis. Built by Henry Davis, Graceland may be haunted by the spirit of Grace Davis, one of his daughters. During a 2008 walkthrough of the house with paranormal investigator Chris Fleming, students were treated to some EVPs and the gas burners in the kitchen turning themselves on. 5, 24

HalliehurstLike its Victorian sister, Graceland, students, staff members, and visitors have experienced the unexplained in Stephen Elkin’s former summer home, Halliehurst for many years. Stories at Halliehurst date to the home’s use as a women’s dormitory in the 1950s. Gavenda and Shoemaker note in their A Guide to Haunted West Virginia that nearly all of the encounters with the paranormal here are positive and helpful with students being saved by phantom hands from injury or death. 24, 26 (Barefoot 2004; Gavenda and Shoemaker 2001)

Glenville State College, Glenville

Clark HallAn October 2011 edition of The Barr Bulletin a college newsletter written by Betsy Barr, wife of GSC’s president Peter Barr, makes note of the college’s most famous ghost, “Sis Linn.” Sarah Louisa Linn, known familiarly as “Sis” Linn, was an 1877 graduate of the Glenville Normal School that preceded the state college. She later owned a boarding house where she was bludgeoned to death in 1919. The boarding house was later torn down to construct a women’s dormitory Verona Maple Hall. Sis Linn’s spirit was observed here in the years before the building was replaced with Clark Hall. Linn’s spirit may still be present here as well as in other places on campus. Here, Linn’s spirit seems to cause much noise. 1, 14

Harry B. Heflin Administration BuildingAccording to legend, a bell that hung in this building would often chime thirteen times until it was recently removed. Within this building lights flicker, keys left in doorknobs jingle on their own accord and disembodied whispering is heard. 28

Louis Bennett HallWhen it served as a men’s dormitory students in Bennett Hall were sometimes awakened by a Lady in White. After the building’s conversion into offices, odd phenomena is still observed here. 28

Old Glenville CemeterySis Linn, the college’s resident spirit was buried here after she was bludgeoned to death in 1919. Her spirit is said to be observed walking through the cemetery. 14

Pickens HallAccording to author Tom Ogden, students in this residence hall have reported hearing furniture being moved on the floor above them and the sound of marbles rolling across the floor. 28
Old Main at Marshall University, 2013. Photo by WVFunnyMan,
courtesy of Wikipedia.
Marshall University, Huntington

Alpha Chi Omega House (Fifth Avenue)Legend holds that a little boy killed here in a fire now haunts this sorority house. Sisters in the house have reportedly experienced flickering lights, unexpected cool breezes, and objects being moved. 2, 27

Erma Ora Boyd Clinical CenterBuilt on the site of Fairfield Stadium, this 2007 building is reportedly filled with activity after hours. Elevators operate on their own accord, televisions turn on by themselves, and the sound of two men chanting has been heard in the commons area. 2, 27

Morrow LibraryLibrary patrons are sometimes interrupted in this 1930 library by the sounds of arguing, though the source is never found. Originally the main university library building, this building now houses special collections. 2, 27

Old MainThe oldest and most iconic building on campus, Old Main also harbors ghosts. One of the more recognizable spirits haunts the old auditorium within this building. Believed to be the spirit of a former theatre director, the spirit has been seen backstage and walking the catwalks. A 1996 article notes that in addition to the auditorium, the attic and Yeager Suite are also the domain of spirits. For further information see my blog post, “Phantoms of the Opera, Y’all.”2, 27

Sigma Phi Epsilon House (1401 5th Avenue) – Like the Alpha Chi Omega House nearby, this fraternity house is purported to be haunted by the victims of a fire, though in this case the victims were a mother and her two children. The lore states that this fire took place in the late 1960s or early 1970s and residents still hear the sounds of sobbing. 2, 27

Twin Towers EastThe spirit of a student who committed suicide is said to remain in his room, 1218, of this 1969 residence hall. A student reported in a 1996 article in The Parthenon that he awakened to see the image of a young man sitting in his room. The apparition disappeared after the student pulled his covers over his head. 2, 27

Mountwest Community & Technical College, Huntington

Academic BuildingMountwest Community & Technical College took up residence in its main academic building in 2012. Built in 1980 as an office building for the Ashland Coal Company, the building may be occupied by the spirit of an employee of one of the companies that occupied this modern office building previous to the college’s occupation. Theresa Racer notes in her blog that after the death of an employee here from a heart attack in 2002, people on the fourth floor began to experience doors opening and closing by themselves, a feeling of being watched and the smell of pipe tobacco. 17 
McMurren Hall at Shepherd University, 2012. Photo by
Acroterion, courtesy of Wikipedia.
Shepherd University, Shepherdstown

Gardiner HallThe spirit of a former homecoming queen named Patty still stirs in this residence hall. She supposedly died here after falling in the shower and hitting her head sometime in the late 1980s. A portrait of Mabel Gardiner, the building’s namesake, is supposedly hung upside down to appease Patty’s restless spirit. 4, 27

Kennemond HallResidents of this residence hall regularly encounter the spirit of a young boy wearing knickers and a driving cap. His story says that he was killed in a fall at a local construction site. He is known to play with student’s electronic devices. Author Rosemary Ellen Guiley reports that there is also a spirit encountered in the building’s basement. 4, 27

McMurran HallConstruction began on this building on the eve of the Civil War and it remained unfinished for a few years following the war. After the bloody Battle of Antietam was fought nearby in Maryland, this was among local buildings commandeered for use treating the wounded. The spirit of a soldier is often seen peering from the bell tower. For further information see my article on Shepherdstown, “None of the town is spared a ghost story—Shepherdstown, WV.”3, 9

Miller HallA young girl who died in a fall from a hayloft on this property prior to the construction of Miller Hall has been seen roaming the halls of this building. Local lore also notes the death of a nursing student by her own hand here, but her spirit has not been spotted. Lore also mentions that an exorcism was performed in room 201, though a residence life staff member told the student newspaper in 2014 that this was likely just a blessing of the room to put paranormal activity at rest. 4, 27
Shaw Hall – The apparition of a woman has been seen at some of the windows of this building. 27

Thatcher HallThe spirits of those of those interred in the nearby cemetery haunt the B Wing of this residence hall. 4, 27
Turner HallThe Victorian girl who haunts Miller Hall has also been seen here while the spirit of a construction worker also roams the halls. During the construction of Turner Hall a construction worker fell to his death on the rocks that are now a part of the building’s basement. 4, 27

Yellow House (Entler-Weltzheimer House)One of the oldest houses in Shepherdstown and the oldest on campus, the Yellow House is purported to still be the residence of a cobbler who was killed here in 1910. The tapping of his cobbler’s tools are still heard. For further information see my article on Shepherdstown, “None of the town is spared a ghost story—Shepherdstown, WV.”3, 21

University of Charleston, Charleston

East ApartmentsBuilt on the former site of haunted Dickinson Hall, this dormitory may have inherited the paranormal activity from that building. 27

Geary Student UnionThis student union building is apparently haunted, though little information is available as to the exact nature of the paranormal activity. 18, 27

Riggleman HallBuilt in 1950, Riggleman Hall may have a few spectral residents including a female suicide victim and Leonard Riggleman, former president of Morris Harvey College, predecessor to the University of Charleston. The activity blamed on these spirits includes odd noises and shadows. 18, 27
Woodburn Hall at West Virginia University, 2008. Photo
by Swimmerguy269, courtesy of Wikipedia.
West Virginia University, Morgantown

Beta Theta Pi HouseTwo spirits may haunt this fraternity house: the spirit of a butler who served the brothers in the 1940s and the spirit of a homeless man who committed suicide in the basement in the 1980s. 24

Boreman HallOdd sounds and other paranormal activity has been encountered throughout the north section of this residence hall. 24

Downtown Campus LibraryStudious spirits inhabit this 1931 library. One staff member was studying here when he heard the elevator doors open and someone walk to the desk on the other side of the partition and pull the chair out. When he looked shortly after that, no one was there. Legend blames this activity on a staff member who died after falling down an open elevator shaft.  7, 19

Elizabeth Moore HallBuilt in the late 1920s, this historic building may be haunted by the spirit of its namesake, Elizabeth Moore. 19, 24

WV Route 857While not on the campus of WVU, this haunting involves two students who were abducted from the campus January 18, 1970. A few months later, the headless bodies of the two females were discovered near Cheat Lake. The heads have never been recovered. An arrest and conviction was garnered in this case. Drivers at night near the site where the coeds’ bodies were discovered have spotted the apparitions of two females in the woods. 24, 27

The MountainlairA spectral girl dancing in a yellow party dress has been observed here. 27

Woodburn HallPerhaps one of the more unique ghost stories in West Virginia involve the spectral bovine mooing that is heard here. Legend speaks of a student prank gone awry when students lead a cow up the stairs to the clock tower of this building. When the students could not get the cow back down the stairs the cow apparently had to be killed and butchered. 19

West Virginia University Institute of Technology, Montgomery

Ratliff HallBesides very typical paranormal activity including footsteps and slamming doors, one female student claimed to have seen the specter of a firefighter in this dormitory building. 20

West Virginia Wesleyan University, Buckhannon

Agnes Howard HallNamed for a student who was stricken with a sudden illness while at school here and passed away, Agnes Howard Hall may have paranormal activity including shaking beds and a student hearing her name whispered three times. 15, 23 



1          Barr, Betsy. The Barr Bulletin. October 2011
2          Donohue, Kelly. Unnamed article. The Parthenon. 29
            October 1996.
3          Engle, Georgia Lee. “Restless spirit roams campus,
            haunts High Street Cottage.” Shepherd College Picket. 28
            October 1954.
4          “Ghouls & Ghosts: Legends and hauntings of Shepherd
            University.” The Picket. 28 October 2014.
5          Higgins, Carra. “Paranormal says hauntings present
            at Graceland, Halliehurst.” The Inter-Mountain. 28 October
6          Jackson, Mary Robb. “Paranormal activity spooking up
            some fun at Bethany College.” KDKA. 30 October 2013.
7          Kinney, Hilary. “Spooky stories surface throughout campus.”
            The Daily Athenaeum. 31 October 2013.
8          McQuillan, Kayla. “The haunts of Bethany College.” The
            Tower. No Date.
9          Molenda, Rachel. “Town serves as home to ghosts from past.”
            Shepherdstown Chronicle. 28 October 2011.
10        Racer, Theresa. “Alexander Campbell Mansion.” Theresa’s
            Haunted History of the Tri-State. 20 April 2012.
11        Racer, Theresa. “Bethany College.” Theresa’s Haunted History
            of the Tri-State. 22 January 2012.
12        Racer, Theresa. “Bluefield State College.” Theresa’s Haunted
            History of the Tri-State. 5 September 2012.
13        Racer, Theresa. “Concord College.” Theresa’s Haunted
            History of the Tri-State. 29 February 2012.
14        Racer, Theresa. “Ghost of Glenville State.” Theresa’s Haunted
            History of the Tri-State. 12 September 2011.
15        Racer, Theresa. “The Ghost of West Virginia Wesleyan.”       
            Theresa’s Haunted History of the Tri-State. 2 March 2012.
16        Racer, Theresa. “God’s Acre Cemetery.” Theresa’s Haunted
            History of the Tri-State. 23 May 2011.
17        Racer, Theresa. “Mountwest Community & Technical
            College inherits a ghost!Theresa’s Haunted History of the
            Tri-State. 21 September 2013.
18        Racer, Theresa. “University of Charleston.” Theresa’s
            Haunted History of the Tri-State. 7 October 2012.
19        Racer, Theresa. “WVU haunts around campus.” Theresa’s
            Haunted History of the Tri-State. 20 May 2012.
20        Racer, Theresa. “WVU Tech’s Phantom Fire Fighter.”
            Theresa’s Haunted History of the Tri-State. 4 September 2012.
21        Shepherd University. “The Legend of the Yellow House.”
            Accessed 2 October 2011.
22        Shinn, Emma. “Stone wall said to keep spirits, stories in
            Bethany cemetery.” Observer-Reporter. 28 October 2013.
23        Wagoner, Becky & John Wickline. “Bone chilling tales of
            ghostly wails.” The Inter-Mountain. 27 October 2007.


24        Barefoot, Daniel. Haunted Halls of Ivy: Ghosts of Southern
            Colleges and Universities. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair,
25        Carney, Brent. Bethany College. Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2004.
26        Gavenda, Walter & Michael T. Shoemaker. A Guide to
            Haunted West Virginia. Glen Ferris, WV: Peter’s Creek
            Publishing, 2001.
27        Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. The Big Book of West Virginia Ghost
            Stories. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2014.
28        Ogden, Tom. Haunted Colleges and Universities: Creepy
            Campuses, Scary Scholars, and Deadly Dorms. Guilford, CT:       
            Globe Pequot Press, 2014.