The haunted America

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Bladon Springs Cemetery
The ghost of Captain Norman Staples has been reported hovering over the graves of his four children: James Alfred, Berth Jaddetta, Mable Claire, and an unnamed baby. His ghost is said to have fled his burning stern-wheeler (see James T. Staples Riverboat, below) and taken refuge in the cemetery here. Staple's apparition seems to be protecting the grave although the captain is sometimes seen with his hands pressed against his head, as if he is suffering from great anguish or regret.

James T. Staples Riverboat
Some believe that this proud riverboat was destroyed by the ghost of its captain. The stern-wheeler's maiden voyage was in 1908. The most elegant vessel on Alabama's rivers, it was named after the father of the ship's designer and first captain. His son Norman, captain and owner of the ship, had a hard time making ends meet because of unfair practices by a large stemboat company that wanted to operate all the boats on the river.

Finally, in December 1912, creditors seized his beloved ship and turned it over to his competition. On January 2, 1913, Captain Staples held a shotgun against his chest and pulled the trigger. Three days after he was buried, crew members began seeing the shadowy figure of their dead captain in the hold of the ship. The entire engine room crew quit and had to be replaced with workers who had never heard of the ghost. Next, all the rats that lived on the ship scurried ashore, a frightening premonition of things to come. Staple's ghost was seen roaming around the boilers belowdecks.

On January 13, 1913, the ship docked at Powe's Landing to take on wood. At the exact hour that Captain Staples took his own life, the boiler on the James T. Staples exploded, killing her new captain and twenty-five others. The rest of the crew and passengers, many badly injured, were able to flee the blazing ship before it broke its moorings and drifted downstream. It finally sank near the shore of the cemetery where Captain Norman Staples had been buried.

McConnico Cemetery | Claiborne
The phantoms of twelve Union horsemen have been seen riding near this old graveyard. Captain and Mrs. Charles Locklin witnessed the ghostly parade in the autumn of 1865. The Locklins were in their carriage early one morning when two columns of six soldiers on gray horses passed by on each side of them. Each member of the eerie troop wore white gloves, with his hands crossed on the pommel of his saddle, and every one wore a white bandage wrapped tightly around his head. The two respected citizens were certain they had seen victims of Confederate soldier Lafayette Seigler, who ambushed Nortern patrols, killed them, and then cut off their ears. Seigler's collection of Yankee ears was said to be quite impressive.

The first encounter occured on Mount Pleasant Road, near McConnico Cemetery and sporadig sightings were reported over the next hundred years.

Decatur High School | Decatur
White moving apparitions and the unexplainable sounds of footsteps coming from deserted corridors have been reported by students and teachers at this modern high school. No one has ever identified the source of the paranormal activity.

Eliza Battle | Tombigee River
The ghostly outline of the Eliza Battle can still be seen on the Tombigee River. The palatial steamboat caught fire and sank in February 1858. The fire burned through the tiller rope and the ship drifted out of control down the river as dozens of helpless passengers jumped into the icy waters. As many as fifty people died, and over a hundred were injured. Today, fishermen consider sighting the ghost ship to be an omen of impending death on the river.

The river runs from Demopolis to Mobile. The phantom ship is most often seen in the late winter months, when the Tombigee overflows its banks. The paddle-wheeler has been spotted where it sank near Naheola, thirty miles south of Demopolis, and also at Nanafalia, Tuscahoma, and Yellow Bluff.

Gaineswood | Demopolis
The twelve gigantic Doric columns in front of this mansion present an imposing sight. The neoclassic showplace was built in 1842 by General Nathan Whitfield, but a restless ghost haunts the magnificent estate today. She is Evelyn Carter, sister of Whitfield's second wife. Evelyn came to live at the great house and died there of an undetermined disease. Because she died in the middle of winter, her body was stored in a sealed pine box under the cellar stairs, until the ground thawed in the following spring. The unseemly internment apparently upset Evelyn's spirit, for she began haunting the house soon after her remains were placed under the stairs. Even after she was finally buried, her soft footsteps could be heard in the hallways, and a melodious voice echoed her favorite songs from down in the cellar. Some people claim to sense her presence even today.

Gaineswood is a historic residence just outside the town Demopolis.

Cedarhurst Mansion | Huntsvilles
This estate was established by Stephen Ewing in 1823. The two-story house, with its fifteen-inch-thick brick walls, has survived a number of new owners and a variety of challenges over the years. During a fierce thunderstorm in the 1950s, the ghost of a tall girl with long dark hair appeared to a visitor sleeping in an upstairs bedroom. Before she disappeared he heard her say, "Help me! The terrible wind has blown my tombstone over." Thinking he had awakened from a dream, he turned over and went back to sleep. The next morning, he asked his guests if there was a graveyard on the property. He was directed to a small fenced-in plot, where he found the freshly toppled tombstone of Sally Carter, the 16-year-old sister of Mrs. Ewing. She had died in 1837.

The Cedarhurst property was purchased by developers and transformed into town houses in the 1980s. The graves in the cemetery were unceremoniously removed to undisclosed locations. The mansion now serves as the Cedarhurst Club.

Harrison Cemetery | Kinston
The ghost of an elderly square dancer, Grancer Harrison, still promenades in the weathered shelter built over his tomb. Grancer was a friendly cotton farmer from Virginia who built a large house in the 1840s on land bordering the Pea River. He invited his neighbors in three counties to the barbeques, horse racers, and square dances held on his property. He loved dancing so much that he asked to be buried in his dancing shoes and clothes, with his body laid out on his old feather bed. He built a brick tomb large enough to accommodate the bed and then had the structure covered with a protective wood building. The sounds of lively fiddle music and Grancer's ghost kicking up the dust have been reported near the building for the last hundred years.

Marengo | Lowndesboro
Marengo is an old manor house where Kathleen Powell, an invalid, committed suicide in 1961. Her spirit lingers on. Residents have reported being overcome by a sense of foreboding in the house and hearing strange, sudden laughter. A psychic helped free the confused spirit from the premises in February 1976, and no sightings have been reported since.

Carlisle Hall | Marion
The ghost of Anne Carlisle still haunts the imposing brick tower from which she leaped to her death. Her father, Edwin Kenworthy Carlisle, built the unique plantation house in 1837. His daughter was in love with a Confederate soldier, and when she heard of the young man's death she jumped from the large tower window which faces the road that leads up to the mansion.

Judson College
A phantom organist is sometimes seen playing a huge pipe organ at this Baptist women's college, which opoened in 1838. Ghostly music can be heard late at night, but no one is ever found at the organ.

De Soto Falls | Mentone
The ghost of an old mountain woman and her dog are sometimes seen walking through the woods around this rural waterfall or near the ruins of her old cabin. Some say Nancy Dollar's ghost was looking for thieves who stole the money she set aside for a proper tombstone. She was 108 years old when she died in January 1931. Friends put her old dog Buster to sleep and buried him too. However, thieves broke into the cabin and stole the money Granny had set aside for her funeral, so no tombstone was set over her grave. That did not set too well with Granny. Her ghost was seen in the area so many times that people took up a collection in 1973 and had a marker placed. That seemed to satisfy the old lady, but the phantom of Buster, her faithful dog, is still seen.

Boyington Oak | Mobile
The great oak tree that sprang up from the grave of a hanged man still proclaims his innocence. Charles Boyington was hanged for the murder of his best friend Nathaniel Frost on February 20, 1835. The two best friends spent endless hours relaxing among the tombstones and witty epitaphs of the Church Street Graveyard. When Frost was found stabbed to death there, everyone assumed the two had had an argument and that Boyington had stabbed his companion in a fit of anger. Boyington steadfastly maintained his innocence. His last words on the gallows were that a great oak tree would grow from his grave as proof of his innocense. He was buried in a corner of potter's field near the wall in the Church Street Graveyard, about sixy yards from where Frost's body was found. Within a few monts, a tiny oak sprouted from the center of his grave, and the living monument thrives to this day. The proud oak has survived many disasters that have claimed other trees in the area, and some hear the cries of an innocent man when the breeze rustles through its branches.

Smallwood House | Mobile
The ghost of a pipe-smoking sea captain haunts his old neighborhood and the house where he committed suicide. His visitations began when the William Smallwood family moved into his former residence. They were often awakened by loud bangs, sudden thuds, and the sound of someone falling down the stairs. Then the ghost started materializing in the garden behind the house. Soon he was also seen inside the house. The odor from his pipe tobacco was sometimes overpowering, and the Smallwoods were forced to move out. The house stood vacant for many years.

The Smallwood house is a private residence on State Street. The Captain's presence has also been sensed on nearby Bienville Square.

Spring Hill College | Mobile
The ghost of a former mathematics professor haunts this quiet Catholic college, which was founded in 1830. The brilliant man's revenant is seen near his old office in the Mathematics Department.

Mansion House | Montevallo
Edmund King christened this two-story brick house "Kingswood" when he built it in 1823. After he died on June 28, 1863, at the age of 82, his ghost lingered on his beloved estate for over a hundred years. His form could been seen late a night carrying a lantern through his orchards to the gravesite of his wife and son. His ghost was also seen counting silver coins in his second-floor bedroom and floating slowly across the floor. Once, during a wedding reception held in the house, a huge white-robed phantom materialized from beneath the dining-room table and drifted out an open window, in full view of all the guests.

Fourplex Apartments | Montgomery
When Nancy Anglin first moved into the upstairs east apartment here, she became aware of a strange presence. Then in August 1966, she heard a flute playing a "wandering, mystical pattern of notes", and looked up to see a glowing mist move from the bedroom through the living room, and into the den. Although other tenants heard strange footsteps in the halls, no other reports of ghosts were received and the identity of the musical spirit was never determined.

Huntingdon College | Montgomery
The ghost of the Red Lady has haunted Pratt Hall on this campus for many years. She was a student from New York who was obsessed with the color red. She always dressed in red, and her room on the fourth floor of Pratt Hall was decorated in a crimson hue. The girl, never accepted by her classmates, remained aloof, alone, and homesick. One day they found her in her room dressed in her red robe, underneath a red blanked, covered with bright red blood from her slashed wrists. After she died, strange flashes of red light were seen in her former room, as the girl's red-dressed ghost roamed the fourth-floor halls and terrified students.

Lucas Tavern | Montgomery
The friendly ghost of Eliza Lucas, dressed in Victorian clothing, waves from the doorway of her old tavern. The tavern was a popular overnight rest stop in the 1820s. Soon after the building was restored in 1980, the ghost of its former owner started to appear. Eliza has also been reported in the old school-house and several other nineteenth-century buildings on the square.

Old Brower Residence | Mountain Brook
The ghost of a popular doctor haunts his family's Steinway piano. Dr. William Mudd Jordan always wanted to learn to play the piano that he bought for his children, but he only had time to learn two pieces. The piano was eventually passed down to his great-grandson, Dr. William Jordan Brower. The elder physician died in 1951 at the age of 78. Starting about 1970, family members and neighbors began hearing songs coming from the old piano late at night. The ghostly performances were always the same tunes: "Stars and Stripes Forever" and "Maple Leaf Rag" - the only two songs old Dr. Jordan ever learned.

Choctawhatchee River Bridge | Newton
A shallow hole near the bank of this river is haunted. Locals say that even if the hole is filled with dirth during the day, by morning it will be empty and clean-swept. Highway workers once filled up the hole with dirt and pitched their tent directly on top of it, but the next morning the haunted hole was completely dug out again. The ghost of Bill Sketoe, former pastor of the Methodist Church seems likely the cause. He was hanged on December 3, 1864, from an old oak tree that stood on the spot. A group of vigilantes accused Sketoe of being a traitor to the Confederacy. In fact, Sketoe was totally innocent. At the lynching, the tree limb holding Sketoe's body bent enough so that his toes touched the ground, and the men had to hastily dig a hole beneath his feet as the rope slowly strangled him to death. The six men soon started telling stories of meeting the innocent pastor's ghost, and eventually they all died violent deaths. For many years locals reported seeing Sketoe's vengeful phantom.