Saturday, December 28, 2013

Paranormal Activity at the Pauly Jail - Union Springs, Alabama

The Pauly Jail was erected in 1897 in Union Springs, Alabama
and is among the oldest surviving jails in Alabama. 
The old Pauly jail, in Union Springs, Alabama, shares some haunting history along with the rest of the town. It was built in 1897 by the Pauly Jail Building and Manufacturing Company and is arguably the oldest standing jail in the state. It was used as a film set in 2004 for the movie, Heaven’s Fall (which is still set-up inside the building). The 116 year-old jail has been renovated by the historic society and is dedicated to the prohibition era of Bullock County and it’s legacies in moonshine. Several liquor stills are on display at the museum along with other artifacts, relics, photos and newspaper articles that pertain to illegal distilling.

The three story jail consists of jailers and deputies quarters, a woman’s wing, and interrogation room on the bottom floor. The second floor general population cells are tight quarters and a separate recreation area, known as the “bull pen”, for deputies, is located in the back. The third floor cells are surrounded by twenty foot catwalks where jailers would keep a close watch over inmates and a separate cell for the insane or suicidal. Perhaps the most curious attraction at the jail is the swinging trap door and eyelet, which is also located on the third floor. The reason it’s located there is because hangings were conducted in the jail in plain sight of inmates. When the sliding sound of a heavy switch and clanking metal doors erupted from the Pauly Jail, it meant only one thing, someone met their fate at the end of a long drop and a short stop.

Death by hanging for condemned prisoners in the 1900's was carried out in plain view of inmates at the jail.
One of the Pauly Jail’s first criminal visitors was Willie Upshaw. He was arrested and sent to jail the same year it opened. He managed to escape the beast of concrete and steel but was later killed. The man who killed Willie (whose name is presently unknown) was arrested for murder and also sent to the Pauly for an undisclosed amount of time. In his confinement he hung himself in his cell upstairs. His spirit is responsible for the heavy swinging sound heard in the jail. On occasion, an eye witness account surfaces from those who have seen his ghastly apparition, wandering about the third floor with a noose around his neck.

The Pauly Jail is now a renovated museum dedicated to prohibition era and moonshine, but those aren't the only "spirits" here. 
On Christmas Eve, 1960, J.W. Mann was arrested for disorderly conduct and taken to the Pauly Jail. He was smoking in his cell and apparently fell asleep and set his mattress on fire. Before the jailer could be found to open the jail, flames completely engulfed J.W.’s cell and smoke was bellowing out of the second floor window. By the time they reached Mr. Mann, he was already dead. Since then, the spirit of J.W. Mann has spent more than a few Christmas’s haunting the old city jail. The Pauly Jail has been a hotbed of ghostly inhabitants and paranormal activity for the past decade. Its history tells the story of how the spirits came to be. Recently, a video was recorded at the jail of a “ghost box” session during an investigation by the Alabama Paranormal Research Team. In the video, voices came over the radio device saying, “Pauly” and “moonshine”. According to the investigators, more spirits at the jail are still undocumented.

- “We are just now scratching the surface of the mystery of the Pauly Jail spirits”.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Histoircally Haunted Josephine Hotel - Union Springs, Alabama

The Josephine Hotel – Union Springs, Alabama

About 40 miles southeast of Montgomery, Alabama, just off highway 82, is the sleepy town of Union Springs, Alabama. This small community has managed to preserve some of its most historic buildings which are now serving as a spiritual mecca for the supernatural.  For years the residents of Union Springs have seen, heard and felt the presence of shadowy spirits, piano playing specters, and ladies dressed in white Victorian gowns. The days of the antebellum-era are long gone and the streets are no longer filled with horse drawn carriages, but the ghosts of that time are still very much alive and are waiting to tell their stories.

Some of the historical buildings in Bullock County include the court house, which is rumored to be haunted by several spirits, including a former sheriff named Red Williams, the Pauly Jail and the Josephine hotel. The Pauly jail has been restored to a great state of preservation and serves as a museum dedicated to the history of law enforcement during prohibition in Bullock County. The three story building is complete with a trap door and eyelet where a single noose hangs. It was also used in the 2006 movie, “Heavens Fall” and the scene for the jail on the bottom floor was kept after production for patrons to see.
The Josephine Hotel - Union Springs, Alabama.
Perhaps the most impressive building, from the aspects of stature, history and spirits, is the Josephine Hotel. This building once hosted some of the South’s most festive parties and the most charming masquerade balls held East of New Orleans. It was built in 1880 by Robert A. Fleming and was named for his beautiful wife, “Josephine”. The lavish dinners held here brought guests from all over the region. Under the careful and meticulous eye of Mrs. Josephine Fleming, the hotel hosted “bird dinners”. Wild fowl were brought into the hotel by local hunters and piled in rows in front of the hotel. The birds were prepared and served in to guests from the town’s most elite and most prominent families in the hotels formal dining room. Other splendid dinners included oysters, shipped in from as far away as Eufaula, Alabama and Orchestra’s from Columbus, Georgia serenaded the guests into the late evening hours.

Over time the hotel changed hands and was renamed the “Drummers Center” and “Commercial Hotel”. The 32-room hotel was still considered one of the finest in the region and the saloons, located on the bottom floor, hosted cards games and kept the finest whiskey in town. In 1903, the building became the property of F.F. Ravencroft, a druggist and active supporter in the campaigns of tonics or “near beers”, as they were called during prohibition. Ravencroft established his pharmacy here for many years until the building eventually became a commercial property.

The old piano, located on the second floor of this three story, historic, hotel has been heard playing a ghostly tune. 
Today the Perrin’s own the building and it has been a labor of love for the couple for many years. Extensive renovations have been done to resurrect the old hotel, and, once again, bring it to life. But rebuilding this grand hotel has come with a few spirited surprises. According to the owners and a few locals, some guests that checked in during the mid-1800’s, never checked out. It started out with an odd feeling of being watched, a cold chill in the humid and damp rooms, to seeing apparitions of people walking through the hotel. Joyce Perrin reports on some occasions, she stays overnight during renovations and she can hear the shuffling footsteps of what sounds likes several people on the upper floors. Also, the abandoned piano on the second floor, seems to play on its own. Haunting sounds of saloon music occasionally bellows through the establishment that now serves as a deli where locals come to have lunch and some of the area’s best ice cream.
The Spirits of the Josephine Hotel would like to welcome you for a ghostly visit. 
Logic, of course, plays a big part in dismissing some of the claims of the paranormal activity here at the Josephine, but ghost hunting teams, who have investigated the building, have been able to document many of the ghost sightings and sounds. During one investigation, by the Alabama Paranormal Research Team, a team member found herself in the grips of a frightening experience when a photo of the hotel literally flew off the wall toward her in the downstairs parlor. Sounds were recorded by the team that matched a sighting from a local who said he saw a woman dressed in white, mid-century, clothing appear in the 2nd floor window. The EVP recorded that night also captured a woman’s voice. When the investigator asked for anyone present to touch the electromagnetic device, the voice captured on the audio of the camera said, “Yes”. Light anomalies were also captured manifesting out of thin air on the second floor, and the sensation of being watched was very prominent among all the investigators.

The spirits of the Josephine Hotel have recently been documented in the new publication, “Haunted Alabama Black Belt” by David Higdon and Brett Talley. Other stories from Bullock County include the Pauly Jail and the Bullock County Courthouse. This 23 chapter guide to the Alabama black belt’s ghosts has an abundance of supernatural history. It’s definitely a book for the ghost story enthusiast or history buff. New stories from the region are being reported daily, and for the Josephine Hotel, lunch crowds that spend an afternoon in the deli may find more than just a great meal or snack. If your curiosity encourages you to visit, feel free to ask the Perrin’s about their personal experiences. They are more than willing to share them with you. 

The Columbus Iron Works & the Ghost of James Warner - Columbus, Georgia

In June of 1862, the Columbus Iron Works was an established foundry for steel casting during the Civil War. The foundry poured the steel castings for the ships propellers and machinery that were built in the neighboring Navy Yard. The head engineer, who oversaw the foundry and the building of many of the Confederate Navy’s iron clads and gunships built at the Columbus Navy Yard was James Warner.  He spearheaded the operations and helped establish Columbus’s Iron Works as the largest manufacture of Confederate Machinery in the South.

The Columbus Iron Works was used as a casting and machinery foundry during the Civil War.
 Warner’s contributions to the Iron Works were substantial and he was a highly respected military man in the city of Columbus. However, an unknown assailant shot him in the leg on February 12, 1866 while crossing the street in front of the soldier’s barracks. For ten days, surgeons and doctors tended to Major Warner, but their efforts were in vein. James Warner died on February 22, 1866 and was laid to rest at Linwood cemetery in Columbus, Georgia.

Since his death, over one hundred and forty years ago, a spirit has been seen in the old mill. Visitors who attend events, weddings, and community functions at the Iron Works today, report seeing a man in a blue overcoat. Often, he is seen walking through walls and hovering overhead on what appears to be ghost-like cat walks from the former foundry. Many believe this is the spirit of Major James Warner, still keeping a watchful eye over the industry he worked so hard to contribute too.
Major James Warner's grave at Linwood cemetery in Columbus, Georgia.
Other strange sightings are often reported in the form of photographs taken by patrons and guests who attend these events. Unusual human-like shapes manifest as a mist and occasionally brightly colored “orbs” (which some believe is spiritual energy), are photographed at the location. There are also reports of people hearing the sounds of working machinery in the old mill building. Are the spirits of the old mill still working in the casting foundry? Does this skeleton crew of men still haunt the building along with their superior and overseer, Major Warner? Keep a watchful eye on those actors in the new haunted house in this years “Massacre at the Mill”. That ghostly apparition of a man in a blue over coat may not be an actor at all.

You can find out more about the Iron Works haunted history in “Haunted Columbus Georgia – Phantoms of the Fountain City” by Faith Serafin visit her website: and find out how you can attend paranormal investigations in Columbus, Georgia. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Buried Treasure in Beauregard - Opelika, Alabama

The plantations and family homes of Lee County’s first settlements are mostly forgotten by today’s standards of local history. Family stories and legacies die hard in the rural south and verbal traditions of storytelling are sadly dwindling away with every generation. However, one legend from Opelika’s sleepy Beauregard community is almost completely unknown. A very old story; written by Rev. Cherry during the first fifty years of recorded history in Lee County, Alabama.

Near the Watula Creek, close to the old Watoola church, in Opelika, Alabama, there is a dense forest covering many acres of land. All private property today, the land was once the burial grounds of Creek Indians who lived in the area. Most notably, Paddy Carr, a half Creek - half Irish native who lived near Fort Mitchell during his adult hood. Carr’s history is a bit of a mystery since his father allegedly returned to Ireland just after his birth in 1807, leaving his Creek mother to care for him and his siblings. He later deferred the European traditions of Christianity and took three wives of his own. The Creek tribe, his mother hailed from, was from the Watooa area (which is today Watoola). The settlement was located near the Watula creek and the burial mounds of Paddy Carr’s ancestors were buried throughout the location.
Paddy-Car Half Creek Indian and Irish interrupter 

Somewhere, within the vicinity of the settlement and the burial mounds, there was a small hill where the chieftains were buried. Within the burials were clay pots, made by the natives, filled with silver. The silver coins were given to the town’s chiefs as partial payment for land by the American government. Of course the Native American’s had no use for American currency and instead of trading it, they buried it to avoid it be stolen by rival tribes or other white settlers.

After 1836, the location was known as “Dog Scratch Hill”. Once settlers and pioneer people became aware of the rumored buried treasure, despite the Indian curses associate with burial sites, they flocked to the mounds to unearth the clay pots in search of silver coins. Paddy Carr’s Creek grandfathers were buried on the hill, and he was particularly upset to find that the “grave of his fathers” had been disturbed, and more importantly that the deposits of silver were also missing. It was noted that certain parties, living within the areas were met with a sudden stroke of good fortune and that no one reported the removal of any Native antiquities in the area. The clay remains of the pots were reported to be visible up until 1846, but no record or indication as to where they are or were located outside of that report has ever been documented.

The last written testimony to the treasure was listed by Rev. Francis Lafayette Cherry in The History of Lee County.

“ I have referred to the above only from the fact that it is believed by some that there are still large deposits of coin hidden by the Indians in that locality, which have never been reclaimed by the depositors, and consequently the “place of their sepulture in unknown to this day.” Some lucky farmer boy may run his plowpoint into one of those long hidden Indian treasure pots when these old “clay-roots” and hollow stumps have disappeared and “left no sign”. “

Rev. Cherry lived with the Creek tribes of Lee and Russell County for more than a decade and recorded their history. Verbal traditions and ancestry were spread through generations but most of America’s Native American history is lost because it wasn’t recorded. Paddy-Carr (Patrick Carr) lived well into age and was very influential as a translator and interrupter for the Creek tribes and European settlers. As for the buried silver near the Watoola creek, one could only guess today where the treasure could be found, or if it was ever there at all. Still the story stands as part of a legend in Lee County and more importantly, one that was written down and documented by historians.

Maps and demographics of Creek territories in Alabama vary but tell little of the minor settlements that were established throughout the rural south, before removal of Native Americans in 1836

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Forgotten in Lee County Alabama

Rural routes in Lee County Alabama
Today, I took a stroll down an old dirt road in search of an abandoned cemetery I found when I was about ten years old. The first time I saw it, it looked forgotten and neglected. The tall Alabama pines shadowed the hidden gravestones on a slight incline and the straw, which fell from high in the canopy, kept the area clear and did a great job of naturally keeping the brush down. It seemed to be a sad place. No one kept it up and I could feel a sense of dying hope as I read the names aloud from each marker that was still readable. I never spoke of it until I was about sixteen. The first time I took a friend to the old place, something trotted through the surrounding woods, scaring me back into the car and locking my friend outside by accident. (A joke we tell now that she will never let me live down).

Golden Silk Orb Weaver
When I visited today, I found again, that nature is still slowly devouring this meager resting place. I’ve documented the names, birth and death dates; just in case the cemetery is gone one day. It still feels very lonely there. A glimmer of hope hanging on by a thread; that was the symbolism I gathered from the countless Orb weavers building their homes in the trees and surrounding brush. It's not unusual to see old cemeteries being forgotten but it just seems untimely. A place so small and lonely, will perhaps be gone; erased from history all together.
Abandoned family cemetery in Lee County Alabama
This sacred spot is nearly covered in vegetation. A Confederate soldier is buried here, a mother, father and child together, and many headstones are weathered to the point the names are no longer visible. The grave markers; so brittle that the slightest touch deteriorates the stone into powder. Just as the people buried here have become ash, so is their resting place. Consumed and overgrown with the Acorn and Water Oaks, Confederate Jasmine, and creatures of the Alabama forest, it’s hard to watch something sacred decompose and disappear. Soon, this place will be only a memory.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Ghost of Hank Williams

Hank Williams
September 17, 1923 - January 1, 1953

Hiram King Williams was born in Butler County, Alabama on September 17, 1923. His parents, Lon and Lily Williams were migrate rail road workers who traveled with the progressing railway systems in the South. They lived in box cars and rail road shacks until they moved to Georgiana in 1929. A brain injury, Lon sustained in WWI, caused Lilly to have him committed to a Veterans Hospital in Pensacola, Florida where he stayed until 1937, leaving Lilly Williams to raise her family alone.

From the time Hiram was born, his parents noted that an unusual deformity was present on his back. Today, doctors would understand this condition as Spinal Bifida. This hindered him from playing sports and from being as physically active as other children and most likely contributed to his interest in music. As he grew older, his mother and sisters encouraged him to learn bible hymns and play instruments. At a very young age, while living in Georgiana, Hiram met Rufus “Tee-Tot” Payne, a street musician and one-man-band. Rufus Payne was born to slave parents in Louisiana on the Payne Plantation. Payne later moved to New Orleans where he was influenced by the soulful culture of the city. He shared his love of blues music with Hiram and taught him how to play the guitar and sing.

Hiram was 16 when he dropped his given name for, “Hank” and was playing on the streets of Montgomery, Alabama, just as his predecessor, Tee-Tot had done in New Orleans. His mother served as his agent and entered him in several of the local talent contests, which he won so frequently, he was asked not to enter in order to give other contestants a chance to win. Hank was eventually picked up by WSFA for a radio segment called the, “The Singing Kid”. His connection to Braxton Schuffert helped him establish his band, "The Drifting Cowboys". In 1938, Hank dropped out of school permanently to be a full time performer and traveled all over the south with his band preforming in shows and honky tonks.

Hank and Audrey Williams (Lycrecia - Audrey's daughter and Hank Williams Jr)

In Banks, Alabama, while preforming at a medicine show, Hank met Audrey Shepard and the two fell in love. They were married on December 15, 1944. Hank had a serious problem with alcohol; when he drank, he drank until he induced severe depression or anger, which essentially led to the constant fighting and replacement of band members. Hank had managed to stay sober for more than a year prior to marrying Audrey, but while living in Andalusia, Alabama, Hank and Audrey had a huge argument over his drinking which escalated to him throwing her out of the house. He was arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct and spent the night at the Covington County Jail. When his friend and band member, Don Helms came to bail him out the next morning, Hank looked smugly over at Don and asked, “What’d ya want me to do, stand on my head?” Don paid the $30 bond and on the way out a jailer said, “Come back and see us Hank.” And Hank replied, “You can all go to hell.”

In 1946, Sterling Records released a six-song record that caught the attention of MGM. By 1947, Hank’s career went from mainstream radio to one of America’s most prominent and famous country music singers. He signed with MGM and became part of the cast of The Louisiana Hay Ride. Hank was one hell of a performer, it was rumored that while singing, women would fall faint and actually pass out. He also made a name for himself due to some of his drunken behavior. 

Hank continued to perform all over the south and abroad but his drinking and womanizing would finally catch up with him in the summer of 1952. He was denied a position at the Grand Old Opry due to drunkenness and his wife Audrey divorced him. He had also developed some dependency to morphine during that time, after a hunting accident aggravated his fragile back condition. 

Hank Williams and his second wife, Billie Jean Jones Williams
In October 1952, Hank married Billie Jean Jones, the 19-year-old daughter of a Bossier City Police Chief in New Orleans, Louisiana. The event drew some 10,000 specters who attended the wedding as a paid event. That December, Hank and Billie Jean attended the 8th annual party for the American Federation of Musicians in Montgomery, Alabama at the Elite Café, where he gave his last performance. That evening, Hank and Billie Jean had an argument and she left him. The following month, on New Year’s Day, Hank was on his way to a show in West Virginia. The Driver, Charles Carr, stopped for gas just near Oak Hill Virginia and when he turned to the backseat to check on Hank, he was dead.
According to documented history, Hank visited a doctor that week for his back and was given a morphine injection to get him through the long car ride. Coupled with heavy drinking, this caused Hank’s death. On January 4th, 1953 the largest funeral in Alabama history took place at the Montgomery Auditorium for Hank Williams. He was laid to rest at the Oakwood Cemetery Annex where he spends his eternity with his beloved Audrey.
Hank Williams funeral January 4, 1953
Hank Williams Jr.
Shelton Hank Williams III
His grave has long been a source of legend in Alabama as a location frequented by his ghost. Music by Alan Jackson, David Allen Coe, and even Hank’s son and grandson; Hank Williams Jr. and Shelton Hank Williams III, have all written songs about this legendary spirit. His ghost has been spotted as far away as Nashville, Tennessee, where he allegedly haunts the Ryman Theater (the former location of the Grand Old Opry), his boyhood home in Georgiana and even the Old Covington County Jail in Andalusia.

The lost highways between Nashville and Montgomery are littered with the stories of Hank’s ghost. Still carrying the charismatic and charming demeanor of the man he was in life, it’s no wonder he is still so beloved and cherished today. No amount of legacy would be complete without the spiritual aspect of a man so prominent and influential to music and history. The spirit of Hank Williams lives on, in song and inspiration, somewhere between raising hell and amazing grace.
You can read more about the ghost of Hank Williams in, Haunted Montgomery Alabama by Faith Serafin

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Legend of Railroad Bill - Alabama's Robin Hood

There is a legend in south Alabama, associated with the spirit of a man known as, “Railroad Bill”. This story, from slave cultures, during the post-Civil War era, during the reconstruction of the South, documents a “Robin Hood” type character who stole from food trains and sold the items to poor, rural southern families for less than they could buy them in general stores. The true identity of Railroad Bill is still very much a mystery. However, his ghost is still roaming the L&N Railroad tracks to this very day.

The Louisville to Nashville Railroad was the catalyst that literally drove Railroad Bill from destination to destination, eluding law enforcement from Alabama to Florida for exactly a year and a day. On March 6, 1895, an armed vagrant was spotted by L&N railroad employees. As they attempted to apprehend the man, believed to be Railroad Bill, the man fired at them and escaped by jumping into a passing box car headed south.
"Railroad Bill" was an infamous character who robbed food trains on the L&N Railroad during the reconstruction of the south.

A month later, on April 6, 1895, in Bay Minette, Alabama, a man hunt was organized to catch the bandit. The posse confronted a man, who they believed was Railroad Bill and he fled on foot. The group tracked him to a farm house in Baldwin County and the fugitive fired on the men, mortally wounding Sheriff, James Stewart and disappearing into the surrounding forest.

The man believed to be the elusive railroad bandit was identified as Morris Slater, a convict who ran away from a turpentine camp in Bluff Springs, Florida after he murdered an officer. A $500 reward was placed on Bill Slater and bounty hunters from as far away as Texas and Indiana organized to find him and collect the reward.

On July 4, 1895, Brewton County Sheriff, E.S. McMillian, was hot on the trail of Railroad Bill and his posse tracked him to a house near Bluff Springs. Bill, once again, showed no mercy and shot the deputy sheriff who later died from the wound. This sparked an even bigger manhunt, and according to records, over one hundred men, from all over the south joined vigilantes, organized poses and deputized groups to hunt down Railroad Bill.

Throughout the summer of 1895, articles from newspapers all over the state, showed up that read, “The Wrong Man Shot” (Pine Belt News – Brewton, Alabama) and of the groups forming from Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida looking to collect the reward, capture and or kill Railroad Bill. Still, he eluded them, and tales from black communities began to circulate that Bill Slater had some mystical power that enabled him to shape shift into a dog. This apparent magic also enabled him to escape authorities. Others believed that he possessed the power to throw off his trackers, even causing the best bloodhounds to lose his scent and become confused and disoriented.
Rumors in African America communities, all over Alabama, resulted in the belief that Railroad Bill had the mystical ability to shape shift into a large black dog.
By September 1895, the bounty for the capture of Railroad Bill grew tremendously to $1,250 and many blacks in the south were being targeted as potential suspects; misidentified as Bill Slater or accused of being an accomplice, and men were desperate to collect the huge reward. On March 7, 1896, at Wards General Store, located in Atmore, Alabama, a group of men positively identified Bill Slater as the bandit and killed him. Dispelling the identity of the railroad marauder came as a result. People from Brewton, Alabama, who came to see the body, say he was a local man named, Bill McCoy.

His true identity is still very much a mystery but his death served the purpose of satisfying authorities. Railroad Bill was put on public display, his body shipped from Brewton to Montgomery and to Pensacola, Florida. The public paid a meager .25 to view the corpse and he was later buried in an unmarked grave, in an undisclosed location.
The body of this man was Bill McCoy, according to Brewton, Alabama townspeople. Leaving the actual identity of Railroad Bill a mystery to this day. (Constable J.L. McGowan pictured here with the rifle that allegedly killed Railroad Bill) 
Since his death in 1896, songs and plays about Railroad Bill have been a prominent part of African American music and cultural arts. His spirit lives on in music, and in the form of a huge black hound that is frequently seen along the tracks of the L&N Railroad from Tennessee, to Florida. The death of Railroad Bill may have come at the hands of fate, but his ghost will live on, lingering over the miles and miles of railway tracks dodging authorities and offering a hand out when he can.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Ghost of Rosemere Cemetery - Opelika, Alabama

There is a little known story from Opelika, Alabama about the historic Rosemere Cemetery. Most cemeteries located in the rural south are teaming with the spirits of Civil War soldiers, mostly Confederate given the demographics of the region. However, this story is a bit different.

During the Civil War, a few locations in Opelika and Auburn served as Confederate hospitals and temporary encampments. Wounded soldiers traveled down the rail way system to small towns where they were treated and cared for and later sent back into the field with make shift units of men from different regions. Opelika’s railroads were important during the war. Supplies to locations were crucial and the railroad system was the fastest way to get them out. In the summer of 1864 General Lovell Rousseau, led a campaign, under Sherman’s orders, to destroy all the railroads in the Confederate territories, from Tennessee to Georgia.
Rousseau carried out his orders without hesitation, burning and destroying railroads from Nashville to Montgomery that summer. Rousseau’s men never stayed in one location very long. They spilled blood when it was necessary and paid little regard to the casualties of war on the Confederate side. Though his Union forces, accompanied by General James Wilson, greatly outnumbered most of the southern settlements that fell under their raids, they progressed throughout the South and were very successful in the destruction of the Montgomery and West Points Railroads.
Union General Lovell Rousseau
At some point, during the time that Rousseau camped in the Lee County region, a few of his men became extremely ill from prolonged bouts of “camp fever”. This infection, also known as Typhoid, is caused from drinking or ingesting food or water contaminated with the deadly bacteria. This was a common ailment during the war and more men died from communicable diseases than from battle. Extreme stomach cramps and rash coupled with diarrhea and vomiting, in many cases, led to delirium and hallucinations from lack of hydration and nutrients. Doctors treated the illness with mercury, chalk, opium and even morphine. Battlefield doctors were unskilled by today’s standards and war time medicine was harsh. Soldiers often died due to accidental overdoses of pain medications and from mercury and lead poisoning.
Occasionally, hospitals were set aside during battle and some opposing General’s felt compassion enough not to destroy them. Opelika had several make-shift hospitals, perhaps the most noted was in Auburn, at the Methodist Church, also known (then) as the Texas hospital, and today as University Chapel. At one of these camp hospitals, a Federal soldier came to pass. He met his demise under mysterious circumstances and was buried in the Rosemere Cemetery in Opelika. Several unknown Confederate soldiers are buried there as well and they have been moved from their original burial, at the front of the cemetery, to the back. Divided in death, just as they were in life, the soldiers are still segregated. The 14 or so Confederate dead are located on the right side of the cemetery (from the front gate) and the single and lone Union soldier buried on the left.
His grave marker reads, “William Alder U.S. Army, Civil War, A Union Soldier”. Sadly, his demise and circumstance are as lost to history as he is to life.  Occasionally, a reluctant story is told from people who have seen a spirit at the Rosemere cemetery. He is described as wearing a blue uniform, indicative of the Union Infantry men. He’s been spotted wondering next to his grave and others have seen him huddled against the headstone. Its unclear what his business is here on this earthly plane. He doesn’t seem to acknowledge the living at all.
The spirit of William Alder, a Federal soldier buried at Rosemere Cemetery in Opelika, Alabama awaits his final destination.
Is here looking for something; his way home perhaps? Does he seek out the rest of his unit, who has now moved onto the spiritual realm? Reasons beyond suggestion may keep him at Rosemere, lost and out of time, he is trapped there, destined to remain cut off from his fellow soldiers and from the afterlife as well. A poor, destitute, residual spirit, waiting, looking, hoping and perhaps even praying, for a way out.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Ghostly Frontiersman - Salem, Alabama

This story is based on an actual event that occurred in 1992. The story was published in 2010 in Haunted Auburn and Opelika.

Perhaps one of south Alabama’s greatest frontier stories is that of Eli Stroud. Eli Stroud was born in 1789 in Jackson County Georgia. He married Elizabeth Durbin at 17 and moved to Conecuh county Alabama with his new bride. Living among the Indians in that area was hard but the Stroud family did so cautiously. There was relative peace among the white settlers and the Creek tribes, until about 1813, when hostilities arose and an outbreak of destruction and murder took place. Eli was committed to order and when the state of Alabama called for volunteers to control the Indian outbreak, he was more than eager to oblige.

Mr. Stroud’s trusty side kick was a long barrel rifle. It had been in his family for more than seventy years. It’s rumored that this rifle brought down more than a thousand deer and that Mr. Stroud was an excellent marksman, killing as many as eleven turkeys in one shot. With his trusty rifle he was made Captain over a small division of volunteers, who he commanded through the Indian wars. His avid sense of adventure and background as a frontiersman made Eli the perfect individual to lead Alabama’s militia, but what Eli didn’t know is that his adventurous soul would soon be put to the ultimate test.

In 1818, in the midst of an Indian uprising, Mr. Stroud was called to duty alongside his volunteer unit to control the impending hostilities. The Indians had become angry with the white settlers over the distribution of silver for lands once owned by Creek Indians. Also, the abundance of “fire water” made and sold by settlers to Indians didn’t help already flaring tempers. The Indians knew that little, to no authority was available to protect the settlers, and with no regard for the “Pale Faces”, Indians began to raid small settlements and the settlers feared their unpredictability.

Eli was in route to his home after visiting family in Georgia on March 13, 1818 when he happened to meet his longtime friend Mr. William Ogle on a passing road. William offered his home to Eli and his family for the evening. Eli knew that the road home was dangerous and still more than 20 miles away, so he took William’s offer to stay. They spent the evening with their families in true pioneer fashion, gathered around the camp fire telling stories of the dangers of frontier life and the passing of friends and family who had lived the hard way as settlers in the South. Their trials and tribulations of living as settlers left them little hope of making a better life for both their families, but they were optimistic.

While Eli and William sat in conversation, their laughter caught the attention of a handful of disgruntle Indians. As the angry natives sat quietly, watching Eli and William from the surrounding forest, upon standing, Eli began to feel as if they were not alone. His change in attitude sparked a cautious stance from William as well. A moment of silence was violently interrupted when the Indians sprang out of the forest, screaming the blood curdling war cries, that Eli and William knew meant disaster. The Indians were armed with tomahawks and small caliber rifles. A sudden panic stricken chaos let out of the house as the women ran in to try and save the children. William grabbed his rifle and began to fire on the angry assailants but was shot down on his porch and killed almost instantly but one of the crazed natives.

Mrs. Ogle, Elizabeth, and Eli closed themselves inside the Ogle home and barricaded themselves inside with the children in the vain hope that they would survive this savage attack. Their attempt was short lived when the Indians made their way into the house just moments later. The raid lasted only seconds but in that time Elizabeth Stroud and her infant child were slain. Elizabeth scalped and left for dead alongside Mrs. Ogle and her 6 children, all murdered at the hands of blood thirsty Indians. Eli knew that in the chaos there was only seconds to spare his life and in doing so, he ran out the front door and into the woods.

Eli was distraught, mad with fear, blinded by pain and panic. He hid himself in a hollowed log for hours. Praying for the light of day and that god would spare his life, grief stricken at the loss of his wife and child. He lay in that log until he could no longer hear the screams of his murdered friends and family. When all the awful whoops and cries of Indians were gone, he crept from his hiding place, exhausted and terrified. His home was more than 20 miles away and traveling the road was dangerous especially on foot and in not more than his night clothes. Eli made his decision to stay on the road in the hopes that maybe someone would find him.

As he walked down the dusty road he heard the familiar sound of beating horse hooves. He made his way a bit further up the road and caught a glimpse of a wagon. He ran spirited in an effort to gain the attention of the people driving but he wasn’t met with the hospitality he had hoped for. His condition was not pleasant and the people on board the wagon drove him off like a mangy dog. He begged and pleaded with them for help and again they denied him, fearing he may be a mad man. Eli was once again alone as he watched the wagon disappear in a dusty cloud.

Eli was without even the most basic necessities. No food. No water. Not even a warm coat to keep the cool night air from chilling him. He made his way through the wilderness for 3 days before he finally arrived at his home. He was relieved and was taken in by his community and given a hero’s welcome. Eli’s warm homecoming was short. When the initial shock of survival in the wild for three days wore off, the grim reminder of his slain wife and child was left burned in his mind, their screams still echoed in his head, and Eli was never the same man he was before that awful night, living the next several years in solitude.

Several years later, Eli married Elizabeth East who blessed him with four children. They lived in Conecuh County, Alabama until Elizabeth died of illness in 1827. He married again in 1830 to Miss Eliza Perry and Eli brought his new wife and family to an area near present day Salem, Alabama. Mr. Stroud lived well into age and died at the age of 83 on February 21, 1871. He was buried in the family cemetery located on the corner of Stroud’s crossroads just outside the community of Smiths Station, Alabama.  A marker in the cemetery once marked his grave that read:

“This spot contains the ashes of the just,

Who sought no honors and betrayed no trust:

This truth he proved in all paths he trod,

An honest man’s the noblest work of God.”

Today the cemetery is not a spectacular site, but interesting to see. Large amounts of granite exist in the terrain naturally, making awkward formations. It leaves you to wonder how in the world they could bury anyone here. The hard, stony ground would make it difficult for even the best spade to penetrate the rock. A single Magnolia tree grows in the center of the cemetery,  among the graves. The ground stays covered in large leaves making it a haven for snakes, spiders, and all types of unusual life forms.

The Eli Stroud Cemetery located in Salem, Alabama.

Ole’ Eli has been dead for more than 140 years, many reports of ghostly sightings near the Stroud Family cemetery suggest that Mr. Stroud is not at rest. Several accounts from travelers and locals who live near the area have reported seeing a very tall, slender built man, roaming the cemetery with a spectral hound. While the ghost of Eli Stroud seems to be the resident spirit in the old cemetery, there are other reports of a ghostly child, dressed is 1800’s style clothing. She’s been seen dashing in front of passing cars near the cemetery at night. There are even eye witness accounts of the ghost girl stopping passing motorist and asking, “Were is Pa Pa? “

Many locals seem to think that Eli is still out hunting Indians or tracking wild game in the woods. It’s rumored that people who live closest to the cemetery don’t like to go outside at night for fear of being attacked by Eli’s spectral hound or perhaps shot at by the ghostly hunter. Animal bones are found regularly in the cemetery, folks say the bones are from the carcasses of the deer and hogs the Eli still hunts and that his hound drags them in the cemetery at night. Wild tales about the Eli Stroud Cemetery have been spun about this old place for years, but one story hasn’t been told yet, a story that has only every been shared between friends until now.

On a cool and calm night in November 1992, two friends were driving home from a high school football game in Smiths Station. It was a long way home and the friends decided to take the short cut threw Smiths to Salem by the old Stroud Family Cemetery. The music blared loudly as the girls drove down the dark and curving country road, laughing and joking. The two didn’t pay much attention to the open road ahead of them, and suddenly just inside the curve, a large deer jumped in front of the car and the driver slammed on her brakes to avoid hitting the animal.

The driver managed to stop the car just within inches of the deer. Scared and a little upset the two teenage girls took a sigh of relief and then agreed to step out of the car for a second just to make sure there was no damage. The driver exited the car first and the passenger followed. The girls walked around to the front of the car to survey the damage and were happy to see there was none. The passenger made the remark to the driver that she had heard that the road they were on was supposed to haunted by a man who used to be a great deer hunter. The driver responded by saying “Well he’s obviously not that great or he would have got that one.” The two girls snickered at the remark and got into the car to sort out there rattled nerves and proceed home. When the passenger started for the handle of the car door she noticed and icy chill, not typical of the cool November air in Alabama, which is typically a modest 50-60 degrees. She tried to shake off the chill but felt the air temperature around her changing dramatically. It had gotten so cold so fast her teeth began to chatter.

The driver looked up from her door and said, “Erica, are you ok?”  Erica responded, “Look, you can see my breath. Danielle! It’s so cold you can see it!”  Danielle replied, “It’s that ghost hunter! He’s coming to get you!” Erica smiled and snapped back, “Oh shut up and get in the car!” The two got back into the car and started to drive off when the car started to spit and sputter. “Are we out of gas?” Erica said “No, the gauge says its full.” said Danielle. The two girls managed to start the car and it chugged its way up the hill where it completely cut off once again. This time the girls had to get out and push the disabled vehicle up the rest of the hill onto a shoulder and off the road.

The two girls didn’t realize that they had pushed the car onto the shoulder just right outside the Eli Stroud cemetery. Confused and frustrated the two debated for the next several minutes on what to do. There was nobody they knew around the area for at least a few miles and neither of them would dare walk into the house of someone they didn’t know and ask for help. Cell phones were not an everyday item during this time either. So walking, as dangerous as it was on an open country road, seemed like the most logical action at the time.

The girls gathered their nerves and a few personal items from the car and started to walk off. They hadn’t gotten far when a man’s voice from behind them that said, “You gals need a little help?” Startled and scared, the pair turned to see a man standing inside the cemetery gate. He was tall with a small straw hat, wearing brown pants with suspenders over a dingy white shirt. He looked a bit out of sorts and neither of the girls wanted to acknowledge that he was even there. The girls stood in disbelief for a few seconds. Thinking to themselves: “Why in the world would some old guy be hanging out in that ragged cemetery this late at night? He has to be crazy!” Danielle responded to him and said, “No, we’re ok!”  Erica reluctantly whispered to Danielle, “There’s no one around here for miles. We could at least let him look at the car.” Danielle replied, “Are you crazy? He may be some kind of lunatic!”

In a panicked state the girls whispered back and forth on what to do when the man spoke again, this time he said, “Young lady, I will have you know that I am a highly decorated military man and upstanding citizen. You have no reason to be afraid of me!” The tone in his voice had changed. He seemed a bit upset by the girl’s inability to comply with his offer to help. Finally Erica convinced Danielle to at least acknowledge the man. Erica walked toward the fence just out of reach and said “Hi, I’m sorry we don’t mean to be rude, but we’re a little scared, see we almost hit a deer just a little while ago and now our car won’t start. Can you tell us where we might be able to find a telephone to call our parents?” The old man replied, “A telephone? No, I’m afraid I don’t have a telephone.” Erica then asked, “Do you by chance know anything about cars?” He responded, “No ma’am, I’m sorry. I don’t know anything about cars.”

Erica was a bit put off at this point since the old man had asked to help but didn’t seem to be much at all. Danielle shouted, “Come on Erica let’s just go!”  Erica looked back at her friend and then turned to the old man and said, “Well, thank you for stopping to help us.” He smiled politely and tipped his hat, then reached down and patted the dog at his side. Erica had not noticed the dog there until that point, which was odd because the animal was an enormous black hound. The old man said, “Your welcome ma’am.” Then Erica and Danielle proceeded to walk down the highway until finally, hours later, they reached Erica’s house. The girls explained to Erica’s parents what had happened to the car and about the old man in the cemetery. They phoned Danielle’s mom and she spent the night and agreed to go with Erica’s parents in the morning to recover the car.

The next morning, on the way to get Danielle’s car, Erica’s parents explained to them how dangerous it was to walk on the road at night. The girls expressed their concerns about the old man and the dog they had seen in the cemetery the night before. Erica’s father told them that there was an old ghost story about a man who was buried in the cemetery whose family was killed by Indians. He said that the man’s name was Eli Stroud and that he was a great hunter. Erica was familiar with the story, but at the time, didn’t think much of her father’s ghost stories, until she made a conscious effort to tie the previous night’s events into the legend. Danielle and Erica looked at each other with a sense of amazement, replaying the events from the night before in their heads and in conversation for the next 25 years.

To this day, neither Erica or Danielle have forgotten that chilly November night. This is the first document ever written about the occurrence. It leaves one to wonder if maybe old Eli reached out to help those girls because no one was there for him when he needed help. Or maybe he just enjoyed the conversation. His ghostly presence can still be felt and seen out at the old Stroud cemetery. So when passing through the Stroud Cross roads late at night, be sure to glance over at the old ragged cemetery with the looming Magnolia and iron gate, you just may see the little ghost girl, or perhaps the spectral hound, or maybe if you’re lucky, Old Eli himself.

(This is an excerpt taken from Haunted Auburn and Opelika and personal story based on an actual event. The historical resources for this story were based on, "The History of Opelika" by Francis Cherry)

The grave of Eli Stroud

Field of Spirits - Montgomery, Alabama's haunted baseball field.

Biscuits and baseball, what do they have in common? A ghost story. Yes, haunted baseball fields may be something you’d expect to see in a movie with Kevin Costner, plowing under his corn to make room for a baseball field, bringing with it ghostly players. “If you build it, they will come”, that’s what the spirits told Ray Kinsella in the movie, Field of Dreams and Montgomery has a similar story, but one that is much more tragic.

The Montgomery Military Prison was established in the Spring of 1862, after the battle of Shiloh. It housed more than 700 Federal prisoners, most of which were captured in southeastern Tennessee. Reports from the prison were well kept and document the harsh conditions prisoners were forced to live in. Captives often went without water and were destitute and had very little rations. A sliver of spoiled meat and a small portion of cornbread was what they were given daily at best. Basic supplies were low and with the raging war progressing these dire circumstances were inevitable. Men perished from starvation and disease, most preventable with basic sanitation which was denied. 198 men died at the Montgomery Military Prison from April to December of 1862. A portion of Oakwood cemetery was designated for those Federal prisoners to be buried. Today, most of those Union POW graves have been moved to the National Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia but one or two still remain at Oakwood.
The Civil War dead. Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress

The Cotton warehouse used for the Montgomery Military Prison is now gone, it’s been replaced with a spectators sport that draws crowds by the hundreds every baseball season. The Montgomery Biscuits Stadium now stands where the once filthy, vermin ridden, prison stood and team spirit isn’t the only spirit found here. Since the biscuits stadium opened for business, ghost sightings have been common, leading some to believe that the spirits of the soldiers who died at the prison, now haunt the dirt diamond. One vagabond-like spirit appears as a homeless man, typically only asking the passerby for food or water, never for money or other resources. He’s described as being very dirty, his clothes tattered and warn. Often in the winter months, when baseball isn’t in full swing, people have seen him huddled near the fence with nothing but the clothes on his back for warmth. Those feeling sorry enough to approach the man, in an attempt to offer him a hand out, find that he will vanish before them.
African slaves collecting the bones and dead of the American Civil War. Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Others say the spirits of the Biscuits Stadium are many, in the early morning hours, moans and screams come from within the stadium. Occasionally the sounds are reported to the local Police department but no evidence of a crime is ever found. Another skeletal, gangly and dark figure seeks out those headed to the concession stand during the 7th inning stretch. It’s followed a hand full of people around the stadium attending fan night. Essentially, the Biscuit’s stadium is part of Montgomery, the prison now a part of its past. It’s hard to understand why death has tied these spirits to what they suffered in life. Regardless, Montgomery built it and they came. Or did they ever leave?


Friday, August 9, 2013

Bobby Mackey's Music World - America's Most Haunted Night Club

Bobby Mackey's Music World - America's Most Haunted Night Club
About 10 minutes outside of Cincinnati, Ohio, in Wilder, Kentucky, there is a small brick building that lingers by the roadside like a stray animal. From the side, the two story building, with white wash façade, looks like a glorified prison and the barred metal doors and windows add to the ominous ambience of this notorious location. The most notable feature on the outside is the name, “Bobby Mackey’s” and it’s known as America’s most haunted night club.

Entering the front door, you will find a hand written warning posted in the window that reads, “WARNING TO OUR PATRONS, This establishment of [proported] to be haunted. Management is NOT responsible and [can not] be held liable for any actions of the ghosts/spirits on the premises”. Anyone who enters here should be on their guard and for good reason. This night club of nightmares has been stirring up ghost stories for over a hundred years.  

The location was originally a slaughterhouse, used until 1890. The well, now located in the basement of the establishment was used to drain the blood of livestock being butchered. Allegedly, after the slaughterhouse was closed, ritualistic cults dumped dismembered animals here and rumor has it, a human sacrifice or two. A farm girl from Greencastle, Indiana, named Pearl Bryan, was a young woman in love with an aspiring dentist named Scott Jackson. Pearl became pregnant in the winter of 1895, and Scott convinced her to move to Cincinnati, Ohio to have an abortion. He left Pearl in the care of his roommate, Alonzo Walling. Scott would later testify in the murder of Pearl Bryan, that he believed Alonzo murdered her in cold blood. Walling also testified on his own behalf that Scott Jackson had told him of his plan to lure Pearl to Cincinnati, poison her and dismember her body which, despite the identity of the killer, did happen. Pearl Bryan’s decapitated corpse was found on a farm near Ft. Thomas on February 1, 1896. Rumors associated with her spirit at Bobby Mackey’s are that her head was tossed into the well from the former slaughter house.

During the prohibition era of the 1930’s, the establishment was purchased by E.A. “Buck” Brady, and turned into a small bar called the Bluegrass Inn, he later changed the name to the Primrose. Mob activity was prevalent in the area during that time and Kingpins like George Remus, famous for his connections to after hour’s facilities and illegal gambling operations in “Little Mexico” (the Cincinnati and Newport areas), targeted smaller clubs like the one owned by Buck Brady. Remus’s organization, known as the “Cleveland Syndicate”, paid off federal officers and local police to avoid raids and prosecution. Buck was approached by a representative of the Syndicate named Red Masterson. He offered Buck the same deal he did everyone who owned a nightclub establishment in the area, pay up or burn it down. Buck took the matter into his own hands and waited for Masterson outside the Merchants Club casino on August 5, 1946. Masterson got in his car and Buck caught up to him a block later. Buck Brady fired several rounds into Masterson’s Cadillac that caused both vehicles to wreck and Buck left the scene. Masterson survived the shooting and later the Syndicate made good on their promise and set fire to the Primrose. Once the Syndicate took over the club in 1947, it was named the Latin Quarter and operated as a casino, nightclub and brothel.

The Latin Quarter was now under new ownership and a vaguely historical but well documented turn of events would curse the Syndicates proverbial ownership of the establishment. The daughter of the new owner was a club dancer named Johanna. She fell in love with a musician named Robert Randal who performed at the club. Johanna’s father ordered her to stay away from Robert but Johanna refused and her father had Robert Murdered. In a saddened state of grief, Johanna took her own life at the club in a small room above the stage. Just before she ingested a lethal dose of arsenic, she wrote on poem on the wall that is still visible today.

Subsequently the Latin Quarter was shut down by 1968 and the building sat empty but was periodically used to store records at one point and was also opened as Hard Rock Café (non-official business) for a short time. One of America’s deadliest nightclub fires occurred in Southgate, Kentucky on May 28, 1977, killing 165 people at the Beverly Hills Supper Club. Bodies were stored in the basement of the old Latin Quarter as a makeshift morgue.

In 1976 Bobby Mackey bought the establishment and started renovations on the building, turning it into a successful honky-tonk. During that time, Bobby hired a handy man, Carl Lawson. Carl had grown up in the area and was familiar with the ghostly tales that the place was haunted. He lived in the upstairs apartment of the club and was a sensitive and timid man when he wasn’t drinking. Carl had a few skeletons in his closet and his drinking habits could definitely bring out the devil in him. He had frequent run-ins with the spirit of Johanna and reportedly conversed with her on a regular basis. He is also responsible for finding the covered well in the basement. Shortly after prying it open, the spirits he allegedly saw on a regular basis at Bobby Mackey’s became a full fledge obsession and he was presumably “possessed” by an evil spirit named “Charlie”. Charlie was the brother of a famous mobster from the prohibition era. During this time Carl also started speaking languages like Italian and German, which is had no formal education in. He was often banned from the club for drunkenness but his obsession drove him to believe he was the reincarnated spirit of Buck Brady. Carl Lawson received an exorcism at Bobby Mackey’s in 1991, but this wasn’t the end of the spiritual activity that was building at the local haunt spot.

Wanda Kay, the official tour guide at Bobby Mackey’s, started working there as a D.J. almost 10 years ago. Since then she has put in a gift shop and has written her own book on the paranormal history of Bobby Mackey’s, “Wicked They Walk”. Wanda knew Carl Lawson for many years before his death in 2012 and stated she has had numerous experiences at the club and believes that anywhere from 30 to 40 spirits may be present at the location. Paranormal investigators from all over the country turn up new and intriguing evidence of the spirits and Wanda believes that the spirits encountered by Carl Lawson are, in fact, still there. The decapitated spirit of poor Pearl Bryan and the murderous duo of Scott Jackson and Alonzo Walling are part of the paranormal landscape here as well as the lovely spirit of Johanna, Buck and “Grumpy George”. Wanda spends 265 days a year at Bobby Mackey’s involved in some sort of ghost tour or paranormal investigation.

Other part time workers, like Duke Lucas say that Bobby Mackey’s is so haunted that he would “testify in court that this place is haunted”. Duke has had a number of experiences including chairs moving and has witnessed a flash light turn off during an investigation when the question was asked if the spirit of Johanna was present. Other people like, Dewayne, who politely showed me to the basement, when Mrs. Kay was not willing to go, expressed to me that he believes he has captured the image of a spirit that hides in the basement.

I eagerly drove 10 hours, from South East Alabama, to conduct this interview with Wanda Kay. I’d heard about the reports of supernatural activity at Bobby Mackey’s long before the days of it being aired on those familiar ghost hunting shows, but what I didn’t expect was to have something similar happen to me while I was there. Once Dewayne opened the basement door, I could smell the damp soil, like that of a fresh grave, it literally smoldered my nostrils. My eyes took a few seconds to adjust to the darkness. Dewayne pointed me in the direction of the well - the “Portal to Hell” as it’s frequently referred too. I looked it over and suddenly the crashing sound of glass jolted me as I jerked in the direction of the sound. Dewayne laughed and informed me that there was a bottle shoot from the bar. Glass bottle were sent down the shoot and into big garbage cans and collected in the basement for recycling.

As I laughed back at myself for getting spooked over something so silly, I took a few photos and suddenly felt the overwhelming urge that something was with us. It’s hard to explain, even as a paranormal enthusiast and investigator of over 20 years, I’ve never felt anything so prominent. The impulse to leave was so substantial; it took me a few seconds to subconsciously talk myself into not hauling ass out of there. I maintained my composure fairly well and stood my ground for a few more minutes. Once Dewayne made the effort to head for the door, so did I, without hesitation. I wanted to turn around and give once last glance to the basement, after all this was an exclusive interview I drove a long way to get. I wanted to take advantage of every minute I had. I glanced back over my shoulder and as if the dark had suddenly consumed my vision, even with the light of the open doorway, I could see nothing. There was no amount of light being retained in the room at all. Then suddenly, as if a curtain had been lifted, I could see the room. Dewayne asked me if everything was ok and I said, “Yea, but I think I just saw……no, never mind”.

I left right after that, driving into Cincinnati for dinner at the oldest restaurant in the city and wondering if by chance I had encountered a spirit in that basement. I’ve seen many unusual things in my travels to haunted places all over the country, but this wasn’t your typical spirit. It was a deep, emotionless, cloud of darkness. Some may label this experience as demonic or inhuman. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was evil or malevolent, but perhaps a combination of energies combined into one source, trapped in that hollow basement, waiting to be let out.

Wanda Kay was reluctant to go in that basement at all. She understands that the spirits at Bobby Mackey’s are capable of showing their presence at any time they want, but she has warned patrons and ghost hunters alike, that they do not take kindly to people who seek to provoke and taunt them. More reports of oppression and possession are happening according to Wanda and she continues to advocate for those resident spirits. No taunting the ghosts at Bobby Mackey’s Music World or you may be the next to be rendered a soulless vessel of darkness and void.

Wanda Kay - official Tour Guide of Bobby Mackey's Music World in Wilder, Kentucky & Faith Serafin - Official Tour Guide of the Sea Ghosts Tour at the National Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus, Georgia