“He thought he heard a scream” – Appalachian Hauntings

Welcome to our continuing series about Appalachian hauntings. In this post, we’ll be journeying to Georgia, Kentucky, and Mississippi. Enjoy the history and the goose bumps.

Georgia

Barnsley Gardens – Bartow County
“Woodlands” before it was Barnsley Gardens – Find-a-Grave
Background:

Godfrey Barnsley (1805-1873) was an Englishman who came to America in 1824 and soon became one of the richest cotton barons in the South.1)Susan. 2010. “Barnsley Gardens, A Bittersweet Love Story.” Between Naps on the Porch. June 12. He married Julia Henrietta Scarborough on Christmas Eve in 1828. The couple had eight children, six of whom lived to adulthood.2)Barnsley, Godfrey. n.d. “Godfrey Barnsley Papers.” Way Back Machine. Edited by Emory Libraries. Accessed Oct. 2021.3)Godfrey’s daughter Julia was reportedly the inspiration for Scarlet O’Hara in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. Addie, who was Julia’s daughter, was Margaret Mitchell’s friend. She told Mitchell stories about her mother and how she survived the Civil War. Mitchell used much of this information in forming the character Scarlett.

In the 1840s, Barnsley bought somewhere between 4,000 and 8,000 acres of Cherokee land in Georgia’s Bartow County.4)Bret and Mary. 2020. “Barnsley Gardens Resort Ruins: The Tragic Story Behind the Adairsville, GA Landmark.” Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide. Jan 17. He planned to build a beautiful, sprawling estate for his wife, Julia, and call it “Woodlands”. Legend says a Native American warned Barnsley not to build on the land because “it was sacred to the Cherokee” and, if he disturbed the ground, he would be cursed.5)Lake-Allatoona. 2013. “Live the History of Barnsley Gardens.” Lake-Allatoona. May 10. Reportedly, even the townspeople warned him not to build on the site.6)Hauck, Dennis William. 1996. Haunted Places: The National Directory. New York: Penguin Books. Barnsley paid no mind to this warning and continued construction.

Julia died of tuberculosis in 1845, before construction was completed.7)A host of deaths and devastation occurred.: Two small children; daughter Adelaide died suddenly in 1858; son Howard was “killed in 1862 by Chinese pirates while exploring the Orient.” Barnsley was so devastated and grief-stricken that he stopped construction and abandoned the idea altogether. One day, Julia’s spirit8)An interesting thing to note is Godfrey’s belief in spiritualism and communication with the dead. He alleged in his writings that he had contact with several dead family members. visited him and persuaded him to continue construction on the estate for their children. Woodlands was completed in 1848.9)Susan. 2010. “Barnsley Gardens, A Bittersweet Love Story.” Between Naps on the Porch. June 12.

A series of devastations occurred. The home was ransacked and burgled throughout the Civil War. In 1906, a tornado blew off the home’s roof and the family were forced to live, basically, in the kitchen wing.10)Bret and Mary. 2020. “Barnsley Gardens Resort Ruins: The Tragic Story Behind the Adairsville, GA Landmark.” Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide. Jan 17.

In 1935, Godfrey’s two great-grandsons, Harry and Preston Saylor, argued about the estate. Harry devoted his life to the Barnsley estate. Preston pursued a boxing career. Preston, aka K.O. Duggan, came to Woodlands in a rage, believing Harry had designs for his share of the estate. Preston confronted Harry with a gun, and, after a short chase throughout the home, shot his brother, then beat and choked him until he died.11)The Atlanta Constitution. 1935. “Mrs. Saylor on Stand at Trial of Her Son.” The Atlanta Constitution, Nov 27. Of course, Preston was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to prison. He escaped in 1936, but was soon recaptured.12)Washington Post. 1936. “Escpaing as a Novelty, Life Termer is Caught.” Washington Post, April 1.

Barnsley’s descendants continued to live at the estate until 1942 13)Susan. 2010. “Barnsley Gardens, A Bittersweet Love Story.” Between Naps on the Porch. June 12. when it was sold to W. Earl McClesky “who used the land for farming.”14)Lake-Allatoona. 2013. “Live the History of Barnsley Gardens.” Lake-Allatoona. May 10. Eventually, after years of neglect, the property greatly declined.

In 1988, Prince Hubertus Fugger of Bavaria purchased the estate. The prince intended to demolish the ruins. After learning about the Barnsley history, he decided to restore the estate. First, the prince “consulted with a Native American Shaman to remove the curse.”15)Lake-Allatoona. 2013. “Live the History of Barnsley Gardens.” Lake-Allatoona. May 10. The property became a resort and is opened to the public.

Paranormal Experiences:
  • Several ghosts wander about the grounds.
  • Julia’s ghost has been spotted “gliding through” the mansion gardens.16)Lake-Allatoona. 2013. “Live the History of Barnsley Gardens.” Lake-Allatoona. May 10.
  • Barnsley Gardens staff members and visitors have seen Godfrey’s ghost “drifting through” the mansion ruins.17)Lake-Allatoona. 2013. “Live the History of Barnsley Gardens.” Lake-Allatoona. May 10.18)Sweeney, Gary. 2016. “A Haunting in Georgia: The Curse of the Barnsley Gardens.” The Lineup. September 27.
  • The spirits of Godfrey and Julia have been seen walking together.19)Sweeney, Gary. 2016. “A Haunting in Georgia: The Curse of the Barnsley Gardens.” The Lineup. September 27.
  • During the Civil War, Colonel Robert G. Earle was on his way to warn the Barnsleys that the Yankees were headed their way. He was shot and killed on the property, and Godfrey buried him there. Earle’s “anguished spirit” roams the land.20)Hauck, Dennis William. 1996. Haunted Places: The National Directory. New York: Penguin Books.21)Sweeney, Gary. 2016. “A Haunting in Georgia: The Curse of the Barnsley Gardens.” The Lineup. September 27.
  • Footsteps have been heard with no one there.
Eerie Factor: 

The tragedies alone would leave a particular “aura” or “presence.” The ruins have a beautifully creepy quality. The practice of spiritualism may have an impact on ghostly sightings as well.

Danger Factor:  Low

Though several incidents of paranormal activity have occurred at Barnsley Gardens, the spirits don’t appear to be harmful. The Native American Shaman lifting the curse also brings a sigh of relief.

Gallery:

 

Tilly Bend Church – Fannin County
Image by Laura Gravely – facebook
Background:

In 1899, Benjamin M. Tilley gifted land to Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. The church was later forced to move on higher ground when the local electric company, Toccoa Electric Power Company, flooded the area to construct a dam.22)Historic Rural Churches. n.d. “Tilly Bend Baptist.” Historic Rural Churches. Accessed Oct 2021. The church has caught fire twice. The latter was believed to be arson. Undeterred, the congregation built back. They were reorganized as Tilley Bend Church in 1958.

Quite a bit of lore surrounds Tilley Bend Church. And it gets kind of crazy. I’m not sure how much, if any, of this story is true. I could find no hard evidence, but the following is told by a historian. Here goes . . .

The Tilley family and the Stanley family were feuding. They rubbed each other raw until everything came to a head. One Sunday, some Stanleys gathered together, rode by Tilley Bend Church during services, and shot into the building. The minister was killed, along with a number of parishioners. Among the dead was the daughter of Elizabeth Jane Tilley Bradley, a granny woman who was part Creek Native American. She and her husband, Jason Riley Bradley had eight children: six girls, two boys.23)Hampton, Shane. 2017. “Is This Graveyard and Church Haunted? The Tale of Tilley Bend.” Wanderluster. Sept 28.

The Tilleys were mad for vengeance after the shooting. They formed a posse, entered the Stanley settlement, and murdered several of them, “including the husband of another of Elizabeth Bradley’s daughters.” This daughter was allegedly pregnant. Both she and the baby later died in childbirth. The story goes that Elizabeth was so grief-sticken and filled with anger, she declared “that no child would live to either family.”24)Hampton, Shane. 2017. “Is This Graveyard and Church Haunted? The Tale of Tilley Bend.” Wanderluster. Sept 28.25)Historic Rural Churches. n.d. “Tilly Bend Baptist.” Historic Rural Churches. Accessed Oct 2021.

And her statement rang true. For an entire year after this curse, every baby was either “miscarried, stillborn, or died in early infancy.” Folks started murmuring about witchcraft. They were certain Elizabeth Bradley was a witch. A mob formed, besieged the Tilley village, and took Elizabeth by force. They took her to a tree in the Tilley Cemetery and hung her. Before she died, Elizabeth “vowed to come back and haunt all” who were there.26)Cross Over Research. 2020. “Tilly Bend Church: Located in Blue Ridge, Ga.” crossoverresearch.com. May 23. They buried her where she fell, supposedly “facing west, not accorded to an eastern orientation by Christian tradition.”27)Historic Rural Churches. n.d. “Tilly Bend Baptist.” Historic Rural Churches. Accessed Oct 2021.

Unfortunately, Elizabeth’s death didn’t fix the problem. Babies didn’t survive for a second year. People believed “Elizabeth’s dark soul” traveled to her sister-in-law, Mary, so, another mob gathered and allegedly killed her. Since Mary wasn’t a willing participant and considered innocent, she was “given the honor of a sacred burial.”

Paranormal Experiences:
  • People hear children and infants crying. A woman’s ghost has been seen standing underneath the hanging tree. A man’s spirit walks around inside Tilley Bend Church.28)Cross Over Research. 2020. “Tilly Bend Church: Located in Blue Ridge, Ga.” com. May 23.
  • Lore says “if you bring baby toys to the cemetery, children will giggle and play with you.”29)Cross Over Research. 2020. “Tilly Bend Church: Located in Blue Ridge, Ga.” com. May 23.
  • Chad W, in his post “Tilly Bend Church” on Engl1101Blog, visited the area with friends. Several unmarked graves dot the cemetery. A “huge tree . . . made an awful noise in the wind.” One of his friends tried walking around the tree, but “freaked out because he thought he heard a scream.”
  • People claim Elizabeth Bradley’s ghost wanders the cemetery. People have also seen her sister-in-law Mary’s ghost.30)Byers, Jeremy. n.d. “Blue Ridge Witch – Haunting of Tilley Bend Church.” Horror . Accessed Oct 2021.
  • The spirit of a little boy named Keith Stanley roams around. When he appears, something or someone allegedly attempts to pull a person into a grave.31)Byers, Jeremy. n.d. “Blue Ridge Witch – Haunting of Tilley Bend Church.” Horror . Accessed Oct 2021.
  • Sightings, oddly enough, occur mostly in daylight.32)Byers, Jeremy. n.d. “Blue Ridge Witch – Haunting of Tilley Bend Church.” Horror . Accessed Oct 2021.
  • Mysterious lights have been witnessed.33)Byers, Jeremy. n.d. “Blue Ridge Witch – Haunting of Tilley Bend Church.” Horror . Accessed Oct 2021.
Eerie Factor: 

The church reportedly still has bullet holes in the walls from the hail of Stanley gunfire. Many ghostly sightings have been reported, along with disembodied voices and crying. Graveyards can be creepy in and of themselves.

Danger Factor:  Low to Medium

Feuding creates an angry, lingering aura. Add to that the alleged way people passed and the supposed curse. Atmospheres affect people. But, most of the spirits don’t appear to be mean or malicious. Then, too, the church may offset any negativity.

Gallery:

 

Kentucky

Octavia Hatcher – Pike County
Image from Snappygoat
Background:

Octavia Smith Hatcher was from a prominent and privileged family in Pike County, Kentucky. Her husband, James Hatcher, was a very wealthy timber and coal baron.34)Team at Roadside America. n.d. “Octavia Hatcher: Buried Alive?” Roadside America. Accessed Oct. 2021. Octavia gave birth to a son named Jacob in 1891. The baby lived for about a day. She was devastated and grieved. She suffered a long depression, then sank into a coma and died.35)Team at Roadside America. n.d. “Octavia Hatcher: Buried Alive?” Roadside America. Accessed Oct. 2021. She was believed to have died May 2, 1891. The weather was fairly hot that May, and embalming was still relatively new, so Octavia was “quickly buried.”36)Team at Roadside America. n.d. “Octavia Hatcher: Buried Alive?” Roadside America. Accessed Oct. 2021.

Not too long after this, townspeople developed some mysterious kind of sleeping sickness. They apparently seemed dead but weren’t.37)One reason for the sleeping sickness may have been due to a “mosquito-borne encephalitis, or perhaps by gas escaping from a coal mine.” – Roadside America website James Hatcher was frantic. Was Octavia buried alive? He “secured an emergency exhumation.”38)Forsyth, Jessica. 2012. “The Story of Octavia Hatcher.” Dave Tabler’s Appalachian History. April 3. They dug up the grave, lifted the coffin lid, and found her nails bloody and the coffin liner torn to pieces. Her face was twisted and “contorted” in horror.39)Team at Roadside America. n.d. “Octavia Hatcher: Buried Alive?” Roadside America. Accessed Oct. 2021.

No news accounts about this event exist. Critics say this is proof the incident didn’t occur. The Hatcher descendants dispute the story and say it isn’t true. Believers, however, say such an event in the straitlaced, Late Victorian era would’ve certainly been hidden to avoid “adversely affecting business”40)Wisti, Erin. 2021. “The Horrid Story of Octavia Hatcher, A Grieving Mother Who was Buried Alive.” Graveyard Shift, Ranker. Sept 23. or any uncomfortable social repercussions. Most people in Pikeville, Kentucky, believe the story.

James Hatcher never remarried. He memorialized Octavia in 189241)Rubio, J’aime. 2015. “The True Story of Octavia Hatcher – History vs. Myth.” Dreaming Casually. Jan 13. with a “life-size marble statue . . . set atop her hilltop grave.”42)Team at Roadside America. n.d. “Octavia Hatcher: Buried Alive?” Roadside America. Accessed Oct. 2021. The Daily Review out of Decatur, Illinois, September 28, 1892, stated:

“Unique Tombstone.” Cincinnati, Sept. 27.–
The most unique tombstone known in this section was shipped from this city. It is a statue of the late Mrs. James Hatcher, the deceased wife of a Pikeville, Ky., banker. It is in marble and is the exact hight [sic] of the deceased and is a perfect likeness of her, a cabinet photograph having been used as a model. In the right hand is a parasol, the handle having an immense ring. Even the fashion of the dress is copied.43)Rubio, J’aime. 2015. “The True Story of Octavia Hatcher – History vs. Myth.” Dreaming Casually. Jan 13.

Hatcher became a hotel owner sometime later. He built the Pike Hotel and installed a window in his office that overlooked Octavia’s statue. Vandals broke off the statue’s hand.44)The Hatcher family eventually installed a fence around the grave and placed the statue atop a thick marble base to stop further damage – from Jessica Forsyth’s “The Story of Octavia Hatcher” on Dave Tabler’s Appalachian History website. James Hatcher subsequently built the James Hatcher Hotel and made the lobby into a modest local museum. The statue was modeled after a photograph of Octavia and that image was among the artifacts. The museum also displayed something a bit macabre: James Hatcher’s coffin.

Hatcher was unquestionably terrified of being buried alive. He reportedly had his own coffin “custom built . . . designed to prevent him from being buried alive.”45)Team at Roadside America. n.d. “Octavia Hatcher: Buried Alive?” Roadside America. Accessed Oct. 2021. The casket “latched on the inside”46)Forsyth, Jessica. 2012. “The Story of Octavia Hatcher.” Dave Tabler’s Appalachian History. April 3. with an easy way to break the seal. After James’s death, a string was “tied around his finger and run up above the ground,” then attached to a bell. If he was buried alive, he could ring the bell and be rescued. Some think this coffin, along with Hatcher’s fear of being buried alive, generated the Octavia story. Or, was it the other way around? Octavia’s being buried alive generated Hatcher’s fear of the same? Neither is provable. Edgar Allan Poe wrote several short stories about being buried alive, like “The Premature Burial” (1844). His stories reveal society’s obsession and justifiable fear about the topic.

Paranormal Experiences:
  • Octavia’s statue supposedly spun around and turned its back on Pikeville every year on the date she died. When the fence was installed around the grave, the statue no longer moved.47)Team at Roadside America. n.d. “Octavia Hatcher: Buried Alive?” Roadside America. Accessed Oct. 2021. The “spinning” (if it occurred) was likely college pranks.
  • People hear kittens meowing or a woman crying around Octavia’s grave. They find nothing when they investigate and the sound stops.48)Wisti, Erin. 2021. “The Horrid Story of Octavia Hatcher, A Grieving Mother Who was Buried Alive.” Graveyard Shift, Ranker. Sept 23.
  • A photograph of Octavia’s statue “captured a mysterious haze.”49)Forsyth, Jessica. 2012. “The Story of Octavia Hatcher.” Dave Tabler’s Appalachian History. April 3.
  • Some visitors report seeing “a misty apparition” near Octavia’s grave.50)Baker Sisters. 2008. “Buried Alive – Octavia Hatcher.” Twisted Sisters. Oct 14.
Eerie Factor: 

The story conjures Poe’s short stories about being buried alive. A film version exists of “The Premature Burial,” showing a customized coffin eerily similar to Hatcher’s. Here’s a link for the movie. The life-size statue with broken hand is odd. Hatcher’s desire to observe the statue may suggest that he felt a need to punish himself for . . . “something.”

Danger Factor:   Low

Though the story’s creepiness is undeniable, no evidence suggests Octavia’s spirit is harmful.

Gallery:

 

White Hall – Madison County
White Hall Mansion, home of Cassius M. Clay. Photographer Jim Bowen – Wikipedia
Background:

White Hall mansion was first called “Clermont,” and was originally a more modest home. Wealthy surveyor Green Clay built the place in 1798-9951)A Grave Interest. 2011. “White Hall and Cassius Marcellus Clay.” A Grave Interest. Oct 14. after coming to Kentucky with Daniel Boone. Green “grew hemp, raised sheep and owned distilleries, mills, taverns, farms and a ferry.”52)wmadministrator. 2007. “Haunted White Hall.” The Lane Report. Oct 1. Green’s son, noted politician and emancipationist Cassius Marcellus Clay, aka, the “Lion of White Hall,”53)Court, Frank. 2012. “White Hall Filled with Tales of Scandals and Hauntings.” Richmond Register, July 16: web. inherited Clermont. The home became White Hall under Cassius Clay’s ownership.

Cassius Marcellus Clay was born on October 19, 1810 at Clermont. He studied law at Yale. While there, he attended one of  William Lloyd Garrison’s anti-slavery speeches that “set the course” of his life. From that point on, Clay became a social justice warrior, arguing for slaves to be legally free. He emancipated his own slaves in 1844.54)A Grave Interest. 2011. “White Hall and Cassius Marcellus Clay.” A Grave Interest. Oct 14. He spoke all across the South about abolishing slavery. As one might believe, his beliefs were unpopular, and he was often threatened and embroiled in physical fights.55)A Grave Interest. 2011. “White Hall and Cassius Marcellus Clay.” A Grave Interest. Oct 14.

Cassius had quite the resume. He was a lawyer and a Kentucky State Representative.56)A Grave Interest. 2011. “White Hall and Cassius Marcellus Clay.” A Grave Interest. Oct 14. He was founder and publisher of the abolitionist newspaper True American (1845), a soldier in the Mexican-American War, and the United States Ambassador to Russia.57)A Grave Interest. 2011. “White Hall and Cassius Marcellus Clay.” A Grave Interest. Oct 14. His ambassadorship enabled him to help the United States purchase Alaska.

Clay was quite the womanizer. He married Mary Jane Warfield in 1833. She was instrumental in making White Hall into a respectable and much-admired abode. The house was remodeled and rebuilt to an Italianate style.58)A Grave Interest. 2011. “White Hall and Cassius Marcellus Clay.” A Grave Interest. Oct 14. The mansion “boasted 44 rooms”59)A Grave Interest. 2011. “White Hall and Cassius Marcellus Clay.” A Grave Interest. Oct 14. and had modern features ahead of its time like central heating and indoor plumbing.60)wmadministrator. 2007. “Haunted White Hall.” The Lane Report. Oct 1.61)The heating system was sustained by fireboxes in the basement. Stored rainwater enabled workable plumbing.

Cassius and Mary Jane had ten children. Unfortunately, they divorced in 187862)Davis, Linda. 2000. “Cassius Marcellus Clay.” Find-a-Grave. Jan 6. after 45 years of marriage, likely because of Clay’s philandering. He shocked the nation when he married child bride Dora Richardson in 1894.63)Davis, Linda. 2000. “Cassius Marcellus Clay.” Find-a-Grave. Jan 6. She was fifteen and he was eighty-four. They divorced after four years.64)A Grave Interest. 2011. “White Hall and Cassius Marcellus Clay.” A Grave Interest. Oct 14.

Cassius Marcellus Clay died at White Hall on July 22, 1903. After he died, the home was left deserted and eventually fell into ruin. Tenant farmers appropriated the home and used it “as a barn to store grain, tractors and house chickens.”65)A Grave Interest. 2011. “White Hall and Cassius Marcellus Clay.” A Grave Interest. Oct 14. The Madison County Garden Club petitioned to restore the mansion in 1967. In 1968, the Clay heirs donated the mansion and thirteen surrounding acres to the state of Kentucky.66)A Grave Interest. 2011. “White Hall and Cassius Marcellus Clay.” A Grave Interest. Oct 14. The mansion was restored and opened to the public in 1971.

Paranormal Experiences:
  • People have seen Clay’s apparition. They have also witnessed a young boy playing hide and seek and a woman in a hooped skirt. They’ve heard a baby gurgle or cry.67)Court, Frank. 2012. “White Hall Filled with Tales of Scandals and Hauntings.” Richmond Register, July 16: web.
  • The house is a museum now and the curator claims she’s smelled candles burning when no candles are around. Rose perfume often wafts through the home. Further, she said she’s heard the sound of moving furniture when no one else was in the house.68)Court, Frank. 2012. “White Hall Filled with Tales of Scandals and Hauntings.” Richmond Register, July 16: web.
  • A former curator claimed she saw a pile of papers float across the floor.69)Court, Frank. 2012. “White Hall Filled with Tales of Scandals and Hauntings.” Richmond Register, July 16: web.
  • “Cold spots,” indicative of a ghostly presence, have also been reported.
  • The staff at White Hall have seen strange lights and heard people whisper. They’ve smelled pipe smoke when no one is smoking. They’ve heard “ghostly dinner parties” in the dining room, “complete with the tinkle of glasses . . . indistinguishable conversation, and the delicious smell of food.”70)A Grave Interest. 2011. “White Hall and Cassius Marcellus Clay.” A Grave Interest. Oct 14.
  • A couple of ghosts have bumped into the home’s tour guides.71)Norman, Michael and Beth Scott. 1995. Historic Haunted America. New York: Tom Daugherty Associates.
  • One tour guide saw the ghost of an old man “in the basement on stormy days.”72)Norman, Michael and Beth Scott. 1995. Historic Haunted America. New York: Tom Daugherty Associates.
Eerie Factor:   

The house has reportedly had paranormal activity, but those instances seem to be “happy home” experiences.

Danger Factor:  Low

Ghosts or spirits appear to be amicable at White Hall.

Gallery:

 

Mississippi

Lyric Theatre – Lee County
Image from lyricita.blogspot.com
Background:

The Lyric Theatre was originally known as The Comus. It was built in 1912 by R.F. Goodlett as a vaudeville theatre. The name changed to the Lyric Theatre in the 1930s. Local legend says Elvis Presley had his first kiss there.73)PersonsMD. 2012. “The Lyric Theatre – Tupelo, Mississippi .” Waymarking. Nov 24.

In 1936, the theatre became a makeshift hospital when it was one of the few buildings standing after a category F5 tornado struck without warning in Tupelo. The tornado “was 3 city blocks wide with wind speeds up to 300 mph.”74)DiRienzo, Daniella. 2016. “This Haunted Mississippi Theatre Has a Bone-Chilling Past.” Only in Your State. Aug 6. The natural disaster is the 4th deadliest tornado in U.S. history.75)PersonsMD. 2012. “The Lyric Theatre – Tupelo, Mississippi .” Waymarking. Nov 24. The town sustained immeasurable devastation. Over 200 people died, according to most sources. This death toll isn’t accurate because African Americans weren’t counted. A truer estimate is about 350 deaths.76)DiRienzo, Daniella. 2016. “This Haunted Mississippi Theatre Has a Bone-Chilling Past.” Only in Your State. Aug 6. Surgeries were performed at the theatre. Those who died were “stored in the crawl spaces until other arrangements.”77)Myers, Jon. 2021. “Lyric Theatre and Its Haunted History.” Tupelo News, Oct 7.

Paranormal Experiences:
  • The Lyric staff believe the ghost of a tornado victim roams the theatre and is quite the “trickster.” They’ve named him Antoine. He’s known to steal keys. People hear him humming at times.78)DiRienzo, Daniella. 2016. “This Haunted Mississippi Theatre Has a Bone-Chilling Past.” Only in Your State. Aug 6. He also “clomps around the theatre in the wee hours, moving things around.”79)PersonsMD. 2012. “The Lyric Theatre – Tupelo, Mississippi .” Waymarking. Nov 24.
  • Paranormal investigators have revealed that Lyric “is home to more than one of the unsettled spirits” from the tornado.80)PersonsMD. 2012. “The Lyric Theatre – Tupelo, Mississippi .” Waymarking. Nov 24.
Eerie Factor:   

Empty theatres are admittedly creepy, but the paranormal incidents here are few, especially considering the deaths that likely occurred at Lyric in 1936.

Danger Factor: Low

The spirit named “Antoine” may be a trickster but reports do not indicate he’s malevolent.

Gallery:

 

Temple Heights – Lowndes County
Front of Temple Heights – June 11, 1936. James Butters, Photographer, from Preservation in Mississippi
Background:

Temple Heights was built by (likely the slaves of) General Richard T. Brownrigg. He moved to Columbus, Mississippi in the 1830s, traveling from North Carolina with “his large family of 11 and his 91 slaves.”81)Carr, Julie. n.d. “Temple Heights Mansion.” Haunted Houses. Accessed Oct 2021. From what I gather, the land belonged to Choctaw Native Americans and was taken by a “deal” that could’ve been signed under duress.

The Brownriggs were prominent citizens, “bringing refinement and culture” to the community.82)Carr, Julie. n.d. “Temple Heights Mansion.” Haunted Houses. Accessed Oct 2021. Before Richard died in 184683)Woodham, Michelle. 2004. “Richard Thomas Brownrigg.” Find-a-Grave. March 25., he was caught up in a bad business deal. Mrs. Brownrigg sold the estate as a result.

The home has an extensive ownership history. The estate was purchased by a Georgia lawyer named Thomas W. Harris in the late 1840s. Harris “represented the Cherokee Indians in their legal fight to stay in Georgia and not be moved to Oklahoma.”84)Carr, Julie. n.d. “Temple Heights Mansion.” Haunted Houses. Accessed Oct 2021. The Harrises remodeled the home’s façade to a “Greek Revival style,” adding “pillars and porticos.”85)Carr, Julie. n.d. “Temple Heights Mansion.” Haunted Houses. Accessed Oct 2021. By all accounts, the Harris family were close and happy. One daughter married inside the home and lived there with her husband.

The mansion was sold again in 1867 to Mrs. Jane Fontaine, a Civil War widow. Fontaine was one of a group of women who began “Decoration Day” (what would become Memorial Day) in 1866.86)Carr, Julie. n.d. “Temple Heights Mansion.” Haunted Houses. Accessed Oct 2021.

The Kennebrews bought the home in 1887. Pastor J. H. Kennebrew moved into the mansion with his wife and five daughters. Daughter, Elizabeth, never married and lived in the home all her life. She was reportedly quite the eccentric lady, said to use “mercurochrome for lipstick and rouge, and chalk dust for facial powder.”87)Carr, Julie. n.d. “Temple Heights Mansion.” Haunted Houses. Accessed Oct 2021. The Kennebrew family lived in the mansion for 71 years.

In 1965, Mr. and Mrs. Carl H. Butler purchased Temple Heights and “restored it to its former 1854 self.”88)Carr, Julie. n.d. “Temple Heights Mansion.” Haunted Houses. Accessed Oct 2021. The home was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in May of 1978. The Butlers moved out in 2016 and sold the home to the family who currently lives there.

Temple Heights has four floors, “14 Doric columns and porches on three façades,” and boasts beautiful gardens. 89)Old Houses. n.d. “Temple Heights.” Old Houses. Accessed Oct 2021. The home is graciously “opened for tours during The Pilgrimage event, and throughout the spring and summer.” Tickets can be purchased through the Columbus Visitors Bureau.

Paranormal Experiences:
  • Witnesses have seen Mary Harris’s spirit (Thomas Harris’s wife?) in the house and heard her voice. She’s described as  “pleasant but noisy,” and as a woman who wants to make her presence known.90)Carr, Julie. n.d. “Temple Heights Mansion.” Haunted Houses. Accessed Oct 2021.
  • Doors open and close by themselves.
  • A person spending the night in the home saw Mary open the door to a bedroom on the second floor. The person said the spirit “became a bright ball of mist” that floated up the stairs.91)Carr, Julie. n.d. “Temple Heights Mansion.” Haunted Houses. Accessed Oct 2021.
  • Elizabeth Kennebrew’s apparition has been seen.
  • People have heard weird sounds like breaking glass, murmurs, and crashes. 92)Haunted Places. n.d. “Temple Heights Mansion.” Haunted Places. Accessed Oct 2021.
Eerie Factor:  

Temple Heights seems to have a warm, “homey” vibe.

Danger Factor: Low

Typically, paranormal experiences cause a house to have so many owners. I don’t think that’s the case here. The two female ghosts at Temple Heights seem to be hospitable and like to communicate rather than cause harm.

Gallery:

**Featured image by Jake Hecky on Pixabay

 

References

References
1, 9, 13 Susan. 2010. “Barnsley Gardens, A Bittersweet Love Story.” Between Naps on the Porch. June 12.
2 Barnsley, Godfrey. n.d. “Godfrey Barnsley Papers.” Way Back Machine. Edited by Emory Libraries. Accessed Oct. 2021.
3 Godfrey’s daughter Julia was reportedly the inspiration for Scarlet O’Hara in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. Addie, who was Julia’s daughter, was Margaret Mitchell’s friend. She told Mitchell stories about her mother and how she survived the Civil War. Mitchell used much of this information in forming the character Scarlett.
4, 10 Bret and Mary. 2020. “Barnsley Gardens Resort Ruins: The Tragic Story Behind the Adairsville, GA Landmark.” Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide. Jan 17.
5, 14, 15, 16, 17 Lake-Allatoona. 2013. “Live the History of Barnsley Gardens.” Lake-Allatoona. May 10.
6, 20 Hauck, Dennis William. 1996. Haunted Places: The National Directory. New York: Penguin Books.
7 A host of deaths and devastation occurred.: Two small children; daughter Adelaide died suddenly in 1858; son Howard was “killed in 1862 by Chinese pirates while exploring the Orient.”
8 An interesting thing to note is Godfrey’s belief in spiritualism and communication with the dead. He alleged in his writings that he had contact with several dead family members.
11 The Atlanta Constitution. 1935. “Mrs. Saylor on Stand at Trial of Her Son.” The Atlanta Constitution, Nov 27.
12 Washington Post. 1936. “Escpaing as a Novelty, Life Termer is Caught.” Washington Post, April 1.
18, 19, 21 Sweeney, Gary. 2016. “A Haunting in Georgia: The Curse of the Barnsley Gardens.” The Lineup. September 27.
22, 25, 27 Historic Rural Churches. n.d. “Tilly Bend Baptist.” Historic Rural Churches. Accessed Oct 2021.
23, 24 Hampton, Shane. 2017. “Is This Graveyard and Church Haunted? The Tale of Tilley Bend.” Wanderluster. Sept 28.
26 Cross Over Research. 2020. “Tilly Bend Church: Located in Blue Ridge, Ga.” crossoverresearch.com. May 23.
28, 29 Cross Over Research. 2020. “Tilly Bend Church: Located in Blue Ridge, Ga.” com. May 23.
30, 31, 32, 33 Byers, Jeremy. n.d. “Blue Ridge Witch – Haunting of Tilley Bend Church.” Horror . Accessed Oct 2021.
34, 35, 36, 39, 42, 45, 47 Team at Roadside America. n.d. “Octavia Hatcher: Buried Alive?” Roadside America. Accessed Oct. 2021.
37 One reason for the sleeping sickness may have been due to a “mosquito-borne encephalitis, or perhaps by gas escaping from a coal mine.” – Roadside America website
38, 46, 49 Forsyth, Jessica. 2012. “The Story of Octavia Hatcher.” Dave Tabler’s Appalachian History. April 3.
40, 48 Wisti, Erin. 2021. “The Horrid Story of Octavia Hatcher, A Grieving Mother Who was Buried Alive.” Graveyard Shift, Ranker. Sept 23.
41, 43 Rubio, J’aime. 2015. “The True Story of Octavia Hatcher – History vs. Myth.” Dreaming Casually. Jan 13.
44 The Hatcher family eventually installed a fence around the grave and placed the statue atop a thick marble base to stop further damage – from Jessica Forsyth’s “The Story of Octavia Hatcher” on Dave Tabler’s Appalachian History website.
50 Baker Sisters. 2008. “Buried Alive – Octavia Hatcher.” Twisted Sisters. Oct 14.
51, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 64, 65, 66, 70 A Grave Interest. 2011. “White Hall and Cassius Marcellus Clay.” A Grave Interest. Oct 14.
52 wmadministrator. 2007. “Haunted White Hall.” The Lane Report. Oct 1.
53, 67, 68, 69 Court, Frank. 2012. “White Hall Filled with Tales of Scandals and Hauntings.” Richmond Register, July 16: web.
60 wmadministrator. 2007. “Haunted White Hall.” The Lane Report. Oct 1.
61 The heating system was sustained by fireboxes in the basement. Stored rainwater enabled workable plumbing.
62, 63 Davis, Linda. 2000. “Cassius Marcellus Clay.” Find-a-Grave. Jan 6.
71, 72 Norman, Michael and Beth Scott. 1995. Historic Haunted America. New York: Tom Daugherty Associates.
73, 75 PersonsMD. 2012. “The Lyric Theatre – Tupelo, Mississippi .” Waymarking. Nov 24.
74, 76, 78 DiRienzo, Daniella. 2016. “This Haunted Mississippi Theatre Has a Bone-Chilling Past.” Only in Your State. Aug 6.
77 Myers, Jon. 2021. “Lyric Theatre and Its Haunted History.” Tupelo News, Oct 7.
79, 80 PersonsMD. 2012. “The Lyric Theatre – Tupelo, Mississippi .” Waymarking. Nov 24.
81, 82, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 90, 91 Carr, Julie. n.d. “Temple Heights Mansion.” Haunted Houses. Accessed Oct 2021.
83 Woodham, Michelle. 2004. “Richard Thomas Brownrigg.” Find-a-Grave. March 25.
89 Old Houses. n.d. “Temple Heights.” Old Houses. Accessed Oct 2021.
92 Haunted Places. n.d. “Temple Heights Mansion.” Haunted Places. Accessed Oct 2021.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.