Haunted America

( 11 )

Overview

Haunted America takes you on a grand tour of ghostly hauntings through the U.S. and Canada, sweeping from terrifying battle-field specters at Little Bighorn to a vaudeville palace in Tampa, from ghostly apparitions in President Garfield's home in Ohio to the White House in Washington, DC.

Taking the reader on a grand tour of ghostly hauntings--over 70 terrifying tales--through the U.S. and Canada, this chilling volume sweeps from battlefield spectres at Little ...

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Haunted America

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Overview

Haunted America takes you on a grand tour of ghostly hauntings through the U.S. and Canada, sweeping from terrifying battle-field specters at Little Bighorn to a vaudeville palace in Tampa, from ghostly apparitions in President Garfield's home in Ohio to the White House in Washington, DC.

Taking the reader on a grand tour of ghostly hauntings--over 70 terrifying tales--through the U.S. and Canada, this chilling volume sweeps from battlefield spectres at Little Bighorn to a vaudeville palace in Tampa, from ghostly apparitions in President Garfield's home in Ohio to the White House in Washington D.C. Includes stories from all 50 states.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Haunted America provides a deliciously disturbing collection of stories from every state of the Union and Canada....Norman and Scott spin good yarns with fun, fact and fright." —Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"Full of eerie specters and haunted houses, including the White House, this book will captivate readers of all ages. An excellent source of spine-tingling narratives for Halloween night or spooky campfire fun."—Library Journal on Haunted America

New York Times Book Review
Tales of murder, sex, madness and revenge make Haunted America both intriguing and amusing.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Haunted America provides a deliciously disturbing collection of stories from every state in the Union and Canada...Norman and Scott spin good yarns with fun, fact, and fright.
Library Journal
The authors have expanded their repertoire of true ghost stories previously published in Haunted Wisconsin (Stanton & Lee, 1980) and Haunted Heartland (Stanton & Lee, 1985). This collection of chilling tales of the supernatural includes at least one story from each state and from the English-speaking Canadian prov-inces. The stories recount sightings of ghostly apparitions and mysterious happenings, and their history and evolution is documented. To enhance the true-story appeal, newspaper accounts and other sources of information are given in the bibliography. Full of eerie specters and haunted houses, including the White House, this book will captivate readers of all ages. An excellent source of spine-tingling narratives for Halloween night or spooky campfire fun. For general collections.-Eloise R. Hitchcock, Tennessee Technological Univ. Lib., Cookeville
Booknews
A tour of some 70 hauntings throughout the United States and Canada, from tales of battlefield specters at Little Big Horn to reports of a ghostly projectionist in a Florida movie palace. Based on the authors' interviews with witnesses and accounts from archives and newspapers. The bibliography is arranged by state. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Haunted America provides a deliciously disturbing collection of stories from every state of the Union an Canada....Norman and Scott spin good yarns with fun, fact and fright.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765319678
  • Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
  • Publication date: 9/18/2007
  • Series: Haunted America Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 793,147
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Norman has taught at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls for more than twenty-five years. Beth Scott, who died in early 1994, was full-time freelance writer for more than thirty-five years.

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Read an Excerpt

Alabama

The Face in the Window

The imposing Pickens County Courthouse on the town square in quiet, old Carrollton is perhaps the most unusual seat of local government in all of Alabama. There are courthouse older and larger than this two-story edifice, quite a few that harbor within their walls stories of Civil War horror and heroism, and not an insubstantial number with ghostly legends. But, for the sheer oddity and grotesqueness of the event, few can match what can be found at the Carrollton courthouse.

Embedded in the windowpane of a garret window high above the casual pedestrian is the likeness of a human face. To be exact, it is the face of one Henry Wells, an African-American man accused of burning an earlier courthouse in 1876. How and why Henry Wells’s face etched in that glass for all eternity is a story both sad and bizarre.

It begins on April 5, 1865, when Union troops under the command of General John T. Croxton burned the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, some forty miles east of Carrollton. General Croxton then sent a detachment of soldiers to destroy the Pickens County Courthouse at Carrollton, although why he issued such an order remains a mystery. There was no military value in the act. But the Yankees carried out their mission with soldierly precision, and the stately old building burned to the ground.

The people of Pickens County vowed to erect a new structure, despite the presence of carpetbaggers and a radical, federally installed government in the county, which made the task doubly difficult. But rebuild it they did, and for twelve years the courthouse stood, symbolizing, as one writer observed, “the return to law and order in a strife-torn land.”

But all that changed on November 17,1876, not quite twelve years after Northern troops torched the first courthouse. On that late autumn night, two men, one of whom is alleged to have been Henry Wells, a former slave, set fire to the new Pickens County Courthouse.

A newspaper of the era, the West Alabamian, contained an account of the fire on page three of its November 22, 1876, edition, which said in part: “The burning was unquestionably the work of an incendiary. It took fire in several places about the same time.”

Henry Wells and his buddy, Bill Burkhalter, were suspects from the beginning. According to Dan Turnipseed, a Carrollton historian and an expert on the legend, Wells had been accused of raping a white women. He was allegedly told that if he burned the courthouse all the records of his arrest would be destroyed and he woludn’t come to trial. Just who gave this “advice” to Wells isn’t clear, but the fire did burn all the books and records of the probate court. However, the “dying confession of Henry Wells,” published in the February 6, 1878, issue of the West Alabamian, contains a different account. That story quotes Wells as saying Burkhalter persuaded him to break into the courthouse to steal money. One of the men accidentally knocked over a candle left in the probate court office and that started the fire, the confession claimed. However, some doubt can be cast on the validity of the well-written confession. Wells could neither read nor write. He signed the “confession” with an X.

Burkhalter had been indicted for a series of burglaries at about the same time the courthouse burned, including ones at stores in Reform, Carrollton, and Lineburg, all in Alabama, along with three other business across the state line in Mississippi.

Both men fled the county before they could be arrested for the courthouse fire.

Two years passed. Pickens County built another new courthouse. Then, on January 29, 1878, Henry Wells was arrested while working on Bill McConner’s plantation near Fairfield, now a western suburb of Birmingham. Wells tried to escape and was shot twice in the legs. The other suspect, Bill Burkhalter, was soon captured near Tuscaloosa.

The men were returned to Carrollton. The sheriff feared for their safety and decided to house Wells and Burkhalter and several other prisoners in a garret storeroom. There is no record that Wells was treated for his legs wounds. Word soon spread through the town that Wells, the man many thought mainly responsible for burning their courthouse, had been found. A mob gathered on the night after his arrival in Carrollton, intent on imposing their own brand of “justice.”

Storm clouds rolled across the sky, bringing intermittent rain and a spectacular lightning display to the mob of whites calling for Well’s hanging. The frightened prisoner started down from his attic cell shouting his innocence through the half-opened window.

What happened next is part legend and part fact. A tremendous bolt of lightning struck near the courthouse. The imprint of Well’s horrified expression was said to have been permanently emblazoned on the garret window glass.

It remains there to this day.

The mob eventually dispersed. Although accounts of what finally happened to Henry Wells differ, the generally accepted story is that he died shortly after that loathsome night from wounds inflicted during his capture at Fairfield.

Burkhalter was convicted of complicity in the burglary and fire and died while serving a sentence at the state prison.

Not long after Well’s death, passersby started to notice the distinct image of a man’ face on the garret window. One man described it as having a moustache and wearing a black hat.

Carrollton’s Dan Turnipseed said it “looks like a negative, when someone sees it from the street.” strangest of all, he said, is that the face cannot be seen when looking out the window from inside. Turnipseed said the face clearly has the look of someone distressed or frightened.

In the mid-1980s the courthouse was renovated. During the cleaning operation, Turnipseed said the bottom portion of the great window, where the face is seen, was raised so workmen could paint the sill and destroy some beehives. Even with the bottom portion of the window up, the face in the top part was perceptible.

Over the decades unsuccessful attempts have been made to remove the image from the window by washing or scrubbing the glass. In recent years the county has decided to leave the window alone.

“We don’t fool with it,” Turnipseed said.

In the mid-1980s, the Atlanta Center for the Continuing Study of the Shroud of Turin took close-up photos of the face in the window using a power company’ truck to lift photographers to within a few feet of the image. Copies of the photographs, clearly showing the mysterious face, were sent for analysis to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and to a laboratory in West Germany.

A close-up view of the window shows that the face seems iridescent with a variety of colors, somewhat suggestion of an oil slick. One supposition is that the molecular structure of the window changed over time, causing the portion of the glass with the “face” to actually take on a different composition. However, a change of this nature could be caused quickly by heating the glass. Iridescence can occur by shooting an X ray through glass. Could electrical current, such as that caused by a lightning bolt, also produce such an effect?

Gary Moore, a former student at the University of Alabama, studied the face in the window. In a report, he wrote that lightning is caused by an imbalance of electrical charges between the earth and sky. Negative electrons in the sky are disproportionately smaller than the positive protons on earth. Lightning is really the larger number of protons rushing upward to correct the imbalanced neutrons in the clouds. Moore speculated that a human face might produce a “very high positive charge, causing protons to flow toward the sky from eyes, nose, mouth, or other features discretely, until this flow was deflected by the insulation of a window pane, which then was disfigured.”

The window itself has escaped destruction at least once, during the early part of this century. Incredibly, a hail storm knocked out every window on the north side of the courthouse save the one with the terrified image of Henry Wells!

Does the ghost of Henry Wells also walk the Pickens County Courthouse? Some say he does, particularly on those nights like that of a century and more ago when thunder rockets across the late winter landscape and lightning jabs at the old courthouse. On those evening, folks say that the figure of Henry Wells stares out of his garret cell toward the square where the mob called for his quick hanging. If he does appear, or if it is really Henry Wells’ face embedded in that window, perhaps it serves as a remainder that mob violence does not bring justice, just sorrow and ruin for those on both ends of the noose.

Copyright ©1994 by Michael Norman Beth Scott

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2013

    Fantastic

    I have read both Haunted America & Historic Haunted America and I loved them both. They combine both a historical and paranormal take, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Fantastic books!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 29, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Amazingly Scary Stories

    This book is by far the best book I have read about ghosts. Michael Norman and Beth Scott go in to the history of why they think the place is haunted. The cases are very well documented in this book and very interesting. When I got to Minnesota, I asked my father if he knew any Ghost Stories from his home town(which was the one in the book). He said word for word what he knew about Mary Anne Twentey and it match what the autors had put down. I was visiting my grandma who still lives in that area and actually got to see the site of it. Pretty scary. This is a must have for ghost books.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2007

    The Facts are Always True!

    Want to learn the truth behind all that is suspicious occurrences that happens around the world? Haunted America has all the haunted buildings known in every state in America. From downtown of Los Angeles to up town of New York City. But don¿t expect for this book to contain blood gushing, head spinning, chaotic revenge. It¿s mainly about all the places that are found to be haunted because of the strange occurrences. There are good and bad spirits out there. Have you ever seen one for yourself? There¿s a haunted place almost everywhere you go. You¿ll never truly know why most spirits don¿t move on and find the light. But you can try to understand. Just hope you have a strong stomach for most of the things that may come your way. Spirits may stay because there maybe something that they have not accomplished in life when they were living. Some may even say that god just didn¿t want to open the golden gates for there free spirits because he believed they were bad spirits and didn¿t deserve to go through his gates to heaven. So live life to the fullest, or live life as though it was your last to stay happy. Or so they say. Every spirit has its story. Some may not be pleasant but it¿s the truth. Believe it or not but ¿Truth hurts¿ that¿s life. I watched this series of events on television called Most Haunted on the Travel Channel and from what I¿ve seen the book Haunted America and the show Most Haunted have many things in common. The fact that in the book they talk about certain events that takes place, some places like the Queen Mary. They talk about how the spirits can¿t rest and can¿t find peace so instead they stay within the place that they¿ve lost their lives in and haunt the many that enter it. The writer talk about people¿s experiences with the ghost sightings of how they can¿t explain what happened to them to show proof of the sightings. For examples are like when they say that as they enter the Queen Mary they feel this type of unexplained energy that goes through their body and within hours they suddenly find bruises on their body. They also talk about the same things in the book. Some believe it to be true and some believe to be a hoax but we may never know, all we have to do is try and find out the truth behind it all. The book I¿ve read was alright at the point that it tells the truth behind the suspicious events at every place that was thought to be haunted. But other than that fact, it was not at all scary at anyway. Maybe from living it in real life it may be to some, but from just reading the story the author left out the suspense and the heart throbbing truth. I personally would recommend this book if you were a traveler that likes to learn the truth behind the places you may visit. But if you are looking for a book with heart throbbing, head spinning, blood gushing chaos this may not be the book for you.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2000

    Fear isn't good enought to describe this one!

    Haunted America is the scarriest book I have ever read. The tales are truly spin tingling. I was soooooooo scarred after reading this book. It is one of the best books ever written on the supernatural. This is a GREAT buy!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 1999

    chilling

    This book actually gave me chills down my spine, I could not put it down 'til the last page. Great book for camping or even parties,people even ask me where they can go get it. This book goes everywhere with me, I get bored and I pick up my book to find another chilling story that will keep me on the edge of my seat.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2013

    hmmm,GOODZ

    seems pretty good

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    Posted June 3, 2009

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    Posted July 27, 2010

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    Posted May 28, 2009

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    Posted December 28, 2012

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    Posted June 26, 2009

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