Every portion of Central Georgia is thoroughly haunted. Tobe, the ghost of Orna Villa in Oxford, had an appetite for biscuits. Angry spirits near Augusta drove a family from a beautiful old home. Paranormal entities in a home cobbled together from three old houses created a tapestry of supernatural events. People still seek advice from a fortuneteller dead half a century, and a long-deceased girl hitches a ride home on the same night each year. Author Jim Miles presents a ghost story from each of the fifty-one counties in this historic region.
About the Author
Jim Miles is author of seven books of the Civil War Explorer Series, Civil War Sites in Georgia and two books titled Weird Georgia. Five books were featured by the History Book Club, and he has been historical adviser to several History Channel shows. He has also written seven books about Georgia ghosts: Civil War Ghosts of North Georgia, Civil War Ghosts of Atlanta, Civil War Ghosts of Central Georgia and Savannah, Haunted North Georgia, Haunted Central Georgia, Haunted South Georgia and Mysteries of Georgia's Military Bases: Ghosts, UFOs, and Bigfoot. Over a span of forty years, Jim has logged tens of thousands of miles exploring every nook and cranny in Georgia, as well as at Civil War sites throughout the country.
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THE MEANEST MAN IN GEORGIA
The Breedlove-McIntosh-Walker-Fraley-Scott-Tate Mansion, located at 201 North Jefferson Street, was home to the meanest man in Milledgeville, at least according to Katherine Scott, a resident of the house who wrote the story ten years before her 1988 death at age ninety-three. She considered Samuel Walker to be "one of the few entirely wicked men I ever heard of." He married thrice and outlived each wife, inheriting considerable estates from each.
"This strange, wicked and ruthless man seemed to have loved only two things: roses and Alice [a niece]," Scott continued. "His son, Joe, he disliked and distrusted. The boy was sent to Mercer in Macon, where he was to study law." When the school closed due to a typhoid fever epidemic, the boy returned home sick. Despite his illness, Walker immediately dispatched him to oversee Boynton, his plantation across the Oconee River. Joe returned three days later, extremely sick, but Walker, considering illness to be a character flaw, dismissed him to bed.
Walker ignored the suffering boy. Near the end, a feverish Joe struggled to the head of the stairs and told his father that he was dying. Walker ordered him back to bed, but Joe collapsed and fell down the stairs to his death. Within a week, Walker's wife and niece had also died.
Many people believe that Joe's death is reenacted every night. "Whether that be true or not," Scott wrote, "often in the night we have heard a dull 'thud' such as the boy's head might have made striking the step. Certain it is that someone goes up and down the steps at night." Another haunted spot is the northwest bedroom, "where the boy, Sam's third wife and her little niece were so ill." There is "still a feeling of pain and grief."
For a Georgia magazine article, photographer Charles Rafshoon set up a camera on the stairs, timed to expose an infrared frame at midnight. The camera captured the fuzzy outline of what is thought to be Sam Walker. Rafshoon felt an icy chill when he saw the image on the negative.
Scott once claimed that an Atlanta reporter "hightailed it out of here in the middle of the night when Sam shoved a chifforobe across his room." He didn't "even bother to say goodnight, and I haven't heard from him since." Of the ghost of Sam Walker, Scott reported, "I've heard and felt him around me too many times." After Scott fell and broke a hip and was released from the hospital, she was placed in the bed where Joe suffered before his death. "Night after night I had the feeling there was something black and formless standing in the doorway. The room would be saturated with an overpowering feeling of sadness and grief."
The Georgia magazine reporter spent a night at the house, sleeping easily through a rainy evening, but then came the presence. "Sometime in the middle of the night the tassels of the bed's canopy sway as though in an evening breeze," he wrote. "The unseen presence of something crosses the room, and there is a loud crash on the staircase. Shortly before dawn, there is another crash."
Morning revealed Walker's mischief. A portrait of General Thomas Harrison, Oliver Cromwell's aide and a relative of Scott's, had been thrown from a wall and smashed on the floor. The support nail and wire were left in place and undamaged.
One night, as Scott and her longtime companion, Frances Lewis, slept in the house, they were awakened by a terrible sound. Alarmed that a burglar had broken in, the ladies called the police. "I went with them," Scott told Charles Salter, the Georgia Rambler from the Atlanta Journal Constitution (September 10, 1978), "and we found a very fine, peacock fan that had been taken from a temple in China and sent to me by an Army officer friend years ago." She had framed the fan, and now it was shattered to pieces. Scott believed that vandalism was committed by Miss Sue, one of six children of Peter J. William, the man who built the house.
Early one morning, at about 2:00 a.m., a neighbor let his dog outside and "said a woman appeared on this side of the house and came from behind some bushes and stood at the steps a few minutes," Scott said. "She was in an old-timey costume and wore high button-up shoes. He knew it must be Miss Sue. Then she turned around and vanished."
Scott often heard footsteps on the two primary levels of the house and many times felt someone waiting for her as she rounded a corner. While reading at night, she believed a presence observed her. That feeling was reinforced by the behavior of her bulldog, Bubbles, which, while sitting beside her, looked toward that door as if anxious to see who had just entered the room.
Scott was born on November 26, 1894, in Milledgeville and spent much of her life there. She earned a teaching degree from Georgia Normal and Industrial College (which evolved into Georgia College and State University) and a master's degree from Columbia and then taught for forty-two years. For thirty-four years, she was professor emeritus at Georgia College. Scott wrote extensively on local history, and her papers are preserved at the Georgia College library.CHAPTER 2
THE ROAD GOES ON FOREVER AT THE BIG HOUSE
Nathaniel Harris accomplished a great deal in his lifetime, serving as the last governor of Georgia who had fought for the Confederacy (1915–17) and helping found Georgia Tech, which he attempted to locate in Macon. In 1900, he constructed a fine home at 2321 Vineville Street, a three-story English Tudor with six thousand square feet in eighteen rooms, including an open third-floor ballroom with stained-glass windows and a crystal chandelier. It was an elegant, majestic home.
In the late 1960s, the Allman Brothers Band (ABB) set up residence in Macon to record at Capricorn Studios. In December 1969, Linda Oakley, wife of bassist Berry Oakley, saw an ad for this rental property, donned her best "little homemaker" dress and, with their adorable infant in tow, charmed the salesman and signed a contract. Shortly, Linda, Berry, Duane Allman, Gregg Allman and many others who came and went occupied the house. The walls of the sunroom were insulated to muffle late-night jams. Numerous songs were written in the house, and the many rehearsals helped evolve the unique ABB sound.
Unfortunately, during their residence, Duane and Berry were killed in separate motorcycle accidents, and in January 1973, the realty company finally realized what "undesirables" were occupying the house and evicted them. The structure has since become an icon in rock-and-roll history, known as "the Big House."
Kirk West, road manager for the Allmans and long a collector of ABB memorabilia, married Kristen in Chicago, and they moved to Macon, seeking a suitable house where Kirk's collection could be displayed. To their astonished delight, they found the Big House for sale. In August 1993, they purchased it and began a long and expensive renovation. The couple quickly realized that this home came with a resident ghost, a woman from the Victorian era whose manifestations were not only frightening but also dangerous.
"I kept tripping and falling on the stairs," Kristen told Mary Lee Irby in Macon Ghosts. One stumble left her bedridden for three months with a ruptured disc. During a conversation with the previous owners of the residence, Kristen learned that "the wife also experienced the same thing." The pushes, shoves and falls, also inflicted on the Wests' guests, all occurred at the same place on the stairs. At one point, Kristen realized that spindles on the rails at that point were replacements, different from the originals. This finding leads one to wonder whether the resident spirit met her demise here in a tragic accident. Former owners had religious officials in to bless the house, apparently to no avail.
The Big House ghost also removes personal items, returning them days or months later, either to the place they were removed from or different, and rather odd, locations. On two occasions, Kristen's lost car keys have been located directly under the center of a bed. A visitor also experienced the same phenomenon. Makeup Kristen used daily vanished, only to return to its proper place at a later date. Brushes and other personal items were also affected.
On the stairway landing is a servant's door and stairs to the kitchen that are never used anymore. Kristen has awoken to find the door open. A film documentarian woke up one morning and was making her bed when she saw the door open itself.
The Wests had three dogs, two named for ABB songs: Liz ("In Memory of Elizabeth Reed"), Martha ("Little Martha") and Maggie, which often alerted to supernatural phenomena undetectable to Kristen and Kirk. A house sitter once watched a shadow move rapidly up the stairs, eagerly pursued by the dogs. On another occasion, while the sitter watched television around midnight, the sleeping dogs simultaneously sat up and began to growl.
The Wests are convinced that the responsible ghost is a girl. A friend of the Wests, who originally came as a student making a documentary, had multiple dreams of the ghost, whose name she believed to be Catherine. In the dreams, a screaming woman ran down the stairs of the house.
After she moved in, Kristen contacted Linda Oakley for tales of the band's residence there. Linda provided Kristen with her first ghost story.
"She [Linda] used to wake up in the middle of the night and see a female ghost hovering over her bed," Kristen told Jeff Sutton for Macon magazine. Kristen has witnessed the same specter. Awakening one night from a sound sleep, she first noticed the room illuminated by bands of light. Suddenly she saw the ghost, which floated just above her. "I could see this face looking at me." The figure was relaxed, stretched out in the air over the bed, with its head resting on one hand. The figure looked to be about fifteen, wearing an old-fashioned bonnet and a long dress with ruffles down the front. Remarkably, Kristen had the presence of mind to ask, "Who are you?" Still more incredible, the girl answered cryptically, "My daddy's house has five bedrooms," and quietly departed.
"She's very mischievous, but mostly with women," Kristen noted. "She's shown herself to men, but most of the mischief is with women." Another close encounter was experienced by Kristen's dad, Charles Olsen. One morning, he told her that he observed a figure standing by his bed before flying over him to stand on the other side of the bed. Several months later, he witnessed the same apparition his daughter had encountered — a similarly dressed girl in the same clothing lying extended with head in hand. Instead of addressing her, Olson leaped from bed and stared at the apparition for several seconds before it disappeared. Kirk's father was awakened one day by the smell of baking cinnamon buns. He was disappointed to find no one in the kitchen and no baking activity underway. A visiting Chicago Sun Times music critic had an identical experience with the smell of baking in the morning, Kristen said. "Someone died here, but I don't know who it is," stated Kristen.
After years of effort, the Big House was restored and opened as the Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House, 2321 Vineville Avenue. It is open Thursday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and admission is charged. The Big House Foundation, PO Box 4291, Macon, GA 31208-4091; (478) 741-5551;www.thebighousemuseum.com.CHAPTER 3
PLEASE DON'T GO, GRANDDADDY
Barbara S. Guthrie was a native of Cochran. In 1955, she, her husband and their four-year-old son, Edward, moved to Salem, Virginia. Edward was the youngest grandchild for the Guthries' parents, and the boy and her father, Rufus Goody Sr., "were inseparable," Guthrie wrote in FATE magazine in March 1976. To lessen the blow, Edward's parents promised to send him to Cochran each summer to spend several months with his beloved grandparents. That promise was faithfully kept.
As time passed, Goody had a stroke but was able to get around with the aid of a cane. In his seventies, his condition worsened, and he was dependent on a wheelchair. His disability never hampered the "great time together" he and Edward enjoyed each summer.
After one visit, Edward had returned home from Georgia in July 1963. During the night of August 19, Guthrie was awakened when "I heard him cry out in his sleep." It was just past midnight as she donned her housecoat and hurried down the hall to her son. "As I neared his room I heard him say, 'Oh, Granddaddy, don't go!'" she wrote. "'Please don't go!'"
She continued: "The room was dark and unusually cold, although the rest of the house seemed quite warm. When I switched on the light I found Edward, now 12-years-old, in bed on his knees with his hand stretched out toward something I could not see."
Believing that he was asleep and in the grip of a nightmare, Guthrie gently shook his shoulder, telling him that it was only a dream and to wake up. "He shrugged my hand off and crawled to the foot of the bed. 'Please don't go, Granddaddy,' he sobbed. Finally he collapsed against the foot of the bed, crying as if his heart would break. I tried to convince him it was only a dream but he shook his head. 'He's gone, Mama. I can't see him anymore.'" Early that morning, Guthrie received a call from Georgia. Her father had died during the night. "Papa Goody never visited Virginia when he was alive," Guthrie concluded, "but he came at the time of his death to tell Edward goodbye," all the way from Cochran.CHAPTER 4
A GHOST LIGHT WITH EXTRAS
Roger Allen writes a column about the history of Bulloch County for the Statesboro Herald. On September 21, 2007, he related "A Ghost Story from Brooklet." Just east of that community off U.S. 80 and Railroad Bed Road is Robertson Road, a seven-mile-long dirt lane that for decades was the roadbed for the Savannah & Statesboro Railroad, in a locale occupied by farms and pasture. When this route was part of the Savannah & Southern Railroad system, Allen wrote, an equipment breakdown caused a train to stop along this stretch of rail.
The switchman jumped down to the right of way and started walking toward the engine, inspecting the train as he went. Something, perhaps loose ballast rocks, caused him to lose his balance, and he fell between the engines pulling the train. Unaware of this, the engineer engaged the throttle, and the locomotive and the train moved forward, decapitating the rail employee. Unaware of the tragedy, the train continued to its destination, where the switchman was discovered missing.
A search along the tracks discovered the switchman's body, but his head was never found, or so the story goes. Decades passed, the rails were removed and the route became a rough dirt road. Local motorists soon observed "a series of floating lights," usually yellow or orange in color, that appeared above the center of the road. The lights, sometimes bright enough to be seen several miles away at the village of Grimshaw, are most often witnessed in the warm early weeks of autumn, in early morning fog following a late-night rain.
At times, Allen wrote, people "have witnessed a black man underneath the lights taking shovelfuls of dirt and tossing it across the road," particularly beside an old cemetery. The idea is that he worked at a cotton plantation here and was forced to excavate his own grave. Other embellishments incorporate sightings of ghost dogs and "ghostly horses pulling what appear to be chariots ... an entire ghostly zoo full of all kinds of creatures with even cages discernable in the lights."
Another story is that an older man was hunting in the area and died of an accidental gunshot. On the Ghosts of America website, Sadie said it was her grandfather —"he is just trying to let others know that he is still there and does not want to be forgotten."
For several generations, cars conveyed curious people, particularly students from nearby Georgia Southern University, to the road late at night, all seeking a glimpse of the supernatural. Even churches incorporated the mystery into their programs. A festival for youth began with adults spinning tales of the purported paranormal events, followed by a hayride to the haunted locale. Local residents often cling to their tales of the macabre.
A woman named Cody and her boyfriend drove down Ghost Road one night, as she wrote on Ghosts of America, and doused both ignition and headlights. Within two minutes, a lantern-like light floated along one side of the road, slipping into a ditch and then reemerging. One minute later, a bright light approached from the rear. They cranked up and sped away, but the light "got closer and brighter, then disappeared."
During the encounter, they felt "this strange energy." Intrigued, they stopped again and challenged the phenomenon to return, which it did with a vengeance. "It looked like something tried to pull him out of the window," she said of the boyfriend, who understandably freaked out.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Haunted Central Georgia"
Copyright © 2017 Jim Miles.
Excerpted by permission of The History Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Baldwin County: The Meanest Man in Georgia,
Bibb County: The Road Goes on Forever at the Big House,
Bleckley County: Please Don't Go, Granddaddy,
Bulloch County: A Ghost Light with Extras,
Burke County: Shadow Ghost Boy,
Butts County: Miss Mary Returns to Rock Castle,
Candler County: The Hotel Review Ghost,
Chattahoochee County: Generations,
Columbia County: The Angry Ghosts,
Crawford County: Ghosts of Two County Buildings,
Dooly County: Flint River Hooded Shadow,
Effingham County: The Spirit in Bob's Room,
Emanuel County: Love Trumps Ghosts,
Glascock County: The Dead Lady Speaks,
Greene County: The Ghosts of Early Hill,
Hancock County: The Ghosts of Samandka,
Harris County: The Adams Family Live in a Haunted House,
Heard County: The Afterlife of Mayhayley Lancaster,
Houston County: The White Wispy Presence,
Jasper County: The Hillsboro Horror,
Jefferson County: Sometimes Dead Men Do Tell Tales,
Jenkins County: The Haunted State Park,
Johnson County: Shining a Light on the Supernatural,
Jones County: A General's Ghost,
Lamar County: Strange Things Happen,
Laurens County: A Black-Caped Man and the Possessed Feline,
Macon County: Georgia's Sleepy Hollow Ghost,
Marion County: The Spirits of St. EOM of Pasaquan,
McDuffie County: Reporter Encounters Specter,
Meriwether County: Fala, the First Dog,
Monroe County: The Old Haunted Hotel,
Muscogee County: St. Elmo's Spirits,
Newton County: The Biscuit-Eating Ghost,
Peach County: Personal Spooks,
Pike County: Take Two EVPs and Call Us in the Morning,
Pulaski County: Mother and Child,
Putnam County: The Ghost that Rocked the Cradle,
Richmond County: One of Many Arsenal Ghosts,
Schley County: Mr. Larkin's Feist Dog,
Screven County: The Church at Six Bridges,
Spalding County: A Barfly Ghost,
Talbot County: Double-Barreled Revenge and Oak Tree Justice,
Taliaferro County: Faces on the Ceilings,
Taylor County: Furniture Knocking Library Ghost,
Treutlen County: Dirty Old Preacher Man Ghost,
Troup County: Swinging Grandma,
Twiggs County: The Old Ghost-Filled Hotel,
Upson County: The Blue Lady of Hagan's Mountain,
Warren County: Ghostly Activity through Witchery?,
Washington County: A Ghost that Slipped Away,
Wilkinson County: The Granny Cabinet,
About the Author,