Halloween Hauntings Part 6: The Happy Hollow Horror


The Happy Hollow Horror

For this Halloween tale, neighboring Kentucky gets the nod. It involves an incident that happened many years back, during the 1930’s to be exact, yet it remains a much talked about and bizarre mystery to this day. 

It happened in the Pennyrile district of Kentucky, where many strange things have been known to happen.

To this day the Ragland house is believed to be haunted.
To this day the Ragland house is believed to be haunted.

Happy Hollow lies just outside of Greensburg, Kentucky and from the name of the small rural community, one might easily imagine it was a place where nothing ever, ever went awry, and where the folk were all amiable and content with their lot in life. One would be wrong

One bright sunny morning, the Raglands were sitting down to breakfast in their farmhouse, and looking forward to their morning repast.  Led by the patriarch of the family, they had said the blessing over the food and were just about to dig in, when suddenly they heard a commotion at the front of the house.

With nary a warning the front door flew open, startling one and all.

For a second he was too startled to move, but before the father could rise from his chair to go see who it may be who had barged into their home, he heard heavy footsteps moving in measured cadence down the long hallway from the front door.

Soon there came into view a ghastly  procession came marching down the long hallway towards the kitchen in the rear of the house.

As it came close, the Raglands could see what looked like a group of pallbearers all dressed in black and upon their shoulders they bore a small coffin. But the men bearing the black box were unfamiliar to their eyes, in a community where everyone knew everyone. Moreover,  no one had died in the family, nor knew they of any neighbor’s death. But that was not the oddest thing about this weird intrusion into their home.

Atop the coffin lay a lamb, the symbol of a slaughtered innocent.
Atop the coffin lay a lamb, the symbol of a slaughtered innocent.

Atop the coffin lay a lamb.  The lamb was white as snow, but smeared with blood, for it was headless and blood was streaming from the ghastly wound.

All the time as they marched toward the family, the apparitions in black said nary a word.  Without turning their pallid faces to look at the Raglands, or say a word of explanation, they marched past the family and out the back door.

Like dreamers suddenly awakened, the Raglands jumped up from the kitchen table to see where the pallbearers had gone.  Nothing was visible in the back yard. The ghastly ghostly pallbearers had vanished.

In due course, the local constabulary were called and they canvassed the house and  grounds for clues to who the strangers may have been. Neither the sheriff nor his deputies could find any trace of footprints front or back.

Apparitions or ghosts don’t always take human form.  There are accounts of black dogs—hounds from hell they call them—that appear out of nothing to bedevil folks.

The raven, a carrion beast, is universally thought a harbinger of death; for not only does it feast on the flesh of the dead, it has even been known to appear before they die—as if it had foreknowledge of their death.

There are also rare accounts of apparitions appearing as a lamb, generally white.  It is thought the white lamb symbolizes the soul of an innocent—a young child—who has died prematurely or violently.  That this lamb’s head was missing was even more curious—and most sinister.  Was this apparition trying to send a message from the grave?

In Happy Hollow and surrounding communities they still talk of that day long ago as if it were last week.  Moreover, the house where it happened has not been occupied for many years and in the area it has a reputation for being haunted.

It is a reputation not totally unjustified.

If you like this and other such strangeness, then you will find a fuller account in Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground.

Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground: True Tales from the Haunted Hills of the Mid South
Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground: True Tales from the Haunted Hills of the Mid South

Halloween Hauntings, Part 3: Charleston Ghosts & Haunts

The Thirteen Days of Halloween, Part 3:


courtesy, Battery Carrige House Inn
The South Battery at night, when the ghosts come out

Out of curiosity, I recently looked up one of my relative’s old antebellum home located on the South Battery, only to see that it was for sale.  It’s been a number of years since last I visited the manse and the city, but its sale nonetheless made me a bit wistful—not only for the time when my uncle gave me the tour of the majestic old home, but also for the many ghosts that reside in Charleston–some of them next door to the home.

Mind you, Charleston being an old city, and being Southern, it has quite a gaggle of ghosts—far more than I could ever chronicle in Dixie Spirits, much less here.  So I will only highlight a few of its most singular spirits here.  First off, just a few houses down from my Uncle’s old home on the South Battery, facing Charleston harbor, is the Battery Carriage House Inn.  Like all the grand and gracious homes lining the Battery, it is a large place with a courtyard leading to the carriage house in the back—the actual bed and breakfast.  And like most of the homes lining the battery, the place has a brace of ghosts–and ghost stories–attached to it.

Located at 20 South Battery, it offers a cozy place to stay while visiting, plus the added bonus of one or two friendly ghosts, who may or may not show up to keep you on your toes.  There is the Gentleman Ghost, who from the accounts of past visitors, has a certain affection for the ladies; then there is the Headless Torso, thought to be a victim of the Yankee bombardment of the city during the Civil War; and then there is the unnamed female ghost who resides in Room 9 who was photographed by one hotel guest.  All in all, a very interesting place to stay.

The entrance to the Battery Carriage House Inn, an elegant place to stay. Some guests check in and never check out.

Elsewhere in Charleston, other spirits of the restless dead also may their appearance at various times.  In the heart of the city, where once a military hospital stood, in the dark hours before dawn, late night revelers have occasionally seen a phantom army marching through the streets.

Ghost Soldiers perhaps from Gettysburg
Do phantom armies march along the streets of Old Charleston? Who’s to say; some claim to have seen them late at night, marching off to defend the city against the Yankee invaders.

They are marching, it is said, out of their death beds to defend the city against the invading Yankees who are besieging the city.  No one can tell them now the war is over.

The Old Jail, Charleston, still haunted by former inmates
Old print of the Old Jail, a historic site in Charleston, SC still very much inhabited–by ghosts.

Then there is the Old Jail, that old gothic looking structure that in its day not only housed murderers and other criminals, but runaway slaves and Yankee prisoners—many of whose restless spirits still abide there.  Tour guides report heavy objects moving on their own inside, “shadow people” have been reportedly sighted there, plus the ghost of one notorious murderess—Lavinia Fisher—who haunts the cavernous prison dressed in her wedding gown.

And then there is the Charleston tale about the “Doctor of the Dead” which seems too creepy to be true. But in Charleston, the outlandish is normal, don’t you know. At any rate, that strange story of necrophilia and spirit possession is a bit too long for this brief survey, so we’ll save it for another time.

Moonlight Magnolias and Mayhem
Moonlight, Magnolias and Mayhem: a characteristic Southern combination that one will find in abundance in the haunted highways and byways about Charleston.

While Halloween is a fine time to visit Charleston, it really don’t make no never mind to the city’s restless dead. As far as the spirits are concerned; they’ll still be there whatever time of the year you go.

For more about Southern ghosts and haunts, grab a copy of Dixie Spirits, with a listing of haunted hotels you can stay at, as well as more detailed accounts of the ghosts of Charleston. Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground, the first and still the best account of uncanny doings in the Mid South, is still in print and easily purchased.

Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground: True Tales from the Haunted Hills of the Mid South
Dixie Spirits via Sourcebooks
Dixie Spirits: true tales of the Strange and Supernatural south of the Mason-Dixon Line.


Strange Tales of Music City’s Morgues

Located on Second Avenue South, the old Vanderbilt Medical School building once housed a morgue–and reportedly is still haunted


In my book, Ghost and Haunts of Tennessee, I devoted a chapter to some of the creepiest hauntings that Nashville has to offer.  Regrettably, you have to be dead to get into them!

There have been three morgues in Music City’s history, all located within a short distance of one another.

The first, and oldest, was once located atop the original Nashville General Hospital.  The top floor of this old Victorian structure was called “The Haunted House” by nurses and attendants who worked in the old municipal house of healing.  So many workers had creepy encounters there that it became more and more difficult to get staff to go up there and properly file the newly deceased away.

While the hospital has since moved on to newer digs, the original building still stands on Rolling Mill Hill overlooking the Cumberland River as imposing as the House of Usher must once have been.

The venerable medical building is now a series of luxury digs that recent transplants to Nashville have snatched up like grave-robbers finding a freshly planted corpse.  I wonder if the posh new residents have yet had encounters with the previous tenants?

Just out front of the old Metro General stood the New Morgue for many years; this too acquired a spooky reputation.  By the time they built the New Morgue was built, the city had acquired a Coroner to do autopsies, as well as more professionally handle the growing number of murder victims, suicides and other violent death that came their way.

A number of first hand accounts verify that the New Morgue was every bit as haunted as the old.  Sadly, the squarish stone building is now gone from Rolling Mill Hill–but that doesn’t mean the ghosts are.

Now upscale digs, the old Nashville General’s morgue used to be referred to by staff as “The Haunted House”

Just a block over from these two spots on Hermitage Avenue is the old Vanderbilt Medical School building.  Back when the school originally opened, it was located on Second Avenue South in a suitably spooky looking Victorian building.

Today it is a private residence, so while you can gawk from across the street, and hope to see a specter at the window, don’t trespass!

In its day, however, the old medical building had its own morgue. It housed patients who did not survive the medical student’s healing hands, plus cadavers in cold storage awaiting dissection by the aspiring young doctors.  The cadavers are long gone–but not their ghosts.

For a fuller account of many ghosts of Music City, grab a copy of Ghosts and Haunts of Tennessee; in the meantime, for a sample chapter see: .http://www.scribd.com/doc/40421658/Excerpt-from-Ghosts-and-Haunts-of-Tennessee

Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground: True Tales from the Haunted Hills of the Mid South.
Ghosts and Haunts of Tennessee. True haunting tales of the Mid South

Sumner Spirits, Halloween Hauntings, Part 8

Halloween Hauntings, Part 8:

Sumner Spirits

“And all we see and all we seem/Is but a dream within a dream”  EDGAR ALLEN POE

There are those who say that ghost are just a figment of the imagination, or delusion of the masses; that those who see such things are hallucinating or having a “waking dream.” 

Then there are those like Mark Twain, who said “I don’t believe in ghosts, but I’m still skeered of ’em.”  Perhaps such doubting Thomases may want to take a day trip to Sumner County some October eve, just a few miles north of Downtown Nashville.

Gallatin, Tennessee, the most haunted town square in the state.

Downtown Gallatin, Tennessee, is home to several resident ghosts, all of which are fully documented in Ghosts and Haunts of Tennessee

Crossing over Mansker’s Creek, the first place you come to is Monthaven–the old Fite place.  It used to sit in splendid isolation on a hill overlooking the creek, where Gallatin Pike and Centerpoint Road meet.  Nowadays it has a cluster of apartments and condos nestled all about it.

During the Civil War, the mansion was the site of a dust-up between General Morgan’s Rebel raiders and some Yankees, and the mansion was used as a temporary field hospital. Moaning in pain and begging for some laudanum or whiskey, wounded soldiers were carried upstairs to a room where a door panel had been converted into an operating table and their limbs were sawed off to the sounds of them shrieking in pain. Several of the soldiers died there and their ghosts still haunt the place.

Monthaven, the old haunted Fite House in Hendersonville
Monthaven,  otherwise known as The Fite House, sits on land which dates back to frontier days. It was also used as a temporary hospital after a cavalry skirmish during the Civil War and some of the casualties still haunt the house.

A little farther up the buffalo trail that is now Route 31E is Hazel Path.  Like Monthaven, this old antebellum home used to sit alone on a hill; now it is the center of an office complex and not lived in–but the dead still reside there and in the adjacent school built over the old pioneer cemetery there.

Edging up several miles more, just before Gallatin proper, is the entrance to what they now call “The Last Plantation.”  At one time, Fairvue Plantation would have put Scarlett O’Hara’s Tara to shame.  It was once the home of the fabled Adelicia Acklen–the original Steel Magnolia.  Opulently wealthy and stunningly beautiful, Adelicia knew how to wrap men around her dainty fingers.  She went through three husband, bore  a number of children and managed to come out of the Civil War richer than when she went in, despite the depredations of the Yankees.  While today a gaggle of upscale homes cluster around Fairvue, the old manse still stands–and is haunted by multiple ghosts,

Fairvue, once the abode of the Famed Adelicia Acklen, is now a wealthy subdivision--but not so exclusive that ghosts don't haunt it still.
Fairvue, once the abode of the Famed Adelicia Acklen, is now a wealthy subdivision–but not so exclusive that ghosts don’t haunt it still.

We would be remiss not to mention the old downtown of Gallatin itself–alleged to be the most haunted town square in Tennessee.  Surrounding the county courthouse are a cluster of old buildings, some dating back to before the war.  Some of them are occupied by law offices, others by retail stores, some are vacant; but all are occupied by ghosts of one description or other.

In this short space I cannot begin to list all the spooky spirits of Sumner: for a more complete accounting of the unaccountable, I refer you to the chapter in my Ghosts and Haunts of Tennessee by the same name as this blog, where more details are available.  In the meantime–good haunting!

Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground: True Tales from the Haunted Hills of the Mid South
Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground: True Tales from the Haunted Hills of the Mid South
Ghosts and Haunts of Tennessee offers all things spooky in the Mid South and covers the favorite haunts of downtown Gallatin plus other Country spooks.

The Thirteen Halloween Hauntings, Part 1


Black Cats are Lucky
In Wales black cats are considered good luck

The Thirteen Days of Halloween, Part I

In honor of that spookiest day of the year—October 31—I am penning thirteen blogs daily, now through fright night.

Why thirteen?  Well, we have the twelve days of Christmas—or at least we used to.  Yuletide should run from December 25 through January 6 by rights, although lately it seems folks want to get the holiday season over with early on December 26.  I am among that obstinate minority who prefer to enjoy Yuletide for as long as possible–and that means quaffing flagons of Yuletide Cheer from big Christmas to Little Christmas. Moreover, in Wales, not only are black cats considered lucky, so is the number 13. Ultimately, for no particular reason other than it sounds good, I chose thirteen for Halloween.

The Dragon with the flagon holds the brew that is true. 

Black Cats and Thirteen anything–what could be more Halloweenish? Of course, the Welsh being Celts, they have a strong contrary streak and so whatever superstition their English neighbors adhere to, one can almost guarantee the Welsh will tend to believe just the opposite. My black cat, Enoch, was certainly lucky: he got to sleep all day, ate when he wanted, and pretty much did as he pleased (which was not much). And if cats normally have nine lives, Enoch was blessed with at least double that amount.

Speaking of superstitions, one Southern superstition that Yankees north of the Mason-Dixon Line may not have heard of is enshrined in the expression “jumping the broom.”  Among folks in Dixie, to “jump the broom” is another way to say getting married.  It comes from the belief that if newlyweds place a broom across the threshold to their new home, witches can’t follow them in and put a hex on the marriage. Although in Appalachia they don’t call it hex, they call it “spelt.”

In the old days, couples literally did put a broom across the entrance to their cabin on wedding day and then physically jumped across it.  Brides and grooms who jumped the broom were believed to enjoy a more harmonious and fruitful marriage, and to judge by the number of children they had in the old days, this seems to have been true.

The Mid-South abounds in uncanny and unexplained phenomena, from professors who suddenly burst into flame, to sightings of strange craft over the Tennessee Valley in the days when no such craft existed, to the numerous “Spook Lights” found in almost every state of Dixie. This is in addition to the many ante-bellum manse’s that each is a Gothic horror show in itself. Of course, what would Appalachia be without it’s “Wise Women” and whether you regard them as a bane or a boon, you best not get on their bad side in any case.

For more about Tennessee witches and witchcraft–and how avoid being spelt or to counter their curse if you are–see my original accounts in Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground and Ghosts and Haunts of Tennessee. And while you’re at it, also check out Dixie Spirits a sampler of all things uncanny in the Southland.

Halloween marks the beginning of the season when all life dies away–to the eye–not to be truly revived until its sister holiday, April 30. The ancient Celts called the two festivals Semaine and Beltaine and the period in between was a time when one gathered round the hearth and told tales to enchant young and old. Beltaine is also known as the Witches’ Sabbath when, like Halloween, all manor of spirits, uncanny creatures and other fey folk are abroad in the dark. On Halloween we have the additional bane of evil beings such as politicians roaming the land seeking votes.

Fear not, however, we shall limit our discussion only to the supernatural and similar things and while we won’t limit these thirteen entries just to the South, there are more than man can ken in the region to venture farther afield in search of the uncanny. So curl up with your favorite flagon–or favorite dragon–stoke the hearth (even if it’s just a video loop on Roku) and enjoy stories to curl your toes and give you goosebumps!

If you want to know more of things that go bump in the night, you can do no better than curl up with a copy or three of Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground, Ghosts and Haunts of Tennessee or Dixie Spirits–after which this blog is named.

Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground: True Tales from the Haunted Hills and Valleys of Mid South
Ghosts and Haunts of Tennessee. True tales of the Volunteer State, from the Hag Infested Hollows of East Tennessee to the Paranormal Madness of Memphis with a few side trips to the Haunted Honkey-Tonks of Nashville.










Dixie Spirits via Sourcebooks
Dixie Spirits: true tales of the Strange and Supernatural south of the Mason-Dixon Line.