Thursday, October 29, 2015

Is the Old Bradley House the most haunted location in Monroe County?

The Old Bradley House at Franklin, Ala.
Over the years, I’ve been to my fair share of creepy places, but few of these places were as creepy as the Old Bradley House at Franklin.

This past Friday night, as part of its annual Halloween investigation, The Evergreen Courant teamed up with Monroe Journal award-winning reporter and photographer Josh Dewberry, and John and Brandi Higginbotham, members of the Singleton Society of Paranormal Investigators, to investigate this reportedly haunted house.

As the crow flies, the Bradley House is located 36 miles from downtown Evergreen, and it’s generally considered to be one of the most haunted locations in this part of the state. Built in the early 1800s, this old dogtrot-style house is currently vacant and has no electricity or running water.

Past residents claim to have experienced a wide variety of unusual happenings in the house, which has seen more than a few deaths, including at least one confirmed suicide. Former residents claim to have heard disembodied footsteps, knocking, stomping, rapping, banging on the walls, creaking doors, rattling door chains and ghostly visitors coming into their rooms in the middle of the night.

Added to this, a small family cemetery, containing about 20 graves, is located beneath a pair of giant magnolia trees, just a stone’s throw from the home’s back door. This small cemetery contains the remains of many of the home’s former residents, and witnesses in the past have reported seeing lights floating above the cemetery in the middle of the night.

This past Friday night, I visited this reputed haunted house with Dewberry and the Higginbothams and found it to be one of the creepiest places I’ve ever been. Armed with flashlights, cameras and audio recorders, we investigated the house for over three hours on this unseasonably warm night and one of the first things we noticed was that most of the home’s interior was painted with “haint paint.” At least three of the home’s rooms appeared to have been painted in this soft blue-green color, which people once believed would scare away evil spirits. In the fourth main room, it appeared that someone had attempted to remove the paint from the walls and ceilings, but you could still tell that this room had at one time been painted with this color, which is sometimes called “haint blue.”

Much of the investigation consisted of EVP sessions in which investigators used digital audio recorders in an attempt to capture “Electronic Voice Phenomena,” which are believed to be the voices of spirits. During these sessions, investigators sat quietly in each dark room and took turns asking questions with 20 to 30 seconds of complete silence between each question. Later, when those recordings were reviewed, investigators discovered responses in the spaces between some of the questions, even though nothing was heard with the human ear when the recordings were originally made.

Most of the responses were either single words or short phrases that were hard to understand. At one point, one of the investigators asked if someone would touch the recorder on the table, and a woman’s voice was heard to reply “no… thanks.” Later, during a break between another question, the recorder picked up a man’s voice saying either the word “coffin” or “cotton.”

On several occasions throughout the night, investigators stepped outside for a breath of fresh, cooler air and recorders were left running inside the house during those times. During one of these breaks, while investigators were totally outside of the house, the recorders picked up all sorts of unexplained tapping, bumps and bangs from inside the otherwise silent house.

Aside from all this, we noted a number of other unusual aspects about the house. For one, it has 14-foot ceilings and nine-foot windows, almost all of which were boarded up with plywood, which made the home’s interior extremely dark, especially when we clicked our flashlights off. Also, it appeared that someone had used a small piece of chalk to draw pairs of small crosses over every door in the house, except for the one where the haint paint had been removed. In another room, someone had gone to great lengths to nail a closet door tightly shut for no apparent reason.

Later that night, we also checked out the cemetery, which contains 20 graves enclosed by an old, iron fence. The skies were clear on Friday night and a bright half moon lighted our way as we crossed the field between the old house and the cemetery. About halfway across, our steps were met with the unnerving howls of a large group of coyotes in the woods not far away. Moments later, those howls were met with the answering howls from another pack of coyotes in the woods, close by in another direction.

Despite the coyotes, we soldiered on into the cemetery and spent several minutes inspecting the large central monument, which was engraved with the names of  almost all of the people buried in the cemetery, including Bradley family patriarch, Jesse Bradley, who died in 1838. Oddly, we found only one grave outside the old, iron fence – the grave of John D. DuBose, who passed away in 1902. DuBose was a former Monroe County Superintendent of Education, and he was married to the late Laura Bradley DuBose, who died in 1886 and was buried within the iron fence.

In the end, we departed the Old Bradley House shortly before midnight, and as I traveled those dark, wooded roads back home, I couldn’t help but think about all that had transpired that night and in the house over the past century. No doubt the house has seen its fair share of good times and bad, and one is left to wonder if something continues to dwell within the walls of this deserted, old home place. What ever the case may be, you can take my word for it when I say that the Old Bradley House definitely lives up to its haunted reputation.

(Special thanks to the caretaker of the Bradley House, Margie Wiggins, who gave us permission to investigate the house for Halloween.)

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