|George Buster Singleton|
(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The column below, which was titled “The ghost lady of Locke Hill returns” was originally published in the Oct. 31, 1996 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)
As Halloween descends upon us this Thursday, all thoughts turn to stories about the spirits of the past and the ghosts of the area that wonder aimlessly around the old abandoned home places and cemeteries that dot the landscape.
As I have stated many times, I have investigated several stories of the supernatural throughout our area that has been related to me by three good friends (now deceased), who were born and raised here. When I first arrived in Monroeville, I was most fortunate to become friends with these people. They were all well versed in the county’s history, and after finding out that I was truly interested in the ghostly happenings around the area, they related many stories which I investigated in the later years that I have been here.
Let us go back in time when the hill country east of the Franklin area was a thriving farm community. This place was, and still is, known as the Red Hills community. Nothing remains there today that can be seen but a few old abandoned home places and the Red Hills Cemetery. If one looks close, one may find an old crumbled rock chimney or a few rotted timbers where once an old farmhouse once stood. Red Hills once boasted of a school, two churches and a post office. And, I have been told that a small store was also located there.
East of the Red Hills Cemetery is a very high hill known as Locke Hill. Several old home places dot the landscape around and atop this high and scenic hilltop. Off the old and little used dirt road, there was once a family who lived and farmed the fields beside the old road. It is said that the lady of the house and mother of the family was a tall and slender woman. Most always, so the story goes, this lady wore a long sack-type dress. On her head she wore a bonnet that was common during this time in our South’s history. From under her bonnet, one could see her long snow-white hair hanging down her back. Since the well, where the family got their water supply was located about 80 yards from the house, it is said this lady could be seen at all times of the day going to and from the well, carrying a large bucket of sorts. In the early morning hours and during the hours of late evening, she would be seen going to or coming from the well with the large bucket inn hand.
This went on for a number of years, until many families of the area began to move to other locations and vanish from the high country around Locke Hill. It wasn’t long until only a family or two remained in the area to work a few of the hilly fields of which most now lay abandoned. The story relates that the only son of this tall lady chose to join the cause of the Confederacy and went off to war. It wasn’t too long after that, the father of the family fell ill with fever and died. All that remained on the small farm was the tall lady and her small baby girl.
But, tragedy was yet to strike again within a short time of the death of her husband. Word has it that the baby also fell ill with the dreaded fever and died a short time later. The small farm began to fall into decay. The crops in the fields fell prey to wild animals and vandals, since there was no one to harvest them. The house and the family barn began to lean and sway due to the lack of repairs on them. Tall weeds grew up in and around the small yard of the old place. Only a small path led from the back of the kitchen out to the old well, located at the edge of the grown-up field.
Those that passed along the narrow dirt road continued to see the tall white-haired lady, dressed in her long sack dress, with a large bucket in hand going to and from the well, traveling the narrow pathway through the tall weeds and grass of the grown-up field. And, those who say the tall lady wondered just how she survived there on the abandoned and unkempt farm. No more did smoke twirl from the old rock chimney on the chilly mornings and late hours of the winter evenings.
No one was ever seen around the decaying log house except when the tall lady went to the well at the edge of the nearby field. And, no one never knew the whereabouts of the son that chose to join the cause of the Confederacy. As far as anyone knows, he never returned to the small farm located on the high ground known as Locke Hill. Did he fall in battle or did he choose to settle elsewhere when the bloody war was over? The events as to what happened to the young man to this day remains a mystery.
No one knows either, just what happened to the tall lady with the snow-white hair. Some said that she just vanished. Others said that she continued to stay in the old fallen down house there in the grown-up field, leaving the old house only for her daily trip to the well at the old field’s edge.
There are those of today, who hunt wild game in the area, that say that the ghost of the tall lady with the snow-white hair has been seen walking along a narrow grown-up pathway, out to the old abandoned well site. Walking with a large bucket in hand, she walks up to the well and proceeds to draw water from the old caved in and abandoned well. And, there are others who say that they have seen a tall slender lady dressed in a long sack dress kneeling beside the tomb of an unknown Rebel soldier back up in the thick woods aways, quite some distance across the grown-up fields from the ruins of the abandoned log cabin.
I have been to the grave of this unknown Rebel soldier many times. Each time I visit, I feel that I am not alone. A strange feeling comes over me. I feel that I am being watched. What is the mystery of this unknown Rebel and the ghost of this woman? Did the only son of the tall white-haired lady return from the war wounded or sick, only to die and be buried by her atop the hill there in the woods? And, does the spirit of this mother return at times to her only son’s grave for a time of meditation and togetherness? Does she still walk the faint path to the old abandoned well with her bucket for her daily supply of water? Perhaps, one day, somewhere beyond the sunset, we will know the answer. As for now, we can only speculate, as the ghost lady continues to walk the path that leads into the deep and dark shadows of the unknown.
(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from 1964 to 1987. He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)