|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 “Halloween may come and go but spirits of past remain” was originally published in the Nov. 2, 1995 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)
As the finals days of October pass into oblivion and the pale light of the Hunter’s Moon casts its ghostly shadows across the crisp night skies, the stories of ancient spirits that continue to roam the area still come to mind.
Although Halloween has passed from the scene, the spirits of another time yet roam the abandoned roads and old home places and cry out from the past, begging to be remembered.
As the cool autumn winds push forth the lengthening shadows across the hill country of this area, the hair-raising stories of the supernatural, passed down from generation to generation, take on a special meaning. And the local tales of ghosts and wandering spirits cause the hair along the back of the neck to stand up and tingle.
The cool nights and the effects of the creeping shadows cause a feeling of adventure and a desire to go forward to seek and discover. It is a desire to see for myself the specters that roam the deliriums of darkness in the forgotten places where life and happiness once prevailed.
To lie hidden by an old, abandoned road in the northern part of this county on a pale, moonlit night and wait for the clatter of hooves as the headless horseman rides through the midnight air is beyond describing. The cold feeling of damp air as the horse and rider pass close enough that you can reach out and almost touch the sweaty sides of the galloping horse will make the blood run cold.
Or maybe lie beside another abandoned road in the pale hours of shadowy darkness and listen for the sound of the wheels of the phantom stagecoach as it makes its midnight run along this path of yesteryear. Watch as the driver of the stagecoach reels to and fro as he sits atop the driver’s seat, nodding to the rhythm of the rattling harness of the phantom horses.
As the stagecoach passes your hiding place, look into the window of the stagecoach into the eyes of the lady who is wearing a bonnet as she slowly raises a gloved hand in a faint gesture of a ghostly greeting. Listen as the stagecoach rumbles down the steep, curved hill and hear the iron tires of the coach’s wheels rattle across the old, abandoned bridge that tilts dangerously from neglect high above the large creek there in the shadowy moonlight.
Mysteries of the past
If by now you have not had your fill of the mysteries of the past, you might want to visit the hanging tree or sit atop the hill where the ghostly wailing music of a phantom organ ridges the winds. Listen as the ghostly music floats across the high hill as the late evening sun vanishes in the western skies.
Or perhaps you would like to see the ghostly mystery lights that roam the areas of Franklin and Finchburg in the quietness of the dark hours of the evening.
Then, as the grand finale, you can chose between the famed ghost riders or listen to the wailing of the crying child as the sounds of an infant in distress fade into oblivion in the deep woods behind an old, abandoned homestead.
Or, sit in the quietness of a certain cemetery within the county, and wait there in the dark hours of the early morning to watch the tall, ghostly gentleman in the top hat walk among the markers in search of the grave of his long, lost love.
Watch him as he kneels by the grave marker near the middle of the cemetery. Watch him as he removes his top hat and bows his head as though weeping at the loss of his loved one. Continue to watch this ghostly spirit as it slowly gets to its feet, taking a few steps away from the grave of his bride for a day, only to disappear from view.
Tales of the supernatural
Each of the tales of the supernatural brings to mind the thoughts of a little-known poet of the area, as the following words play on the imagination:
Walk with me into the past
That was yesterday.
Hold my had for I fear;
The evening winds sigh with mystery,
And the ghosts of an earlier time
Speak of their tragedies.
Do not take lightly those tales of misfortune
For, somewhere in time, you, too,
May join the ranks of those who wander
In the night and ride
Forever on the winds of oblivion.
The ghosts and spirits of the past do not appear and disappear with the coming and going of Halloween. Whether it be spring or autumn, winter or summer, these wandering spirits continue to roam the areas that they were associated with in their past lives.
You cannot witness these ghostly, mysterious happenings sitting in the living room in front of the boob tube. To witness these happenings, you have to be willing to sacrifice many hours of being alone. You have to be wet and cold, be eaten up by insects, have the living daylights frightened out of you. Hours and hours of waiting are only a minor sacrifice. Call it what you may, another dimension, a parallel to the unknown, or whatever, but there is something that is yet to be searched out and explained.
When you speak of spirits or ghosts, our society most times tabs that individual as stupid or ignorant. Most always we look at this individual as a person whose “bread isn’t quite done.” But, take it from me, if you spend the time in search of the supernatural, somewhere along the dim trails, in the shadows of yesterday, these spirits of the past await for whatever reason.
Black Elk, a medicine man of the Lakota Sioux Indian tribe during the late 1800s, was said to be an authority on the mysterious ghosts of the past. He was asked about the spirit world and the meaning of death. His answer was, “Death, there is no death, only a change of worlds.” Perhaps, these words have more meaning than we will ever come to realize.
(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 Monrsoeville 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.)