Monday, February 8, 2016

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 257: Visit the grave of Grancer Harrison

The grave of Grancer Harrison near Kinston, Ala.
The story of Grancer Harrison, aka “The Dancing Ghost,” is one of the most iconic ghost stories in Alabama history, and many Alabama residents have become familiar with his spooky story through Kathryn Tucker Windham’s classic book, “13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey.” Windham devoted an entire chapter in her book to the tale of Grancer Harrison and also included photos of his grave in the Harrison Cemetery near Kinston.

I’ve read the tale of Grancer Harrison many times over the years, and I’ve always wanted to see Harrison’s grave for myself, which is why I put a trip to his grave on my bucket list several years ago. Yesterday, I found myself with a few hours to kill, so my son and I made the short drive to Kinston and got an up close look at Harrison’s tomb.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story of Grancer Harrison, he was a large plantation owner who moved to Alabama from South Carolina in the 1830s. Harrison loved to have a good time, and he was known far and wide for his barbecues, horse races and dances. Harrison loved to party so much that he eventually had a large dance hall constructed near his farm.

Time passed, and as the time of Harrison’s death approached, he had his slaves prepare his tomb a short distance from his large dance hall. The story goes that, even in death, Harrison wanted to be close to the dances and parties yet to come, and he was buried there (complete with his dancing shoes) when he passed away in the 1860s. Sadly, with Harrison now dead, the local dances and parties faded in popularity and soon came to an end. It just wasn’t the same without fun-loving Grancer around.

It was around that time that things took a turn for the spooky. According to Windham’s book, people began to hear “the eerie sounds of fiddling and dancing coming from the cemetery” where Harrison was buried. Other witnesses claimed that they could hear the voice of a man calling out square dances and music coming from the cemetery.

My son and I visited the Harrison Cemetery on Sunday afternoon, and even in the bright sunshine of a crisp February afternoon, the cemetery still put off a strong, creepy vibe. Although Harrison’s grave isn’t marked with his name, we knew what it looked like and where it was located thanks to pictures of it in Windham’s book and photos of it we found online. We checked out Harrison's grave closely and also placed a couple of quarters atop the grave along with all the other items visitors have placed there over the years.

During our time there, we didn’t experience anything out of the ordinary. We didn’t hear any unusual music or ghostly voices, but who’s to say what we would have experienced had we stayed longer. In all, we probably spent about 20 minutes in the cemetery, and we left more than a little pleased to have scratched this ghostly field trip off our list of places to see for ourselves.

In the end, how many of you have visited the grave of Grancer Harrison? What did you think about it? When did you visit this location, and who were you with? Did anything out of the ordinary happen? Let us know in the comments section below.

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