Thursday, April 28, 2016

Kathryn Tucker Windham visited Evergreen, Alabama on April 30, 1977

A look through my notes earlier this week reminded me that this coming Saturday will mark 39 years since one of Alabama’s best known (and spookiest) authors visited Conecuh County to share a few ghost stories at the Old L&N Depot in downtown Evergreen.

According to the April 28, 1977 edition of The Courant, a flea market and antique auction was scheduled to be held the following Saturday (April 30) and the event was to feature “an appearance by the noted author, Mrs. Kathryn Tucker Windham, who has written ‘13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffery’ and other books. She will tell ghost stories and autograph copies of her book.”

This event was sponsored by the Murder Creek Historical Society and proceeds from the event were to be used by the society to help restore the depot, which was the society’s main project at the time. Members of the society included Gladys St. Amant, Harriet Hyde, Judy Hyde and Ouida Salter. Joe St. Amant served as auctioneer during the event.

Over the years, I had several chances to meet Kathryn Tucker Windham, but for various reasons, I regrettably never took advantage of those opportunities. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a big fan of her books, especially “13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffery” (1969) and “Jeffrey's Latest 13: More Alabama Ghosts” (1982). When I was child, our elementary school library had copies of both of these books, and I’d venture to say that they were about the most well-worn books in the entire library.

Old L&N Depot in Evergreen, Ala.
Windham passed away in Selma at the age of 93 during the summer of 2011, but her memory lives on among the many fans of her books. Windham wrote about spooky locations all over the state and over the years, I’ve had the chance to visit many of these places myself. Some that I found to be genuinely creepy were Old Cahaba, the Gaineswood plantation house in Demopolis, the Pickens County Courthouse in Carrollton, Sketoe’s Hole in Dale County, Pratt Hall at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, the grave of Grancer Harrison in Coffee County, the Boyington Oak in Mobile and the McConnico Cemetery at Perdue Hill.

I thought it was interesting that Windham ended up speaking at the Old L&N Depot during her visit to Evergreen, because this historic building also has a reputation for being reportedly haunted.
As a Halloween feature each October since 2010, I’ve put together a list called the “Spookiest Places in Conecuh County.” I compile this list each year after discussing the subject with a number of the county’s lifelong residents and individuals well versed in the county’s long history. Without fail, each year, folks have always mentioned the depot as one of the “spookiest places” in the county.

Located in downtown Evergreen and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the depot building is over 100 years old. Thousands of people passed through this train station during its heyday, and former employees have shared tales about hearing unexplained noises in the building at all times of the day and night.

One former Chamber of Commerce employee personally told me that she would often hear unusual noises in the depot when she knew for a fact that no one was in the building. She said that she didn’t believe in ghosts until she began working in the Chamber office at the depot and would tell anyone who would listen that the building is haunted. She no longer works in the Chamber office at the depot and said that she was glad to have found a job somewhere else in town.

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