Sunday, October 30, 2016

Five new locations added to list of 'Spookiest Places in Monroe County'

Second floor of the Claiborne Masonic Lodge at Perdue Hill.
Halloween is just one day away, and in the spirit of that ghostly holiday, I present to you today my seventh annual list of the “Spookiest Places in Monroe County.”

As with previous editions of this list, I compiled it after discussing the subject with a number of the county’s lifelong residents and individuals well versed in the county’s long history. Without further ado, here’s the list:

- Alabama River: Rumored to be the home of “Two-Toed Tom,” a giant killer alligator that was mentioned in Harper Lee’s most recent novel, “Go Set a Watchman.” Supposedly, this monster gator’s name comes from the fact that this massive alligator lost all but two of his toes in a steel trap. Also, somewhere along the river between the Claiborne Lock & Dam and the sandbar at Bailey’s Creek, witnesses have reported seeing a giant snake dubbed the “Mocca-Conda,” which is said to be a water moccasin the size of an anaconda.

- Bailey’s Well: According to George Singleton’s classic, “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” this well is located by an ironwood tree in a field at Franklin and is also known as the “Well That Won’t Stay Filled.” Curbed by old, handmade bricks, no one knows who originally dug the well, which has supposedly been abandoned since the early 1800s. Numerous attempts were made to fill it with rocks, track, junk and timber logs, but all of those items disappeared without a trace, leading some people to believe that the well connects with an underground river or that its bottom is filled with quicksand.

- The Bradley House: Located just off Upper County Road 17 at Franklin, this old dog trot-style house, which was constructed sometime in the 1800s, and is said to have been the site of multiple deaths, including at least one suicide. Former residents, claim that ghostly visitors come into their rooms in the middle of the night and unexplained knocks and bumps can be heard throughout the night. Eerily, many of the home’s previous occupants are buried in a family cemetery located just a stone’s throw from the home’s back door.

- Bradley Ridge: George Singleton, Monroe County’s pre-eminent paranormal investigator, had numerous experiences in this once “thriving community,” which was located off the Ridge Road north of Monroeville. The area is supposedly haunted by the ghost of an old man carrying a large sack who is always seen walking east near an old abandoned cemetery. Singleton also witnessed a phantom rooster and dog in the area, smelled cooking food, saw “several glowing balls” and heard disembodied voices, including the voices of “several small children, laughing and calling as though they were playing a game.”

- Butterfork Creek Bridge: Located on State Highway 59, a mile or so west of downtown Uriah, this bridge serves as a way for travelers to go between Uriah and the Palmers Crossroads community in south Monroe County. More than a few motorists over the years have repeatedly reported seeing a woman in dressed in white on the bridge. Most report seeing this ghostly woman on the east end of the bridge.

- Claiborne Bluff: Said to be where Leopold Lanier of Burnt Corn and the Indian maid Winona, the daughter of Indian shaman Prophet Francis, leapt to their deaths after being confronted by 12 Indian warriors who were ordered to kill Lanier. This was said to have happened during the heyday of Fort Claiborne, a two-acre military fortification constructed on the bluff during the Creek Indians War. This high bluff is also believed to have been the site of the ancient Indian village of Piachi, which was visited by Spanish explorers DeSoto and DeLuna.

- Claiborne Masonic Lodge: Located now at Perdue Hill on U.S. Highway 84, this building, pictured above, is the oldest existing manmade structure in Monroe County. Built in 1819 at Claiborne, this building was used as a courtroom, town hall, church, school and one of the earliest Masonic lodges in the state. Visited by Revolutionary War hero, Marquis De Lafayette, in 1825, this building was moved a few miles east to Perdue Hill in 1884. Lafayette was the last surviving general of the Revolutionary War at the time of his visit. This building was also used for Ku Klux Klan meetings at one time during its history.

- The C.L. Hybart House: Located on Hybart Drive in Monroeville, this restored 1920s house is one of Monroe County’s most distinctive buildings. Built in the manner of a Mediterranean Spanish villa, including stucco, tile and columns made with stones from Limestone Creek. Now owned by the Monroe County Heritage Museums and operated under the name of the “Hybart House Museum and Cultural Center,” this reputedly haunted residence was built by the late Charlie Hybart, a colorful local attorney who became known for holding lavish parties that were attended by VIPs and politicians from all over the state.

- Davis Ferry: Singleton described the night he spent at the base of a cliff near the ferry at the site of an old Indian camp on the east side of the Alabama River. Singleton awoke in the middle of the night to see what he called the “Night Walkers,” a number of ghosts that walked in a single-file line by his campsite. Each carried a bundle on his back and moved down the hill in a single-file line towards the river.

- The Devil’s Bowl: Located about three miles off of State Highway 21 in the vicinity of the Megargel and Goodway communities, this geological oddity is a pool that’s about 30 feet in diameter. Also called “The Devil’s Soup Bowl,” no surface stream feeds this freshwater pool of deep, dark water, which is said to be one of “Monroe County’s strangest sights.” Locals claim that this pool is bottomless. Possible explanations for its existence vary from an ancient meteor impact to the idea that it’s the shaft left behind by dead volcano.

- Dr. Watkins House: Located on the west side of County Road 5, about 1-1/2 miles north of Burnt Corn, this house was built in 1812 and was once the residence of Dr. John Watkins, the only doctor between the Alabama and Chattahoochee rivers. Watkins is said to have treated the wounded from the Fort Mims Massacre at the house in 1813, and some sources say Andrew Jackson spent the night there when he passed through the area on his way to the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.

The ghost of Watkins has reportedly been seen standing in the doorway to one of the home’s first floor bedrooms and the top of the front porch is painted with traditional “haint paint” to keep spirits from entering the home. Perhaps the most bizarre thing to occur in the house in recent memory took place in the wake of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 when loggers fled the house after hearing a woman scream. Others who’ve stayed at the house have complained of the uneasy feelings they get from artwork inside the house, including an original painting of a woman carving a Jack o’ Lantern.

- Franklin: “Ghost lights” have been reported in this community north of Monroeville for years, and on May 6, 1971 Singleton saw a “mysterious ball of fire” that was “in and around the area across Flat Creek on the right of Highway 41.” Singleton saw “almost at tree-top level” a “glowing ball of reddish blue flame, floating southward at a lazy pace.” It was about 12 inches in diameter and looked like a “clear, plastic balloon with some type of light inside.” Similar “ghost lights” have also been reported in the Finchburg community.

- Gin House Bottom: Located north of Monroeville, near the intersection of the Ridge Road and State Highway 41 (formerly called the Camden Highway), there were once a number of stores and family residences in this area, which took its name from a local cotton gin.

Also in this area, a tale sprung to life about a headless horseman that was seen by a number of county residences.

“On moonlit nights, when one could see, the headless rider could be seen riding the road along Gin Bottom Road,” George Singleton wrote in one of his Monroe Journal columns. “This was a common sight to the men who had to travel the road late at night after a hard day at the cotton gin. I have been told that on several occasions, the horse and rider would pass so close to a traveler that he could try to reach out and touch the headless rider.”

- Kelly Mill Mercantile Store: Located in the Dottelle community, this store was constructed in the 1920s and has been fully restored as a museum. Witnesses since the store’s restoration have reported a wide variety of unusual tales about the building, including the unexplained opening and closing of windows. Others have reported seeing the faces of people looking out of the store’s windows late at night when the store is obviously closed and locked up.

- King Plantation House: Featured on two episodes of the Travel Channel’s “The Dead Files,” this 9,000-square feet Greek Revival Style house was originally located at Packer’s Bend in the northwest corner of Monroe County. Built by the nephew of U.S. Vice President William Rufus King in the late 1850s and early 1860s, it was moved to Uriah by former state legislator Eugene Garrett in 1965.

Creepy tales abound about this house, where supposedly a number of the King family passed away within its walls from yellow fever that was brought home by a family member who served in the Civil War. In “The Dead Files” the house’s owner said she feared her life was in danger from being attacked by the evil spirit of a man who once lived in the house.

Located on State Highway 59, about half a mile from the intersection of Hwy. 59 and State Highway 21, it’s said that this house has the broadest fa├žade of any plantation house in Alabama.

- Klepac’s Old Store: Located near the intersection of the “old Franklin road” and the Ridge Road, and also known as the “Oak & Ash” for a giant oak and an ash tree that grew side by side and was one of the better known landmarks in the area. The trees are gone now, but were so close together that a horse could barely be rode between them. In the early 1900s, a man was hung from the oak tree.

- Locke Hill: A high hill located east of the Red Hills Cemetery, where hunters and other witnesses claimed to have seen the ghost of a tall lady with snow-white hair, walking along a narrow pathway to an old abandoned well. Others say they have seen the ghost of a tall, slender lady dressed in a long sack dress kneeling beside the tomb of an unknown Confederate soldier in the thick woods near the ruins of the abandoned log cabin.

- Louisville and Nashville Railroad Train Tunnel at Tunnel Springs: This abandoned train tunnel is now home to hundreds of thumb-sized bats. Completed in 1899, this 840-foot-long tunnel was built by four crews of 15 men each working day and night using simple equipment. One crew is said to have worked from the north side while the other worked from the south. The story also goes that a number of workers died during the construction of this eerie tunnel.

- McConnico Cemetery: Large cemetery, located off Monroe County Road 1 at Perdue Hill, containing some of the count’s oldest graves. According to “Haunted Places: The National Directory” by Dennis William Hauck, this cemetery is the setting for the county’s best known ghost story.

“The phantoms of 12 Union horsemen have been seen riding near this old graveyard,” Hauck wrote. “Captain and Mrs. Charles Locklin witnessed the ghostly parade in autumn of 1865. The Locklins were in their carriage early one morning when two columns of six soldiers on gray horses passed by on each side of them.

“Each member of the eerie troop wore white gloves, with his hands crossed on the pommel of his saddle, and every one wore a white bandage wrapped tightly around his head. The two respected citizens were certain they had been victims of Confederate solider Lafayette Sigler, who ambushed Northern patrols, killed them and cut off their ears. Sigler’s collection of Yankee ears was said to have been quite impressive.”

This first encounter with the ghost soldiers is also said to have occurred on Mount Pleasant Road and sporadic sightings were reported over the hundred years.

- Midway Cave: Large limestone cave located near the Midway community in northeast Monroe County, located near the Midway Fire Tower, about 200 yards off the road. Singleton says that the cave is 50 feet across and 20 feet deep with a roof blackened by the smoke of a thousand cook fires.

- Monroe County Public Library: Located on Pineville Road, this building houses over 60,000 volumes and is located in the former LaSalle Hotel. The library has been in this location since 1984, but the building is located on one of the oldest parcels of land recognized for continuous usage in Monroe County. In the past, the property has been used as a stable, various homes, a Methodist parsonage and as the LaSalle Hotel. Its famous guests included actor, Gregory Peck, who visited Monroeville during the 1960s.

More than a few library patrons have claim to have had unusual experiences on the library’s second floor.

“Once you leave the bright, sunny ground floor and climb the stairs to the second floor, where many of the former rooms were located, you just get a creepy feeling all over. Like most hotels, this building probably saw its fair share of visitors from all over, and I think that a few of them just decided to stay.”

- Mt. Pisgah Cemetery: Located off Wildfork Road (Monroe County Road 18) between Frisco City and the Wildfork community, this cemetery serves as the final resting place of hundreds of former community residents. Variations of the story exist, but more than a few people have reported parking at this cemetery late at night and when conditions are just right a mysterious red ball of light will emerge from the tree line on the east side of the cemetery. The ball of light is most often described as “basketball-sized” and reportedly travels from the trees towards the parked vehicle.

- Monroe Journal: Located on Hines Street in downtown Monroeville, many longtime employees report having heard a wide variety of unusual noises in the older part of the building. Employees there have chalked these noises up to the ghost of a man who died in the back part of the building decades ago. Who is to say if this is true or not, but one thing is for sure: Few employees will dare to visit the back part of the building alone and after dark.

- Mount Pleasant: Site of Monroe County’s only Civil War “skirmish” and said to be the site of a mass grave of 40 to 50 Confederate soldiers. The area is now supposedly haunted by the ghost of Mary Watkins, who roams the countryside with a lantern and shovel searching for the body of her husband, Cpl. Ezekiel Watkins. She’s also said to wear an old Rebel overcoat over her shoulders.

- Nancy Mountain at Haine’s Island: Located off Monroe County Road 17 at Franklin, this locale is the site of one of the county’s most enduring ghost stories, the story of “Crazy Nancy.”

Variations of this story exist, but the most common version says that the ghost of a woman, “Crazy Nancy” or “Aunt Nancy,” can be seen walking up and down the hill to Davis Ferry in hopes of meeting her son and husband who were claimed by the Civil War, never to return. Witnesses say that this female phantom is seen walking with a lantern (or long walking stick) in one hand and with a bucket of water in the other.

According to George B. Singleton’s book, “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” you’ll know this spirit by her long, gingham dress, her old bonnet and the long, white hair that hangs out the back of her bonnet and all the way down to her waist.

- Narrow Gap: This community, located just northeast of Uriah, is said to be the site of tales about huge balls of light that travel along roadways and up the trunks of large trees. This mysterious light is said to favor a large oak tree that’s about 150 yards from the Qualls Cemetery on George Williams Road. Longtime residents of this community also claim to have seen the ghost of a woman in a long dress and wearing a bonnet. This ghostly woman is said to always be seen walking toward the cemetery, and some have theorized that she is the long dead wife of Andrew Jackson Qualls.

- Nettles Auditorium at Alabama Southern Community College: Located in Monroeville, this building seats almost 900 people and is often the preferred venue for large community events. Former students and workers at the college claim to have heard unusual sounds at odd times as well as the unexplained malfunction of lights and other electrical devices. Others claim to have heard an unseen “entity” walking down the aisles, making his (or her) presence known by the scraping of their feet along the carpet. Witnesses have also reported hearing the loud pop of a seat back being slapped by unseen hands as well as the unexplained unlocking of door locks that should have been secured.

- Old Claiborne Cemetery: Located off of U.S. Highway 84 at Claiborne, Singleton remarked that almost everyone buried there was under the age of 50 at the time of their death. Cemetery includes many yellow fever and small pox victims, including Emily N. Bagby, the wife of Alabama governor Arthur P. Bagby. She was 21 years old when she died of yellow fever during a visit to Claiborne in May 1825.

- Old Frisco City High School Building: Located on School Street in Frisco City, this building was constructed in the early 1920s and served the community for decades before closing in 2009. Some passersby claim to see lights on inside the building late at night when no one is there. Others claim to have heard strange noises coming from the tunnel that runs beneath the school’s main building.

- Old Lois Wiggins Home Place: This old home place, located north of Monroeville, just off State Highway 41 and near Limestone Creek, burned down a number of years ago, but for years members of the Wiggins family and others reported hearing the sound of a small baby crying in the woods near the house. Family members and others searched off and on for the source of the sound for years, but never found anything. The child sounded like it was in pain and the cries grew louder the darker it got at night.

- Old Monroe County Courthouse: Nicknamed “America’s Most Famous Courthouse,” this building was constructed in 1903 and is now one of the most often photographed buildings in the state. From 1903 to the construction of a new courthouse in 1963, this building housed most county offices and was the center of the county’s court system. It’s most famous for being the model of the courtroom seen in the trial scenes in the movie version of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Now the home of the Monroe County Heritage Museums, frequent quests say that the upstairs part of the building can get very creepy on quiet nights. “Things blow in the breeze but there is no breeze,” one man said. “You hear sounds that don’t belong, and I have smelled pipe tobacco smoke when no one was smoking or even there to be smoking.”

- Old Scotland: Not far from the old Davison burial ground in this community, witnesses have claimed that the ghost of a wounded and sick Confederate soldier haunts the road near a bridge over a large creek in this area. Supposedly, this lone Rebel soldier camped under the bridge for four or five months, surviving on wild berries and small fish from the creek. One day, he disappeared, but witnesses claim to have seen his ghost, always walking west on the bridge.

- Pine Orchard: Located in northeast Monroe County, this community is the home of the “Mystery Stones.” These 12 circular stones found near Lone Star Church. Singleton theorizes that the site was a “huge, prehistoric Indian village” and that the stones may have been part of some ancient calendar. This community is also the site of multiple sightings of a Bigfoot-like creature and witnesses, including a local minister, have reported seeing the creature on more than one occasion. Unusual noises, rock-throwing and other activity in the community have been attributed to the creature.

- Red Hills community: Witnesses over the years have reported seeing a strange, disembodied “face that glowed like a huge jack-o-lantern.” Other witnesses described it as a “huge, red ball” that moves up and down before disappearing into a ravine. Singleton claimed to have personally seen this unusual phenomenon personally in October 1990. This community is also the location of a rock overhang said to have sheltered Confederate deserters during the War Between the States. Visitors to this overhang report unusual feelings, including the feeling that they’re being watched.

- Rikard’s Mill: Located about five miles north of Beatrice, this fully restored 19th century grist mill is currently owned and operated by the Monroe County Heritage Museums. Constructed over Flat Creek, multiple witnesses have reported seeing “shadow figures” pass in front of the mill’s windows when the mill was completely empty and no one else was in the area. Other witnesses have reported the unexplained sighting of a woman floating down the creek in a pink coffin.

- The Robbins Hotel Site: Used for years as a hunting club, this historic former hotel located in downtown Beatrice, adjacent to town hall, burned down in October 2012. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this hotel was located just off the Louisville and Nashville Railroad and was operated for many years by Miss Minnie Robbins. The hotel’s patrons were largely made up of railroad travelers, and the hotel featured 14 rooms, each with a fireplace.

- Robinson Creek Bridge: Located four miles northwest of Old Scotland Church on John Shannon Road, old-timers say that this bridge is haunted by the ghost of a wounded and sick Confederate soldier that died while camping out beneath the bridge during the War Between the States. Most often reported during the early morning hours or in the late evening, the soldier is reported to always be seen walking west, never east, on the narrow road near the bridge. He is always seen wearing a torn and dirty Confederate uniform, witnesses say.

Before I close this think out, I want to make perfectly clear that more than a few of the places mentioned above are located on private property, so if you get the idea to visit any of these places (especially at night), you’d better get permission first or run the risk of trespassing. Also, if you plan to visit any of these places, especially cemeteries, respect your surroundings.

In the end, contact me if you know a good local ghost story or have information about a spooky location in Monroe County. You can reach me by calling 578-1492, by e-mail at or by mail at The Evergreen Courant, ATTN: Lee Peacock, P.O. Box 440, Evergreen, AL 36401.

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