Halloween is just 11 days away, and in the spirit of that ghostly holiday, I present to you today The Courant’s seventh annual list of the “Spookiest Places in Conecuh 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:
· Bloody Bones Well: A short distance north of the Old Flag Tree on Old Town Church Road in the Old Town community, you’ll find an old home place with an old-style well in the backyard. Local tales about this site have been passed down for at least the past half century and say that a creature known as “Bloody Bones” lives in the well. Supposedly, if you venture too close to this well at the wrong times of the day or month, “Bloody Bones” will drag you down into the wet darkness.
· Church’s Chicken: Located on West Front Street in Evergreen, this is one of Evergreen’s best places to stop for fried chicken. However, some former employees say the restaurant’s haunted and what many readers may not know is that the restaurant was built on top of the spot once occupied by a large, two-story house that served for many, many years as Evergreen’s only funeral home. The house, which saw an untold number of funerals, was torn down decades ago to make way for the restaurant building.
· Conecuh County Department of Human Resources Building: Built on the site of the county’s old poor house, convict farm and a former World War II German prisoner of war camp, DHR workers claim to hear the sound of unexplained footsteps in the halls, especially in the building’s north wing, late in the day and after hours. Other employees have had their hair “blown back” by unexplained forces, and others claim to have seen the ghost of a “lady in a long, drab skirt.” Others claim to have seen the ghosts of “women walking with laundry” and the unexplained sounds of “clanking dishes.”
· Conecuh County High School Building: Former teachers at this Castleberry school claim to have heard, after school hours, the unexplained sound of running footsteps in the building’s attic when no one else was in the building. Built in 1936, this building now houses the Conecuh County Junior High School.
· Evergreen-Conecuh County Public Library: Staff members at the library have had a number of unusual experiences in the building, which is located on Cemetery Avenue in Evergreen. Unusual occurrences at the building include unexplained temperature drops, thumping noises and the sound of someone coming up the stairs when no one is there. Staff members have also found lights on that should have been off and books “turned topsy-turvy” or misplaced on shelves as well as items on the floor, even though things had been in their proper place when they closed the building the day before. Other library workers claim to have seen a ghost outside on the library grounds. They describe this ghost as a young girl, wearing what looks like turn-of-the-century clothing and riding breeches, standing next to a phantom horse.
· The Evergreen Courant Office: Located on Rural Street in one of the oldest buildings in downtown Evergreen, unexplained noises can be heard during the day and after hours. Long time employees at The Courant jokingly say that the noises are just former employees who don’t know that they’ve passed their final “deadline.”
· Flat Rock: Purported to be the home of Pukwudgies, that is, two-to-three-foot-tall troll-like creatures from Indian folklore that resemble humans. Witnesses say that they have large ears, fingers and noses and smooth, grey skin. Native Americans believed it best to leave these creatures alone because they were said to shoot poison areas, start fires and lure people to their deaths.
· First Evergreen Cemetery: Small cemetery located in Evergreen, just off Main Street, about a 1/4-mile south of the old Evergreen High School location. Contains some of the city’s earliest graves, including several unusual-looking unmarked vaults made with handmade bricks. Many of the cemetery’s graves are unmarked.
· Gallows Hollow: Located north of Lyeffion near the intersection of the CCC Trail and the Sepulga River, it’s where outlaw brothers Irvin and Stephen Ward were hung for the murder of Allen Page on Nov. 18, 1859. After the hanging, the old gallows were not removed following the execution and it stood for many decades as a reminder of the tragic murder at Fork Sepulga. The location of that murder and hanging, where the old gallows stood, was known thereafter as “Gallows Hollow.”
· Greasy Bottom Cemetery: Located near the intersection of U.S. Highway 31 and Jaguar Drive in Evergreen, this cemetery is said to contain between 300 and 500 graves, most of which are unmarked. Several of these graves are surrounded by “spirit cages” that are painted with light blue “haint paint” and are believed to keep ghosts near their graves. Oddly, most Evergreen residents are unaware of this large cemetery despite its size and location near one of Conecuh County’s busiest highways.
· Hawthorne House Site: This residence, which was located in Belleville and burned down in 2003, was used as a hospital for individuals injured in a train collision in October 1862 and as a hospital for Confederate soldiers hurt near the end of the Civil War. Many in the Belleville community believed that the Hawthorne House held the lingering spirits of countless Confederate souls. Lights, televisions and other modern conveniences in the home would often malfunction for no apparent reasons.
· Interstate 65: The 40-mile stretch of the interstate between Evergreen and Greenville was designated “The Haunted Highway” in the book, “Haunted Places: The National Directory” by Dennis William Hauck. Book claims that this section of highway is haunted by the spirits of displaced Creek Indians and has resulted in an “accident rate that is well above average.”
· King’s Crossing: This railroad crossing, located at the intersection of West Front Street and Belleville Street in downtown Evergreen, has been the site of countless accidents and deaths during the past century. At one time considered the most dangerous railroad crossing in Alabama and one of the most deadly in America, Evergreen Mayor Pete Wolff told The Mobile Press-Register in October 2013 that the crossing was “almost like a ghost crossing. It just invites people to run into trains, and not only do they pull in front of them, they even run into them from the side sometimes. We’ve had people that walked on the tracks and been run over. Sometimes a train will come and you can’t hear it. There’s just something weird about it.”
· Monster Road: The traditional nickname of what was also called the Hagood Road, which once connected Conecuh County Road 29 and Brooklyn Road, southeast of Evergreen. No one can say with any certainty how this road came to be named “Monster Road.” In May 2012, the Conecuh County Commission officially closed a portion of this road, three miles north of its intersection with Conecuh County Road 29.
· Murder Creek Bridge on I-65: Site of numerous unusual accidents over the years, including several that have resulted in fatalities and catastrophic fires. One big-rig driver claimed that he struck the bridge after a ghost horse-drawn carriage crossed the interstate in front of him. Others have reported seeing large, panther-like cats cross the highway in this area.
· Old Beulah Cemetery: One of the county’s oldest cemeteries, which contains a number of old fashioned headstones and monuments. The cemetery is located near the intersection of Hagood Road and County Road 29, southeast of Evergreen.
· Old Carter Hospital: Located on Burnt Corn Street in Repton, this was once the only hospital for a hundred miles in every direction. Closed in the mid-1950s, when Monroe County Hospital opened in Monroeville, this structure has seen more than its fair share of pain, sickness and death.
· Old Castleberry Bank Building: Located in downtown Castleberry at the intersection of Cleveland Avenue and West Railroad Street, this building is said to be haunted by the ghost of a former bank president who committed suicide there during the Great Depression. A former employee who worked there in the 1980s said that she and fellow coworkers would hear a man’s voice even when there were no men in the building and would often catch an unexplainable whiff of cigar smoke. Objects inside the bank would also get moved around overnight while the bank was empty, employees said.
· Old Croom House: Located on North Main Street in Evergreen, this antebellum house is said to be haunted by the “Grey Lady,” the ghost of a woman supposedly has haunted this house for almost a century. In recent years, at least two women visitors to the house have reported seeing the ghost of a woman standing in the bathtub in the home’s master bathroom. Others claim to hear ghostly music in the house while others have heard tales of a ghostly woman who sings softly while rocking in a rocking chair.
· Old L&N Train Depot: Located in downtown Evergreen and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, this 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.
· Old Sparta Site: According to “Shadows and Dust, Volume II” by Kevin McKinley, this is the location of a haunted well. The story goes that whispers can be heard coming from the well, which may have been constructed near the burial grounds of some long since removed Indian tribe.
· Pine Orchard: This community on the border of Conecuh and Monroe counties is 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. This community is also the home of the “Mystery Stones of Pine Orchard,” that is, wheel-shaped stones of disputed, possibly Native American, origin.
· Sanders Cave: Large cave located about 3-1/2 miles northwest of Brooklyn. According to the June 1, 1967 edition of The Brewton Standard, it’s believed that Joseph Thompson Hare’s gang of robbers buried gold in the cave. Hare’s gang, which was organized in New Orleans in 1801, robbed overland travelers from New Orleans to Pensacola. Hare was eventually hanged in Baltimore in 1818 for robbing a U.S. Mail coach.
· Sepulga River: Multiple reports of a Bigfoot-type creature have been reported along the length of this meandering river, especially near Travis Bridge and Staples Bridge. Reported sightings of this creature date back as far as 2004, and multiple sightings of the creature were reported during the 2016 calendar year, garnering attention from Bigfoot investigators across the Southeast.
· Shipps Pond: This 43-acre lake is located between Castleberry and Brewton. In 1862, during the Civil War, plantation owner Henchie Warren supposedly sank a chest of gold and other valuables to the bottom of the lake to hide it from Union troops. Over the years, many have unsuccessfully tried to find this hidden chest, and a number of people believe that Warren’s chest of gold remains there today, waiting to be discovered beneath layers of black mud.
· Stoddard House: Said to be the most haunted location in all of Conecuh County, this one-story brick house is located south of Evergreen on U.S. Highway 31, near the Alabama Department of Transportation office. Former residents claimed to have endured a wide variety of unexplained experiences, including the sound of footsteps in the attic, knocking on walls, a baby crying, disembodied voices and seeing ghostly figures. Members of the Delta Paranormal Project’s Alabama Chapter investigated the home in January 2013 and reported that they believe the house is haunted by at least one spirit and maybe as many as three.
· Weaver Pond Road: Located near the Conecuh-Escambia County line and Weaver Pond and L Pond, game cameras in this area in October 2011 captured an unexplained “ghost image” of a man walking through the wooded area. Individuals living near L Pond said the person in the photo looks like Pott Weaver, who once lived in the area but passed away in 1984 - 27 years before the picture was taken. This ghostly image was so mysterious that The Mobile Press-Register published a full-length feature story about the unusual photo in its Oct. 31, 2011 edition.
Other nominees for the list have included the Baggett Cemetery in Castleberry, the old Civil Air Patrol Building in Evergreen, the Hampden Ridge Cemetery near Old Fort Autrey, the Old Evergreen Hotel site in downtown Evergreen, the Old Huggins Grist Mill site at Cohassett, the old Price Hotel-Stagecoach Stop at Owassa, the Old Pritchett Home in Evergreen, the old Ray Brothers Store site near Travis Bridge, the Old Red Wine Bridge near Castleberry and the Old Ward Plantation.
Before I close this thing out, I want to make perfectly clear that more than a few of these places are more than likely 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, get up with me if you know a good local ghost story or have information about a spooky location in Conecuh County. You can reach me by calling 578-1492, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at The Evergreen Courant, ATTN: Lee Peacock, P.O. Box 440, Evergreen, AL 36401.