Columbus, Mississippi is an old town on the Tombigbee River in the eastern part of the state. As with most of the old southern river towns, it got its start, and prospered, shipping cotton from the numerous area plantations down the river to Mobile. The state capital was moved from Jackson to Columbus during the Civil War, making it a location filled with both history and southern lore. The city is one that hangs onto its past and because of this, is well-known for its colorful resident ghosts.
The most famous ghost in Columbus is that of a kindly old lady who lived almost all of her life in an antebellum home called Errolton. Her name was Nellie Weaver Tucker and she was the only daughter of of the home's original owner, a merchant named William B. Weaver.
Her father spent a small fortune in building the house. The exterior of the house was praised as one of the finest designs in the city with fluted columns, arches and spacious verandahs. The inside was decorated in imported finery and made the perfect social setting for the beautiful, young Nellie. She gained a wonderful reputation as the perfect hostess and was well-liked by her friends and admirers.
One of the young men who sought her hand was Charles Tucker, and fireman, and eventually they were married in 1878. Nellie was so happy that on the day of her wedding, she scratched her name with her diamond engagement ring into the window glass of the south parlor. Sadly, this happiness was short-lived. For some unknown reason, Charles left his wife and their daughter, Ellen, just a few years after their marriage.
Nellie and Ellen remained at Errolton. To support her family, Nellie started a private school for children but this small amount of money was not enough and by the time that Nellie passed away in the 1930's, Errolton had fallen into ruin. It was said that during the last few years of her life, Miss Nellie quietly rocked on the front porch, telling stories of the old days to anyone who would listen. She never noticed the condition that the house had fallen into.
The house was purchased in 1950 by Mrs. Erroldine Hay Bateman, who was an accomplished artist. With the help of her son, they set about to repair the decades of decay and decline which had fallen onto the house. It was Mrs. Bateman who christened the house Errolton.
During the renovations, she found the etched word NELLIE in the pane of glass in the west window of the south parlor. Not much attention was paid to the name. She knew the sad stories of Miss Nellie. Unfortunately, during the renovations, a workman dropped a ladder against the window and accidentally shattered it. The window was replaced and the incident forgotten.
By the mid-1950's, the restoration was complete and Errolton regained its fame as one of the city's finest homes. Douglas Bateman, Erroldine' son, moved into the house with his wife, Chebie. She was an avid decorator and one day was working in the south parlor. She happened to look up, as the sun was shining brightly through the window, and she noticed some scratches on the window glass. When she looked closer, she saw the scratches spelled out the name NELLIE. It was written exactly the same as the original signature, in the same window and in the same spot..... although the real glass had been broken several years before!
They had no idea how this could have happened and although no other sign of her ghost has appeared, the Bateman's always believed that the spirit of Miss Nellie had placed her "seal of approval" on the restoration of the old house.
Columbus is located in east central Mississippi at the junctions of highways 45 and 82. Errolton is a private residence located just north of town.
Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor
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