Tennessee is the home of one of the most famous ghost stories in American History.. the Infamous Bell Witch. In all of the annals of supernatural research, never does a ghost appear with the sort of ferocity and mystery present in this case.
GHOSTS OF THE PRAIRIE
Of course, that's not to say that the Bell Witch Case is the only haunting present in the state of Tennessee, far from it. Not only is the state rich in the haunted history of the region, but a number of major Civil War battles have also been fought here... and they have left a little bit of their tragedy (and their ghosts) lingering behind. I hope you enjoy the locations and tales presented below. The first section is especially devoted to the Bell Witch, from the original stories to the haunting still said to linger today!
CLICK ON THE HIGHLIGHTED LOCATIONS FOR MORE INFORMATION!
Check out the information about Troy Taylor's book on the Bell Witch haunting, Season of the Witch: History & Hauntings of the Bell Witch of Tennessee
Click Here for more Information
The Legend of the Bell Witch
Click Here to Read about America's Greatest Ghost Story
Want So See Something Really Strange?
Carter Farm Investigation
Bigfoot, Bogeymen & Ghosts?
by Jerry Coleman
As mentioned already, Tennessee is a very haunted place and it is filled with stories of hauntings that show no discrimination when it comes to places, times or seasons of the year. Some stories are not even tales of continuing haunts... like the tale of the bizarre event that occurred at the New Hope Missionary Church in Big Springs one day in the late 1800's. One morning during a service, a smoking barrel suddenly materialized and rolled down the aisle by itself. Then, it vanished, leaving behind a thick and acrid smoke. The congregation was terrified and no trace was ever found of the barrel. Hundreds of curiosity-seekers descended on the small community but the weird incident was never repeated.
Spirits of the Civil War
Some of the most chilling haunted places in the state are spots that were marked by the epic battles of the Civil War. In the southeast corner of the state is the Chickamauga Battlefield, a bloody battleground where thousands of men lost their lives. There are many legends told of the place, including that of "Old Green Eyes", a frightening apparition that is said to still walk the battlefield today.
Another haunted scene can be found near Murfreesboro at the Stones River Battlefield. Both the history and the hauntings of the battlefield are bloody and frightening and especially sad, as strange stories mark this holiday season battle from the Civil War.
In Franklin, the Civil War left its mark on two very different houses, although both of them have weird tales to tell. Although the story of Carnton Mansion is one of the most poignant in the history of Tennessee during the war, there is no story more tragic than the haunting at The Carter House. These are dark tales that you won't soon forget.
Ghosts of Nashville and the Music City
One of the most famous cities in Tennessee is Nashville, home of the Grand Ole Opry and the capital of country music in America. Not surprisingly, even the world of country music is sometimes plagued by ghosts. In a part of town called Music Row, the site of the old Jacob Schnell Mansion (now home to Capitol Records in Nashville) is bothered by otherworldly guests. Staff members and visitors in the building that was constructed on the site have reported strange voices, phantom footsteps, bizarre acting electronic equipment, cold spots and more. Most feel that the resident ghost is the former owner of the land, now resentful of the new trespassers on his land.
And the connection between ghosts and country music does not end there. Many people have come to believe that the famous Ryman Auditorium is also haunted. Spirits of the past are often reported here and some even tell of the infamous Grand Ole Opry Curse, which has taken the lived of many music makers of days gone by.
Even some of country music's most famous personalities have been known to be haunted by ghosts. One of the most famous entertainers, Loretta Lynn, even owns a haunted house in a place called Hurricane Mills. Her personal encounters with the haunting have been known to chill the spines of the most hardened skeptics!
Some of Nashville's ghosts come from the historical past of the city. There are few names more closely connected to the history of Tennessee than that of Andrew Jackson. Years ago, rumors spread that his home called The Hermitage was haunted. Thanks to one terrifying night that was spent in the house by several ladies who planned to renovate the place... the legends of the Hermitage ghosts live on!
Another historical haunt from Nashville is the State Capitol Building, which had a long history of a violent feud that many believe continues on after death!
But Tennessee's hauntings are not confined to the cities. In a remote area of Johnson County is a place called Fiddler's Rock, where eerie, high-pitched screams have given birth to legends of ghosts. The wild regions of Johnson County have also spawned stories of a place called Songo Hollow. It is believed to have become haunted back in the 1860's. At that time, it was home to a man and his wife but when the gentleman was killed in a fight, his wife committed suicide by plunging a hunting knife into her abdomen. Their ghosts have lingered here ever since.
Chapel Hill is the site of the one of the South's most famous ghost lights. Here, at the L & N Railroad Crossing, hundreds of witnesses have reported seeing a glowing ball of light appear along the tracks. No one knows why the light appears here although some have linked it to the disappearance of a woman here in the 1940's. The suspect in her death later committed suicide and the light began to appear shortly afterward. The light is seen near a dirt road that tales a sharp dip as it crosses the L & N tracks west of town. Witnesses say that the light is most often seen when facing north.
One very strange story of Tennessee involves (of all things) The Phantom Monk who is said to have haunted a doctor's office in Charleston. This twisted tale dated back to a railway accident that occurred during the Flood of 1867.
One of Tennessee's unsolved mysteries involved the death (murder or suicide) of the famous explorer Meriwether Lewis, who was known for his role in the Lewis and Clark Expedition of the west. Lewis was traveling along the Natchez Trace near the present-day site of Gordonsburg when he met his death. Rumors still linger as to what may have happened... as well as his ghost!
In Blountville, there is a building that has been haunted since the 1940's by a ghost named "George". He inhabits a one-story brick building that is home to the Sullivan County News. During working hours, the front door of the offices opens and closes by itself and the apparition of a man in a gray suit has been spotted repeatedly entering the back door. One former editor even fired a gun two times at the mysterious figure! No one knows for sure who he might be.
The area around Ducktown plays host to at least one haunted copper mine. The Isabella Copper Mine has been abandoned for years but it is said that the desperate cries of lost miners can still sometimes be heard coming from the depths of the shafts. The men lost their lives here in the 1890's, when a fresh air pump failed.
The mining region also boasts a haunted roadway called the Copperhill Mine Road. For years, a phantom wagon train has been spotted on the road between Copperhill Mine and Chattanooga. The drivers are said to be the ghosts of men who hauled copper ore along the old trail. Life expectancies here were often short as many of the drivers were ambushed and killed. Their spirit still continue to haul the ore from this world to the next!
A strange mystery of Cleveland involves the Craigmiles Family Mausoleum, which is connected to a tragic tale of the area. Follow the link above for an excerpt from Troy Taylor's book Beyond the Grave and find out about this "haunted" landmark.
The Watauga River Bridge that spans the river between Elizabethtown and Watauga Lake has long been believed to be haunted. Witnesses claim to have encountered a ghoulish phantom here who has been seen wearing a monk's robe and who has a skull for a face. Reports from the bridge date back to the 1930's, when two young lovers were stabbed to death beneath the bridge by a deranged killer. The evil presence has since been seen under the bridge and near Stony Creek.
Located in Johnson City is one of the most haunted schools in the south. East Tennessee State University boasts scores of ghosts, from the dorm rooms to the class rooms. It is filled with strange stories and unearthly tales!
Another haunted school is the University of the South in Sewanee. Here, the ghost of a headless student (dubbed the "Phantom Gownsman") roams the buildings on campus. Students who have been inducted into the Order of the Gownsmen wear dark robes as part of their academic attire and stories persist that the ghost is a member of the group who was decapitated in a car accident many years ago.
The city of Kingsport is home to two different enigmatic ghost tales. The first is one of the most famous in the region and involves a historic, private home called Rotherwood Mansion Detailed in the documentary called Ghost Waters, Rotherwood was the home of Frederick Ross and his daughter, Rowena, whose ghost has been seen here for decades!
Also hailing from Kingsport is the story of the Netherland Inn Road and the ghost of Hugh Hamblen. For many years, a phantom antique Ford has been haunting this road. The car is sometimes reported lying turned over in the middle of the road or skidded off to the side of the road. At other times, the car does not appear, but the ghost of Hugh Hamblen does, waving and signaling to drivers and warning them to slow down. Hamblen was killed on this road (which runs along the waterfront near the Tennessee Eastman Plant) one foggy night in 1922 while walking. He was sadly following the route where his son had been injured in an accident a short time before. Tragically, he was struck by a car and died.
The city of Memphis is not stranger to ghost stories and hauntings. One haunted (private) dwelling is the Bellebois Mansion, just outside of town. The apparition of Raike Gaston, known as the "Longest Boy in Tennessee" has been seen here, as well as in the woods and along the roads nearby. Born in 1815, he was the illegitimate son of a gambler who earned a reputation around Memphis as a rake and ladies man. He was said to be very tall reportedly by the time he was 18, he was six feet, ten inches tall and had sired a number of illegitimate children. At age 29, he inherited Bellebois Mansion from his father, but refused to live there and gave it away to a distant uncle. A few years later, Raike froze to death in a ditch and his spirit still roams the countryside, unable to put down roots.
Of course, one of the most famous site in Memphis is Graceland, the home of legendary singer Elvis Presley. According to some reports, the ghost of Elvis still inhabits the house where he died and is buried. Of course, to believe this story, you have to believe that Elvis is actually dead and not working in a gas station or flipping burgers in a diner in Michigan!
One of the most active haunted sites in Memphis has always been the Orpheum Theater. This playhouse is reportedly haunted by the ghost of a little girl who was run down on nearby Beale Street. She has been seen and encountered by dozens of witnesses.
One of the most controversial of the Tennessee hauntings that I have featured on this page has been that of Tennessee High School in Bristol. I have received scores of emails from people. Some claim that the site is haunted and that they have personally encountered the ghosts... while others say there are no ghosts here at all! What do you think???
Sources & Recommended Reading:
Season of the Witch by Troy Taylor (1999)
The Infamous Bell Witch of Tennessee by Charles Edwin Price (1994)
Haunted Tennessee by Charles Edwin Price (1995)
More Haunted Tennessee by Charles Edwin Price (1999)
Haunted Jonesborough by Charles Edwin Price (1993)
Haints, Witches and Boogers by Charles Edwin Price (1992)
Strange Tales from a Dark and Bloody Ground by Christopher Coleman (1998)
Haunted Places: The National Directory by Dennis William Hauck (1996)
13 Tennessee Ghosts & Jeffrey by Kathryn Windham Smith (1987)
Ghost Lights & Other Encounters by Randall Floyd (1993)
The Ghostly Gazetteer by Arthur Myers (1990)
Spirits of the Civil War by Troy Taylor (1999)
Haunted Houses USA by Joan Bingham and Dolores Riccio (1989)
Ghost Stories from the American South by WK McNeil (1985)
Haunted America by Beth Scott and Michael Norman (1994)
Haunted Houses by Richard Winer and Nancy Osborn (1978)
Personal Interviews and Correspondence
© Copyright 2001 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.
Return to the Ghosts of the Prairie Home Page