Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sugoinsville, TN - New Providence Church

New Providence Presbyterian Church is located in Sugoinsville, TN, just off Highway 11. The church was founded by the Reverend Charles Cummings and the Reverend Samuel Doak in 1780. In the churchyard is an ancient cemetery that contains graves which date back to the early 1800s. If you visit the place, it seems like the perfect place to be haunted.
Of course it is supposed to be haunted. According to legend, the giant White Oak tree in the yard is where the infamous John Murrell robbed and murdered a family (See Long Dog). Many other strange activity has been reported under the tree. Ghostly images and voices can sometimes be heard. Some people have nicknamed the tree "Booger Oak."

Among the graves in the cemetery is the grave of Colonel George Maxwell, a Revolutionary War soldier. Colonel Maxwell died in 1822, and since then his grave is said to be guarded by a black dog. No one knows if the dog was his pet in life, but it (or it's spirit) supposedly guards the grave today. When seen, the dog is said to disappear. It's also said that as you approach Maxwell's grave at night, a flock of birds will erupt and fly away. It's also said that one can hear footsteps in the leaves following them around.

Surgoinsville, TN - The Legend of Long Dog

Along the highways of Upper East Tennessee, a ghost is said to roam. This isn't just any ghost however, it's the ghost of a dog. "Long Dog" what it's been named, and it's known to roam along the highway around Surgoinsville after dark, looking for it's long dead master. Long Dog sightings have been going on for over 150 years, and though they aren't as common today, they still do occur.
During the 1820s or 1830s law and order was hard to come by, especially on the Tennessee frontier. As a result, there were many outlaws who roamed the area, robbing anyone who passed by. Probably the most notorious was John Murrell. Murrell loved to rob anyone who passed by on horseback or in a carriage, and always killed the people he robbed. One night a family camped under an oak tree, and John Murrell killed them all, even the family dog who tried to protect his family.

It wasn't long after this event that people passing through began to see a strange dog. It was very long, and ghostly. It scared many people, but anyone who ever got a look at it knew it didn't mean any harm. It always looked so lonely. It would run alongside wagons, and occasionally jump onboard, as though he were looking for someone.
Today, there aren't nearly as many Long Dog sightings as there once were, due in large part to everyone driving much faster on the highway than they did during pioneer days. Still, there is an occasional sighting. We all know that the bond between a boy and his dog can be very strong, and this dog is still looking for his master.

Manson, TN - Old Trinity Church

Old Trinity Episcopal Church is located in rural Tipton County, Tennessee, just outside of Mason. It was founded in 1847 in the place of Saint Andrew's Church, which had burned two years earlier. For over 150 years, it has stood peacefully on the countryside.
Today, descendants of the original members make an annual pilgrimage to the church every Trinity Sunday. The church is also well maintained and the graves taken care of. Sadly, this has not always been the case. For many years, the church was not as well taken care of, and the church and the cemetery was vandalized by a small Satanic cult. No one knows why the cult chose to desecrate this church, but they did. They broke most of the gravestones, and vandalized the church building, which is now being restored. The vandalism apparently happened many years ago.

Perhaps this tragic history plays a role in the unexplained phenomena said to resonate from the church. Behind the  church there is a statue of the Virgin Mary which serves as a gravestone for a woman who died in 1912. It is said that this statue bleeds from the eyes and neck. Perhaps it isn't bleeding, but is crying because of all the horrible scenes it has witnessed.
Aside from this rather unusual occurrence, there are also stories that the church and the cemetery are haunted. People have reported seeing strange lights and hearing noises. Local lore says that the people buried in the cemetery are distressed over the vandalism of their graves.

Nashville, TN - Tennessee State Capitol Building

William Strickland, the renowned American architect who designed the Tennessee Capitol moved to Nashville to oversee the construction expecting to be gone only a short time. Strickland died in Nashville in 1854 still awaiting the completion of the building which had been started in 1845. To honor Strickland, the state of Tennessee entombed him within his masterpiece. Some years after construction was completed, the same honor was bestowed upon Samuel Morgan, chairman of the State Building Commission and the man who had overseen construction. It is said that Morgan’s desire to finish the project under-budget clashed with Strickland’s desire to realize his masterpiece and the two bickered constantly. Indeed, after the two were entombed in the same tomb the sound of two men bickering began to be heard. Even recently, security guards have been disturbed by loud shouts near the tomb.
But the two fighting ghosts are not the only ones witnessed within in the Tennessee Capitol. When the Union occupied Nashville during the Civil War, the capitol, built on the highest hill in the city, was fortified and cannon placed around the building. A small skirmish did occur when rebels attempted to seize the fortress. A Union sentry, possibly related to this conflict has been seen patrolling the grounds and has angrily approached people moving furniture, breaking things or even vandalizing the grounds. On the grounds of the building is the tomb of President James K. Polk and his wife Sarah where a darkly clothed man, possibly Polk himself, has been seen kneeling while the specter of First Lady Rachel Jackson, wife of President Andrew Jackson, is said to appear in the cupola of the building.

Nashville, TN - St. Mary’s Catholic Church

Formerly St. Mary of the Seven Sorrows, St. Mary’s was designed by William Strickland who would later design the state capitol (see below). During the Civil War, the building served as a hospital and according to some sources, some 300 men died on the floors of the church. But, the spiritual activity seems to surround a spectral priest who was seen starting during the Great Depression. Some have identified the spirit as that of Bishop Richard Pius Miles, first bishop of Nashville, whose tomb was discovered in the church in 1969 and he was reburied within the church. According to some the activity ceased after Bishop Miles’ reburial.

Spring Hill, TN - Rippavilla Plantation

Like Savannah’s Cherry Mansion, Rippavilla Plantation in Spring Hill hosted a general on the eve of a major battle, this time Confederate General John Bell Hood and his staff before the Battle of Franklin. After recent investigations of the house by Volunteer State Paranormal Research, one investigator described the house as “the most active site I have ever visited.” Investigations of the house have produced numerous EVPs as well as some personal experiences.

Memphis, TN - Orpheum Theatre

Perhaps one of the more well-known, even famous, ghosts in the state is the girl, Mary, who haunts Memphis’ Orpheum Theatre. The Orpheum anchors one end of the “infamous section” of Beale Street while the Hunt-Phelan House anchors the other. The legend of Mary states that she was killed when she was hit by a car on Beale Street in 1921 and took up residence in the original Orpheum Theatre before it burned in 1923. The current theatre opened in 1928 and still hosts Mary’s antics. She has been seen and heard throughout the theatre.
This is one of the most beautiful theatres that you will enter that has an amazing sound.  There is not a bad listening seat in the house.

Memphis, TN - Hunt-Phelan House

Marking the Lauderdale Street end of the infamous section of Beale Street where Blues music first developed, the Hunt-Phelan House has just as infamous a history. Built in 1832 by George Wyatt, during the Civil War the house was used a headquarters for Confederate General Leonidas Polk while planning the Siege of Corinth, Mississippi and a few months later after the fall of Memphis, the house was headquarters for Union General Ulysses S. Grant while he planned the Vicksburg Campaign. The house then served as a Freedmen’s Bureau and was finally returned to the family by President Andrew Johnson in 1865. More recently, the house has been opened as The Inn at Hunt-Phelan featuring four-star accommodations and restaurants.

As with a house this old and historically important, it does have some legends. Among them is the legend of servant, Nathan Wilson. In 1873, during the height of a yellow fever epidemic, the Hunt family fled Memphis and entrusted a chest of gold to their faithful servant. He was later found dead in his room but the mud on his boots indicating he may have buried the gold before he died. Stories have emerged that his spirit is still seen and will guide people to his treasure.

Savannah, TN - Cherry Mansion

Kathryn Tucker Windham in her 13 Tennessee Ghosts and Jeffrey recounts an interesting occurrence at the Cherry Mansion in 1976. A trio of young people was sitting on the mansion’s porch around 11 PM when a man in a white suit and a wide brimmed hat walked up to the historical marker in front of the house. He stood there for a few moments reading the marker then vanished to the shock of the trio on the porch. This was neither the first nor the last of many strange incidents in the long history of this 1830 house. The owners of the Cherry Mansion during the Civil War were staunch Unionists and opened their home to the generals whose army was camped at nearby Pittsburgh Landing. It was here that General Ulysses S. Grant was having breakfast when he heard the opening shots of the battle that would take its name from a small church nearby, Shiloh.
Two Union generals would die in this house: one wounded in the battle, another cursing the fate that did not allow him to attend to the battle. There is a possibility that both of these men’s spirits still linger in the halls of Cherry Mansion. A figure that resembles a Union officer has been seen staring out a second floor window and the sounds of heavy footsteps have been heard on the porch.

Knoxville, TN - Bijou Theatre

Originally constructed as a hotel, the building that now contains the Bijou Theatre is oldest commercial structure in Knoxville still in commercial use. The building opened as the Knoxville Hotel in 1817 and operated as a hotel for nearly a century. During the Civil War, the hotel, then the Lamar Hotel, served as a hospital and it was here that Union General William P. Sanders died. Possibly some of the deaths and trauma that occurred during this time has left an impression on the building. The hotel was converted into a theatre in 1909 and has hosted live theatre and operated as a pornographic movie house in the 1960s and 70s. Preservationists restored the building for use as a theatre and it remains as such today.

It appears that multiple spirits remain in the theatre. In addition to performers and patrons who have had experiences in the theatre ranging from voices to apparitions, paranormal investigators have recorded EVPs and captured activity on film and video. Among the spirits that apparently haunt the building are a young girl, a stage technician, The General (possibly the spirit of General Sanders) and a construction worker.