Ghost stories and ghostly events echo from the banks of our rivers and the front porches of our historic homes. An antebellum home with a restaurant now known for pie but originally filled with ghostly whispers is but one example. Read on to learn where you’ll get the best boo for your buck. (And good pie, too!)
Haunted by a woman seen floating past its windows, this 1827 antebellum home was turned into a fine dining hall in the mid 1980’s. Try their famous Black Bottom Pie, one of Alabama’s “100 Dishes to Eat Before You Die.” Owner Betty Kennedy believes there are several ghosts at the site. One night, someone was heard calling out from the empty kitchen. Other spooky tales include the sounds of a baby crying (one was accidentally smothered in the home), the smell of pipe smoke, and the image of a tall, thin man with a long beard dressed in dark clothing. http://www.wilcoxwebworks.com/gr/
According to legend, a young woman with a passion for piano died here. She was unable to be returned home promptly for burial. Her music sometimes still echoes through the house on quiet moonlit nights. Another of Gaineswood’s tales was the love affair between a woman and a French count that ended in a broken heart—and death. The woman’s body was buried in the cellar. Footsteps have been heard creeping up those basement stairs.
Screams, yells and whispers, so the story goes, emanate from the well. The site is rumored to sit atop an old Indian burial ground. It is also the site where a gallows was once erected and two different courthouses were burned to the ground.
Former Sturdivant Hall owner John Parkman was accused of shady dealings and cotton speculation during the Civil War. He was sent to prison in 1866. Parkman was fatally wounded during a jailbreak attempt staged by friends. But he had vowed never to leave his beloved Sturdivant Hall until his name was cleared.
Strange happenings have been seen ever since, including howling winds, a ghostly male figure, objects that move on their own, the creaking of footsteps when no one is there, and doors that mysteriously open and close. In addition to the Parkman haunting, two ethereal little girls have been seen gazing out an upstairs window.
According to a report in the Mobile Advertiser, the Tombigbee River steamboat Eliza Battle was destroyed by fire on the river near Pennington, on March 1, 1858. Roughly 33 people were killed, many freezing to death in the cold waters of late winter. Sightings of the burning steamboat just north of Pennington to Nanafalia downriver are still considered an ill omen for current vessels.
The vision of an old woman, Nancy, can be seen walking down a path to the river, according to writer Josh Dewberry. Nancy lived at a small farm with her husband and only son before and during the Civil War. Her son joined the Confederate cavalry and soon died in battle. His body was never returned home. Broken-hearted because she was unable to give him a proper burial, Nancy would walk the road at night distraught, an act she does, so they say, to this day.
No matter the location, you are sure to find a spooky encounter when visiting Southwest Alabama. To experience these creepy locations yourself, check out our online calendar. To get a fright right from the comfort of your house, visit the Ghost Trail video page to watch first-hand accounts from real storytellers of their time visiting these haunted homes.
The area’s most beloved ghost storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham (1918-2011) brought many of these stories to fame in her books, including the classic 13 Alabama Ghosts. You’ll see her breathe life into these and other ghost stories on the Ghost Trail video channel, too.