By Jim Miles
Ghost Roundup: Dallas
The old Paulding County Courthouse in Dallas was constructed in 1892. Many trials were held there, and many lives altered. During the 1930s a local woman was happy to marry an Atlanta man from a prominent family. However, after learning that he belonged to a criminal organization, she tried to leave him.
“Her husband ended up murdering his wife in an area between Dallas and Yorkville and cut her body into pieces to the point she could not be identified,” said Dale Willbanks, former president of the Paulding County Genealogy and History Research Library, now housed in the former courthouse.
The husband was eventually arrested and brought to Dallas. On the first day of his murder trial, his wife’s two brothers intercepted and killed him on the grounds.
Perhaps the spirit of the man is still active in the building.
In 2009 a new courthouse opened and the Research Library was allowed to meet in a first floor room of the otherwise vacant historic building.
Almost immediately, members heard footsteps on the second floor. Occasionally, some of the hardier members ventured upstairs to investigate, only to find nothing. When they returned downstairs, the sounds resumed.
“What we have heard upstairs in the past, in addition to footsteps, is that of furniture being moved, seemingly across a wooden floor,” Willbanks told NeighborNewspapers on October 28, 2014.
Most peculiar was the fact that the courthouse originally had wooden floors, replaced many years earlier with concrete.
“I believe the old courthouse is haunted,” Willbanks concluded. “I believe there are restless spirits in this place that have some unfinished business here.”
One time the paranormal sounds were so loud, “I looked up at the ceiling in our room and shouted, ‘Go toward the light and your relatives will meet you there.’”
As she admitted, “I was just tired of it.”
Things were a little quieter afterwards, but the sounds are still heard, said new president Patsy Cole. “They even hear footsteps in the daytime.” Much of the upstairs is now occupied, and the sounds are less prominent. But the spirit might have developed a new repertoire.
Since the building has central heat and air, the windows are always closed. However, “we sometimes feel cold air come across us even when the room is warm,” Willbanks said.
Ghost Roundup: Newnan
In March 2012 Jan Stout bought her dream home, a split level in Cedar Creek in northern Coweta County. The structure needed work, which she did herself, repairing, replacing, cleaning, and painting.
Three months later Stout entertained her friend Beth Greene and her boyfriend. While showing the kitchen, Stout believed she heard a female voice in the next room, which was empty.
As she checked her phone, she saw Greene doing the same. Stout asked her friend, “Did you hear a woman speaking?” Alex McCrae wrote in the May 13, 2013 issue of the Newnan Times Herald.
“Yes,” was the reply, but the man had heard nothing. “It wasn’t a big deal,” Stout concluded, “I didn’t worry about it.”
At a later date she heard an alarm and found the kitchen door opened. She decided a storm the previous evening was responsible. Then, the event she could not reconcile occurred. As she sat in her living room in August, she heard a loud “bang” in the kitchen. Investigating, she found a ball rolling across the floor. That ball had been resting quietly in a basket atop the microwave.
“I knew this one couldn’t be explained away. I was there when it happened. And I don’t know what made it move.”
One September day she turned off the lights, locked the house, and drove off. Glancing back, she saw that lights were blazing upstairs. Reentering the house, she found that the lights were on in the master bedroom, where the ceiling fan was operating at full speed.
“I got angry. I told it running up my electric bill like that is not permitted. I said, ‘If you’re gonna party like that you need to leave some money for electricity on the counter.’ I don’t mind them being here, but I wasn’t going to have them messing with my electricity.”
There were additional incidents, but when Oliver, her new dog, barked furiously at nothing, she called in the professionals. Roswell Georgia Paranormal Investigations (RGPI) agreed to look into her problem. They arrived at dusk on March 30, 2013.
Stout pointed out scenes of supernatural events, then the team set up their technology while she waited on the porch. The investigators caller her in for an EVP session.
“I was so excited my heart almost went through my chest. I said yes.”
“Is there a presence in this room,” a ghost hunter asked, apparently employing a “ghost box” device. Several seconds later, “If someone is with us, please tell us your name.”
Several seconds later, the device said “Charles Ward.” Stout did not recognize the name, but “I was freaking out. But I loved it, too. It got me really excited.”
Soon Oliver the Dog raced upstairs barking furiously. The researchers decided that a presence was in the room.
Two weeks later RGPI called Stout. “They said the EVP recorder had picked up two things we couldn’t hear at the house. I couldn’t stand it.” The first was the word “No,” the second “Coco,” which chilled her.
“It took my breath away when I heard that. Coco was the name of my long dead cat.”
Stout thought some “might think I’m crazy for doing this but I wanted to know what’s going on.”
Some folks “look at your funny when you mention ghosts. Especially when it’s in a subdivision and not an old house. But some strange things have happened here.”
After she learned that places, things, and people could be haunted, she said, “Who knows? Maybe I’m the one who’s haunted. That would be fun.”
In 2008 Christina Barber wrote Spirits of Georgia’s Southern Crescent, centered around Newnan. She and daughter Gillian now conduct paranormal investigations. In October 2014 they investigated Stairway to Heaven, a Newnan antique shop on Jefferson Street, according to Clay Neely in the October 24, 2014, issue of the Newnan Times-Herald.
Owner James Johnson described a ghostly hand that touched customers on the shoulder. At other times, merchandise flew off shelves and fell in the center of the room.
Barber had gotten stories there when it had been a costume shop, and returned with Gillian when it was opened by a woman as an antique store. The owner told Barber about “strange noises and items falling off the countertop.” One day a nine-year-old girl had wandered alone into the back room and emerged to say, “she’d just seen a girl with a doll, yet there was no one else present.”
Barber’s EMF meter “went wild.” They turned it off, moved away, and returned to the counter, “and it went all the way to the top, beeped loudly, and flashed red constantly.”
Back in the car Barber noticed what looked like a reddish streak of dried blood on Gillian’s leg. The girl “hadn’t a clue” of its origin. Sometimes spirits scratch to say hello.
Ghost Roundup: Americus
Albany TV station WALB visited the Windsor Hotel in Americus in 2014 and discovered additional stories about the hotel palace there. Of the house keeper mother-daughter ghosts: “The housekeeper and her daughter Emily Mae and Emma, they were pushed down an elevator shaft in the early 1900’s by the mother’s lover,” confided Tara, an employee. Emma likes to race down the halls at all hours.
“I was a bit of a skeptic until I started working here and I think you kind of just see one too many things you can’t explain.”
The third ghost is that of Floyd, the doorman, who not only haunts the hotel, occasionally he continues with his duties.
“We’ve had people tell us that some gentleman has helped them with their luggage and we don’t have a doorman anymore,” Tara continued.
According to Sharad Patel, owner of the Windsor, people often say things like, “My wedding ring moved from this table to that table or my door was open and now it’s shut. The list goes on and on.”
Ghost Roundup: Tifton, Part 1
I discovered an article from the Tifton Gazette dating to December 7, 2005, describing several of Tift County’s better known ghosts.
The Tift Theater opened in 1937 as an Art Deco facility with over 650 seats. After it closed in 1987, the community rallied to the preservation cause and it reopened in 1992 to feature live shows, concerts, and big screen movies. The theater lives, and so does at least one long deceased patron.
“I have no doubt that there is something in there,” said Brenda Shaw, director. “I’m not scared of it, but you definitely feel something when you go in there.”
The story, according to Shaw, dates back to 1947 when a young couple from Irwin County quarreled following a date to the theater. After the girl demanded to be taken home, the boy told her that he would wait for her at the theater the following Saturday night. If she was there, they could continue their relationship, but her absence would tell him that it was over.
“Then the Saturday rolls round but tragically the boyfriend, while on his way to the theater, was killed in a car crash. We think that he’s still wandering the theater waiting to see if his girlfriend will ever show up to fulfill her end of the bargain.”
The ghost has interacted with Shaw several times, but “I just tell him to go away or to leave me alone and he does.”
One night after closing she looked through the theater to ensure it was empty. She locked the concession stand, switched off the lights in the auditorium, and locked the entrance doors. Remembering she had left something, she reentered the auditorium to find the lights back on.
“The only other light switches were upstairs in the control booth so I headed up there thinking maybe I left someone up there. But when I got there the door was locked and the switches were off.”
Shaw’s son was standing in the auditorium aisle when he felt a strong burst of cold air striking him. However, it was summertime and the air conditioning was broken. He felt as if a person had brushed him in passing, although no one was around. He immediately left the theater.
While cleaning one day, an employee realized she had left a bottle of Windex in the dressing room. After thoroughly searching the area, she climbed the stairs for a new bottle. Returning to the dressing room, the previous bottle had made a reappearance-on the opposite side of where she had been cleaning. She also believed in the ghost of the Tift Theater.
“He’s a friendly ghost,” Shaw concluded. “So he’s no big deal.”
Holly Catanzarita and Joe Stinson were skeptics when they first entered the world of paranormal investigation, but personal experiences convinced them otherwise.
“I believe I was touched the first night I went out,” Joe said.
“There have been occasions where I do get touched,” Holly said. “I don’t like it. And, then you will feel a cold kind of deep down in your skin. It will last for a little while and eventually fade.”
Most of their encounters have occurred at the Georgia Agrirama, a recreated village of the past collected in Tifton. At the Tift House, constructed by Captain Henry F. Tift and transported to the park, it appears that Mr. and Mrs. Tift arrived with their former residence.
“There’s always something going on in this house,” Holly said. “Always feel a presence here.” Joe agreed, saying, “I always feel like I’m being watched in this house.”
One time the ghost hunters left the house for a break, a photograph of Mrs. Tift on its usual position on a mantel. Upon their return, they found the picture turned 90 degrees. Holly believes the former lady of the house wants people to know that this was once her home.
The duo have heard plenty of phantom footsteps in their time investigating, particularly on stairs.
Holly and Joe will ask the ghosts to make their presence known.
“Many times the silverware will be moved” around the dining room table. “I asked them to move a dining room chair one night,” she continued. They waited, hoping the chair would move in front of them, but nothing happened.
They moved to another room for several seconds, and soon heard the sound of a chair moving on a wooden floor. “We came back in and found the chair pulled back.”
On one occasion they left a night vision camera running before leaving. Later, the tape revealed that the video suddenly disappeared, but the sound remained, catching something or someone stumbling over an equipment box.
While reviewing videotape, they once discovered a face in a window of the house, perhaps a former resident, dead nearly a century.
After an investigation, one of the investigators will say, “Thank you. We’re going to leave for the night, but you must remain here. You are not allowed to go with us. Good night.” That seems like a reasonable precaution. Hopefully the spirits can still take direction.
Haunted Country Church
Tift County has another ghost story, this one at Hickory Springs Baptist Church, a common tale told of churches located in rural areas. According to local lore, people drive up to the church at night, extinguish their headlights, and slowly drive around the cemetery until a ghost light appears and follows the vehicle. It vanishes when the intruders leave the vicinity of the church.
Also, when intruders attempt to steal a Bible from the church, it gets progressively heavier as they near the door until they can no longer move the book another inch. It is never successfully removed from the church.
On Ghosts of America, Christina described “a nasty little poltergeist” that plagued her apartment, part of an old Victorian house on 6th Street. At first life there was normal, but “things slowly started changing. I would find pennies everywhere and my IPod would move randomly.” A phantom ran up and down the stairs outside her place, and for hours on end cabinet doors in the empty apartment next door would slam. “Random knocks would ring throughout the house.”
Christina finally broached the subject with her downstairs neighbors, to learn that “things would move around in their apartment,” particularly toys for their small dogs, and securely latched cabinet doors opened randomly. She concluded that “something is in this house and is not leaving anytime soon.”
Lisa’s grandmother lived at the original home site, although the house was reconstructed in the early 1900’s following a fire. When Lisa was eight, she spent a night there. They ate at seven, watched TV until ten, and then retired to a front bedroom. As they lay in bed talking, “we heard what sounded like someone was dragging the chairs at the kitchen table.”
That furniture was old and heavy, not lightly moved. Lisa asked her grandmother what it was, and the response was “that it would end soon.” Since the commotion didn’t concern her granny, Lisa fell asleep.
In the morning, when they went to the kitchen for breakfast, “all the chairs at the table were pulled away as if 4 people had moved them in order to sit down and didn’t put them back.”
Lisa never spent another night there. Her father currently lives in the house, but “I don’t like being there alone.”
Ghost Roundup: Effingham County
According to Clyo school teacher Emma Metzger Williams, who wrote in 1976, one day her grandmother was being pulled in a wagon near her rural home when “they saw two men carrying a headless man hanging from a pole.”
The frightened women ran for home. Several days later, a horse with a new saddle and bridle was found in nearby woods. When no one claimed the animal, it was sold at public auction. Locals figured it belonged to the headless man, murdered and robbed.
Later, in the same area, someone crossing a stream on a footlog heard loud moans, “supposing coming from the drops of the blood spilled from the man’s blood along the way.” This phenomenon continued for several years, until human bones were found in an abandoned well. It was thought that the spirit was now at rest.
Ghost Roundup: Cave Spring
A Cave Spring resident said that the ghost of a nurse still flashed her lantern late at night through the windows of Fannin Hall. It was also haunted by a Cherokee woman whose nose was bitten off by her jealous husband. This is the home of the Cave Spring School for the Deaf and a Civil War hospital.
“As a matter of fact, one group took a picture of the empty swings at Fannin and saw a figure there when they looked at the display in their home,” said Christy Davis, executive director of the Cave Spring Ghost tour.
Fannin hall, constructed in 1848, now houses city offices of Cave spring.
Jim Miles is the author of two Weird Georgia books, seven books about Georgia ghosts and eight books about the Civil War. To see all of his books go to the Jim Miles Author Page on Amazon. Order autographed books or contact Jim directly at firstname.lastname@example.org