By Jim Miles
A number of rural communities across Georgia have stories of a ghost light, spook light, will ‘o the wisp, or other mystery light. Many of them seem related to tales of engineers, conductors, or signalmen, all of whom were decapitated.
A ghost light with a respectable pedigree was found in Heard County, five miles south of Franklin and one and a half miles west of U.S. 27 at an old home site called the Spearman Place. It debuted to regional fame after an article describing it ran in the LaGrange Daily News on September 4, 1962.
The Heard County Spook Light
As often happens with this phenomenon, when the story spread, frequently in the fall of the year, the site became immensely popular for a few days around Halloween, until the novelty wore off. On one Sunday night in 1962, 150 cars jammed the narrow road, a number easily surpassed on Friday and Saturday nights. People waited for the spook light to appear, debated its origin, and argued over its history.
Standing in the yard of the Spearman Place, one could look north toward Franklin into a bottomland 150 yards distant. At different times during the night, the glowing orb would appear for a few seconds before disappearing.
Joe Davis had been aware of the mystery for 40 years. For 15 of those years he had occupied a house near the Spearman property. He stated that “on any given night I could stand in my yard and see this glow.”
On hot, dry nights, it was the size of a baseball; on cloudy, rainy nights it was “bigger, about the size of a train light. It would glow about three minutes and disappear. In a few minutes, I could see it at a spot a little distance from the first glow.”
This elusiveness is a primary trait of spook lights.
Asked if the existence of the floating fluke bothered him, Davis replied: “No, but I often wondered what caused the thing. I never showed it to any outsiders and nothing much was ever said about it until now.”
Other residents, including David G. Daniel, who lived near the light bright site, knew nothing of the phenomenon until it became a cause celebre in the area.
Origins of the Heard County Spook Light
Heard County Sheriff Virgil Bledsoe had his own, albeit common theory.
“I think it is caused by reflections of car headlights coming from heavily traveled U.S. 27,” Bledsoe said. Marsh gases were also proposed as an explanation for the apparition.
A daughter of Joe Davis, Sallie Timmerman, rejected the headlight suggestion, saying, “I have seen this light many times through the years and I don’t think cars cause it. It is too hilly and the trees are too thick in this area.”
The sheriff seemed more concerned with the safety of residents and visitors. He had received reports of kids infiltrating the area with flashlights to create ghostly materializations, and there were far more alarming stories of people firing guns at the enigma. He posted a sign prohibiting the possession of firearms at the site, but otherwise felt the sudden crush of motorists created no particular problem.
Two rival local folk tales have a man being hung from a big oak tree in the yard of the house, and women being shot nearby. The lights are said to be the “corpse candles” of one of these misguided souls.
A granddaughter of Mrs. Davis, teenager Mary Ann Pike, added: “I saw this glow many times as a little girl when I visited my grandfather. He would show me the light,” so to speak, but she also discounted the ghost stories associated with the event. Pike noted that outsiders were more concerned about the phenomenon than locals who were accustomed to it.
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 email@example.com