Sunday, December 15, 2013

East Tennessee Ghost Folklore

Old Apple Tree
Alexander Koltakov

Randy Russell and Janet Barnett in their book entitled, The Granny Curse, present a wonderful collection of ghost folklore from East Tennessee. * 

These legends have been passed down from one generation to the next for well over 200 years. They are some of the most entertaining I have ever read.

One of my favorite stories in this collection is entitled Growly Apples. This story is based upon an old superstitious belief that that the oldest apple tree in a mountain hollow is always haunted.

This tale is about a boisterous loud-mouthed man by the name of Sud. 

One Sunday afternoon after church, he is showing off for “the children” with various apple tricks when he catches half an apple in his mouth that he threw up in the air. Unfortunately, this large apple then lodged in his throat, and he chokes to death.

His family buries him in his favorite spot in the yard and promptly moves away. A few years later, his widow, who has remarried visits his grave to find the marker they placed on it is gone, and instead, a young apple tree stands in its place.

She informs the new owners that the roots of this tree probably grew right out of his mouth and eye sockets being as he was buried with the fruit still stuck in his throat.

When this tree matured several years later, the new owners soon discovered that if they picked apples from this tree, it would growl day and night until they returned the apples they chose to the ground under it. 

The apples themselves would growl and if anyone dared to eat one of them, their stomach would growl non-stop.

Sud’s old cabin is gone now but tourists today claim that this old apple tree still stands and people always hear it growling if they pick its fruit. It is said that if they are smart, they know they have encountered a ghost.

Another story from this collection I really like is about a “ghost horse.” This story is entitled, Ghost in the Fireplace.

An Irishman named Higgins, and his horse, named Cloud are inseparable.  But unfortunately,  a man who lives in a filthy shack on a nearby mountaintop murders him for his fine stallion. 

Cloud then tries to take revenge on the man who murdered his master.

An old belief in Tennessee is that if a person hears the crackle and pop in a fireplace, it is Satan snapping his fingers. After hearing this, one must be careful the house doesn’t burn down.

For years after this murder, people who lived in this mountaintop shack claimed they saw a shocking sight--Cloud’s thunderous hooves would be heard then he would emerge right out of the fireplace in search of his beloved master’s killer.

One of my all-time favorite ghost blogs is written by Fairweather Lewis. He has an interesting summary of the above story--which he calls, “Cloud Walks” on his blog. Click on the link to read it. Fairweather doesn't write anymore.

* Russell and Barnett’s book, The Granny Curse is available on Amazon.


Leona Joan said...

These are wonderful ghost legends, Virginia. The one about the apples on the haunted tree is spooky and funny. It reminds me of the trees in the Wizard of Oz, who slap Dorothy for plucking an apple. Thanks also for the link.

Virginia Lamkin said...

I wonder if L. Frank Baum who wrote Oz heard this old folktale?--and if it inspired his writing.

Leona Joan said...

Yes, maybe Baum was inspired by the Growly Apples. 🍎