Thursday, December 31, 2015

Griggs Mansion: St. Paul’s Most Haunted

Sitting on Summit Avenue, in St. Paul, Minnesota, amidst other Civil War-era mansions, is a stately 10-bedroom mansion.

This well-preserved home was named after it’s original owner, Chauncey W. Griggs.

Griggs was a Civil War officer and a grocery tycoon who had this lavish Victorian home built in 1883. He however only lived in this mansion for 4 years, before he headed west for more adventure and profits.

Griggs Mansion still retains its beautiful wood-paneled walls and stain glass windows. The original carriage house still stands in the back.

In the late 1930s, the mansion was donated to an art school that stayed for 25 years. The school had a beautiful skylight placed above the top floor.

This art school was the exception, for most who have owned Griggs Mansion, over the past Century, have moved out quickly.

This mansion is known to be St. Paul’s most haunted house—it has several ghosts and a variety of paranormal activity occurs in the home.

One of the most active ghosts is a maid who worked in the mansion at the turn of the 20th Century. She committed suicide by hanging herself on the top floor’s landing after a failed love affair.

A maid and butler that worked in the mansion first saw her ghost in the early 20th Century.

Her apparition has been seen in a white mist ever since. Many witnesses have felt her presence—stating they got an overwhelming sense of doom while standing near the landing.

Another former employee haunts the library in the home. Charles Wade was the mansion’s obsessive caretaker and gardener.

Library door.
It is believed he spent hours in the mansion’s library, doing research on how to do his work better. His apparition has been seen in this room, and people have heard the rustling of pages of a book when no one else is around.

When he died, he was in the middle of a project in the garden. Some feel he lingers because of this unfinished business.

In 1964, Mr. Waschke bought the mansion intending to use it as his home and office. While working at his desk, in the library, he saw a man with a long face, white hat, and a dark suit, who was glaring at him from the doorway.

As he watched this apparition faded away.

When he had the home renovated, one window kept opening by itself—he finally had it nailed shut, but the next morning it was open once more.

Another ghost seen often is an old man with white hair, who wears a black suit and top hat. This male ghost has been seen in several different rooms.

In the early 1950s, Dr. Delmar Kolb joined the art school staff. He moved into a front basement apartment in the mansion. One night he awoke to two cold fingers pressed to his forehead.

When he turned on the light, he saw a blue flash that disappeared. Two nights later, he was awakened again. He saw a man dressed in a black suit and top hat standing at the foot of his bed.

This figure then turned and dissolved into a nearby brick wall.

Students, when the home was an art school, often reported, as they drew on easels, they felt something unseen looking over their shoulders. They speculated that it might be the maid who committed suicide on the upper floor.

When the art school moved out of the mansion to their new building, it is said the staff were relieved for they did not want to deal with unseen ghosts anymore.

One story often told is about three skeptical journalists, from the St. Paul Pioneer Press, who stayed at the house one night in 1969, to do research for an article. These three remained on the top floor near where the unfortunate maid had died, over 50 years before.

By 4:00 a.m., these three men fled the mansion in terror. They heard heavy footsteps on the stairs heading toward the upper floor. 

One of these men braved the staircase on his own, at which point he felt a presence near him. All three men then ran out of the house—through the back entrance.

Recent owners of the mansion have discouraged paranormal interest in the home, but they all have left quickly. Griggs Mansion was put on the market in 2012, but it has not sold.

The price was reduced from 1.8 million to 1.1 million—but it was still on the market this year.

This says a lot because anyone who owns the home can rent out the basement apartments, that have the potential to bring in as much as $60,000 in revenue each year. That is if the tenants are willing to stay.

In 1959, three students moved into one basement apartment. One of the three was awakened to see the head of a child floating above his bed. Other students that have stayed in these apartments claim they were shaken awake.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Child’s Recollection

Children sometimes have imaginary friends that turn out to be ghosts. Other posts that talk about this phenomenon are located here and here.

The following 1st person account is unique because this little girl, Sandra knew her “friends” were ghosts.

When I was six years old my parents and I lived in an older house in southern California. My bedroom was in the home’s attic.

This room had other inhabitants besides me.

I remember three figures that would float about the room. They were children like myself but taller so I believed they were older than me.

I enjoyed their company, they visited me at night, but sometimes I refused to play with them wanting to sleep instead.

At first I felt they were just other children but it slowly dawned on me that they were ghosts. I think this occurred to me because their facial features were unclear—it was like they had veils over their heads.

I now know my belief that these night visitors were the spirits of children—was correct.

They liked to play in front of my mirror but I don’t remember ever seeing their reflections.

They also liked my rocking chair and we spent hours playing with my dolls and stuffed animals. I particularly liked it when we pretended to have tea parties.

One night as they awakened me, I became irritated because I just wanted to sleep. I told them to go away.

But their voices persisted. They urged me to get up. I remember one stated, “Get up, you must get up and look down the stairs.”

As I stumbled out of bed reluctantly the floor beneath my feet began to shake. I realized the whole house was shaking. It was an earthquake.

As I stood frozen in fear one spirit ordered, “Go to the doorway, you will be safe.”

I went to the doorframe, crouching down low.

When this shaking subsided they told me to lie on my belly and slide down the stairs. When I reached my parent’s bedroom we were able to escape the house unscathed.

Sandra * is grateful for these spirits presence when she was child. She feels they saved her from injury or even death.

*  Name has been changed at request of storyteller.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Buster Keaton’s Ghost

Keaton on stage with his parents.
Joseph Frank Keaton earned the name “Buster” after a family friend watched the 6-month-old child tumble down a flight of stairs in a boardinghouse and escape unscathed.

Joining his parents on stage at the age of 3, Buster spent the next 15 years performing—he attended school just once for one day—during these years.

In 1917 he joined his mentor Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle in making two-reelers—these films are classics today. More information about Arbuckle is located here.

Arbuckle and Keaton
Starting in 1921 Buster produced his own films. He had become one of the greatest comedic actors of the silent film era. His comedy and wild stunts are still watched today with appreciation.

In his film Sherlock Jr. in 1924 when he walks up to a projected image in a movie house and walks into the image on the screen it became one of Hollywood's memorable film moments.

He was a genius when it came to creating gags that involved mechanics. He always did his own stunts.

His most famous stunt—was standing deadpan as a hinged 3-story house front fell around him as he stood in a window gap –there was only an inch and half clearance between this frame and his unprotected body.

In another stunt, he broke his leg during the filming of The Electric House in 1922.

In a stunt, he did for Sherlock Jr. as he dropped from a rope he was blown off train tracks by water rushing out of a railroad refill tank. It wasn’t until later he learned his neck was broken.

Both these stunts are highlighted in the video below.

Like many comedians, Keaton also had a darker side. He was known to drink too much, like his father before him.

It was supposedly a “drunken incident” with Louis B. Mayer in the early 1930s that led to Keaton’s dismissal from a contract, he had with MGM.

This sent him on a downward spiral that ended his film career —another factor was the invention of talkies.

In the 1960s he returned to film appearing in a series of “beach party” movies. Even though this was thought to highlight how far he had fallen Keaton himself stated he enjoyed this work.

In 1960 the Academy Awards gave Buster Keaton an honorary Oscar for his film achievements.

Buster Keaton's villa.
At the height of his career in 1925, Keaton had a 30-room Italian villa built on Pamela Drive in Beverly Hills. This home was surrounded by ten acres.

His gardens had remote-controlled streams stocked with trout. The front of the house had a sixty step marble staircase lined with statues that led to a 50-foot Romanesque marble pool.

To make grand entrances for his friends Keaton rigged his living room drapes so he could swing down from a second-floor balcony.

Keaton had this home built for his wife Natalie Talmadge and two sons who moved into the house with Natalie’s mother.

Buster with Natalie
After the birth of her second son, Natalie decided she didn’t want any more children, so she moved into a separate bedroom. The marriage ended in 1932 in a bitter divorce. Partly became of Keaton’s drinking and party because of his extramarital affairs.

Natalie changed their son’s last names to “Talmadge” and didn’t let them have any further contact with their father. She never remarried and died an alcoholic.

Keaton also lost his beloved home in 1933 after their divorce.

After Keaton’s death in 1966, the subsequent owners of the villa felt Keaton’s ghost haunted this property. His ghost became a “slightly annoying presence” for these owners—for his spirit is playful.

Pamela Mason divorced the English actor James Mason in the mid-1960s. She was one of the first high profile clients of Marvin Mitchelson, the divorce lawyer who pioneered the right to palimony.

Pamela before and after divorce.
Pamela like her husband was an actor. She starred with her husband in a television series called The James Mason Show.

Mason lived in Keaton’s former house for 25 years. During this time she was plagued by the lights mysteriously turning off and on and the telephone wires malfunctioning.

Buster’s ghost also fiddled with the water faucets, doors, wall hangings and any other object he could move to gain her attention.

Pamela Mason had a fatal heart attack in this house in 1996. Some believe her ghost has joined Keaton’s in haunting the property.

This villa has ironically been used in recent years as a “Haunted House” attraction during the Halloween season.

The following short video is a compilation of Keaton’s best film stunts.

Harvey House: Casa del Desierto

The Harvey House hotels and restaurants played a defining role in civilizing the West—by the 1880s there was a dining facility located every 100 miles along the AT&SF.

Casa del Desierto in 1946
In Barstow, California on North First Street sits one of the 84 Harvey Houses that were built in the Western United States by the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad to provide quality food and service for its passengers.

After the turn of the 20th century Harvey Houses were designed by professional architects to reflect the culture and natural terrain where they were built.

Casa del Desierto or House of the Desert was a train depot, hotel and restaurant designed by Los Angeles architect, Francis Wilson in 1911, after the wooden Harvey House hotel in Barstow, burnt down in 1908.

Wilson’s design reflects traditional Spanish and Native American themes with Moorish influences. The old depot is a California Historical Landmark today and is now used as a museum.

Renovated depot.
Ghost tours are given in this building because it has a lot of activity.

The waitresses tasked with serving excellent food * at Fred Harvey’s Houses ** were known as Harvey Girls. These young women—between the ages of 18 and 25 were selected carefully.

Harvey Girls at the Casa.
Many women who applied were turned down, so it was considered an honor to be picked as a Harvey Girl. These women were held to a strict set of rules.

They had a 10:00 p.m. curfew that they had to adhere to every day of the year so that they would be rested for the next day’s work. They wore a black and white uniform that had to be pressed before each shift.

A Harvey Girl by the name of Rachel worked at the Casa del Desierto in the 1920s. She haunts this old depot.

She is seen near where the formal dining room was located. Witnesses report seeing her take orders from customers that are not there. She is also seen walking from the kitchen area, holding an object in her hand.

A more recent story told, is she is seen on the balcony at the Casa –waiting for her fiancé to return from the war. It is believed she committed suicide when he did not return.

Casa lobby.
Another ghost seen at this depot is of a little girl named Emily. She is seen playing peek-a-boo with visitors near the staircase in the lobby. This spirit is known to follow people around when they are upstairs.

Yet another spirit is a man by the name of Buchanan. He announces his presence with a strong aroma of smoke. He was crushed to death between two railroad cars in the depot’s yard.

His last request before he died was to see his family and have one last cigarette.

Many witnesses have experienced rapid temperature changes at the Casa. These temperatures become warmer of colder between 20 to 70 degrees within minutes.

Voices of both children and adults are heard, and shadows or dark figures are seen.

More sensitive people have reported feeling chills on their neck and hands and a tingling sensation on their arms. Other reactions include a feeling of being uncomfortable, becoming dizzy, lightheaded, or even nauseated.

In my experience the above feelings are classic examples that a place is truly haunted.

*  Passengers heading west could order off this menu in the Harvey Houses:

Click to enlarge.
Blue Points on Shell, English Peas Au Gratin, Filets of Whitefish with Madeira Sauce, Potatoes Francaise, Roast Sirloin of Beef au jus, Salmon or Duck, Mashed potatoes, Boiled Sweet Potatoes, Turkey Stuffed, Cranberry Sauce, Baked Veal Pie English Style, Pork with Applesauce, Pickled Lamb Tongue.

French Slaw, Queen Olives, Elgin Sugar Corn, Charlotte of Peaches in Cognac Sauce, Prairie Chicken, Current Jelly, Lobster Salad au Mayonnaise, Sugar Cured Ham, Beets, Celery.

Apple Pie, Assorted Cakes, Bananas, Cold Custard la Chantilly, Catawaba Wine Jelly, Edam and Roquefort Cheese, New York Ice Cream, Grapes, Bent’s Water Crackers, French Coffee.

A meal cost 75 cents.

Fred Harvey
** Fred Harvey while working for the railroad in the late 1800s, noted “a decent lack of food for railroad travelers.” He then pitched his idea to the company to open fine dining restaurants.

His Harvey Houses were the first restaurant chain in America. They introduced the concept of Blue Plate Specials.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

La Concha Hotel, Part ll

La Concha Hotel
In Part l of this post, I share sightings of the ghost seen most often at this historic hotel in Key West, Florida.

La Concha opened in the early 1920s and hosted many famous people in its heyday. It was renovated in the 1980s and since three ghosts have been seen.

One of these ghosts * is believed to be the spirit of Ernest Hemingway because it is seen in the suite where he stayed with his mistress—Martha Gellhorn who became his third wife-- in the 1930s.

He began writing his 1937 novel To Have and Have Not at La Concha. It pays homage to this hotel—noting “its prominence on the horizon.”

Hemingway and Gellhorn
His ghost is mischievous for he often moves objects.

One guest who stayed in the Hemingway Suite was annoyed by activity that prevented him from going to sleep. He had climbed into bed when he saw a video recorder fall from the dresser he had placed it on.

He got up and placed it back on this shelf. But once he was back in bed, the recorder once more fell to the floor. He picked it up again. He checked the dresser to see if it was wobbly but determined it was stable.

When he got back in bed—he turned the light out but watched the dresser this time. He saw a dark figure in one corner by the bathroom—it was slightly crouched down.

He saw the recorder fall once more. He got up quickly, flipped the light on but found no one else in the room. He arranged to move to another room.

It appears Hemingway doesn’t like others in his space.

* Florida’s Ghostly Legends and Haunted Folklore, by Greg Jenkins.

View of Gulf of Mexico
from atop the hotel.
The third ghost that is seen at La Concha is the spirit of a lawyer who was in trouble with the law in the 1980s. He was being investigated for embezzlement and fraud and knew he faced prison time.

He came up with a strange plan to commit suicide and make it look like a murder so his family could collect insurance money.

He left a rambling recording of statements that implicated his secretary in the crimes and stated that men were coming to assassinate him.

He then jumped from one of the hotel’s balconies, recording his screams as he fell to his death. But this plot to clear his name and help out his family failed.

The authorities had too much evidence that pointed to his guilt.

Since this bizarre death, many witnesses at sunset have seen a middle-aged man walking frantically back and forth on one hotel balcony.

La Concha Hotel balconies.
Several of these people have called hotel security thinking this man was about to jump. However, in each instance security guards found no sign of anyone on this balcony.

A couple sitting in a room below this balcony called the front desk in a panic. They reported seeing a body falling past the window. Afterward, no body was found on the premises.

It appears this dishonest lawyer is doomed to play out his death over and over again.

This ghost is also seen on the roof of the hotel.

The La Concha is officially called Crowne Plaza Key West today, but the old name is still used. A tour of haunted Key West landmarks starts in the lobby of this hotel.

In Part l of La Concha Hotel, read about the ghost of a hotel waiter who died in an accident on New Year’s Eve.

La Concha Hotel, Part l

La Concha Hotel
The La Concha was built-in 1924 giving Key West, Florida its first luxury hotel. It quickly became the playground for U.S. presidents, gangsters, European royalty, and famous authors.

This hotel remains the tallest building on the civilian side of Key West and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

President Harry Truman on
"Little White House lawn" while staying
at La Concha.
Ernest Hemingway frequently stayed at the La Concha in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. It is said he wrote several of his novels at this hotel. He also entertained his mistress—his future 3rd wife-- in the hotel’s bar and in his personal suite.

View from the rooftop in 1926.
By the late 1940s, the hotel had fallen on hard times. La Concha’s rooftop bar with its spectacular views was the only part of the hotel that remained open.

In the early 1980s architect Richard Ruth took on the task to restore this hotel to its former glory. The hotel reopened in 1986. Ruth’s efforts succeeded for many guests note the feeling of the past when they stay at the hotel.

But for others, this unique atmosphere has taken on a spooky feel. For they have seen one of the three ghosts that are known to haunt the La Concha.

The ghost seen and felt most often is the “tormented spirit” of a waiter who worked at the hotel in the 1980s.

It was New Year’s Eve at 1:45 A.M. and this waiter was hurrying to get back to the kitchen with a loaded cart. He cleaned up and placed stray party decorations—streamers and confetti on his cart as he made his way to the 5th-floor elevator.

This harried employee pushed the button and heard the elevator door open. He had his back to the entrance as he pulled his cart into what he thought was the elevator—but he stepped into an empty shaft and fell 5 floors to his death—his cart landed on top of him.

The elevator had malfunctioned and stopped at the 6th floor above him instead. The hotel chose to keep this accident quiet but soon after, staff and guests began to have strange experiences.

5th Floor hallway.
Many employees while on the 5th floor stated they felt they were being watched. Others reported having their shoulders tapped when the hall was empty.

To this day, hotel maids refuse to work on the 5th floor alone.

This waiter is also seen in the hotel’s kitchen. There have been reports of cooks seeing this ghost pushing a cart in one corner of this room.

Others have found colorful streamers and confetti on the 5th-floor landing near the elevator when no celebrations have occurred. One janitor who went to retrieve a vacuum to clean this mess—returned only to find the party decorations gone.

Various staff members have reported that their carts have been moved overnight. These carts are then found sitting near the entrance to the 5th-floor elevator.

Guests have reported hearing a squeaky cart roll past their rooms late at night.

They also report seeing a waiter, late at night, walking down this hall. They state this figure walked stiffly as if in a daze.

One guest tried to engage this figure in a conversation, but it ignored him and turned the corner. This guest then followed the waiter only to find no one in the next hallway.

Yet other guests have heard sounds of a party—when there is none. They report hearing muffled laughter and music echoing down the hall.

In Part ll of La Concha Hoteltwo other ghosts who reside at the hotel, including the ghost of Hemingway, are described.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Long Island Sound’s Fiery Ship

A New York legend states that on stormy nights a fiery ship is seen sailing up and down Long Island Sound.

At one time Long Island Sound was a dangerous place for merchant ships to sail. Buccaneers attacked these ships, killed everyone on board, and then stole their cargos. These pirates rarely had to pay for their ruthless actions.

A merchant ship filled with crates of expensive furs, one clear, bright morning, sailed out of Pelham Bay.

It was a warm day, but this ship’s captain could not enjoy it for he had an uneasy feeling. He stood on deck, keeping a sharp eye for any unsavory activity.

He had cause to worry for the authorities, Governor Peter Stuyvesant and his 40 men, could not protect his ship for there were hundreds of inlets and coves where a pirate ship could hide unnoticed.

The captain warned his crew to keep alert and watched as a beautiful white horse neighed and stamped upon the deck. This horse was a part of his cargo, he was charged with delivering it to a harbor further down the Sound.

The captain was briefly distracted by the calls and laughter of several passengers who were sitting on bales of straw playing cards. A chill shiver ran down his spine—a sense of foreboding gripped him.

It was then he spotted a ship sailing quickly toward them. His first mate called out a warning. The captain ordered the passengers below deck as his crew armed themselves.

The captain saw armed men standing on the deck of the other ship leering at them. As they drew near the pirate captain shouted, “Surrender the ship.”

The merchant captain had his first mate fire a warning shot across the bow of the pirate ship. Its crew laughed with contempt, and one buccaneer jeered, “Is that the best you can do?”

This one-eyed man then threw a hook across the water, and it landed on the rail of the merchant ship. The merchant captain ordered his men fire. A smoke filled battle ensued as the men only stopped to reload.

More grappling hooks caught the rail of the merchant ship, and the two vessels came together. The pirate crew leaped aboard the merchant ship, and the men now struggled in hand-to-hand combat.

Boarding ship
The merchant captain found himself in a duel with the leader of the pirates, the two men slipped as they fought in the spilled blood from the men that battled around them.

A buccaneer grabbed the merchant captain from behind and held him tightly as his captain stabbed him through the heart with a cutlass.

The captain was the last member of the merchant ship to die. The pirates then went down in the hold and slaughtered the passengers. They stole their jewelry and valuables.

They passed the crated furs to their ship and they even tried to take the white stallion but he reared back and bucked violently, so they tied him to the mast instead.

They set fire to the ship and sailed away without looking back.

The horse screamed and tugged—his neighs were almost human in their agony-- as flames engulfed the abandoned ship.

As the pirate ship sailed out of view, something strange occurred on the merchant ship—even though the flames were fierce, the vessel remained intact. The longer the fire raged, the less burned it became.

The torn sails mended themselves, and her bloodstained decks were washed clean. One by one, the captain, his crew, and the passengers revived. They stood silently among the flames and then began going about their usual activities.

The passengers sat on the flaming straw bales and merrily gambled, but no one spoke. The only sound that could be heard was the dreadful neighing of the white horse.

Lightning flashed, and thunder rumbled—the waves tossed the ship about as it began to move forward. It followed the pirate ship’s course.

At first, the pirates fighting the storm did not notice the burning ship sailing after them through the rain. But when the lookout gave a shout filled with terror and almost fell from his perch the other pirates saw the fiery ship moving erratically through the stormy waters toward them.

The captain ordered his terrified buccaneers to flee. They tried to outrun the burning ship, but it drew closer with every minute.

They listened in horror at the sounds of the neighing horse. No other noises were heard. Several Buccaneers dropped to their knees imploring God to save them, but the burning ship drew nearer.

The pirate ship finally entered a small hidden cove, and the fiery merchant ship passed by and disappeared into the storm. The pirates abandoned their ship to seek their fortunes elsewhere.

They never returned to the Sound.

On stormy nights witnesses state they have seen this burning merchant ship sailing up and down the sound. It appears the captain and crew are still looking for the pirates that murdered them.

When this ship is seen the captain and crew are observed attending their tasks while the passengers' gamble. The only sound heard is the stallion’s neighing as it paws the deck and tries to free itself from the mast.

Excerpts from Spooky New York by S. E. Schlosser

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Sarah’s Unlucky Soldier

By 1862, the Civil War had left a trail of tears and blood across the state of Missouri. After the Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas the Confederate resistance in Missouri, except for a few individual fighters, had ended.

After this battle, Federal forces (Union troops), under the command of General Henry Halleck, occupied the City of Columbia—to the chagrin of most of the residents.

Columbia Baptist Female College, today it is called Stephens College, sits at the center of this city. It was initially a finishing school for young southern women.

The fate of two doomed lovers at this college in 1862, has resulted in a popular ghost story—with actual sightings.

Sarah June Wheeler, one student at this college, entered her room one evening to see a ragged soldier come it through a window. Sarah was shocked to see he wore a Confederacy uniform and not one of the occupying forces.

He staggered across the floor, and as she went to call for help, he grabbed her and covered her mouth with his hand. As she struggled to get free, he collapsed upon the floor.

Sarah’s roommate, Margaret Baker entered the room but was not afraid. She was a loyal southerner, born and raised in Arkansas, she attended the college--without payment—for her father had sent two slaves to work in the college laundry, to pay for her tuition.

The two girls discovered the soldier was wounded and bleeding. They tended to his wounds, and then called for two servants to send up food. They warned these servants not to say anything about their guest.

This soldier, Corporal Isaac Johnson, from Mississippi, told the two women he had fought in the Battle of Pea Ridge, and had been captured. He managed to escape and had traveled at night and hidden during the day.

He intended to exact revenge on General Halleck, by assassinating him, because his father had been killed in Grant’s attack on Nashville.

The roommates agreed to keep his presence secret. Sarah spent hours in conversation with this young soldier, often bringing him food. The two fell in love in just a few days.

But the girl’s secret leaked, and General Halleck’s staff heard a Confederate soldier was being sheltered at the school’s dormitory. Halleck approached Dr. Herbert Williams, the president of the college. He warned him if the rumors were true he would close down the school.

Dr. Williams gathered the students together and demanded if anyone knew something, they should come forward. Sarah rushed to her room to request Johnson surrender.

The corporal had another plan. He had stolen a suit from Dr. Williams closet, and he told her he intended to escape to Canada, using this disguise.

But before the two lovers could even leave the room, a crowd gathered at the door. Hearing this commotion, the general and his men with Dr. Williams approached. Halleck was informed the soldier was inside.

Furious, he told the president that the college was closed, and all his female students should pack and exit the premises by the next morning. Hearing this, the corporal surrendered.

Dr. Williams was able to convince Halleck the college did not know about the soldier’s presence and managed to keep the school open. But Corporal Johnson did not fare as well.

Being found in civilian clothes behind enemy lines, he was considered a spy. Three days later he was shot by a firing squad on the street near the college.

One legend states Sarah June Wheeler distraught, jumped from a window—unwilling to live without her lover.

The Haunting

Since her death, many stories have been told, Sarah haunts,—Senior Hall—the only dormitory on campus until 1918. Her apparition has been seen and heard in this building. The legend states she is looking for her lost love.

The Bell Tower
Students have gone up to the college's bell tower in this hall and held séances, to communicate with Sarah. This bell tower was actually built after the Civil War years.

In 1971, a reporter by the name of Gassaway, hearing some of the unusual stories that surround this haunting visited Senior Hall on Halloween.

A group of instructors and students made their way up the bell tower, without the reporter—entered the room and placed their candles on the floor.

Within seconds the door slammed shut, and the candles went out. One female student became hysterical and fainted. In the meantime, Gassaway was outside trying to open this door.

He stopped when he saw a man in uniform and a woman in a long dress. He wrote an article where he describes what he experienced that night.

“There was the sound of slow steps at first. When they stopped, deep breathing became audible. I waited for the person to come through the door. And waited. And waited.

Finally, I took the initiative, hauled myself from the floor and moved to the hallway’s mouth.

Halfway down the hall . . . I see the figure of a man. Then the swish of a woman’s long skirt caught my eye as the man dropped into a half crouch, his left hand outstretched as if to ward something off.

Then both figures disappeared down the stairs—quickly.”

During one renovation.

In the 1990s Senior Hall was renovated, it is used today for dance and music classes.  Ghost sightings are still experienced.