Since taking my first “ghost tour” just for fun, I’ve become aware of just how much untold history is often included in the various guides’ spiels. No, I’m not talking about paranormal investigations—of which I’m not a fan. I’m talking about the interesting tidbits which might not turn up in history books because they’re considered too small or insignificant but which definitely add information about many American locations.
I love these tag-along tours (even at risk of life and ancient limb in the dark or in cold rain!) and often purchase a book about the location in advance. Visit the Haunted America website for a listing of no fewer than 252 such volumes!
Imagine my surprise to find a family-related story in Ghost Stories from the American South compiled and edited by W.K. McNeil! It’s set in Arkansas—that much is true—and perhaps the perpetually blood-stained floor part is true, though by the time I found the location, the house was gone. And, according to the 1876 newspaper article detailing the actual incident (killing!), the victim was indeed shot “while abed”. I’m delighted to know a (convoluted) version of the story has found its way into the tradition of American storytelling—and that I know the real truth!
In a book checked out recently from the local library, Ghosts of the Carolinas by Nancy S. Roberts, I read these telling words:
A house is more than just its timbers.
It is the lives which have been lived there,
the deeds which have been done within its walls.
I always enjoy including a little tongue-in-cheek “ghost story” in my books. (Look for one in the upcoming The Legacy of Diamond Springs in which a Yankee investigative reporter is dispatched to delve into the mystery of a blue diamond at a southern college located on what was once an antebellum plantation in Mississippi.) As Ms. Roberts so aptly puts it, the house (now the college administration building) holds more than offices and records within its circa-1840 walls.
Researching the tidbits for this novel has been enjoyable and educational—and I’ve taken so many notes, it will take at least one more novel to use them all!
And if I earn some good royalties on Diamond Springs, I’ll probably use them to buy books from Haunted America! Take the challenge—browse--and let your mouth water as mine has been doing.
everybody loves a good ghost story!
In my (small) collection…