Ever wonder why you may get a creepy feeling or a cold chill when you stand in a particular spot or are visiting a building or home? Could it be the spirits of the souls still wandering, aimlessly looking for rest in the afterlife? We don't know what the next plane or afterlife has in store for us; we rely upon our faith to hope for a better and more peaceful beyond in the Christian-based faith, but what if there are those lost souls who don't pass through the realms of beyond?
|Location of a cemetery once located on Coyle Street. From an 1884 map.|
My mom had family who lived in the house that once stood facing Coyle Street and says she remembers as a child seeing places in the ground that were sunk in, a tell tale sign of old grave sites. When my dad helped install water pipes along that area in the 1960's, he recalls digging into graves. The work crew was sent on down the street to install pipes elsewhere, but dad isn't sure what ever happened to the graves. It is the assumption that the bodies were removed, possibly by Randolph Richardson and his crew; but regardless, the bodies were still disturbed. Flash forward to the present era. My cousin lived in a house on Coyle Street across from the thrift store. Her son, who was around five at the time, talked about seeing people across the street and talking to them.
|The Owings Cemetery was located about where the black Jeep is shown on this present day picture. Photo courtesy of Google Map.|
If you walk behind the Family Drug Store, down West Paul Lewis Drive in Owingsville, you might feel a cold chill as you start up the grade going toward Cemetery Street, about where Thompson Road turns left to the post office. Perhaps, its the cool air current coming up from the hollow below, but maybe it's something more sinister. In this area, on November 4, 1892, Oscar Jones, was publicly hanged for murdering Sharpsburg Town Marshal Taylor Vice. On Christmas Eve, 1891, Oscar's son, George, was being disorderly and was intoxicated. Vice came to the Jones residence to ease the tension, but George was belligerent. The marshal attempted to subdue George Jones, but Jones grabbed a club. Vice grabbed the club away from Jones, and a fight ensued. It was testified that Oscar Jones ran up to the pair and fatally stabbed Taylor Vice. George and Oscar Jones escaped, but Oscar was apprehended the following day in Mount Sterling.
During Jones' incarceration, threats of a lynch mob echoed throughout the area, prompting Jailer Sam Nixon to arm himself and protect his high profile inmate, who consequently was a black man. On February 21, 1892 a mob wearing masks forced their way into the residence portion of the jail, only to be met by Nixon and his son, Will, with their shotguns at the ready. The jailer announced that he would defend his prisoner to the death and the mob dispersed.
Oscar Jones was found guilty for the murder of the town marshal and sentenced to death in March, 1892. His scheduled execution was slated for May 20 in what was called Bascom's Field, located just behind the jail; near where present day West Paul Lewis and Thompson Drive intersect. The execution was delayed due to an appeal, but the appeal was denied. The Governor fixed the date of execution for November 4, 1892.
|The hanging of Oscar Jones, November 4, 1892|
I previously wrote about the Civil War in Bath County and the Battle at Mud Lick Springs, and there are tales of ghostly apparitions marching off to battle in that area. For years, residents in the Mud Lick, Olympian Springs and Carrington areas have said they have seen soldiers walking across the fields and have heard the sound of horses at full gallop in the night. Sounds of men shouting orders and moans of those wounded are said to be heard in the hills surrounding the area. People have even reported hearing the sounds of drum beats tapping out the marching cadence, only to fade off into nothing. Hikers along the trails behind Carrington Rock and the golf course have said they have seen soldiers standing atop the cliffs looking out across the fields as if they are surveying the battlefields below. Even the muffled sounds of cannon fire have been reported echoing through the hollows and valleys. Whatever the explanation may be, it is quite possible that there are soldiers still fighting the battle 150 years later.
|An orb at Polksville Cemetery, taken by Paige Wagers, 2009|
The Owings House has long been an outstanding landmark in Owingsville. Built between 1811-1814, the mansion was the home to Owingsville's founding namesake Thomas Dye Owings. It is a magnificent structure with ornate rooms and a three story self supported spiral staircase; one of the only in the nation still left intact. Once the mansion was completed, Owings held a housewarming feast for the community and the grand hall was packed with guests. A large bowl of burgoo was brought out onto the serving table and as Owings stood to present a toast and dip the first platter of the stew, a large black snake fell from a rafter into the burgoo. Startled guests saw this as an omen and one patron proclaimed that the mansion would be cursed for a hundred years. Call it coincidence, fate or just plain misfortune, but in 1822, Thomas Dye Owings went bankrupt, one of his daughters committed suicide and another went mad.
|The Owings House's spiral staircase|
I recently toured the Owings House with members of the local cub scout pack and as I topped the spiraling staircase, I felt a strange feeling as if there was something in the room. There is a long, dark hallway that leads to a door at the top of the stairs that haunts back to the movie The Shining in my opinion. My wife has an application on her smart phone called Ghost Radar, which allegedly picks up energy levels and deciphers words that are communicated from beyond. When she used the application in the Owings House, there was a flurry of activity like we hadn't seen before. Were the spirits of the former residents trying to communicate or is the restless soul of Colonel Owings' daughter still trying to find her way?
There are unexplained occurrences at the Bath County Library, one of which I have personally seen on a security camera. Employees there have seen items tossed about and have heard strange noises in the hallways and rooms; sounds like foot steps and a sound of shuffling. While visiting one day last year, I was shown a clip from a security video from the front foyer. A table of magazines was in the forefront and empty chairs around it. Suddenly, a magazine opened up as if someone had slipped through the pages as it sat on the table...no one was around this table.
A plastic document holder was fastened to a wall in an upstairs room at the library and security video captured the item being flung off the wall, again, no one was around it. So what could explain these events? The library was built after the 1893 fire and at one time housed a bank and shop. The building we see now was split into two separate buildings, and to my knowledge, was never a scene of bloodshed or tragedy. However, next door at the present day Perfect Lady Salon building, a man was shot to death in the early 1960's. The Perfect Lady was at that time a bus stop and restaurant, and Graden Boyd was shot by a man named Gudgell Parks. It has been told that Parks had been inside the business causing a scene and was told to leave by Boyd. Parks then brandished a gun and shot Mr. Boyd. Parks was arrested, tried and sent to prison; sentenced to life with parole. After an escape, Parks was recaptured and placed back in jail. Perhaps the happenings in the library are that of Graden Boyd letting people know that he is still around.
For years, the Crouch family resided in the house just inside the gates of the Owingsville Cemetery. Jaybird and his sons helped maintain the cemetery and even dug many graves while they lived there, so it is no surprise that strange and unexplained sightings have happened there. One story is that Crouch's wife was doing laundry while her grandchildren sat inside the home watching television. She stepped outside to hang a load on the clothes line and when she attempted to go back inside, the door was locked. She knocked, hoping her granddaughter would open the door, but the little girl never came to the back door. Mrs. Crouch went around to the front door but again, no one came to open the door for her. Fearing something was wrong, she yelled out at her grandchild to open the door. Looking in the window, she could see the little girl laughing and acting as if she was hiding. Finally, Mrs. Crouch got the child's attention and the door was opened. When asked why she didn't open the door, the child told her grandmother that "the old woman stayed in here with me and told me it would be funny to lock the door."
|Entrance to the Owingsville Cemetery|
Inside the cemetery, people have seen shadows or mists in moonlight, and have told about the Confederate Monument; how the statue watches people as they pass or seemingly glows on full moon nights. Whatever your take is on these events, some cannot be logically explained to this day.
I, too, have had unexplained events happen. I am one who has to see to believe, but one event still unnerves me after 24 years. Aside from a select few who I have told, this story hasn't been widely told to anyone until now. It was late April, 1990, I was a junior at Bath County High School and we had been on a school field trip. Among us was Kenny Hall, a fellow junior and friend to many of us. Kenny was in no shape to be out in public due to certain liquid ingestion during the day, so another friend of mine, Janeane Carpenter, agreed to take Kenny home after school. I vividly recall the moment I heard the scanner alert for the fire department; A car had hit a tree in Midland near the skating rink and was on fire with two people inside it. I listened to the scanner as fire and rescue personnel worked the horrible scene, not knowing more than I had heard across the airwaves. I knew that both people were critically burned but still alive, one of them barely. The phone rang at my house and another friend was hysterical on the other end screaming "it's Kenny!"
When my brother in law got home from working the wreck scene, he was visibly shaken. I asked if it was Kenny Hall and he told me he thought it was, but he couldn't be sure. My heart sank because I knew who was with him and I considered them both good friends.
I had gone to see the remains of the vehicle at the towing lot so I could wrap my head around the tragedy and came home with such an empty feeling. I knew that Kenny and Janeane were still alive but were very critical. Kenny took the worst of the wreck and have never regained consciousness. I went to bed the evening of April 26, 1990 at around 11 o'clock. I had a stereo next to the bed and routinely listened to music until I drifted off to sleep. The tape I chose was around 45 minutes long and I drifted off.
I was awakened by someone telling me they needed to talk to me. I opened my eyes and in the pale green glow of the stereo, I could make out a figure standing inside my bedroom door but nothing more. It was a male voice that told me that Kenny had passed away, then said something else. I raised up on my elbow and said to wait while I turned off the stereo so I could listen. The stereo glow faded and I could barely see, but the person told me again that Kenny was gone and continued to talk to me. After a few minutes, the person left and I went back to sleep, never getting out of bed. When mom woke me up for school, she told me that she had just learned Kenny had died in the night. I casually walked by her and said, "yeah I know. You guys told me last night." I went to the bathroom and she met me in the hallway saying that no one had known until around 6:30 a.m. I told her I had probably dreamed it, but felt such a calm sense about the whole situation; unlike the despair I felt the day prior.
I didn't think more of it until I went into my room and hit the power button on my stereo. The tape started exactly where I had turned it off to hear the news! I felt a cold chill and told mom what happened, how dad or my neighbor Chris had came in and told me what happened, but mom was still telling me they had just found out. Then I realized that my door hadn't been opened in the night. I didn't have a lock or anything on my door, so I pushed an old artillery shell against it to secure it. When my door was opened, the metal shell made a distinct ringing sound that woke me up usually and the door hadn't been disturbed. Mom had told me that Kenny died around 11:45 p.m., and when I thought about it, the tape I was listening to was 45 minutes long, and I was listening to the last song when I turned it off to hear what the 'person' was telling me. To this day, I have no idea what else was said, or who it was talking to me, but I knew when I woke up I had lost a friend, and was at peace knowing his suffering was over.
My parents' house has had other strange incidents such as cabinet doors opening, shadows moving across the room and lights turning on and off by themselves. The house belonged to my grandparents, and we bought it from my grandmother after she moved to town in 1983. My grandfather had passed away in 1975, but not at the home. Soon after moving there, my friend Jason and I were there alone one summer day and both of us saw a shadowy figure standing in the kitchen looking toward us. We couldn't see who the person was but it scared us so bad, we ran outside and stayed out until that night. After my grandmother passed away in 1994, mom noticed the kitchen cabinets had started opening and she heard foot steps in the hallway. One night after I came home from the Army, I was talking to mom and a shadow appeared on the wall and moved across the room toward the kitchen; we both saw it. There was a lamp in the front room that to this day still powers on and off. The lamp is antique and belonged to my grandmother and mom acquired after the funeral. The going joke is that 'Granny Gertie' is at it again whenever the cabinets open or the light comes on or off. So far, the 'spirit' has been harmless and activity has decreased gradually over the years.
Happy Halloween, folks!
For more reading on strange and unusual happenings, here are some links of interest:
http://www.kentuckybigfoot.com/reports.htm -A compilation of cryptozoological sightings based in Kentucky
http://unusualkentucky.blogspot.com/ - Stories and tidbits of interest including historical sketches and the unexplained
http://www.prairieghosts.com/hauntky.html - All kinds of creepy stories throughout the Commonwealth
http://gatewayghosts.com/ - A group of paranormal researchers based in the Bath/Montgomery Counties