American Ghost Stories

RailroadAfter the battle at Gettysburg the bodies of the dead were left in the summer sun. One can still pick up the smell of their decomposition when the weather gets warm. Guests of the Farnsworth Inn often awake to a dark figure sitting at the foot of their bed. A harp is played by the ghosts of Confederates that once hid there. In the Penn Hall bell tower at Gettysburg University a ghost soldier beckons for help.

Two janitors took the Penn Hall elevator down to the basement one night. To their dismay the doors opened to a hospital tent packed with dead soldiers. As the janitors frantically pushed the button to close the elevator doors a blood-drenched doctor looked up at them. His eyes begged for help. Outside the Hummelbaugh house the dog of Sergeant General William Barksdale still guards his master’s grave.

The mostly-forgotten cemetery Bachelor’s Cove may have been named after a colony of mostly single German immigrants. It can only be reached by a narrow gravel road along which one can see a ghostly white house with a swing in front and a welcoming light inside. A farmer drowned in the Cove’s small lake when his horse slipped and dragged him into the water. He can still be seen slowly leading his horse around the lake.

Hickory Hill, or the Old Slave House, was built by JH Crenshaw. He kidnapped free black civilians to work in the Saline County salt mines. At night he chained them to his attic floor. It was a hellish place: crowded with little air and no light. After he died the house was opened to the public, who reported hearing strange noises from the attic. Some visitors later died mysteriously. Presently the house is closed.

On the Miss. shores lies the Myrtles plantation. When Judge Woodruffe cut off the ears of his mistress slave Chloe she poisoned his family. He hung her from a tree and dumped her body in the river. Chloe’s ghost now peers through the windows, looking for the judge. Children are heard playing on the veranda and the dining room where they died. Over the years several more people have been murdered in the house.

Mme LaLaurie, envied for her wealth, had a terrible secret: a secret room in her New Orleans mansion full of mutilated slaves. One had had his brains stirred with a stick. Another had her broken limbs reset at impossible angles. Mme L. vanished and left behind rumors of a hidden treasure, but all people found over the years were bones, mysteriously dead pets, sobs, and the ghost of a chained black man attacking them.

One night in San Antonio in 1984 a woman named Paula picked up a young girl standing by the side of the road. She said her name was Cindy Sue and remained silent for the rest of the drive. When they reached Cindy’s home the girl made no attempts to get out. Paula rang the doorbell. A woman answered. When Paula told her Cindy Sue was waiting in the car the woman replied, “Let Cindy Sue rest in peace.”

The telegraph machine rendered the Pony Express obsolete in 1861 but Hollenberg station KS still stands amid hoofbeats & calls of long-gone riders. Also in KS, Cath. Sutler haunts Ft Leavenworth, where her children vanished while gathering firewood. Murdered Native Americans roam the battlefield of Hat Creek NE. In the Lincoln capitol building the cry of a man is heard who fell to his death from the dome in the ’50s.

The souls of the countless mine workers who came to AZ to look for jobs never left. In the Monte Vista hotel the ghost of a piccolo knocks on doors. A man paces the floor, coughing and clearing his throat. Ghost children are heard laughing and playing in the empty rooms of the San Carlos. Clark Gable and Carol Lombard are said to reside in the Oatman hotel.

Finally, Fort Mason in SF houses the ghost of David Broderick, murdered by Judge David Perry over a dispute about slavery. A young girl, stabbed to death and sawed in half, wanders the Mansion Hotel. A strange figure with glowing green eyes used to haunt the isolation cells on Alcatraz, or “Hellcatraz,” where a man was found strangled in his cell one morning.