BUILT: c. 1860
STATUS: Still standing
Harrison Cemetery, located in one of the state’s smallest towns, holds 159 burial sites and is haunted by William “Grancer” Harrison (c. 1789 – 1860, also known as “the Dancing Ghost.” Grancer was born in Old District 96, Edgefield Co, South Carolina around 1789. His father, William Harrison, was a veteran of the Revolutionary War and is also buried in the cemetery, near Grancer’s grave.
In life, Grancer was a successful cotton planter, plantation owner, and businessman. The nickname of “Grancer” originates from the term “grand sire,” meaning grandfather, though most tellings of the urban legend falsely attributes it to being a mispronunciation of “grand sir” made by local slaves.
Grancer was most notable for his spectacularly popular parties. His slaves erected a dance hall to accomodate his lavish barbecues and dances. After years upon years of success, he began to face his mortality by preparing his funeral arrangements.
Grancer had his slaves begin construction on an above-ground tomb, located within earshot of the hall, as he desired to be a part of the action even after death. He left burial instructions for them as well: Grancer wanted to be buried wearing his dancing clothes and shoes, lying atop his feather bed.
In 1860, Grancer Harrison died, with his burial wishes carried out to his exact specifications. Saturday night dances continued for a while, but soon fell to ruin without the liveliness of “Grancer” to lead them.
Passersby of the tomb have reported hearing a strained fiddle, dancing, laughter and the tapping of clogs, usually on Saturday nights. Some have heard a male voice calling square dance moves. Grancer has also been sighted dancing by his gravesite.
Over the years, Grancer Harrison’s grave has been vandalized and reconstructed a number of cases. In 1964, the tomb was blown up with dynamite, scattering remains across the cemetery. The latest incident took place on July 30, 2010, which left the entire Harrison Cemetery damaged.
In Popular Culture
- The story of Grancer Harrison was featured in Kathryn Tucker Windham’s 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey in the story titled “The Dancing Ghost of Grancer Harrison.” It claims he was buried with or his hall was built atop a considerable amount of gold.
- Alabama. “9 of Alabama’s Spookiest Cemeteries,” www.AL.com
- Mystery 411. “Harrison Cemetery,” www.Mystery411.com
- Only In Your State. “Harrison Cemetery Is One Of Alabama’s Spookiest Cemeteries,” www.OnlyInYourState.com
- Way Marking. “Harrison Cemetery,” www.WayMarking.com
- Wikipedia. “Grancer Harrison,” www.Wikipedia.org
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