The Eliza Battle was a palatial steamboat that sailed on the Tombigee River. It was launched in New Albany, Indiana in 1852. At the time, it was one of the most luxurious riverboats in the state’s waters. President Millard Fillmore was once entertained aboard it during a reception on April 7th, 1854.
The town of Newton, Alabama was founded in 1843. During the Civil War, it became a site for Confederate recruiting. A small-scale battle took place in the town in March, 1865. On December 3rd, 1864, local Methodist minister Bill Sketoe was hung in the northern part of town.
A hole had to be dug beneath where he was to be hung due to his great height. The locals say that the hole can never be filled, as it will empty itself of its soil. No matter how many times the hole is filled up, it somehow manages to return. In 1979, the hole became partially covered by a bride and some rocks, but it remains a local attraction.
The Sketoe Hanging Hole became semi-iconic after it was featured in Kathryn Tucker Windham’s 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey. In 2006, a monument dedicated to Sketoe was added near the site of his hanging, and a local museum displays items that have to do with the minister and his execution. While it is uncertain if Sketoe is the one filling in the hole, it is a mystery in itself, whether it is paranormal or not.
Edward (possibly Edwin) Kenworthy Carlisle, a well-established cotton planter born near Augusta, Georgia in 1810, decided to build a large country estate in 1858. On May 4th of the same year, Carlisle wrote a letter requesting help designing a house of such a proportion, stating he was “at a loss for a plan”. Over the course of several months, plans for what would be Kenworthy Hall (also known as Carlisle Hall) began to evolve.
After a hard time finding skilled enough workers, Carlisle eventually founded master mason Phillip Bond in November. Bond estimated that the brickwork would be finished by June 1859, and building began. The Carlisle family moved into the house by 1860, which was two years after the original plan. Even despite the fact that the Civil War began the next year, Edward Carlisle continued to have success in business even during the trying times.
Amazingly, one of his cotton trading firms, Carlisle and Humphries, had an increased profit during the Union’s blockade. After the war, his fortune took a turn for the worse when his property’s value decreased to $20,000, and later $9,000 in 1867. Carlisle, his son, Edward Carlisle, Jr., and his son-in-law, Alexander Jones, went into business in Selma, a nearby town. Together, they founded the City National Bank in 1871. However, Carlisle died in 1873, leaving his property to his wife, Lucinda.
The Carlisles had owned two homes: Kenworthy Hall and a home in Selma. This left Lucinda with the option of which home she wanted to live in. She decided to use Kenworthy Hall as a summer getaway, and use the Selma house as her home. In 1899, she gave the home to her single surviving child, Augusta Carlile Jones.
Thirteen years later, in 1912, Lucinda passed away. In 1914, Augusta sold the property, and the Kenworthy Hall changed hands a large number of times afterwards. The hall went downhill from there; it had lost its original porches, and the mansion went completely vacant for much of the 1950s. It also suffered from vandalism; the plasterwork was deformed, the marble mantles were destroyed, and the stained glass was ruined beyond repair.
During the various times it was empty, locals began to believe that the house was haunted. The story goes that during the Civil War, Edward Carlisle’s daughter, Anne Carlisle, was in love with a Confederate soldier. When she caught wind of his death, she leaped from the tower window in order to end her life. Now, several passer-bys have seen her in her tower room on the fourth floor awaiting her lover.
Many people have bought the home with intents of restoring it. A family moved into the home in 1967, but they died shortly afterwards. Their heirs received it, but they sold the property to a new family in 2001. Now, Kenworthy Hall is considered a National Historic Landmark as of August 18th, 2004.
Cahaba was selected to be Alabama’s state capitol on November 21st, 1818. By 1820, the town was thriving with large buildings inside of it. However, in 1825, Cahaba was struck by a major flood five years later that destroyed the state house. The catastrophe is attributed to being part of the low elevation of the area, as well as the fact that the two rivers surrounding Cahaba had a reputation of overflowing. Due to the disaster-proneness of the area, Alabama’s capital was changed to Tuscaloosa in January 1826.
After years of being semi-successful, the town began to fall apart. By 1930, only a handful of the original buildings were left. The town, no longer inhabited, is now an important archaeological site, and visitors may still go to it. Cahaba has been the setting of several ghost stories during the 19th and 20th centuries, among the true stories being that of a ghostly orb appearing in the now-demolished garden maze at the former home of C. C. Pegues.
Dr. John R. Drish came to Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 1822, moving from Virginia. He was a widower, but he later married wealthy widow Sarah Owen McKinney in 1835. A successful physician and building contractor, Drish was able to afford many skillful slave artisans. The slaves helped build early Tuscaloosa.
In 1837, Dr. Drish built a 450-acre plantation with a brick mansion. Prior to the Civil War, the home was built in the Italianate-style, featuring a three-story brick tower, front columns, brackets being added to overhangs, and two-story cast iron side porches on each side. After falling down a stairway, Dr. John R. Drish died in 1867. His wife Sarah Drish died almost 20 years later in 1884.
After her death, the mansion changed owners several times. In 1906, it became known as the Jemison School after it was purchased by the Tuscaloosa Board of Education. The school was purchased by Charles Turner to use as a parts warehouse in 1925. It served as storage for the Tuscaloosa Wrecking Company. The Southside Baptist Church bought it in 1940 and added a Sunday School. The building belonged to the church for the rest of the 20th century.
Eventually, the building was threatened by proposed demolition in 1994 but was leased to the Heritage Commission of Tuscaloosa County instead of the church, as it closed in 1995. By 2006, the house was falling apart and was added to “Places in Peril” by the Alabama Historical Commission and Alabama Trust For Historic Preservation. In July 2007, the deed was given to the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society. They have since made efforts to fix the structure, and hope to raise enough funding for its restoration.
All of the church’s additional buildings were demolished in 2009. Since the early 20th century, the house has been the site of rumored hauntings. People have reported seeing the three-story tower on fire when no fire is present, and ghostly lights coming out of the house.