During the early 1800s, Dr. John H. Purefoy was adding a new well in the backyard of his property. While working on it, the wooden rigging collapsed, burying a worker under tons of sandy soil. Rescuers could hear the man screaming out for help, but unfortunately, they were unable to save him. The body was never recovered from the accident.
In the late 19th century, two men were engaged in a bitter feud after they began courting the same woman. One man decided to scare the other late at night, hiding in a tree and armed with a fiddle. When the other suitor walked up the path to the house, the man in the tree started to play frightening noises on his instrument. While the prank was indeed successful, the fiddler met his fate after slipping from the tree and breaking his neck. Today, sounds of his phantom fiddling can be heard in the area.
The story goes that many, many years ago, a little girl only five years of age was helping her father with chopping the wood for the fireplace while her mother and younger brother waited inside their small cabin.
To ensure his daughter wouldn’t fall down on the axe, her father put it into the tree Wanting to be helpful, the girl made attempts to pull it out to chop the wood herself. While her father was on break, she managed to pull the axe free, but she fell on it, hitting her in the head with the blade. She died instantly, blood running down her face.
Over the course of several days and nights, her father stayed by her body. He eventually died of hypothermia from Alaska’s cold winter air. Now, at 3:30 AM every morning, the apparition of the little girl can be seen in her father’s arms as he mourns her death.
Built as a mansion and later used as an orphanage, the Strawberry Hill Museum is now haunted by the spirits of the man and woman that originally lived in the house. The woman has appeared on two occasions: once walking down a church aisle (witnessed by two nuns at the alter) and the other time outside one of the museum’s windows when she asked where the priest’s house was.
The man has been seen only once, when a person visiting the museum’s third floor. Inside the closet was a man sitting, waving his hands in front of his face as if saying “Noooo!”.
As she ran down the stairs screaming, the man tapped her shoulder the entire way. She later identified him as a man in an old photograph from the museum.
The Cuba Middle School’s gym is purportedly haunted by the spirit of a man named Joe Beisly. A former janitor, he fell off of a ladder to his death. His apparition is said to appear if his name is repeated three times.
The Southwest Miami High School was opened in September 1956 as the Southwest Miami Junior Senior High School. It wasn’t until 1959 that the school converted from a grade 7-10 school to a high school. The auditorium was the site of one confirmed death – a student fell from the catwalk to their death shortly after the school opened.
Among the happenings there are TVs and lights turning on and off by themselves, the disembodied sound of a woman laughing, and objects being moved by an unseen force. In one case, a glass door spontaneously exploded in front of a group of people, leaving many witnesses to the odd occurrences at the auditorium.
The Saint James Church has an odd fog that surrounds it at night. Inside, there is a mysterious light that appears when no one is inside. Adjacent to the church is a small cemetery; those who drive by temporarily have scrambled radio and cell phone signals. It was demolished in October 2003 after two local teens set the structure on fire.
The Grande Opera House was built in 1890 on the corner of Main and Beale Street, and was deemed “the classiest theatre outside of New York City”. In 1907, it became part of the Orpheum Vaudeville circuit, which prompted the theater to be renamed the Orpheum Theatre. For nearly two decades, vaudeville remained popular and successful, drawing in large crowds.
Tragedy struck when twelve-year-old Mary was killed in an accident outside of the Orpheum Theatre in 1921. Two years later, a fire broke out during a show with singer Blossom Seeley, and the theater burned to the ground. It was rebuilt on the original site of The Grand in 1928 at the cost of $1.6 million. It was double the size of the old theater, and it featured new decorations and a Wurlitzer pipe organ.
In 1940, the Orpheum Theatre was purchased by the Malco movie theater chain, where they presented first-run movies. The theater remained in use until 1976, when Malco sold the building. Demolition was in store for the Orpheum, as there was talk of building an office complex in its place. However, the Memphis Development Foundation purchased it the following year, and they brought Broadway productions and concerts back to the theater.
On Christmas, 1982, a $4.7 million renovation project began to restore the Orpheum Theatre to how it looked back in 1928. A grand reopening took place in January 1984. Having survived all of its bankruptcies, a disastrous fire, and the threat of demolition, the Orpheum rose above it all to become a premier performing arts center. Called “The South’s Finest Theatre”, it presents more Broadway touring productions on an average annual basis than any other theater in the country.
Actor Yul Brynner, who was reputedly very psychic, saw the apparition of Mary, dressed in a 1920s style dress, sitting on the balcony in her favorite seat (CF). This was during the time that “The King and I” was playing – a play that Brynner was acting in. Cast members of “Fiddler on the Roof” spotted her in the same seat, seemingly enjoying the show; on opening night, a few of the actors and actresses held a séance on the balcony and actually made contact with Mary.
A woman and her fellow theater-goers witnessed Mary’s apparition, whom they described as “a 12-year-old girl in an old-fashioned white dress dancing in the lobby”. Before their eyes, she appeared and subsequently vanished. Mary also made her presence known to a theater workman and a housekeeper. While she never made an appearance in either situation, the workman described the sensation of her presence as a “cold, eerie feeling, like getting into a bathtub of cold liver”. As for the housekeeper, she played pranks on him by taking his tools and throwing them in the toilet.
Other workmen reported seeing a theater door burst open in an outward direction, then proceed to shut itself without the assistance of a living person or wind. Late one night, a repairman was working on a malfunctioning organ. He became frustrated and decided to take a coffee break. Having locked everything up, he was surprised to find upon his return that an unseen entity had fixed the organ.
On a different night, the night watchman accidentally locked up a vagrant man in the 5th-floor gallery. The watchman was startled when he heard the sound of a terrified scream and footsteps running down five flights of stairs in the total darkness. The homeless man burst through the front doors, knocking them off their hinges. It is unknown what he saw that frightened him. In another instance, the theater’s alarm went off, and police with canine units arrived to investigate. The highly trained dogs refused to enter the building, unwilling to budge as if they sensed some sort of presence that the human handlers didn’t.
The Third Bridge is said to have been the site of a massacre of Native Americans that resulted in several deaths. Because of this, the sound of war drums can be heard growing louder and louder as visitors sit on the bridge. Another apparition said to appear along the bridge is a ghost horse rider, who rides on the bridge.
In June 1997, a group of fifteen teenagers and one pre-teen spread between two cars decided to see the paranormal activity at the bridge for themselves. The first vehicle lost control at the top of the hill and crashed into the guardrail. After witnessing the accident, the driver of the second car made a desperate attempt to break but instead hit the gas pedal. They were forced into a tree, smashing the vehicle. The aftermath of the accident left two teens dead and the driver of the first car with permanent crippling injuries.
Third Bridge is haunted by both the dead teenagers and Native American victims.
In 1775, the first European settlers, led by Mitchell Clay, arrived in Princetown, West Virginia. Clay and his family worked together in farming on the land that would later become the Lake Shawnee Amusement Park. Their seemingly safe new life took a tragic turn in 1783. While the men were away hunting, Clay’s two children, Bartley and Tabitha, were attacked by Native Americans in the area. Bartley was murdered and scalped, and Tabitha was killed while trying to save her brother. Their younger brother, Ezekiel, was later kidnapped by the tribe. The men returned to find the children missing, and they took off after the third child.
The Natives took Ezekiel to Ohio, where they proceeded to burn his body at the stake shortly before the rescue group could catch up to them. After defeating the warriors, the search party took strips of skin off the Native Americans’ backs to use as razor straps; the trophies remained in the Clay family for years to come. The chief permitted Mitchell Clay to take the body of his son back home to be buried. The bodies of Bartley and Tabitha were exhumed so that they could be relocated to the hill behind the farmhouse where Ezekiel had been buried.
Two centuries later in 1926, C.T. Snidow purchased the property and turned it into Lake Shawnee Amusement Park; he was entirely unaware of the dark history that lingered on the site. The features of the park included a swimming pool, carnival rides, concession stands, a racetrack, a dance hall, occasional Wild West shows, and guest cabins. Very quickly, it became a popular summer vacation for families.
Tragedy struck again after a mother dropped her son off at the park one morning. When she returned later that afternoon, she found her son’s limp, lifeless body floating in the pool. In order to prevent any further accidents, the owners filled the pool with sand. A few years went by peacefully without any more accidents. During the early 1950s, a truck delivering soda to a drink concession stand accidentally backed up into the path of a swing ride operating at a high speed. The truck collided with one of the swings, killing the young girl riding in it. The fatalities caused the park to close in 1966.
Gaylord White, a former employee of the park, bought the abandoned Lake Shawnee Amusement Park in 1985 with plans to divide up the land and sell it as residential lots. However, his investment plan went south when he found a number of Native American burial sites and artifacts. Instead, he reopened the amusement park – but it only lasted for three years.
After some research, archaeologists discovered that two separate Native American settlements surrounded the area around Lake Shawnee before any European settlers arrived. In 1988, both the Marshall and Concord Colleges worked on digging around the area. They found that the settlements were arranged in a circular formation, and they were inhabited for a long period of time. However, they were believed to have been abandoned several hundreds of years before the settlers arrived. During their study, they found thirteen skeletons, most of them belonging to young children. There are as many as three thousand bodies buried on the property.
Today, the Ferris wheel, the swings, and several other rides remain at the park, which is haunted by a number of spirits. Paranormal activity includes orbs, disembodied voices and footsteps, Native American chanting, odd sounds, and the defunct carnival rides moving by themselves. A male apparition has been seen several times on one of the Ferris wheel cars (the one at the 9 o’clock position). The swings are said to have cold spots just above the wooden seats, which are known to move on their own.
Gaylord White reported having felt someone touching his shoulder or his arm from behind several times while working at the park. He also had a feeling of a presence washing him at the park. However, his most notable interaction was when he was clearing out brush from the field with his tractor shortly after purchasing the property. While doing so, he witnessed a full body apparition of a young girl wearing a pink dress with ruffled sleeves. White now believes that the girl was the one who was killed on the swing ride. Because she liked watching his tractor, he parked and left it for her to enjoy.
The Kimo Theater was opened in fall, 1927. It was not long after that a young boy was killed in a fatal accident – a hot water pipe on the theater boiler burst, hitting him with metal and scalding water. He now haunts the theater, as two other spirits who seem to be much older than the boy.
Stephanie Tasker, her daughter Misty, and a Pakistani exchange student named Moni were driving back from church one Sunday when Misty noticed that a little girl was sitting on the roadside. She felt something was not right. Stephanie then turned the car around to see if the girl needed any help; it turned out that she was actually a teenager, sitting with her knees curled up and rocking back and forth.