Category Archives: Short Stories

The Legend Of Benjamin Blackwell- A Ghost Story Part I

written by Angela L Burke

 Part I

Benjamin Blackwell was the most feared man in town. For that matter, he was the most feared man in Hill Country. He had money, and lots of it. To a big city dweller, he looked like a Mississippi backwoods hustler, but in the small town of Cedar Rock , Mississippi, population 396, he was believed to be the Devil, himself.

When the stock market crashed in 1929, on a day known as “Black Friday” , Benjamin Blackwell’s choke hold on most of the people in the small, country town of Cedar Rock, became final. The tiny, town bank had not been insured and most people in the area lost their life savings. Benjamin Blackwell had bailed many of them out of foreclosure with private loans, in exchange for the titles to their lands, farms, cattle and homes. He was also swift to evict entire families from their houses, confiscate their lands and auction their belongings to wealthy bidders if they failed to pay on time. Those who’s belongings and lands did not earn him enough money to cover their loan, plus the interest, were forced to do hard labor in his cotton fields, for miserable wages. Forced to lease and cram their families into shanty dwellings for a place to live. Many could barely afford to feed their families and were given Government ration coupons. These coupons were good for one piece of bread and one slice of meat per day, per person. Many people had nothing left to trade among themselves and were forced to do without many of life’s necessities, including clothing , food and proper shelter. Often times trading their ration coupons for something to wear or a place to sleep.

There was reason to be nervous, if you worked for Big Ben Blackwell. At this time in history, money and work were nearly impossible to come by in these parts. The Hill people of Northern Mississippi were mostly small, family owned farmers, share crop workers and lumber men. Their living conditions were poor and many did not even have electricity or indoor plumbing. Most of them still had out houses and wells.

Benjamin Blackwell’s blood line was one of the oldest in the county. His ancestors had purchased this land, or stolen it some whispered, from the Chickasaw. They had owned hundreds of slaves, over hundreds of years, black, irish and native. They had been Confederate Officers and Black Market Traders and Throat-cutting Businessmen. They were bullies and thieves and ruffians, only they had real money to back them up. They had once owned hundreds of thousands of acres of the Hill Country. Most of which, had been lost after the Civil War. But not all of it. They still carried the Blackwell dark genes and vicious temperaments. They would never go down easily. They were never liked, merely tolerated, but always respected to their faces, and they were feared, even in their absence.

Benjamin Blackwell owned most of the town and most of the farm land. He was a cotton broker and a mean business man. He was in charge of buying and shipping cotton crops, raising and selling produce , cattle and hogs and even had his hand in local saw mill operations. If you didn’t work for him, then more than likely , you didn’t work. Those who were lucky enough to still have their farms, owed Benjamin Blackwell, in one form or another, for bailing them out. He always collected on the debts people owed him. No one crossed Ben Blackwell without suffering a consequence, whether it was immediate or long in coming. He did no favors out of sympathy. He was hard, cold and out to make money. Regardless, of who he had to step on to get it.

But he was also a cheap skate. The only time he was ever seen riding in a car was when he went to Memphis or Tupelo on business. On his plantation, which he rarely left, Benjamin Blackwell always rode his horse. He was not quick to give up his throne that towered over his people. He could never achieve this level of intimidation in a pick up truck. He didn’t like change, unless it made him money, and to feed his horse was cheaper than gassing up his truck.

When he walked down the sidewalk, people cleared a path to let him pass. He was big, brutal and intimidating. There were many who despised him. He lived at and owned the Blackwell Plantation on the outskirts of town. It had been lived in by his direct family, since 1836. He still had over 15,000 acres of cotton fields, not to mention his vegetable farm and the cotton gin. He also owned the general store and some say, the town banker. Some local people even claimed, that he owned the law and the preacher. Whispers behind closed doors , of course.

Sheriff Conley was a wimp and everybody knew it. He would get so nervous when Ben Blackwell was around that sometimes, he would stutter. He’d had the problem since he was a boy and the kids had made fun of him at school. He had grown out of it as he aged, but when Benjamin Blackwell came into town, his tongue-twisting , childhood speech impediment would return. Most of the time, Conley either did as he was told, or did nothing. He was a sorry excuse for a sheriff and Benjamin Blackwell liked it that way. He made sure that the elections went in Conley’s favor. He didn’t need outside trouble.

Reverend Jonas was pastor of the Hill Country Holiness Church. He was thought by some, to be a hypocrite and a fraud, because he turned a blind eye to the sins of Benjamin Blackwell. Without Blackwell’s financial support, the church would have to close its doors. The Reverend Jonas would be out of a parsonage, a poor house, and a wage. Reverend Jonas feared Ben Blackwell as if he were Satan in the flesh. His faith was weak, but his greed mixed with his fear of being run out-of-town, or worse, kept his tongue in check. He ran the soup kitchen and provided cots for the homeless at the poor house. But, he could have done more. He skimmed the best of the donations for himself and his family. He had pocketed at least half of the money donated to the cause, by the Blackwell Family. His own family never went hungry or without something nice and new to wear. The poor house he oversaw, was one of the worst places in town to have to live. In fact it wasn’t even in town. It was an eyesore to the town people. The poor house was a large white framed three-story boarding house. It had no electricity, no running water and no indoor plumbing. There was an outhouse in the back yard, a water well pump near the back porch and a wash tub for bathing. There were many in the poor house, who were elderly, abandoned or mentally disabled. There was no one to care for them properly. It was not uncommon to see someone die at the poor house. There were new graves almost every month in the potters field section of the town cemetery. Most deaths at the poor house, were a result of neglect, starvation, illness and disease. But there were also three suicides, and two murders committed at the poor house. The towns people secretly suspected that the deaths were somehow Benjamin Blackwell’s fault. But no one dared try to prove it. There was only one church in Cedar Rock for white folks. No one was forced to attend, but those who did so were either, blinded to the reality of their situation and were led like sheep to the slaughter. Or they were quickly made to feel guilty, for being ungrateful for God’s blessings. As well as, made to feel, fear of retaliation, either from God, or Benjamin Blackwell. Neither was a comforting thought.

The colored folks and the sharecroppers had their own old wooden framed church, out in the woods on a trail off Blackwell Road. It had once been a school-house in the late eighteen hundreds for the plantation workers children. It had long ago been abandoned as a school. The church members could worship on Sunday Mornings for two hours. The white sharecroppers had church from 10 am til noon. The colored folks had church from one til 3 pm. Benjamin Blackwell owned the land and the building, and this was all the time he would allow them. There were no fancy pews or stained glass windows, just old, hand split, log benches. There was no piano or grand organ. Just the weary voices raised in song to their Only Hope. The heat source in the one room church, was a cast iron, pot-belly stove, which did little to warm the parishioners in winter. The drafty windows leaked as icy swirls of wind, blew in like a winter crow, chilling the bones of all who prayed there. In the summer time, there were no air conditioners or fans. The parishioners baked in sweltering, humid temperatures as if they were viewing the gates of Hell from the front row. The heat was a warning of punishments to come for sinners. But the faith of those who came here was strong. The people who worshiped here were good people who lived in bad circumstances. For most members, their biggest regret was that, they felt helpless to stop the evil that permeated all around them. They endured their hardships as a test of their faith. They left judgement to God and believed that those who tormented them in this life, would be given their just reward in the hereafter. The Sharecropper Church had no full-time pastor. Visiting preachers and sometimes young men from the Holiness Church in town would come out to preach the morning service. The colored church had a preacher. Brother Isaac Wilson. He was 82 years old, he had been the plantation preacher for 55 years, but he could still get the place jumping. The colored folks did a lot of singing and a lot of praying.

Those in the area that didn’t attend the Town Holiness church, were usually shunned, lied and gossiped about, or just plain ignored. There were some who were even rumored to be Hill Witches. They practiced herbal medicine and were believed to be able to tell fortunes and cast spells. They were sought out in secret but, avoided in public. Many were descended from slaves or had learned their medicine knowledge from their Celtic, African and Native heritages. Their were even rumors that deep in the hills, there was a secret band of mixed blood gypsy witches, who did sacred rituals in the deep woods. Stories about the witches had been around, long before the Blackwell family ever came to Mississippi. There had been rumors of Hill Witches since the first man ever set foot in Hill Country. There were even rumors that the Blackwell Cemetery was once a sacred burial ground of the Chickasaw. It had even been whispered that an angry Chickasaw warrior spirit, roamed the woods behind the Blackwell Cemetery and that if he caught you, you might get scalped. But that was most likely a tall tale, made up by kids, telling tree house stories.

Slavery had been illegal in Mississippi since the Civil War, but reconstruction and the treatment of people of color, strangers, and those of poverty, had been slow to change in the Hill Country. Segregation was still practiced and the colored and the poor were treated with little respect by Ben Blackwell. To him they were all his property, regardless of their color or their heritage. It had been rumored that he was a Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, the notorious, ghost riders from hell. But very few people ever spoke about those things, for fear of retaliation. It had also been rumored that Benjamin Blackwell had been responsible for the deaths of at least 20 men from behind his white sheet. That disobedient workers were threatened, beaten, and targeted for barn burnings and lynchings by Blackwell’s men. He had nephews and cousins that did his dirty work for him.

His next of kin, Amos Blackwell, was Ben’s younger brother and his trusted right hand man. Amos was big, ugly and full of spit and vinegar, and he threw his weight around. He did not have the education or the business smarts to fill Ben’s shoes, no one in the family did. Everyone knew who the boss was. And everyone also knew, that Amos Blackwell would never measure up to Benjamin’s level. Amos Blackwell had no back bone of his own. And Amos knew in his soul, that someday, when Ben was gone, that he would never be able to keep the plantation going, but he was head strong, over-confident and determined to be the boss someday. People jumped when he told them to, and payed up when time expired. He showed them all how easy they had it with Ben running the show. He would do it his own way someday..and he’d show em all !

He would lose some of his arrogance, when he realized that the only reason people were afraid of him was because of Ben Blackwell’s black shadow standing behind him. Without that, he really wasn’t that important. In the mean time, Amos worshiped the ground Ben Blackwell walked on. Ben was his meal ticket and Amos would do whatever Ben wanted, no questions asked.

Martha was beautiful and loved by everyone. No one could believe it when she married Ben Blackwell. But town gossips chattered that it had been an arranged marriage, between Martha’s father, and Ben’s father, Braxton Blackwell. The arrangement was said to have been made, in order to settle a gambling debt . But everyone in town knew that Ben had been in love with Martha since grade school. He had been determined that no one else would have her. He made a point of letting all the young men in town know it. Braxton had been convinced by his son, to make the deal. She was not extremely beautiful, but she was desirable and soft to look at. She was sweet and quiet and did as she was told. Benjamin liked that in a woman. Her mother had died in childbirth and her father was a Riverboat gambler. Martha was often left to live at her Aunt Charlotte’s house in Memphis or neighbors in Cedar Rock, while her father caught a River boat to New Orleans to gamble. But, Martha was always the lady in public and when she married Ben, she carried out her wifely duties in silence and without any complaints. At least not in public anyway. Some said, that Martha loathed Ben Blackwell and that Billy had been conceived out of a forced relationship. But, Martha’s only happiness was Billy. She was a kind and loving mother and spent as much time with Billy, as she could. She loved her son dearly, and so it was then rumored that maybe, he wasn’t Benjamin Blackwell’s son after all. Small town gossip gives way to boredom, but causes terror for its unsuspecting victims.

Benjamin Blackwell was not blind or deaf to the rumors and the suspicions planted in his ears, grew like menacing Kudzu vine, making Benjamin paranoid. Ben was jealous of “the boy” and hated the close relationship that he had with his mother. He would often become angry at “the boy” for no apparent reason, especially if Ben felt he was being coddled by his mother. It was rumored among the staff that Ben would often times lock Billy in his room for days without letting him out, because “the boy” was in his way. If “the boy” didn’t finish all the food on his plate, he would be served the same cold food, for days at a time, until he ate it, often times, making him deathly sick.

Blackwell was known for his short temper and lack of compassion for human suffering. He had grown up with a silver spoon and an abusive bloodline. He felt that the world owed him and he was determined to collect his rightful dues. He didn’t like sissies, cry babies and whiners. He had been taught to suck it up and take it like a man. He had been raised to get his way at all costs and at any expense.

One day, when “the boy”, Billy was about six years old, he had been sitting up in the hay loft of the horse barn, secretly drawing pictures of horses. A small troop of red wasps had been building a new nest in the rafters, just above the young boy’s head. Suddenly, an angry wasp dived at his face. Billy panicked and began to wave his arms around in the air, screaming hysterically. This only angered the red wasps more, and they began to dive towards the panicking child. He was stung numerous times in the back and legs. Trying desperately to get away from them, he fell over the side of the hay loft, crashing into a small pile of hay. He didn’t break any bones, but he received a nasty sprained wrist. He had been stung several times in the back and legs, and had a small purple goose egg on his forehead. He was crying and in pain. He ran towards the main house to seek out the comforting arms of Mammie Faye.

But, Mammie Faye was in the basement doing laundry and didn’t hear the poor boys cries for help. Instead of finding comfort, he had run out of the barn, straight into the rock hard legs of his Father. When the boy tearfully explained what happened and showed his father his injuries, Benjamin Blackwell jerked the boy up by his collar and hauled him out to the woodshed for a strapping. Benjamin was angry that the boy had been in the barn loft to begin with. He felt that if the boy was gonna “cry like a baby”, for something that was his own fault, he would give the boy a good reason to cry. “That’ll teach ya to stay out of the damn barn! ” Benjamin had yelled at the boy, as he hovered in a trembling, fetal heap in the woodshed.

Billy’s mother, Martha passed away unexpectedly when Billy was only 7 years old. She had caught a bad cold, which had developed into pneumonia in both of her lungs. Benjamin Blackwell did not believe in big hospitals and sent for the local doctor. In her weakened state, he had refused to let young Billy in to see his mother. He had told Martha, that he had sent the boy over to stay with his brother Amos until she was better. She never got to say goodbye to the boy. Benjamin was devastated at her death, especially when her last words to him were, ” take care of Billy”.

Benjamin was said to have taken his grief and anger at his beloved wife’s death, out on the boy. Billy was small and fragile and not cut out for heavy farm work. He was shy and quiet and had no interest in learning about the family business. He was a day dreamer, he loved music and art and literature and wanted to be a writer and an illustrator of children’s story books. He loved adventure stories by Mark Twain. Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, being his favorites. His mother Martha had read these stories to him every night before tucking him into bed. But, Ben could see no future in fictional, “make-believe” and thought it idle laziness, to sit around doodling and drawing. He had forbidden the boy to waste his time with it.

Billy would sneak off to his favorite hiding place in the nearby woods, near the bubbling creek and sketch charcoal drawings with pieces of black coal that he’d stolen from the coal bin, in the plantation kitchen. He would make up adventures and draw pictures to illustrate them. He was surprisingly talented and drew very realistic images, in spite of his lack of drawing supplies or artistic training.

Mammie Faye would give him canvas flour sacks to draw his pictures on . She would save the paper labels off the canned goods and he would use the backs of them to draw on. Sometimes, she would even go so far as to steal, Mr. Blackwell’s letter head paper from his study, so that the boy could write his stories. Billy was at least afforded a proper education, although he would never live long enough to use it.

Mammie Fay was Billy’s nanny, the head housekeeper and the plantation cook. She had been working at the Blackwell Plantation all her life. Her parents and grandparents had once been slaves on the Blackwell Plantation and after the Civil War had stayed on as workers and share croppers at the plantation. Mostly because, they had no where else to go and because it was the only way they could survive. Some of them were just to afraid to leave. Mammie Faye lived on the grounds, in the nanny quarters in the Blackwell Plantation attic.

Billy loved her dearly and she doted on the boy and loved him like her own child. Mammie Faye had never been married, but it was rumored that she had given birth to a premature baby, when she was just a young girl. It was a family secret, that was never proven or spoken of in public conversation. But the story told, was that, the baby had been taken from her at birth and died because it was weak, under-developed, and half white. Many believed, that the baby’s father had been Braxton Blackwell, Ben’s own father, and that Braxton had smothered the baby, as soon as it was born, in order to hide his secret relationship with her. It would have been obvious to anyone who saw the child, had it lived, that it’s father was Caucasian. Braxton Blackwell would not let the mixed, illegitimate child, tarnish his reputation in the community. Mammie Faye had never forgiven him for taking her child from her. But, she never spoke a word about who the father had been, or if the relationship had been of her own choosing. She never married and had taken on the trusted responsibility of raising Billy Blackwell, from the time he was born.

Billy died at age 13, on a hot summer day in August of 1929, Not from falling off his horse down a steep embankment, as had been reported. But from the brutal beating he had taken, at the hands of his own father. Ben Blackwell was said to have whipped the young boy with a razor strap, until he could no longer stand up. He had become enraged when he saw the black soot from the charred coal on Billy’s hands and that his stolen letterhead was being used as sketch paper. After the brutal whipping, when the boy failed to walk himself back to the plantation house from the woodshed, Benjamin had beaten the boy in the head with his bare hands, until he was unconscious. Billy lay in a coma from a brain injury for two days, one side of his face, fractured, bruised and swollen. He could not have opened his left eye, even if he had been awake. His fragile body was tender and bruised with shades of deep purple covering his ribs, his back and his legs. His death was ruled an accident by the town doctor and the plantation staff was told to keep quiet about the beating or suffer the consequences. The boy’s obituary read, that he had died from a fall from his horse, down a steep embankment and suffered a head injury to the brain and internal bleeding of the abdomen. But those who knew the truth, did not speak the truth, out of fear for their own lives.

It is said, that Mammie Faye was furious with Benjamin Blackwell when she learned of Billy’s beating. And that when the boy died, she cursed Ben Blackwell, with a spell, for a painfully slow death. That she had secretly vowed, that when Ben was finally dead, his soul would not rest, but would instead, be tortured by hissing rattlesnakes and stinging red wasps, crawling over his corpse . That he would die a lonely man, with few mourners. That his name and his land would be cursed forever and he would be trapped on the land, in a haunting existence in the afterlife. Stuck in a torturous black gap, until the day of God’s final judgement. She was even more enraged when Benjamin Blackwell, put the boys grave in the old slave section of the Blackwell Plantation Cemetery, instead of laying him to rest, next to his mother.

The day of Billy’s funeral, which no one except Reverend Jonas, Mammie Faye and the house help, turned out for the burial service, Benjamin Blackwell instead, got raging drunk. He removed all the boy’s belongings, drawings and clothing from his room. Downed a bottle of boot leg whiskey and burned all of what remained of Billy’s identity, in a blazing fire pit. Ben Blackwell then had the boy’s room stripped, cleaned and locked. Forbidding anyone to ever enter the room again, not even to clean it. The next day Benjamin Blackwell went on about his daily business, as if nothing had even happened. He never spoke of Billy again and would become extremely upset, if anyone mentioned the boy’s name in his presence. He removed all photographs of the boy from display in the house, as if he had never existed.

Mammie Faye had hidden the drawings that Billy had made for her, inside her mattress in the attic, wrapped up in a sugar sack for safe keeping. She had managed to hide a small photograph of the boy, as a young child, sitting on his mother’s lap. She kept it inside the mattress, along with the drawings. It was said, that late at night , the muffled sobbing of Mammie Faye could be heard in the attic, weeping over the dead boys drawings. Then the sound of whispers would be heard, as if secrets were being spoken inside the walls.

Blackwell’s home sat on a small flat hill, at the center of the plantation, down a long shady, dirt road known, unsurprisingly as, Blackwell Rd. No one else lived on the road unless they worked for him and Blackwell was frequently seen riding, up and down the old dirt road on his massive black horse, keeping a watchful eye on his workers and his scattered tenants. The size of the horse was seventeen and a half hands, one of the biggest horses that folks in these parts had ever seen. The massive black horse’s eyes were as dark and frightening, as the giant who rode him. And the beast was as menacing to look at, as his evil master. Blackwell towered over the town people, like a black demon from the depths of hell itself. This only added to Blackwell’s intimidation and effectiveness as a town dictator.

On a scorching, hot, summer day, in mid July of 1932, it is believed that Blackwell was over seeing some of his workers in digging a new irrigation ditch in one of his cotton fields. Town legend has it that Blackwell got angry, because it was taking to long and he did not think the workers were digging fast enough. He is said, to have reached down from his horse, grabbed a shovel out of a worker’s hands and smashed the man in the back of the head, splitting his skull into. The man was killed instantly. However, it was their word against his and since no one in the town , including Sheriff Conley, were brave enough to stand up to Blackwell, the suspicious disappearance of the murder weapon, and the lack of evidence or witnesses, no charges were ever filed against him.

By 1935 however, Ben Blackwell ‘s health had started to weaken. He was having severe bouts of nausea and vomiting, bloody diarrhea and severe abdominal pain. The town doctor had treated him for stress and pain, by giving him Morphine for his severe stomach cramps. However, over time, he had become addicted to the pain medication and it would cause him to act more irrationally, than he had previously been. As his health began to fail, he began to lose his hold over the towns people. He became more, and more, of a man behind the scenes. He did not want the people of the town to see his frail, weak and detoriating condition. So, he became a recluse, sending his henchmen, nephews and cousins, to do his dirty work, and to maintain the major operations of delegating authority over his plantation and field workers.

Mammie Faye was right there, all the time, tending to his every wish and demand. She was compassionate and understanding to his face, but continued to curse him in her mind and under her breath. Some believe, that she used more than her mind to curse the cruel plantation owner. Many believe that she was slowly poisoning him with small doses of arsenic.

Other’s believe that she quietly, practiced some of the old witches ways. Some secret magic of her ancestors from Africa. Because, ironically, on October 31, 1936, All Hallows Eve, Benjamin Blackwell died at the age of 66. He choked on his own bloody vomit, from a bleeding ulcer in his stomach, according to the doctor, but Mammie Faye would go to her grave knowing, what really happened.

Ben Blackwell was put in the ground on the Blackwell Plantation. He was buried in the family plot in the Plantation Cemetery next to his wife Martha. Very few people came to his funeral. Mostly his nephews and cousins and his personal henchmen were present, as were the sheriff and the doctor. The Rev Jonas preached his eulogy, but few were listening. They were all convinced in the solitude of their minds, that the old man had gotten his just desert.

Amos Blackwell, inherited the plantation. But his lack of business knowledge and his missing back bone quickly dwindled the trust fund. His poor decision-making skills had eventually, bankrupted the Blackwell estate, in less than five years.

By this time, Mammie Faye was in her late 70’s and in failing health. She died in her sleep in 1942, clutching the flour sack that contained Billy’s drawings and the photograph of Billy, and his mother.

Amos Blackwell had squandered the family fortune on booze, fast women and bad business decisions. He had let most of the staff go and spent every night pacing the hallways of Blackwell Plantation, talking to himself in fits of madness. He claimed that, he couldn’t sleep because, he kept having nightmares about rattle snakes, red wasps and being chased down by Benjamin Blackwell. He claimed that he was kept awake by the sounds of wailing in the attic and whispers, coming from his walls. He was slowly being driven insane by the phantom haunting at the Blackwell Plantation. He became an unstable alcoholic, frequently wandering about town in a drunken stupor.

One night within a year of Mammie Fayes passing , Amos Blackwell passed out in a drunken coma, on his bare feather mattress. He had been smoking a lit cigar. The house had fallen into disarray and was covered in clutter and garbage. It didn’t take long for the old feather mattress to set ablaze. Amos burned to death in his own bed. The Blackwell Plantation was charred to the ground, leaving nothing behind but the foundation, the fireplace chimneys, and the charcoal skeleton of a once magnificently beautiful plantation house. Now just a pile of burnt ashes.

The Blackwell nightmare had finally ended, or had it?

To find out, read  Part II of The Legend of Benjamin Blackwell.

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Filed under Dark Fiction, death, ghosts, Legends, Paranormal Authors, Short Stories, Spirits, Uncategorized, Unexplained Experiences

The Legend of Benjamin Blackwell A Ghost Story Part II

written by Angela L Burke

Part II

The population of Cedar Rock has changed little, since the death of Benjamin Blackwell. Blackwell Road is still a rural part of the Hill Country and remains a gravel road. Few people live along the road anymore. Most of the fields are used for cattle and horse grazing. A sparse cabin, or the rotting skeleton of a framed shack, can still be found along the roadside. All are un-inhabitable and resemble broken down tool sheds choked out by brush and the suffocating tendrils of Kudzu vine.

Stories about Ben Blackwell, are rarely discussed in public these days. But there are some locals, who know the history and also know of the strange happenings on Blackwell Rd, especially at night. Only the bravest of locals will use the Blackwell Rd as a cut through, but never after dark, and never on a full moon. It has been said, that the cursed and angry spirit of Benjamin Blackwell, still rides his horse down Blackwell Road, patrolling his fields on his massive black beast.

 Speeders, joy riders, strangers, trespassers and parkers, have encountered the dark spirit of Ben Blackwell on the abandoned gravel road. His tall, wicked shadow, usually said, to be holding a shovel. Many even claimed, to have been chased down by the crazed phantom. That the spirit of Benjamin Blackwell, has been known to chase a man’s car down the road at lightening speeds. One local even claimed that his car windshield had been covered in a swarm of wasps, to the point that he ran off the road. Then they disappeared as quickly as they had appeared.

Billy Blackwell, is also said, to haunt the property of Blackwell Plantation. Many locals claim to have seen young Billy, sitting near the creek, drawing pictures. When Billy turns to look at you, he has the look of having been badly beaten on one side of his head and face. He is said, to grin at you with a sad grin and then turn back to his drawing, before disappearing before your very eyes.

Ben Blackwell has reportedly been seen, standing on the hillside, with a shovel slung over his shoulder near the Blackwell family cemetery. It is believed, that he can sometimes be seen, sitting on his monstrous black horse in the middle of the road, as you wind around the bend on a full moon night. Only to disappear when you slam on the brakes. Many lovers have sought to do some private star-gazing on the dark back road, only to look up and see the ghastly face of Benjamin Blackwell peering through their window. His face swollen with oozing whelps from being stung by angry wasps and bitten by venomous rattlers of the afterlife, in which he is trapped.

It has even been said, that the prints of giant horse hooves, have been seen on the Blackwell Rd. No one with any sense would dare to ride a horse down the old road, due to the number of deadly rattlesnakes that have been seen, curled up in their path, sunning themselves in the warm Mississippi sunshine. Anyone who has ever dared venture down the long, pitch-dark, gravel road at night, or even on the brightest of days, do not feel safe in the largest or fastest of motor transportation. The feeling of being watched and chased by an unseen darkness is inescapable on Blackwell Rd. The fear of being struck by a vicious timber rattler or attacked by angry red wasps, will cross your mind at least once, while you’re considering the risks or taking your chances on the old road.

 Curious cemetery explorers and genealogy researchers have reported hearing the sound of a woman wailing, coming from the nearby woods near the cemetery. As well as, the sound of weeping, near the plantation house foundation. Hunters have reported hearing someone whisper the name “Billy “in their ears, while sitting near the creek, only to find that no one is ever there.

But the most surprising claims, are that Benjamin Blackwell’s grave site, as well as the plantation house foundation, is infested and swarming with large rattle snakes and swarms of big red wasps. Mississippi red wasps have an extremely painful sting and to those who have sensitivity to them, they can be deadly, especially in large numbers. Most people caught off guard by a timber rattler, never make it out of the woods. Alive that is.

The Blackwell Plantation was abandoned after the burning of the main house. The barely visible chimney, is now held tight, in the grips of Kudzu and ivy vines. The foundation of the big house is hardly recognizable. Curiosity seekers, teenagers and hikers have attempted to explore the ruins of Blackwell’s Plantation House, but none have ever stayed long. The ruins are said to be infested with rattle snakes. No one with any sense at all, regardless of their hill country survival skills, would be foolish enough to take on a hot breeding nest of angry timber rattlers.

A group of modern-day paranormal investigators, tried to explore the old site recently, and one of them came out of the woods with his life hanging in the balance. The photographer had to be air lifted to the trauma center for rattlesnake venom, after he was bitten on the leg while attempting to photograph the ruins of Blackwell Plantation. Mysteriously, there was nothing on his roll of film, even though all of his frames had been shot.

Numerous claims of mysterious fire lights, tall lurking black shadows, apparitions of a large man with a shovel, thick smoke from unknown sources and mysterious mists, the smell of wood and flesh burning. They have all been reported over the years at the plantation site. The land has never been lived on again. It is now owned by the state’s national park service. All attempts to develop the land have failed. Visitors are always cautioned to avoid the area as being unsafe and extremely dangerous, due to the infestation of rattlesnakes and red wasps. Don’t count on a cell phone for help. There are no signals in these hills, only the echos of a black buzzards scream.

The land sits vacant, said “to be cursed” by Mammie Faye and haunted by the tormented spirits of Benjamin Blackwell and his family. It is believed that Martha searches the charred ruins of the house whispering for her son Billy, in her desperation to say goodbye to him. Mammie Faye’s whispers can still be heard near the ruins of the plantation house. That the smell of whiskey, cigars and burnt flesh can be caught on a passing breeze near the charred ruins. That Billy Blackwell, still draws pictures near the Blackwell Plantation Creek.

But the most feared encounter of all for those who are brave enough to venture onto the Blackwell Rd and Plantation, is to run into the ghost of Benjamin Blackwell, the meanest man who ever lived in the Hill Country.

May the curious outsider beware! They say that behind every good legend story, there is a hint of truth in it somewhere. Explore The Legend of Benjamin Blackwell, at your own peril. You never know when the curses of a ghost legend, will turn out to be real.

Note from the Author:

The Legend of Benjamin Blackwell, is just that. A Legend. It was inspired by a rumored, Mississippi back road in the Hill Country where I live. The actual location is rumored to be haunted by an angry farmer on a black horse. But this fictional story has been dramatized and exaggerated, mixed up and made up for storytelling effect. The location, character names and claims of activity are purely fictional and any similarities with actual places, persons or events in Mississippi, or anywhere else, are purely coincidental and unintentional. The only part of this story that is known to be true and factual, is that the location, that this story was inspired by, is indeed rumored to be haunted by a dark spirit, riding a tall, black horse. The cursed home site is indeed, in ashes. It’s foundation is absolutely, infested with rattlesnakes and angry, red wasps! The rumored, haunted road thru the Hills, is definitely crawling with rattlesnakes. I will never tell anyone of its true location. It will be to my dying day, a deadly secret.

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Traumatized..by Alexander S. Brown

Dark Fiction lovers and horror fans won’t want to miss this chance, to explore the world of the supernatural,  the occult, dark creatures, maniacs and eternal damnation,  in Alexander S .Brown’s book,  Traumatized. Published in 2008 by Xlibris.

Fans of the horror genre are in for a treat as Alexander S. Brown presents a fascinating and raw collection of  15 short stories and novellas that will surely bring chills down your spine.

I had the opportunity to meet the author, Alexander S. Brown, at the  February Fright Fest 2011, in Jackson Mississippi this month.  I also had the pleasure of exchanging books with Mr. Brown. He is a delightful person, with a sincere love for the horror genre. I found his book to be  quite an exciting surprise!  But, definately  not for the faint of heart, weak of mind, nor is it a book  for young readers.. 

Mr. Brown told some tales in his book, that not only made me shudder, but actually disturbed my core. This is the effect that a true horror story should leave the reader with.  If a horror story, doesn’t rake a nerve or two, then it isn’t worth reading, in my opinion. 

With that being said, Alexander S. Brown is a true, horror story-teller and excellent, dark fiction writer, he definately raked raw, a nerve or two of mine, with his chilling book of tales.  I had to keep reminding myself that it was just fiction. 

I encourage all horror and dark fiction fans, to get a copy for yourself  and read it…… but with fair warning…. you might be left, a bit Traumatized. 

I would like to thank Alexander Brown for his permission in using his photo and his cover art for this blog post, and for taking the time to speak with me about his book, for allowing me the opportunity to read it, and write a blog post about it for our Darkpens readers. But mostly, thanks, for giving me the creepy crawlies, I love that in a good book of horror stories.

You can read more about Traumatized  and the author, Alexander S. Brown, or check out an excerpt from the book, by visiting www.traumatizedsouls.com or by going to the publishers website at www.Xlibris.com

Book Review and Darkpens Post written by Angela L Burke- MSSPI Darkpens Blogger

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The Ghost of Sweetgrass Field- A Southern Tale

A short story poem about a civil war haunting from the book Hauntings In My Head – A Collection of Ghostly Southern Poetry by Angela L Burke.

The Ghost of Sweetgrass Field
A Southern Tale

Once there was a field of sweetgrass,
Where a lonely oak tree stood.
And underneath it’s branches
Stood a picket fence of wood.
The gate had long been missing.
It’s paint had chipped away.
Four, tiny headstones stood there,
Where, three babes and mama lay.

A little girl named Bonnie,
A little girl named Sue.
And a little babe named Emily,
She lived, nine months past age two.
The three little ones were sisters.
They died on the same day,
In the year of 1863,
The Seventeenth of May.

The Story was, their Papa
Had gone away to fight.
And their Mama, she had begged him
Not to go with all her might.
He kissed each one on the forehead,
He kissed Mama on the lips.
He said “‘ I’ll be back in no time….
It’ll be a real short trip.”‘

” I’ll be here beside you
Before you can blink an eye.
This war won’t last six months…I bet.
Be big girls and don’t cry”‘
But their Papa never came back
And they never heard a word.
Their Mama, she was left alone
To raise her three, small girls.

Times were tough in those days.
There were theives at every turn.
And what those Yankees didn’t steal,
They’d turn around and burn.
A trigger happy soldier
Shot Mama in the chest,
When they tried to burn her house down,
And she tried strongly to protest.

And her three little angels
Hiding underneath the bed,
Were trapped by blinding smoke
And met their tragic deaths.
Their tiny little bodies
Were placed in Sweetgrass Field,
By the same Yankee Soldier
Whom, their Mother, he had killed.

Claimed he hadn’t meant no killin,
Claimed he only meant to warn her.
But when he heard those children scream,
Guilt tore his heart asunder.
So he built a picket fence
In a square around their beds.
And he planted a little oak tree,
For some shade above their heads.

He was found in Sweetgrass Field
With a bullet to his head.
Rumor has it , he’s the one
Who walks among the dead.
They say he guards the graveyard
As penance for his sins.
In hope that maybe someday,
God will forgive and let him in.

You can see him in the moonlight,
Walking with his head hung low.
He cannot leave their graveside.
He has no where to go.
So until the Day of Judgement,
To his punishment he yields.
That’s how I recollect the story
Of The Ghost of Sweetgrass Field.

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The Shadow Watcher

The Shadow Watcher

Sequel to : The Davidson Farm

by Angela L Burke- MSSPI

 

I left Michigan in March of 1993. I was moving back home to be near my family with my two young children.

I was terribly sad to leave my home at the Davidson Farm which I have written about in a previous post. If you have not read that post, I would encourage you to do so as it might shed some light on where I’m coming from with this post.

The first few months back in Tennessee had been uneventful as far as unusual activity, and after about six months, my husband at the time, had decided to move to Tennessee and we were going to make one last attempt at working out our relationship. We moved into a three bedroom ranch on the North side of Memphis. My husband had brought what remained of our furniture and belongings that I’d had in storage in the basement of the previous Davidson Farmhouse.

For 3 or 4 months we attempted to repair the damage done to our relationship, but things changed little for the better and had in fact become much worse. The violent outburst and fighting all the time were more than I could deal with. And we separated again with some resistance on his part. In fact it would be a long and drawn out divorce proceeding.

About a week before I finally called it quits for good, I was home alone. In the front part of the house was a formal dining room that had frosted glass French doors and a frosted glass wall that separated it from the entry way and the kitchen. I was standing in the kitchen, trying to gather up my papers and packing up things I wanted to take with me. It was daytime and the light from the dining room was fairly bright coming thru the frosted glass. I thought I saw something move in the dining room and I looked up towards that direction. I was very startled to see the tall thin shadow of what looked like a man, standing there , facing me from the other side of the glass. It was very scary and for a brief few seconds it just stood there, frozen. Then without any warning it darted into the front wall and disappeared. I very cautiously walked toward the dining room and opened up the French doors, but there was no one there. I thought perhaps it had been a shadow from outside the house, so I walked outside and looked all around the house , but there was no one there either. Later that week I moved out into a nearby apartment.

It was a really nice place and at first I didn’t really notice anything strange, but after about a week, I started to hear footsteps in the hallway. And on a few occasions I would see a shadow go past the bedroom door, I would open it up and look out, but no one was there, I would go check on the kids and they would be asleep in their rooms. This was a bit unnerving, being as I was a single mother , living alone in a new apartment, but I just tried to brush it off as my imagination. On a few occasions over the next few months, I began to notice that every time I had company over, especially if they were male, that my ceiling fan in my bedroom and in my living room would make an awful noise and begin to shake and vibrate erratically. I called the maintenance man and he came out and looked at the fans but could find nothing wrong with them. After about the third time I had called him to come back out, he changed them and put up new fans, but the activity continued. It was sporadic and usually only happened when I had company over. Many of my friends would joke that I had a ghost and that it must not like my friends very much. We all laughed and joked about it, but in private I began to take it seriously. One night after my company had left and the activity had been rather strong that night, I made a comment out loud that I didn’t think it was very polite to rattle the fans like that every time I had company and I turned off the fan. Just about the time I was out of the room, The fan began to turn, faster and faster until I thought it might spin itself plum off the ceiling. I said, Hey, don’t get ugly with me and immediately the fan stopped rotating. I high tailed it to bed and was a little nervous after that every time I would walk under the fan or attempt to turn it on. After about six months, I began dating again and I met a man who I’ll call RM for his privacy, after a several months of dating, he asked me to move in with him. I was having trouble paying for my apartment and trying to raise two kids alone and he was very good with my kids and treated them like his own and so I agreed.

We moved into some old apartments in Millington, TN, very near the Naval base. He was in the Navy at the time and it was very convenient for him. His room-mate had been discharged from the service and had moved all his furniture out and so we used my furniture as a replacement. Immediately after moving in , we began to notice his ceiling fan making the same noises and vibrations that mine had made. He said that it had never happened in the year he had lived there, until I moved in. We also began to notice that the light in the hallway would come on and shut off by itself. It became almost a nightly occurrence. I would see the light come on under the bedroom door and I would get up to look and the kids would be sound asleep and no one would be there. One night it became so annoying that I took the bulb out of the socket and placed it on the dining room table. The next morning I got up to find that the bulb had been replaced and the light was on. I asked RM if he had replaced it and he said, no I’ve been in bed ever since you took it out. I knew that the kids hadn’t done it as they were only about 3 and 5 yr old and they could not have reached it even if they had pulled up a chair to stand on.

After this started I also began to notice things being moved. One night, I wasn’t feeling well and I went to bed without doing the dishes, I got up the next morning and they were all done and put away, I went to thank RM for doing them and he said, I don’t know what you’re talking about, I didn’t do any dishes. My kids of course didn’t do them, and so then it became somewhat of a joke for RM that I had fairy elves helping me with the dishes.

On another occasion I had left a pair of scissors on the dining room table where I had been doing some sewing, I got up to go use the restroom and when I came back the scissors were gone. I looked all around the house and finally found them in the kitchen drawer. There was no one home at the time but me and I had been using them all morning. I know for a fact that I did not put them away as I was still using them.

That same week I was in the kitchen getting ready to cook some spaghetti. I had turned on the stove burner to brown the meat. I had made a plate of fudge and had it in a glass serving dish which I had removed from the refrigerator and sat on top of the stove top. A few moments later I heard someone call me ” Mama, Mama” My kids were in the living room in my view and I thought it was them calling me. I went into the living room and said , what? , and they both turned from their tv show and said, what? we didn’t call you mom. I said are you sure that you didn’t just say Mama or maybe someone said it on TV? and they both said no, just about that same time I heard a large boom come out of the kitchen and heard the shattering of glass. It was so loud I ducked down on the floor on top of the kids, because I thought someone had shot a gun through the window. I went back into the kitchen to find that the plate of fudge had exploded all over the kitchen into tiny glass shards. Apparently I had turned on the wrong burner and the heat from the stove had caused the cold glass to shatter. There was chocolate and glass stuck in the ceiling tiles, blown clear across the kitchen into the sink, and all over the floor, where I had just been standing. if I had not walked into the living room in response to my name being called , it probably would have cut me to shreds or taken out an eye. I sort of felt like, whomever said my name was trying to get me to leave the kitchen, out of harms way and the only way to do that, was to make me think, that the kids needed me.

On another occasion , I had thought I heard someone moving around in the kitchen, I got up and went to look and there was no one there, I went to the kids room to check on them and they were sound asleep. As I was about to come back to bed, I heard a gunshot. It sounded as if it had come from the apartment above me. As I reached to get the phone, I noticed that there was a hole in my ceiling directly above my bed and little flecks of insulation were drifting down from the hole onto my bed. I thought OMG, I have children sleeping down here and what if this lunatic starts shooting thru the floor and hits one of my kids or me?

I called the police and reported the gunshot and they came out and went to the apartment upstairs.The apartment manager came out to see what was going on, when I told them about the gun shot and showed them the hole in the ceiling, they all just looked at each other oddly, the apartment manager informed me that the man who had lived there had moved out unexpectedly over a week ago and that the apartment was empty. The manager went on to say that he couldn’t keep a tenant in that apartment ever since a few years prior when a sailor who had lived there had committed suicide in the upstairs apartment by shooting himself in the head with a pistol. He also said that there had been numerous reports of gun shots coming from that apartment when no one was living in it. I said well, I’ve been hearing someone walking around in there all week but I thought the guy still lived there, I asked him if he could explain the hole in my ceiling and he said that he had repaired the ceiling on 3 previous occasions for the same reason, but no one ever found a bullet. The police checked all the doors and searched the entire apartment and the attic space above it and found no signs of entry or that anyone had been there. It had never been explained, where it came the shots came from or how the hole kept appearing. He said, just between you and me, I think the damn place is haunted.

About a week or so later, RM and I were sleeping on a Saturday Morning, the sun was already up and the room was lit with early morning sunshine, the kids had gone to their dad’s house for the weekend and so it was just the two of us. Have you ever had that feeling like someone is standing over you, staring at you while your sleeping? Well, that’s what I felt. But when I opened my eyes, no one was there, , I saw movement like a shadow walking at the foot of the bed. I turned over to see who it was, as I thought maybe RM had gotten up and was moving around, but I realized he was lying next to me. As I looked towards the door I saw a tall dark grey shadowy figure with a bony hand sticking out of a sleeve and it was pulling the door shut. This really freak-ed me out and I thought maybe I was dreaming with my eyes open or something, so I rolled back over, but I couldn’t go back to sleep. I didn’t say anything to RM at the time, I thought he was still sleeping. When I did decide to get up, I was scared to death to open up the door, afraid that some tall, bony, shadow man would be standing on the other side of it, but there was no one there.

Later that morning RM got up and came to the table for breakfast. Out of the blue he said” The strangest thing happened this morning and I want to tell you, but I don’t want to freak you out. ” I said “what is it?” He said “this morning, I thought I saw someone walking around in our room.” He said ” I saw a bony hand on the door knob, pull the door to but I couldn’t see a face.” He was serious and a little shaken by it. I said, “I saw the same thing, but I thought I was dreaming it.”

He said “are you serious?” I said, “yes, I’m serious, I really did think that I was dreaming it”. He then proceeded to sketch a picture of it and it matched exactly what I saw to a tee. We both just kind of looked at each other with a ” so what do we do now?” kind of look. We finished our breakfast in silence. Then he said, “well I guess if it wanted to hurt us it would have done it by now.” Trying to be the positive one I said, ” “Maybe it’s just trying to look out for us, I mean look at all the times weird stuff has happened just before some event that we could have gotten hurt, like the fudge incident”. . We had no explanation for what we had seen or the things that had been going on since I moved in. He said, “I think you have a ghost or something following you, because nothing like this ever happened here before you moved in”. I felt kind of bad and wasn’t sure if I should take that as just a comment or an accusation. Most of the time, we just didn’t discuss it and would try to ignore the goings on. But it was a little unnerving when RM would leave for duty for a few weeks and I would be there alone. But, I never felt alone, even when I was.

A few months later RM was honorably discharged from his tour in the Navy and we were going to move to Houston. I was going to go and stay with my Dad for a few weeks while RM secured a job and a place for us to live and then he was going to send for me and the kids. He helped me move all our belongings to my Dads and we were going to store our belongings in my dad’s barn until he found us a place. As soon as we opened up the door to the back of the moving trailer, a very thick, sweet-smelling, warm breeze shot out of the back of the trailer the minute we opened the door, it was like standing in front of the heater vent when it first kicks on. It swirled around my head with enough force to move my hair and then it was gone, smell and all. RM and I both looked at each other at the same time, He said,” did you feel that?”, I said “yeah, I did ” and we just looked at each other and smiled but we didn’t say anything to anyone else. We both knew what we were feeling.

I never felt or heard or saw anything else after that. It was almost as if, whatever was there, knew I was safe with my Dad and I didn’t need protecting anymore. I knew when it was gone. The air and the atmosphere around me was different and it wasn’t just me who felt it, RM felt it to. I have never been able to explain any of these incidents, which is yet, another reason, why I study the paranormal. I don’t believe that it was there to harm me, I always felt more like it was just looking out for me and I missed it when it was no longer there. I have always personally believed that one of the spirits from the Davidson Farm, had attached itself to me and followed me until they knew that I was safe. Then again, maybe it was a guardian angel of some kind or the spirit of the sailor who had killed himself,  wandering about, I don’t really know. What I do know is that it was a crazy , hair-raising experience that I don’t regret having, I just wish I knew who or what it was.

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The Ghost of Clara Barton

A creepy experience at a nursing home, where black shadows bring death.

by Angela L Burke- MSSPI

In the early 1990’s I worked as a Charge Nurse at a Nursing Home in Michigan which was named after the famous nurse, Clara Barton. I was working the 11 pm to 7 am shift and it was usually pretty quiet..

Around 3 am on this particular Friday night, I was getting ready to lock up some medication that had been brought in by the pharmacy. The medication cart was parked just outside the nurses station, in front of a long hallway, which was my unit. It was a large unit with approximately 65 beds. I was the only nurse on duty for my unit but, I had several Nurse Assistants working with me that night.

The lights in the hallway were dimmed each night to help facilitate sleep but, there were generator type lights on in the corridor and it was lit enough that you could see anyone who was walking in the hallway.

As I was locking up my medication cart, I happened to look up and at the end of the hallway, I saw a black figure, which was like the outline of a woman in what looked like a long black dress. It darted across the hallway from one doorway to the other. It was so creepy looking that I got chills up my spine. I knew that the room on the left was empty..we used it to store wheelchairs and shower chairs in.

I walked to the end of the hallway and as I got near the end, one of the nurse assistants came out of a room to drop some dirty linen in the laundry barrel and I asked her if she had seen anyone down this end of the hall..she said no and I asked her if she would walk with me to the end and see if anyone had entered the last room on the left as I had thought I had seen a woman go into the room..

She said “ok” and we went to the last room on the left..the door was closed and I pushed it open and reached inside to flip on the light..As I did the room was freezing cold..so cold in fact that we could both see our breath.. I checked the windows ..they were closed and locked..I checked the bathroom there was no one there..I checked the thermostat on the wall and it said that it was 72 degrees in the room ..but there was no way it was that warm…we could find no explanation for what I had seen or why it was so cold…we searched the unit for wandering patients or anyone who wasn’t supposed to be there and there was no one who wasn’t where they were suppose to be.

I went to the other side of the hallway and asked the two gentlemen in the room if they had seen anyone and they both said no..I of course didn’t tell them why I was asking, for fear of freaking them out .

The next morning, I called maitenance to come check out the thermostat and I reported what had happened with the temperature.

The maintenance man walked with me down to the room and when we entered the room, the thermostat was set on 70 degrees but, it was about 90 degrees in the room, so hot that he started to sweat almost immediately. He couldn’t find any reason for the thermostat to register wrong but, he changed it out anyway.

I went home and had the weekend off . When I returned to work on Monday I found out that one of the men in the last room that I had spoken with the previous Friday night, had passed away on Saturday evening. His roommate told me that he was sleeping and all of a sudden, he got extremely cold and thought he could see his breathe..He said he thought he saw someone standing at the foot of his roommates bed and he called out to them and no one answered…so he put his call light on and when the nurse came into the room she had found that his roommate was deceased. No one had come into or out of the room, as the nurse had been only about 10 feet away from the door when he had rang for her. It creeped him out so bad, that he asked for a room transfer and I obliged him, as I knew the anxiety of what he was feeling.

There was never a real explanation, but I did speak to my nurse manager about it several days later and she told me that there had been many reports over the years from the staff of a figure in black lingering in the hallways at night, usually followed by a death in the facility. It was rumored, for lack of a better explanation, that the figure was the ghost of Clara Barton who had came to help those who’s time it was, to pass over,

She said “no one tells the new nurses when they come to work here, because if we did, we would never get anyone to work the graveyard shift.”

 

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The Haunting of Davidson Farm

The Haunting of Davidson Farm

by Angela L Burke

I fell in love the moment I saw it. The old Davidson farmhouse was a dream that I had always wished for. It was a two-story white framed house with black shutters and a large country porch that ran the entire length of the house. I had always wanted a porch like that, so that I could have a porch swing and maybe even a few rocking chairs for sipping lemonade on hot summer days. It was October of 1990 when we moved into the house. I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with my oldest son and was excited to get the nursery set up before his arrival. My daughter Becka was a little over 2 yrs old and my husband and I were excited to have purchased our first home. The house was in the country down a long dirt road. There were neighbors in sight but not so close as to be able to hear their conversations over supper, unlike the crowded apartments, we had moved from in the city.

The house sat on a five acre plot and the land backed up to the State’s National Forest Land. On the left side of the property there was an open field that was overgrown with blackberry vines and weeds. The house had 3 bedrooms and a full bath upstairs and downstairs was a full bath, living room, kitchen and dining area and an extra bedroom which we turned into a small playroom and den for my daughter, so that she could watch her cartoons and not be running up and down the stairs for toys. There was also a large basement and a garage.

My first impressions of the house was that it was lonely and in need of a womans touch. I was excited and spent the day unpacking the kitchen. The first day was uneventful, all I can really say about it is that I didn’t like the basement. It was very cold and creepy down there, even though half of it was finished and had a nice laundry area with plenty of room for a folding table and storage. There was also a work bench on the opposite side where my husband could keep his tools and have room for his deer hunting gear. It was also large enough for a weight bench. This in itself was a blessing to me just to get the barbells out from under the bed.

But I had the feeling right from the start that I was being watched everytime I went down to the basement. There was a window near the staircase that did not open. When you looked out this window you were at dirt level and there had been an extention added to the house, were an addition had been added to increase the size of the kitchen. It looked like an enclosed tomb when you looked inside it. I remember thinking, that would be a good place to put a body. I got the chills when the thought entered my mind and I shook it off and got out of the basement as soon as I could. The first curtains that I hung were to cover this window. I did not like the feeling I got when I would have to walk past it.

My son was born early, 3 days in fact, after we moved into the house. It was something I somewhat expected to happen. He was a big baby and I knew we would not make it the full 9 months. I really don’t remember much activity the first few months we lived there, other than the heavy uncomfortable feelings I had in the basement. Like someone was always standing right behind me breathing on my neck and when I would turn around no one would be there. And the well and sump pump and the furnace in the far corner of the basement made so much noise that winter, that I attributed most of the noises I heard to that. But when spring came, everything changed.

When the weather had warmed we started to do odd jobs around the house. The first thing I wanted to do was paint the shutters. They were faded and chipped and the black paint looked more like charcoal grey, so I painted them a nice shade of burgundy red. The house came alive almost instantly, just from painting the shutters. We painted the inside rooms and put some new carpet down. I also love flowers and as there was very little landscaping, I decided I would put in some flower beds around the house to cheer things up a bit. I had taken a walk one day thru the field next door and I noticed that there was a large field stone foundation that was barely visible thru the weeds and brush. It was crumbling in places so I decided that the field stones would be perfect for a border around my flower beds. I carted several wheelbarrow loads of field stone from the foundation over to the yard. I had enough to put flowerbeds all the way around the house. I was delighted at how it looked. I planted all sorts of different flowers and plants and the house was looking very sharp when I finally finished.

It was at this time that I began to notice a change in events happening around me. It started with the footsteps. It sounded like little children running down the hall of the upstairs. Then I would hear giggling and children’s voices whispering. Sometimes I would hear a child say ” Mama” and turn around and no one would be there. I would hear voices on the baby monitor upstairs when the children were with me and I’d go up to the room to see, but no one would be up there.

A week or so went by and then I noticed that things were being moved. One day I had been doing some baking in the kitchen, I had placed a large bread carving knife on the kitchen counter, I turned my back to stir something on the stove and when I turned back around the knife was not there. I looked around and saw that it had been moved into the sink. My children were very little and were not able to even reach the counter top. They had been down for a nap at the time, and I was the only other person there. Sometimes the rocking chair in the living room would be moving by itself. I always found some kind of excuse for what was happening. I also noticed that things were being moved around in my daughters bedroom.

She rarely played in her bedroom upstairs, most of her toys and her tv and cartoon movies were kept in the playroom downstairs. I would clean her room every morning and make her bed and then I would close the door to her room and we would all go downstairs to play. The staircase was gated so that she could not climb the stairs alone. But on numerous occasions, I would go up to her room to put away her laundry or get diapers from the nursery and her door would be open, when I would enter the room , everything would be pulled out of her dresser drawers, her toy box would be turned over and emptied and all the clothes would be pulled off the hangers in her closet. Her bed covers would be pulled off the bed. I knew that my daughter was not the one who had done it. She had been downstairs with me the entire time. I think I really didn’t know what to do or think, so I did nothing.

On one occasion I had brought the children upstairs for a nap and Becka’s room was tidy and everything in its place. I put her into her bed and she layed down with very sleepy eyes and I knew it wouldn’t take long for her to fall asleep, I walked out her door and pulled it to and entered the nursery to put my son down in the crib. I heard giggling and rustling noises coming from my daughter’s room. So I went back to the door to make sure she was still in her bed. When I opened up the door, she was sitting up in her bed with one hand covering her mouth and her other hand pointing towards the closet. The dresser drawers were pulled out and all the clothes had been flung into the floor, the toy box had been emptied and the clothes from the closet had been pulled off the hangers and a few of them were still swinging empty on the bar rack.

I said “Becka, what happened, why did you make this mess?”, She said “it wasn’t me mama, they did it”, I said ” who is they?”. She said, “those little girls made a mess”. I said “what little girls?”, She said “those little girls in my closet”. She did not understand why I couldn’t see them and I was trying hard not to let her see how much it had shaken me up. I knew that there was no way that Becka had the time to empty the toy box or the dresser drawers and that she wasnt even tall enough to reach the clothes on the hangers in the closet. I picked everything up and put all the clothes back on their hangers and trying to keep my cool, I said, ” Becka, tell those little girls that it isn’t nice to mess up your room like that” She smiled and she said ” they said sorry mama ” Then she laid her head down and fell asleep.

A week or so later on one particular day I had decided that the kids would nap down stairs, my daughter was sleeping on the couch in the living room and I was rocking my son in the rocking chair next to her and suddenly the TV came on by itself. I thought it was strange considering that there was no remote and not really sure how it could have happened. It was an older model tv and you had to get up to change the channels. I got up and switched off the TV and sat back down in the rocker. A few moments later the TV came on again, only this time to a static station and the volume had been turn up to the highest it would go. I got up again and this time I unplugged the tv, as I thought maybe there might be a short in it or something. I sat back down in the rocker and no sooner had I sat back in the chair, the TV came on again to a static station. I was really getting freaked out now. I put the baby in the playpen and walked over to the TV, half expecting some sort of skeleton face to appear on the screen. I looked behind the TV and the plug was laying on the floor. I reached over to hit the off button and as I did, a blue electric charge shot out of the button and shocked my hand. I quickly hit the switch with my fist and turned off the tv. Then out loud I said ” knock it off ok, the babies are trying to take a nap” It never happen again.

I’m not sure why I didn’t panic, I felt like there was something there that was just being mischievous, but I didn’t feel threatened by it , only confused and a little bit irritated. I tried to tell my husband when he came home from work, but he just looked at me and jokingly said ” what have you been smoking?” I don’t think he ever really took me seriously.

A few days later I was outside working in the flower bed, which had begun to bloom nicely, in fact it was one of the prettiest flower beds I had ever planted and I was surprised at how fast the plants had sprouted and grown. Anyway, The elderly couple from across the road, were out walking their dog. They stopped at the edge of the driveway and said ” hello and how nice the yard was looking” I walked down to the end of the drive and introduced myself. The couple told me that they had lived in the house across the road for over fifty years. I said ” well then maybe you can tell me what use to be in the field next door where the old foundation is?”

They looked at each other like they weren’t sure if they wanted to say, But then the wife said, “well back in the late 1930’s early 40’s, I ‘m not exactly sure what year it was, the farmhouse that you live in, was occupied by a couple and their 3 little girls. The father had made them a rope swing out in the barn , which is what use to sit on that foundation.” She said ,” an unexpected tornado came thru this area and hit the barn while the 3 girls were out there playing on the rope swing. All three of them were killed”. She went on to say that “after their death, their mother became severely depressed and she overdosed on sleeping pills. It was very tragic and sad.”

I said “what happened to the father?” She said , “after his wife died, he left and no one really knows where he went. The house sat empty for a long time. Then in the 1960’s another couple moved in” . She said “the father was an alcoholic and it was rumored that he would get drunk and beat up on his wife all the time. One day, I guess she got sick of it and she just disappeared, some say she ran off with another man and some say that he killed her and buried her somewhere on the property, but no one really knows for sure what happened to her. They had a 16 yr old son, and after the wife disappeared, the father would take out his drunken rages on his son. One night, the father had come home drunk and had knocked the poor boy around a bit, the son had enough of it and he shot his father in the back of the head while he was sitting at his workbench down in the basement, then the boy shot himself in the upstairs bedroom.”

Needless to say, I was not prepared for all of that information, but I said, “has anyone ever mentioned anything strange going on in the house since all of this happened?” They looked at each other and the man said , “You might as well tell her”

The wife said, “well, after that the house sat empty again until the last young couple bought it a few years ago. It had been in terrible condition and they did a lot of work to fix it up. But they only stayed 2 years and then they just up and moved. That’s when you came. You might hear some rumors about the house that it’s haunted, but I wouldn’t worry too much about it dear, it’s an old house and old houses make lots of noise, it’s probably just the floorboards settling” . I thanked them for telling me the story , I didn’t let on to them any of the activity that had been occurring, which I knew was more than just the floor boards creaking. I was also worried that they might think I was a nut if I told them all the things I had seen and heard. I certainly didn’t want to be the subject of town gossip. So I kept it to myself.

My younger sister age 15 and one of my younger brothers age 13 had come to spend their summer break with me that year. My sister told me that she never believed in ghosts until she spent that summer in my house. One day she and I had been sitting at the kitchen table, just talking and we had the kitchen windows open. It was a beautiful day and pleasant temperatures, so we were enjoying the fresh air. All of a sudden, we heard a clicking noise. We could not figure out where it was coming from. The kids were in the playroom curled up on the couch with my brother watching tv and you could not hear the clicking noise when you entered the room. We went back into the kitchen after looking all around the house to try to locate the source. When we sat back down at the table we heard it again. I looked out the window to see if it might be coming from outside. My car was parked in the driveway, just a few feet from the window. The manual locks on the doors of the car were going up and down by themselves. I said, No Way! and I jumped up and ran out into the driveway to be sure no one was in the car. The locks were still clicking as my sister and I stood there. Then they suddenly stopped. My sister of course was completely freaked out and I was pretty much trying to stay calm for her sake. But I have to say that it was very unnerving.

Later that year after they had returned back home for school, the activity continued. Mostly footsteps, giggles, laughing, voices whispering and things being moved around. One night, I had finished cleaning up the supper dishes and my husband and kids had been in bed for some time. I was getting ready to go upstairs to bed. The staircase to the upstairs was in the kitchen as was the doorway to the basement. As I began to climb the staircase , the basement door slowly opened and made a creepy creaking noise as it came ajar. I stopped and went back down and shut the door. I thought maybe it hadn’t been closed all the way. As I started back up the stairs, it opened again. I went back down, I checked the basement, and the outside doors to make sure they were closed and that no drafts were coming in, I shut the basement door and as I started up the steps it came open again only this time with more force. I stood there for a moment and then I went down and I said “ok, if you want it open we will leave it open”, I opened it all the way and started back up, as I hit the first step the door slammed shut and scared the hell out of me. I picked up a flip-flop shoe that was sitting near the step and I shoved it under the door to keep it closed. As I took a step back the flip-flop flew out from under the door and slid clear across the kitchen hitting the opposite wall and the door flew open, a gust of wind blew past me with so much force that it moved my hair and I heard laughing that sounded like a child. I ran up the stairs and jumped into bed. I shook my husband trying to wake him up to tell him , but he wouldn’t wake up. Needless to say, I did not sleep at all that night.

The next few months became harder to deal with. My husband had become distant and seemed to anger easily. We began to argue a lot over petty things and we grew further and further apart. He didn’t spend much time at home anymore and when he did, he always seemed to be in a bad mood. He spent most of his waking hours at home at the work bench or lifting weights in the basement.He began to drink heavily and our relationship became strained, to the point that he began to have violent outbursts. He became controlling and paranoid and I did not understand this change in his behavior. He began to go his way and I began to go mine. Eventually we both had short affairs out of anger and misunderstandings, which was a devastating blow to us both.

The emotional tension between us had reached a peak and at times was violent and I was seeing more and more activity in the house. On two occasions I saw a woman in a black dress standing behind me in the bathroom mirror. Her eyes were blackened as if she had been beaten and she had blood on her mouth. This scared me the most and was the only time I felt like I really was crazy, Then not long after this, my husband and I had argued and he had left very angry at me, and I was sitting on the couch crying. I was feeling very unhappy and that things were falling apart all around me, I had many regrets and guilty feelings, as well as hurt and anger for the violent arguments that were becoming more and more frequent. I had become depressed and anxious all the time, I was very tired and just felt like giving up on everything. I had my eyes closed and when I opened them, the same woman who I had seen in the mirror was standing over me, only this time she looked like she was made of fine smoke, and her face was soft and glowing and there was no blood, she touched my face with her hand and it felt like static from a warm sweater fresh from the dryer, She said, “everything will be ok, don’t cry, you have the children to think of”, she smiled and then she was gone.

I decided the next day to pack up the kids and take them home to my family in Tennessee for a while. I thought that maybe some time apart would help, that I needed to get out of the house and take a break from the crazy things happening all around me. I was beginning to feel like I was loosing my mind or having a nervous breakdown and I didn’t like it.. It didn’t change anything though, moving only made them worse and 18 months later after a long and bitter court fight, we divorced. I was broken-hearted to give up my house. When I moved there, I was happy and I thought it would be the perfect place to raise my children and grow old with my husband. But it didn’t turn out that way.

At the time I lived there I was young, in my early twenties. I was not involved in paranormal research at the time. I believed that ghosts where possible , because of the many experiences I’d had as a child and also unexplained things I had seen in my profession as a nurse. But, I knew nothing about ghosts, had no idea there was such a thing as paranormal investigators and had given little thought to the subject. I never expected them to be in my home or affecting me in such a way. I wish that I had known then, what I know now. Maybe I would have been able to prove these occurrences somehow or to help them in some way to move on. I think it is just one of the experiences I ‘ve had, that has led me to be involved in the study of the unexplained. I am grateful that I was not the only one to experience something in the house. My sister to this day will back me up on the claims we experienced. But I will always wonder if placing the field stones around the house had really been such a good idea. I think it may have awakened the spirits. Or maybe, bringing life into an old home, energizes the spirits that linger and they draw from us the emotions they felt when they were alive. The emotional part of this house was a mixture of happiness, laughter, innocence, loneliness, anger, paranoia, betrayal, guilt and pain all rolled into one house. I honestly wonder sometimes , if I allowed them to much freedom to stay in my home. I really wasn’t concerned about getting rid of them, I didn’t feel like they were a threat, I was more fascinated by the idea that they were there to begin with. I guess I felt like, they were there before me and so they had a right to be there. I’ve also thought that there were more than one spirit and that each affected us differently, my husband being the target of the negative energy in the home without even knowing it. Maybe the spirits played on his moods and his temper causing him to lose control. Maybe the children and the mother were drawn to me because I was a mother too. If my ex-husband did have an experience there, he never spoke of it or admitted it to me. In fact , he probably still thinks I’m crazy. But, I know what I experienced and the things that I felt in that house. Even if, I still to this day, cannot explain them.

 After I had moved away from the house, the activity did not stop. I believe that something followed me, but I will save that story for another post.

 

 

 

 

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