Saving History: One Ghost Story at a Time
A guest post by Alabama ghost hunter Faith Serafin.
Historical locations are growing in popularity in new ways. State parks, small museums and historical attractions have started to embrace the legends and ghost stories that go with them to bring new tourist and attendees to their locations all over the South. The growing trend and popularity of ghost hunting and haunted tours is now part of the hottest attractions in major cities and in some rural historical locations as well.
Cities like New Orleans and Savannah have been hosting ghost tours for more than a decade. Tourist flock to the walking and trolley tours and even haunted hearses for a hands-on lesson in history and ghost stories. The addition of the “ghost hunt” has evolved the average haunted tour into an “other-worldly” experience, giving guests the opportunity to use real ghost hunting equipment and investigate the location.
The National Civil War Naval Museum, located in Columbus, Georgia, adopted the trend in 2009, after the Alabama Paranormal Research Team (APRT) captured some substantial evidence of the paranormal in the form of EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon), video and photos. After several investigations and requests from other ghost hunting teams and locals, the museum and APRT teamed up to host quarterly overnight ghost hunts called “PARAFIED” to help benefit the museum. APRT members volunteer their time for these events and offer the average person or novice ghost hunter the opportunity to participate in an actual paranormal investigation, complete with ghost hunting gear.
The naval museum boasts some amazing artifacts that include the largest remaining Civil War artifact in existence, the Ironclad ship, CSS Jackson, personal artifacts from sailors, battle flags from the war ships USS Hartford, and CSS Tennessee, full-scale replicas of the vessels and more. The spirits of the museum manifest in misty white vapors, shadowy apparitions of uniformed men, glowing eyes and haunting footsteps aboard the skeletal remains of the ships. PARAFIED has been hosted in Gulf Shores, Alabama, as well, at Fort Morgan, the fort overlooking Mobile Bay where some of the most important maritime battles of the Civil War occurred.
As far north as Franklin, Kentucky, people seeking out historical ghosts will find a beautiful antebellum home known as Octagon Hall (pictured at top). The eight-sided home was built by Andrew Jackson Caldwell in 1859, and he and his family lived there until 1918. During the Civil War, the home saw an enormous amount of tragedy and even death. Mr. Caldwell was the brother of a Confederate colonel and was fiercely loyal to the Confederate cause. The home and surrounding farmland was occupied by Confederate troops and was used as a sanctuary and hospital for wounded and sick soldiers, many of which were buried there as well.
Throughout the years, caretaker and Director of Octagon Hall Billy Byrd uncovered hundreds of artifacts on the property that are now on display. The home was saved from certain destruction in 2001 and now functions as a working museum, complete with ghost stories and regular encounters with spirits. Mysteries seem to be a daily occurrence at Octagon Hall. With every new renovation, another hiding place in the walls, tunnel under the basement or hidden artifact is found, making Octagon Hall a proverbial treasure chest of wonder. The Octagon Hall museum is open daily to the public for tours, events and to ghost hunters seeking a historical location to investigate with lots of paranormal activity.
As a historian and paranormal investigator, I have been fortunate over the last 20 years to have been given the opportunity to investigate several of these historical places. Buildings, homes, museums, cemeteries, battlefields and battleships from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to the Gulf coast of Alabama have all been the source of my most recent haunted books, blogs and paranormal investigations. As a resident and native of southeastern Alabama, the history of my state brings some interesting tales that connect and intersect with much of our nation’s foundations. It’s important to know that history tells us what is important, but occasionally, a ghost story can tell us what is forgotten.
Faith Seraphin is director of the Alabama Paranormal Research Team. You can read more about Alabama and Georgia’s regional ghosts in her books “Haunted Montgomery, Alabama,” “Haunted Auburn and Opelika,” and “Haunted Columbus, Georgia: Phantoms of the Fountain City,” available at your local book retailer. Her Haunted Haven blog series can be found at HauntedHaven.blogspot.com, and for more information on ghost hunting events in Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky, visit www.AlabamaGhostHunters.com.