Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bigfoot in Georgia. The BOOK IS FINALLY HERE!!!


After almost two years in the making, my book, Bigfoot in Georgia, arrived today on my front porch. Well, I mean my 20 free author copies. However, what this means is that the book has now been released. Amazon.com has been selling them in advance, but I am not sure if they will reach buyers before Christmas. However, in the south Atlanta metro area, Bell, Book and Candle in downtown McDonough has a few copies. You will have to call and request a copy, however, Give them a call at 1-770-957-1880. If it is after store hours, leave them a message and they will get back to you. They will set up an over the phone payment and arrange for the book to be sent directly to you, and if you call in time, it will be delivered before Christmas if you like. If you would like to come in and get your copy, you still need to call ahead to reserve your copy to make sure it is there when you come by to pick it up. After the first of the year, however, they will have plenty on the shelves for walk-in business. It will take a few weeks before Barnes and Nobles, Borders and Books A Million has it on their sites, but they are going to pick it up as well. There will be other bookstores around the state carrying them in January, but the marketing process has just begun to take place since the books came off the press and were delivered today for the first time ever.

I hope you enjoy it. I sat and read my own book today in four hours straight. I must say that although I wrote it, reading it this afternoon was like seeing it for the first time. Bigfoot stories and material is VERY INTERESTING!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bigfoot in Fulton County? Well, at least in 1961!


Fulton County, Georgia's most populous county, and the home of Atlanta. With almost 1 million people in Fulton County, it would be the last place that anyone would search for a bigfoot, and for the most part, it is more than plausible to think that there would not be much sasquatch activity in the county today. However, in 1961, one of the most interesting reports of bigfoot activity came from Fulton County, which, at that time, still had a great deal of rural areas, especially in the southern portion of the county.

Matt Pruitt, a bigfoot researcher, investigator for the BFRO, and a good friend of mine, handled this report. The events in question happened in 1961, but the report was not made to the BFRO until 2003. The delay can certainly be explained by the fact that the internet had a great deal to do with the ease of reporting bigfoot sightings anonymously. Most people shy away from talking about their experiences via newspaper, radio and television for fear of ridicule. While the internet has also done its fair share of making hoaxes easier, it has also made people who have seen and heard things more inclined to use it as a venue for discussion. Such may be the case with the person who reported this event to Matt.

It appears that in 1961, a family lived in a house with a basement in south Fulton County near the Campbellton Road. That year during the fall, the children of the family were playing in the yard of the house where they lived with their mother and grandparents. They had moved in with them after the death of their father. This is when they came in to contact with what they thought was a gorilla. The animal was underneath the house inside the unfinished basement. The children were frightened of it, and they decided to throw rocks at it. This illicited no real response from the animal, only a smile. The children retreated from the area and sought the safety of their mother. They returned to the spot later only to find the animal gone.

The report goes on to say that the family, through the coming years, would find very large footprints nearby, and more frightening, they would experience something looking in the windows of the home. Whatever it was had red glowing eyes. (There are a number of bigfoot reports where the animal was reported to be looking through the windows and doors of homes and other buildings. This is not uncommon behavior for these animals at all. Red eyes are also common in these reports. Researchers tell us that some of these animals do have red glowing eyes in the darkness.) In addition, family members would find apple cores near the tracks. It was apparent that the animal ate apples and would leave the core behind. It more than likely got them from the apple tree growing behind the family home. (Gees, it could have at least taken off its trash if it was going to steal apples from the family tree.)

As Matt investigated this report further by talking to the man who experienced this as a child, he found more details. Apparently, the children got close enough to the animal to notice how human-like its face was. Also, it did not seem threatening, for when the children drew near, it appeared to smile at them. The fur covered the creature making it appear gorilla-like.

Upon further inspection, Matt found that family members indeed saw these animals numerous times through the years. One incident involved one of these animals stealing eggs from the family's chicken coop. Others included them stealing and eating apples directly from the family's apple tree, and loud shrieks and screams coming from the woods nearby. These animals were seen peering in to the family's windows from time to time. The neighbors were well aware of their presence, and it was thought that a family of them lived in the area.

Fulton County, even in the southern portion, is very much different today than it was in 1961. There are still some rural parts, especially around Palmetto, Union City, and Fairburn. However, those small towns are growing and the urban sprawl is cropping up everywhere there too. I doubt this family group of sasquatches is still there. Naturally, they would have died out after 48 years, but their offsprings would perpetuate the group. However, I am willing to bet that as human encroachment on their living and hunting grounds has happened, what remained of them moved on. This could explain so many sightings in Fayette, Paulding, Coweta, and Douglas Counties. Perhaps there has been movement. The urban sprawl of Atlanta would have moved southward in to the lower portion of Fulton County, so perhaps this family group spread out and moved on, thus moving in to other nearby wooded areas, which could be in some of those other counties. Maybe, just maybe, this might account for the increased sightings over the last 30 years in those areas. This is just a hunch. Noone knows for sure. However, in my book Bigfoot in Georgia, I deal with the possible displacement of these animals in the last chapter. I discuss movement, how human and urban sprawl might be affecting these animals, and what possible ramifactions may come about as a result of this.

A family of Fulton County Sasquatches!!! Who would have thought. Better be careful out there my hairy friends. Some of those fast-talking Fulton politicians might come round trying to register you to vote!!!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Book Signing at Barnes and Nobles Was Great!!

The book signing at Barnes and Nobles in Morrow, Georgia this past Friday night was great. Although we only sold about six books, that was great for a big chain book signing with a regional book. Bell, Book and Candle still holds the record for my train crash book. The book signing there sold 24 copies, and so far they have sold almost 50 copies of the book. They are really great promoters. I appreciate all that they do.

We are working on a date for the first book signing for Bigfoot in Georgia. I plan on holding it at Bell, Book and Candle as well. That will more than likely be some time in the early part of 2010. Also, I have been contacted by a lady in Dublin, Georgia who wants me to come and do a book signing there. I think we may try to set something up for the early spring on that one.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Post on the Fayette County Bigfoot Sighting Is Picked Up by the Fayette County Newspaper


It appears that the article I posted on December 5th about a bigfoot sighting in Fayette County is getting a lot of attention. The Citizen reporter Ben Nelms posted an article about it at the paper's website. You can access the site by clicking on the title of this post above.

The paper mentions that the story was picked up off this very blog. I am glad that word is getting around about this blog. If you are interested in more sightings and legends concerning the Georgia Bigfoot, or stories from Creek and Indian lore about this alleged creature, you won't want to miss my book "Bigfoot in Georgia" which is already available by pre-order at Amazon.com, and will be released on December 16th. Locally, in the South Metro Atlanta area, the book will be carried at Bell, Book and Candle in downtown McDonough. You can order your copy there by calling 770-957-1880. They will ship one to you from the store.

Check out The Citizen Online and see the story about the Fayette sighting. Meanwhile, I have other reports and strange sightings to talk about from the Fayette, Coweta, Paulding, South Fulton, and Douglas County area. Keep reading!!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

On the Trail of the Georgia Bigfoot...Latest Sighting-Fayette County


The Georgia Bigfoot, other than being the title of my next book, is also an ongoing mystery in the Peach State. With sightings dating back to the early 1800s in Georgia, and ranging from the mountains to the coast, there is much to be said for the possible existence of the elusive creature in Georgia.

One organization that continues to stay on the hunt for the Georgia Bigfoot, and I use the word hunt not in the sense of find and kill, but of gathering evidence, is the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization. Their database is full of credible eyewitness accounts and sightings from all over Georgia. The following was one of the most recent reported in the state. The link to this report can be found by clicking the title of this post. They are a top-notch organization with membership all over the nation. Their site can be found at www.bfro.net.

According to the report, this sighting comes from Fayette County, a rapidly growing county in the southwest portion of the Atlanta metropolitan area. It is the home to Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Tyrone, and other communities that are experiencing the throngs of the urban sprawl of Atlanta. The county is still rural enough that there are a number of dark country roads. This is apparently where the sighting took place.

The person who reported this sighting said that it occured on July 17, 2009, this past summer while she was driving home on Lee's Mill Road. The driver was rounding a curve around 11:00 p.m. that evening when she saw something crossing the road in front of her. The animal was caught in the headlights of her car. The animal walked upright on two legs, was slim, and had greyish-brown hair. The driver mentioned that the animal never stopped to look at her, but simply trotted across the highway into the Fayette County darkness. The night was clear, no rain, and the driver felt very comfortable with her description.

This area of Georgia, Fayette and Coweta County, have been rich with sightings of these animals. One may remember the Belt Road Booger or the Happy Valley Horror near Newnan. But Fayette County has a share of sightings, especially near Peters Road and other rural parts of the county.

So what is it that is hanging out in the dark night in Fayette County? Does the Georgia Bigfoot still roam the rural area of Fayette County? Is the development the area is seeing stirring up these animals and distrupting their habitats? It seems that sightings in this area are on the rise. Could this be a product of urban sprawl and population? Once again, the legend of the Georgia Bigfoot is huge. Fayette County is just one of the many places the legend lives on.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Article on the train wreck in the latest edition of Georgia Backroads Magazine


I am pleased to announce that the article I wrote a little while back on the Camp Creek Train Crash of 1900 is one of the featured stories in this winter's edition of Georgia Backroads Magazine. The magazine's website can be accessed by clicking on the title of this blog article. The cover is pictured above and is taken from their website, www.georgiabackroads.com. This is an interesting magazine that includes great stories about Georgia history, travel, and nature. I wrote the article about a year ago even before I had the contract to publish the book. The article was revised to include a copy of the cover of my book and some of the photos in the book. Check it out. I love this magazine.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Upcoming Appearances and Book Signings


I am so grateful to all of you who have sent me emails asking about book signings for the Bigfoot book. Since the book will not be out until December 16th, and the holidays are so soon after that, I more than likely will not be doing any book appearances for Bigfoot in Georgia until after the new year. However, I will be doing a book signing for In Atlanta or in Hell: The Camp Creek Train Crash of 1900 at the Barnes and Nobles in Morrow for their fundraiser for Morrow High School on Friday, December 11th at 7:00 p.m. The Barnes and Nobles will be donating sales that night to the Morrow High School. The book signing is actually a book discussion and signing. It is being sponsored by the Barnes and Nobles of Morrow and the history department of Morrow High School from what I am told.

In addition, I will be the guest on the Dr. William Lester Show on Saturday night, December 5th from 10:00 p.m. until 12:00 a.m. We will be talking about the release of Bigfoot in Georgia, my blog, and the train crash book. It is quite possible that Caprice Walker, the owner of Bell, Book and Candle and the McDonough Haunted History Tours will be joining me on the show. That day is her birthday :), so I am not sure if she will be around or not. Hopefully, she will because there was a paranormal investigation at the bookstore on November 14th, and there were quite a few things that happened. She will really want to talk about those if she joins us. I plan to blog about one of those incidents here.

I hope you can tune in. The radio show is located at www.gameconradio.com. Please listen in, and join us at the book signing on the 11th if you can.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Latest Book-Bigfoot in Georgia Released on December 16, 2009


My latest book, Bigfoot in Georgia, is going to be available starting December 16, 2009. As you might know, this was the first book I wrote, but has been under contract since summer 2008 being prepped for publication. The book chronicles the history of sightings, legends, Native American folklore and modern searches related to Bigfoot in Georgia. It is available for preorder right now from Amazon.com. Click on the title of this post and it will take you right to the page on Amazon.com where you can order it. It will also be available at Bell, Book and Candle in McDonough, Georgia. You can call them at 770-957-1880 to reserve your copy.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Devil's Turnaround: Is There a Malevolent Spirit in This Marietta Graveyard?


History Press has a series of books called Haunted America. One of the books in that series is called Haunted Marietta by Rhetta Akamatsu. On October 30th, in Decatur, I had the privilege of meeting Rhetta at a joint book signing we did at Eagle Eye Book Shop. Reece Christian, author of Ghosts of Atlanta, was also there signing books.

One of the stories she recounts in her book is about a cemetery in Marietta called the Devil's Turnaround. The cemetery, according to Akamatsu, is associated with an African-American church in the area that was founded in the 1800s. There are old graves in this graveyard, some dating back to the 1860s. Apparently, burials are still taking place there, as there are also some plots as recent as 2006. The reason the graveyard is called the Devil's Turnaround is due to strange activity that happens there, as well as the fact that the older graves are aligned in a semicircle for some reason.

Akamatsu says that there is a lot of activity in this cemetery of the human kind, as well as the supernatural. Apparently, there is a good bit of vandalism, but there also appears to be cult activity there as well. She and her team have visited the cemetery and seen holes where bodies had been dug up. She has also found snakes with their heads cut off, and there have also been reports of dead dogs being buried in shallow graves there. Perhaps this is what has contributed to what Akamatsu says is a malevolent spirit present in the cemetery.

Paranormal research groups have gone to the graveyard and investigated. On a recording, one researcher picked up a voice (possible EVP) that said, "I think I'll kick you." Other weird happenings include large objects being picked up and hurled through the air by some unseen force. Some visitors and researchers at the cemetery have reported being bitten, scratched, and bruised without knowing how these things happened to them. Investigations at this graveyard have been featured on such television shows as TruTV's Haunting Evidence. Patrick Burns of the Atlanta Ghost Hounds, once visited the cemtery and when he returned home that night, he discovered a deep scratch on his arm as he disrobed for bed. He was unsure as to how the mark got there, and did not remember feeling anything at all in the cemetery, especially anything that could have left a mark as deep as it was. Other visitors to the graveyard have reported things being thrown at them, bite marks on their arms, and being lifted off the ground by unseen hands.

So what is it that seems to taunt visitors to the Devil's Turnaround in Marietta? Could it be that vandals, cult rituals, and other nonsense have roused an evil presence that was there? Or is it the spirit of some soul buried on the grounds who does not like his/her resting place being the scene of such activity? Urban legends about this place abound. What can be certain is that something strange is going on at the Devil's Turnaround.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Georgia Tech Student Mystery-What Happened to Joseph Morse?


I have been doing a bit more research on missing persons in Georgia. There are quite a few. One of my readers has sent me information on a missing person from Douglas County from several decades ago, and I am doing some research on that one now. But not long ago, in a webpage where I had been looking at a theory about what happened to Tara Grinstead, I spotted something that caught my eye. It was about a young college student from Ohio who had enrolled and completed a year of classes at Georgia Tech, but disappeared in the spring of 2000.

His name is Joseph Morse. He was from Cincinnati, Ohio and had checked out Georgia Tech with his family back in the spring of 1999 and fell in love with the school. He enrolled as a civil engineering major in the fall of that year. Later, he would change his major to mechanical engineering, but sadly enough, he would never graduate from the school.

Joe, as he was called, was an ideal student. He was a graduate of Moeller High School in the Cincinnati area, graduating 23 out of a class of 203. He ran track, had lots of friends, made good grades, and devoted some of his spare time to charitable and civic events and organizations. Anyone would be proud to have had him as a son. Georgia Teach really appealed to him because he wanted to be in an urban environment like Atlanta with good weather. It was gravy that the school had such a good national reputation in engineering. Originally, Joe had set his sights on schools like MIT and Stanford. Georgia Tech was lucky to have him. Once he arrived at Tech, he was placed in the Towers Dormitory. He even became the president of his hall council at Towers, and he even ended the fall semester with a 3.4 GPA. He was well on his way to becoming a successful student, and then, a successful engineer.

He came home over the Christmas holidays, and his family reported nothing weird. He was just Joe, they said. Once back at school at Tech for the spring semester, he changed his major to civil engineering. He even was able to land a co-op job with the Caterpillar company at a location in Illinois for the coming fall semester, which meant that he would have to take classes in the summer and stay in the dorms there during that time so he would not get behind in his studies since the co-op position would mean he would not be able to take classes that fall while working at Caterpillar. That Easter, he was able to come home, and once again, his parents said nothing was out of the ordinary. He did seem to sleep alot that weekend, but that was nothing alarming to his folks, as they thought it was normal behavior for a college student.

But things had started falling apart for Joe that spring semester at Tech, and noone understands why. First, his grades began to plummet. He did okay in his engineering classes, but he all but stopped coming to his English class and his grades reflected that. His grades in his other classes began to slip as well. He even began to call home more often. His parents said that he phoned frequently, and it was pretty obvious that he was eager to get back home at the end of the semester. His arrangements were to leave his stuff in the dorm at the end of the semester, go home for a week break, and then return to Atlanta to take summer courses at Tech before going to Peoria, Illinois in the fall for the co-op job. To do this, he would have to enroll in summer classes and make arrangements to live in the dorm during the summer. After Joe's disappearance, his parents found out from the school that he had never even attempted to register for summer classes, and that he had not applied at all for housing in the dorms for the summer. This was very unlike Joe, for he was always quite diligent about taking care of his school business. Once more, his grades were nowhere near what they had been in the fall. All of this seemed to be out of character for Joe.

On May 6, 2000, Joe was to fly home to Cincinnati where his mom was waiting for him at the Dayton International Airport. He was flying standby, and if he was unable to get a flight, he would take a bus. That morning, his friends saw him leave the dorm room, go to the showers around 8:30 a.m., and nothing seemed unusual. One student commented that he was swinging his keychain around his finger like a coach normally does, and this was quite normal for Joe as well. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Keep in mind, all of the things mentioned above (falling grades, no arrangements for summer, and poor class attendance) were unbeknown to his family. They thought nothing was wrong. Apparently, Joe never made it to the airport that morning, but he did go to a local ATM at Lenox Square Mall and withdraw 120.00 out of his checking account. This was all he had in there. ATM cameras have him on camera doing this at 10:58 that morning. Those were the last images of Joseph Morse.

His mother waited for him at the airport, but he never arrived that day. She never heard from him by phone, and there was no email to her or other family members explaining the delay. But Joe was not on a plane or bus to Ohio that day. Joe never tried to come home that authorities are aware. The last place he was seen was at the ATM. Joe's parents began to contact the school, where they found that Joe never removed any of his clothes or belongings from his dorm room. He left his room with his glasses, wallet, and the clothes on his back, nothing more. He was wearing a plaid shirt and khaki Docker shorts. The ATM pictures show that he was wearing his glasses when he withdrew the money from the ATM. Parents and authorities circulated his picture and information about him around campus and the area, but noone had seen hair nor hide of him. It was as if Joseph Morse had just disappeared in thin air. His advisor reported that he had stopped answering his emails from him asking him to come meet with him about his classes and academic work. Joe seemed to let his school work slip severely during the spring semester. Campus police asked his friends and classmates about his behavior. They saw nothing strange. His roomate said that he would sleep in some mornings because as he left for classes, oftentimes, Joe would still be asleep in bed. But he did not see that as strange.

Noone seemed to know what happened to Joseph Morse. Then, four years later in 2004, a report circulated that police in Miami, Florida had discovered a body that had been dead since around May 7, 2000. The police were looking for the identity of a man they said broke in to a construction site, climbed a 187 foot crane and jumped. Some online researchers have said this was young Joseph Morse. One website even went so far as to say it was without a doubt Joseph Morse. That same site also said that according to Florida law, records on this body and cause of death would be sealed for 50 years, but that if one had a legal reason for inquiring, the records could be opened. It was also reported that Georgia Tech police had closed his file and that they had concluded the body was that of Joseph Morse.

Was the body they found in Miami, Florida in 2004 that of Joseph Morse? If so, why did he break in to a construction site and jump from a crane of almost 200 feet? What prompted him to stop attending class and let his school work go when it seemed to mean so much to him? Was he abducted and forced to do what he did? I would imagine that an abductor would find some easier way of disposing of a person. Climbing a huge crane like that is very odd in and of itself. Or was Joe planning something else and traveled to Miami for a different reason? Did he know someone down there? Was he suffering from something that made him temporarily delusional? Was this a trip he took with friends and they decided to mess around the construction site and crane for laughs as they were in Miami and when Joe fell, the rest got scared and fled? Noone has any clue how and when he arrived in Miami. If he died the next day after having been at Lenox Square at 10:58 a.m., then he must have left Atlanta for Miami sometime on the 6th or early in the morning on the 7th. But if the body was his, and he was there, how did he get there? When did he arrive? I have not read anything about the finding of the body from 2004 except what I have repeated here. Did the family find flight records or bus records showing he had traveled to Miami? This case is quite strange. If the body in Miami did not belong to him, then he is still out there, but noone knows where.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Weird Animal Spotted in Montgomery County-Could It be a panther or large cat???


Periodically, I peruse the website of a local radio station near my hometown. They carry news, obituaries, local sports, and other things that interest me as a local from that area. Today, I looked at their site, and the first article was about a weird animal sighting near the community of Long Pond, which is a small community in Montgomery County, and is also the subject of a post about the Legend of the Long Pond Oak Trees I posted last week. Here is the text of the article from their website, which I have also linked on this blog. Just click on the title of this post and it will take you right to the site.

THE FOLLOWING IS THE ARTICLE TAKEN FROM THEIR VIDALIA COMMUNICATIONS WEBSITE:

What Was That??
Tuesday, 03 November 2009
November 3-- Do you have any idea what Jim saw? He provides the following story about what he saw late Monday near his home in Montgomery County. If you think you know what he saw, email us at zfowler@vidaliacommunications.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

"At dusk yesterday I drove up to the house and was greeted by my wife on the side porch with our two shelties. The dogs were barking and dancing around aggressively. My wife commented that they had been going on like that for the past half hour. As I walked up to the porch she exclaimed, “Jim what is THAT?” I looked across our yard toward the wood line at a side profile of a grayish brown feline shaped animal. (the head was hard to make out and appeared to be much darker) The animal was easily three times the size of our shelties and did not move for about 30 seconds. I said, ”It looks like a very large bobcat from here.” The feline shaped creature turned back toward the woods and slowly strolled off. As the animal entered the woods I saw a tail shaped like a hook swinging back and forth.

We live on a 200 acre spread just outside of Long Pond.



Thanks, Jim Beall

This is quite an interesting story. It sounds like a panther or large cat of sorts. There are quite a few reports of large cats roaming the woods of Georgia. This area is heavily wooded. It is a rural county of Georgia.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween


Happy Halloween. It is rainy here in metro-Atlanta. Hopefully, this won't discourage trick-or-treating. Today, I will be holding the second book signing for In Atlanta or In Hell: The Camp Creek Train Crash of 1900. It will be held at Bell, Book and Candle from 11:00-3:00 p.m. Come join us if you are in the area.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Strange and Mysterious: My book recommendations




I realize that the Halloween season is almost over, but several blog readers have emailed me and asked me for recommendations on some good Georgia mystery readings. I doubt you can get ahold of these books in time for Halloween, but then again, good mystery reading knows no real season. Here are some of my recommendations to you. I have ranked them.
1. Haunted Savannah by James Caskey
2. Shadow Chasers: The Woolfolk Tragedy Revisited by Carolyn DeLoach
3. The Mayor's Guide: The Stately Ghosts of Augusta by Scott A. Johnson
4. 13 Georgia Ghosts and Jeffrey by Kathryn Tucker Windham
5. Haunted Georgia: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Peach State by Dr. Alan Brown
6. More Great Southern Mysteries by E. Randall Floyd
7. Ghosts of Atlanta: Phantoms of the Phoenix City by Reese Christian
8. Murder and Mystery in Atlanta by Corrina Underwood
9. Haunted Memories of McDonough by Dan Brooks and Caprice Walker
10. Ghost Stories of Georgia by Chris Wangler

I am sure that there are tons more, but these are the ones I find to be the most interesting. Perhaps one day soon, my Bigfoot in Georgia book will be on someone else's list of good Georgia mystery books. It will be released in January through Idyll Arbor/Pinewinds Press.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Book Signings This Weekend for In Atlanta or In Hell: The Camp Creek Train Crash of 1900


My new book "In Atlanta or In Hell: The Camp Creek Train Crash of 1900" will be enjoying its first two of several book signings this weekend, just in time for Halloween. The first one will be Friday, October 30, 2009 in Decatur at Eagle Eye Book Shop. I will be there signing books with two other History Press authors. The address is 2076 N. Decatur Road. The number is 404-486-0307. We will be there from 6:30-8:00 p.m.

The second book signing will be the next day, Halloween Day, October 31st from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 at Bell, Book and Candle at 42 John Frank Ward Boulevard in downtown McDonough. The number is 770-957-1880. At Bell, Book and Candle, the owners will be providing some light refreshments. After the book signing, the Haunted McDonough tour will be conducted. You might want to make reservations for that since it will be a big night. Last week, they had over 80 people on the tour.

My next book signing will not be until December 11th at Morrow High School in Morrow, Georgia. This will be sponsored by Barnes and Nobles and the History Department of Morrow High School. I will actually be doing a book discussion and signing there. This will be part of their annual book fair.

Come join me at any of these events. The Halloween signings will be a lot of fun.

The Legend of the Georgia Werewolf Girl


Over time I have seen quite a bit of material on the legend of the Georgia Werewolf-Emily Isabella Burt. Apparently, Ms. Burt was a resident of Talbot County, a rural county in southwest Georgia between Macon and Columbus. The Burt family, a wealthy and prominent family in the Talbot County community, had several children. According to the late Nancy Roberts in her book "Georgia Ghosts" published by John F. Blair publishers in 1997, there was Sarah, Mildred, Emily Isabella and Joel. Mrs. Burt was widowed by the age of thirty-seven and had inherited a nice estate from her deceased husband.

Of all of her children, it appears that Emily Isabella was the one with the most problems. For one, she had inherited a lot of physical traits from her father, including dark hair and bushy eyebrows. However, she was said to have had sharp, white canine teeth that made her smile quite disturbing. In one report, Roberts claims that Emily Isabella's mother took her to a local dentist to see if the teeth could be altered in any way. He could do nothing for her. Soon afterwards, she fell ill and suffered from restless nights. The only thing that seemed to allay those sleepless nights was an elixir that contained opium. Nevertheless, the elixir was not fullproof, and some nights, Emily Isabella roamed the countryside. In addition to these strange issues, Emily Isabella had a fondness for reading, and her subject of choice was the supernatural. Given the fact that part of her mother's inheritance upon the death of her father was a vast collection of books, this affinity for reading was quite convenient. Even her mother was fond of this reading habit, as it was a way to keep an eye on Emily Isabella as she stayed home and read in the family library.

Legend has it that the beau of one of Emily Isabella's sisters, a William Gorman, reported to the Burts that something was killing his sheep. Fearful that this may soon be happening to her animals, Mrs. Mildred Burt became quite concerned. On ensuing visits, Gorman would recount stories about more sheep killings and that some of his cattle were killed as well. He was concerned about the killings and decided to take action. He reported that he was going to be putting together what amounted to a posse. Their intentions were to shoot and kill whatever beast was doing the damage. Emily Isabella was unusually interested in what was going on and what events had transgressed in the hunt for this animal.

On the night of the big hunt, Mildred Burt, who also had inherited more than a few guns and was a great markswoman, went out with her pistol. She apparently suspected that Emily Isabella was somehow involved with the killings and she wanted to be prepared for anything. As she was near the area, an animal lunged for her and she fired. It ran away. Interestingly enough, the next morning, it was reported that Emily Isabella was missing her left hand. After being taken to a local physician, her mother decided to send her to Paris to be treated by a doctor who specialized in lycanthropy, a disorder that made its victims think they were werewolves. While she was in Paris, the attacks stopped, and once she returned, supposedly cured, the attacks fell to a minimum.

Isabella remained in Talbot County until her death in 1911. She was 70 years old and is buried in the Owens and Holmes Cemetery near Woodland. Her story has endured, but not everyone is convinced this legend is true.

The Southeastern Institute of Paranormal Research has done some looking in to the story. In a report on their website, the forum moderator, only identified as Denise, filed a report on the legend claiming that it was false. Her post is on the website and I have linked it to this blog. Click on the title of this post and it will take you directly to the article. The picture above is of the cemetery where Emily Isabella is buried, and was taken by the SIPR group who adopted the cemetery and has cleaned it up a good bit. In her report, she says there is no evidence to corroborate that Emily Isabella Burt was a werewolf. She and her group have adopted the cemetery in which Emily Isabella was buried and have pictures on their website of the location. Her report mentions that the memorial marker to her mentions that she was well-known and well-liked in her community, certainly not things said about someone who was a pariah of sorts. Denise reports that newspaper reports from that time claim that the attacks were the result of a "rabid wild animal" and nothing more. She also mentions that the Paris trip was to see relatives and friends there, not to see a doctor who treated lycanthropy. But there are some who question these conclusions. One of the Burt relatives, an English professor who teaches at a local community college in Atlanta says that it is possible that the Paris trip was to see a doctor for her condition. He commented that it is quite likely that the family would have said that Isabella was visiting family, for they most certainly would not have let it out that she was seeing a doctor, for there would be a lot of questions as to why she could not be treated here. A trip across the Atlantic to see a physician would breed questions. Good point.

So was there anything to this legend? This story has shown up in a good many books on the supernatural and strange in Georgia. As mentioned earlier, Nancy Roberts wrote of it in her book "Georgia Ghosts." It also appears in Jim Miles' "Weird Georgia", as well as Dr. Alan Brown's "Haunted Georgia." I am sure there are a host of others. Was Emily Isabella a lycanthrope and the stories told all true? Or was the explanation that Diane Denise of SIPR valid? Was the trip to Paris to see a doctor or relatives? More research should be done on this topic.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Enduring Mystery of the 500,000 Plastic Coffins in Madison Resurrects In Light of New N1H1 Scare

With the recent deaths from the N1H1 virus, talk focused on the 500,000 plastic coffins, or burial vault liners stored off Lions Club Drive in Madison, Georgia has resurfaced. As a state of emergency over this flu strain has been declared in some countries, and the CDC and other government agencies heightening measures here in the states, the two year old conspiracy theory material has become popular once more.

It appears that there are over a half million black, plastic coffins or burial vault liners stored in Madison, about an hour east of Atlanta, in a field lot inside the city. Speculation ran rampant a year or so ago about what this was all about. With the heightening tensions with Iran, war in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and the constrant threat of another terrorist attack, speculation about these coffins centered on theories like biological warfare, martial law, or a nuclear holocaust. Many claimed that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) owned these and were storing them there. However, as more and more questions arose over the purpose of these eerie looking black coffins, an answer came forth.

According to a letter sent out by a vice president at a Covington, Georgia company (Covington is about 20 minutes west of Madison) the coffins were owned by the Vanguard Corporation who was storing them there. The letter stated that the company leased the land to store the coffins on and the reason there were so many is that they produced them in large quantities to fulfill pre-need arrangements that customers had already made. Essentially, the company said these coffins were there awaiting the death of the customers who had already made purchases and arrangements for their burial. The heat was supposedly taken off the federal government and FEMA. It appeared that there was no pre-planning by the federal government for martial law, mass deaths as a result of rebellion against a New World Order, or pre-planning by FEMA and the feds for a nuclear fallout or biological warfare. But many failed to be satisfied by the explanation.

First, bloggers and conspiracy theorists said the story did not pan out. First, they pointed to the number of coffins themselves. They asked why the company pre-produced SO MANY of them. They also were never satisfied by answers they got from Vanguard. These theorist said that while Vanguard may very well have made these coffins, there was no evidence that they were NOT making them for FEMA or the feds. Many conspiracy theorists point to the fact that Madison is a rural area where not alot of attention would be drawn to this (so much for that) and that it was also VERY close to Atlanta, a major world transportation hub. Interstate 20 would make it easy to ship these things to Atlanta to Hartsfield and from there around the country for mass use.

Click on the title of this story above, and it will take you to a website where the letter from Vanguard, as well as copies of the story from the local paper in Madison have been kept. There is also a picture of some of the coffins in that field on that site. Google out 500,000 coffins in Madison, and there will be tons of stories. There are also multiple YOUTUBE videos about the subject.

As I mentioned earlier, more and more discussion about these coffins is cropping up now that we are in the N1H1 scare. With all this talk of states of emergency, innoculation, and spread, people are wondering if FEMA may have known in advance about a possible outbreak and was planning ahead. So, I ask, is there any merit to the stories and concerns of the conspiracy theorists? Was Vanguard telling the WHOLE story when they responded to concerns? Or was there more to the story, like for whom all these coffins had been made? Who owns the land on which these are stored? Why are there so many? Why are they not in a holding facility somewhere else? Perhaps there is nothing to this, or perhaps this is a HUGE national mystery, based right here in Georgia.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Were Soldiers Buried Alive After the Siege of Savannah

One of the most intense battles fought during the American Revolution was the Siege of Savannah. The battle commenced on October 9, 1779, as allied French and American forces began to lay siege to British held Savannah. As it turns out, the British were well-entrenched in the city, and the allied forces under Count Charles Henri d'Estaing and Major General Benjamin Lincoln had their work cut out for them in trying to dislodge the Redcoats.

d'Estaing had demanded the surrender of the city on September 16, 1779, sending a letter of such to British General Augustine Prevost. Prevost asked for 24 hours to respond, and in this 24 hour period, he refortified the city. In fact, it was Lt. Col. John Maitland's 800 troops from South Carolina that were brought in to the city on this day to help back up Prevost and his forces. At the end of the 24 hour waiting period, Prevost signaled that he would not surrender the city, electing to fight instead. However, d'Estaing and the allied forces did not attack any time soon. They waited, and this may have been their costliest mistake.

When the allied forces did attack on October 9, 1779, they launched a ground attack where over 750 of their soldiers were killed; the British lost roughly 18 to death and less than 40 wounded. Included among the dead and wounded for the allied forces was Polish Count Casimir Pulaski, who had joined the Patriot cause and fought gallantly. Fort Pulaski is named in his memory and honor. Also dead was Sergeant William Jasper, the hero of the Battle of Fort Moultrie. The allied forces had no choice but to withdraw. Savannah would remain in British hands for quite some time.

As might be expected, with such high casualties, it was quite a chore to retrieve and properly dispose of bodies. The allied forces called a temporary truce with the British forces so that they could bury their dead. According to James Caskey, author of "Haunted Savannah," many reports surfaced that some of the bodies were buried in mass graves near the locations where they fell. One such place is near the Savannah Visitors Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard near downtown. (Caskey 130-131). Caskey goes on to say that there are other reports indicating that when the bodies were being buried that some of the wounded were beyond help and were buried along with the dead-WHILE THEY WERE STILL ALIVE!! He even names a local doctor, Dr. Wells, who was there and witnessed the gruesome spectacle. A friend of Caskey's apparently frequents the Visitor Center and has lunch at a restaurant nearby. She reported that she felt strange and uneasy entering the bathroom of the establishment and reported it to a waitress there. The response was that many of the staff had felt it too and it was agreed that the place was quite haunted (Caskey131).

So were some American and French soldiers who constituted the allied force at the Siege of Savannah buried alive? If so, does this account for some of the unusual and strange activity in the vacinity? The next time you are in Savannah, make a trip to the visitors center, and eat in the restaurant there. It is in an old railroad car. Make sure to take a quick trip to the water works (bathrooms) and see if you find any old soldiers still hanging around....

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Legend of Long Pond

In the small community of Long Pond, located in the Southeast Georgia county of Montgomery, there is a local legend that is not talked about among the residents anymore. Perhaps it is because the legend is not widely known, or perhaps noone really believes it anymore.

Long Pond is a spot in the road. My family is originally from there, and the place is beautiful. There are a few stately old homes, white clapboard churches by the highway, and moss-covered oaks everywhere. It reminds me of a small New England village. The community once had many more residents than it does now. There was a general store and a sawmill there at one time. In yesteryear, it was a place that a lot of people called home. The community is still there today, but it has almost dried up.

The area was thriving during the era of the Civil War, and, as might be expected, many young men from Long Pond went off to war for the Confederate cause. Recently, as I was thumbing through some of the files in my home office, I found several folders full of newspaper clippings from the area newspapers down there from years past. There were tons of history articles and other news items I found, or people who knew I collected these items, found important. The one on the legend of Long Pond was one of those. It was sent to me by a fellow church member years ago when I lived in the area. The legend goes that during the Civil War, residents of Long Pond planted an oak tree and named it for each of the men who were called to fight for the southern cause. There were a lot of young men from the area called to service, so there were a lot of oak trees planted. They lined a road in the community called The Old River Road. It is still a much used road and is maintained by the state and county.

The weird thing, according to the story, is that not all of the trees lived. The oak trees that died were all named for soldiers who died in war or who were missing in action. The ones that lived were named after those that returned and survived the conflict. According to the journalist who researched the story in the early 1980s, he contacted some of the Long Pond Community's oldest remaining citizens, some of which were children and grandchildren of the people who planted the trees and saw the aftermath.They report that the legend is true, which, I guess, would not make it a legend. Several elderly people are quoted in the article, and they are names that I indeed recognize from my youth. They swear that the story is true and that their parents and grandparents not only told the story, but were also among the ones there when the trees were planted and watched them as they died and lived.

I used to attend church at Long Pond. I have been down the Old River Road many times. The famous Cooper Conner House mentioned in another story on this post, was once located right off that road. It has been moved to the campus of Brewton Parker College, but it was the one that the famous ghost ram roamed around. I have seen a lot of oak trees along the road. As I am home for the Christmas holiday this year, I plan on driving down to the area again and riding down the Old River Road and seeing if I can find the line of oaks. Perhaps there are spots where oaks once were planted and are no longer there. Perhaps I can get pictures and upload them here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Other Ghostly Connections to Godfrey Barnsley

In a recent article, I spoke of Godfrey Barnsley, a Savannah businessman who sought to make a fortune in cotton and moved near Adairsville in North Georgia to build a beautiful mansion and estate. If you missed that article, please scroll down and it should be there. If not, click on "older posts" and it will be on the next page or so.

I learned a bit more about Godfrey Barnsley from several sources, including James Caskey's "Haunted Savannah: The Official Guidebook to Savannah Haunted History Tour 2008." In the book, Caskey discusses the Scarbrough Mansion on Martin Luther King Boulevard in downtown Savannah. The home is now the location of the Ships at Sea Museum. The website for that museum can be viewed at www.shipsofthesea.org/pages/house. The mansion was the one time home of William and Julia Scarbrough, hence the name Scarbrough House. Apparently, the home has an historic past, as it was the scene of a visit by United States President James Monroe, who came to Savannah to see the launch of the S.S. Savannah, the world's first oceangoing steam vessel. William Scarbrough was an investor in the venture, although it was financially unsuccessful. William had to sell the mansion, which was purchased by his son-in-law. Graciously, the son-in-law allowed William and his wife, Julia, to remain in the home. Julia, ever the southern belle, loved to give lovely and large dinner parties. William's financial troubles did not seem to detour these either. Her parties were so well-attended that Julia became a legend for her parties in Savannah. Incidentally, William and Julia Scarbrough were the parents of Godfrey Barnsley's wife Julia. As haunted as Barnsley Gardens were and still seem to be according to some, his in-law's mansion is the scene of a little haunting of its own.

According to Caskey on pages 95-96 of "Haunted Savannah. . ." published by Bonaventture Books, many people claim to have seen windows ablaze with lights at the house in the 1960s as the home was empty. Some passsersby and locals have even reported the sounds of lively and loud laughter, as well as a piano playing in the early hours of the morning. Caskey speculates that it may very well be the spirit of Julia Scarbrough and her guests as they continue to enjoy Julia's parties at the mansion.

In another twist, Caskey goes on to report Godfrey Barnsley was also a bit of a dueler. He and his brother, Gartrelle, seem to have had the misfortune of falling in love with the same woman-Chessie Scarlett. Talk about a Southern name!!! Due to the fact that the two brothers were unable to put the squabble over who should become Chessie's husband to rest, they decided to participate in a duel to settle the matter; however, this was anything but a common duel. This was what Caskey calls a "poison duel." The way the duel went, according to the book, was "They arranged for an impartial friend to pour two glasses of wine, and into one was added a lethal dose o fpoison. The appearance and character of the wine was unchanged, so neither had any way of telling which glass held just the spirits, nor which might make them a spirit. Both brothers drank deeply, and Gartrelle fell dead."(Caskey 96) Caskey goes on to say that Chessie was truly in love with Gartrelle, so it appeared that the duel was in vain. Barnsley would go on to marry the daughter of William and Julia Scarbrough. Godfrey Barnsley moved to North Georgia; his land was cursed, and, well, read the post on Barnsley Gardens and you shall see. However, I can clearly state without reservation that it appears that Godfrey Barnsley's troubles started well before he built Woodlands Mansion at Barnsley Gardens. Was he cursed to begin with? Possibly. I also find it ironic that his in-laws had a little trouble financially as well, and their mansion ended up being the subject of a haunted tale of Savannah.

By the way, James Caskey is part of Cobblestone Tours, and if you click on the title of this story above, it will direct you to Cobblestone Tours's website. They have GREAT tours in Savannah.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Live Radio Show From Heritage Park McDonough Talking about In Atlanta or in Hell

I will be doing a live interview for 92.1 FM at Heritage Park in McDonough on Saturday, October 17th. The owner of the station phoned today and said he picked up a copy of the book and read it yesterday. He wants to interview me about it as they do their live feed from the Heritage Park Fall Festival in McDonough. We will actually be doing the interview near the replica of Old Engine #7. I believe the AM channel is 1410 or 1420. Listen if you are in the area.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fourth Anniversary of the Disappearance of Tara Grinstead

As you know, I have been following the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Tara Grinstead, an 11th grade history teacher from Ocilla, Georgia. She mysteriously vanished back in October 2005. The case is very strange, as it does not appear that Tara was the victim of an abduction. Her case was thought to be related to the disappearance of Jennifer Kesse in Orlando, Florida, but as teams with both investigations met, it became apparent that they were unrelated.

One thing of note happened this year in the case. A video started appearing on Youtube from someone called catchmekiller. The guy in the video claimed to be involved in her disappearance. Investigators came up with the identity of the man in the videos; his name is Andrew Haley. He was indicted this past July 2009 and charged with tampering with evidence and making false statements in connection with a criminal investigation. Apparently, Haley was mentally disturbed and wanted attention. He made comments in the videos, which were said to have been posted in February 2009, that he had something to do with her murder and disappearance. Haley is from Gainesville, Florida from what I understand.

The search for Tara Grinstead continues. The GBI are now focused on the fingerprints taken from the latex glove found in her yard. They have yet to find a match among the suspects or in national databases. It appears that this case has hit a brick wall. It makes me wonder if Tara Grinstead is still alive. Perhaps she left on her own free will. Some have said that she would have returned by now if that were the case, for her mother died of cancer not long ago, and those who knew Tara find it hard to believe she would not have made some attempt to come home or be close to her mother in her last days, or at least be part of her burial and memorial. So far, however, there has been no sign of Tara Grinstead. I wonder what has become of the house she lived in. I wonder if it is still vacant, or if someone else has moved in. From what I remember, Tara was renting the home when she disappeared.

Click on the title of this story and it will take you to Findtara.com, the official search website.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Mystery of Barnsley Gardens

I have had several readers on this blog email me and ask me about the ever popular legend of Barnsley Gardens. I remember reading about this legend many years ago, and it has been one of the most popular ghost stories associated with Georgia. So, I decided I would post about it at least once. But there are a million places you could read about Barnsley Gardens. I have posted a link to the website of the current resort and spa establishment that is at Barnsley Gardens today. Just click on the title of this post and you will see it.

The story goes that in the late 1830s, Savannah businessman Godfrey Barnsley purchased 10,000 acres of land in Adairsville, a city in the northwest corner of the state. That area of the state still had a substantial Native American population and many of them resented the encroachment of white settlers. One of them, an elderly chief who lived on the property that Godfrey Barnsley had just purchased, was very angered by white encroachment. He put a curse on the land on which Barnsley was going to build his new plantation home.

The land, as it turns out, was also said to include an acorn-shaped hill that inspired fear among the Cherokees. This added to the cloud of mystery surrounding the new estate. It appeared that the curse was beginning to take affect, for right before the mansion was completed, Godfrey Barnsley's wife, Julia, and their infant son died suddenly as they were living in temporary shelter on the property awaiting the completion of the mansion. Godfrey was devastated, but he completed the house anyway, and soon afterwards, he moved in his remaining children, a son and daughter. All went well, that is until the autumn of 1858.

That fall, Godfrey suffered a double tragedy. His son was killed by Chinese pirates on his voyage and journey through the Orient looking for exotic plants to bring back and plant on the grounds of the Barnsley estate. His daughter, now a teenager, died in the house that same year. At this point, Godfrey was so disturbed and distraught that he sought out mediums, psychics, religious leaders and the sort to help him defeat the curse.

Obviously, the curse continued, for over the next few years, Godfrey Barnsley's business ventures began to fail and by the beginning of the Civil War, he was left with a worthless cotton-buying business and an unfinished house at Barnsley Gardens. His estate was in ruins, and his dreams of becoming a wealthy planter was gone. Upon his death, Barnsley still believed in the curse and even begged a minister to help him rid the property and his family of it.

In 1989, a Cherokee chief returned to the property to lift the curse. His name was Richard Bird, and he was a medicine man from Cherokee, North Carolina. He was very disturbed when he arrived, and even commented that upon stepping foot on the property, he knew that the land was cursed. He likened the feeling he got to that of butterflies in his stomach, a very common saying for feelings of nervousness and dread. Bird had been hired by a local attorney who represented the new owners of the estate. However, according to Bird, his services were not really necessary. He reported that the curse on the property died when the chief who placed it died. In his own words, "When a person dies, his magic is no longer good." Nevertheless, the owners wanted to make sure that what befell Godfrey Barnsley did not happen to them. The property is a resort today.

So did the curse actually cause the horrors at Barnsley Gardens? Are curses real? There were a whole host of other weird events at Barnsley Gardens that lend themselves to appear that the property was cursed by the chief, and that the curse indeed was responsible for the misery the Barnsleys encountered. I would like to recommend a few books that include the stories about Barnsley Gardens. First, there is Randall Floyd's More Great Southern Mysteries published by August House Books. Secondly, there is Chris Wangler's Ghost Stories of Georgia published by Lone Pine Publishers. Both should be available online. I would try Half.com for the Floyd book.

In Atlanta of in Hell: The Camp Creek Train Crash

My train crash book, In Atlanta or in Hell: The Camp Creek Train Crash of 1900, is now available at Bell, Book and Candle in downtown McDonough. The store is located off the square at 45 John Frank Ward Boulevard. Their web address is www.bellbooksandcandles.com. They will even ship the book to you for a nominal fee. I will also be doing a book signing there on Saturday, October 31st. Yes, that is Halloween Day, and perhaps Caprice, the owner and frequent poster on this blog, will even dress up like one of the lady passengers. I think we may even be able to talk the tour historian and author of Haunted Memories of McDonough, Dan Brooks, to dress up like the engineer J.T. Sullivan.

You can contact them by phone at 770-957-1880. In addition to the book signing at Bell, Book and Candle on the 31st, I will be doing a joint appearance with two or three other History Press authors who have recently published works about Georgia on Friday, October 30th at Eagle Eye Book Shop in Decatur. The details have not been set yet, but I will keep you all posted as I get more information.

Also, don't forget that Moments in McDonough History is still available. Contact Bell, Book and Candle for ordering. They are the only ones who have it and they will take your name, contact info, and payment and then order it and ship it to you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Family Leaves Without A Trace in Stockbridge

Because there are a lot of crazies out there, I will not devulge the names of the people who live in this house today, nor the address. However, I can tell you that the location is in Henry County, Georgia near the town of Stockbridge, which is a city of decent size about twenty minutes south of downtown Atlanta. A good friend of mine and her family live in the house, which is said to also be haunted, and is perhaps the location of a few Bigfoot visits. More about that in a future post. What I am about to tell you is even more mysterious than Sasquatch and the walking dead.

Apparently, prior to my friend purchasing the home, it sat vacant for five years. Before that, a family lived there and made attempts to purchase the home. They were so excited about buying it that they volunteered to make improvements in the home, including closing in the carport. The owner of the home was attempting to sell the house to the family. The owner's mother had lived there prior to that and when she fell ill and was sent to hospice and died, this family moved in. The time all this happened was around 1986-87. According to the owner, this family seemed quite eager, even making arrangements to secure a home loan. The house was perfect for them, and they wanted it very much. As time went on for about a year, the owner of the home would check in periodically with the family. Upon not hearing from them for a while, he decided to drive over to the house and speak with the family and check on them. What he found when he arrived is more than mysterious. It appears that the family disappeared in the night. They were gone, and it appeared that they left in a hurry, for many of their belongings were still in the house untouched as if they had fled. The neighbors even mentioned that the family was there one day and gone the next. Noone remembers having seen the family move out in the traditional way that a family would, i.e moving vans, boxes, and a lot of commotion. The neighbors felt that this was certainly strange. They made no attempts to contact the owner of the home. As a matter of fact, when my friend and her family purchased the home in the early 1990s, that same owner remained quite baffled about what happened. He had never heard from them for over five years while the house sat vacant. He had no forwarding address and nothing was left behind in the house like a note or letter explaining the reasons the family vacated in a hurry.

At the time that all this happened, the home sat in a very underdeveloped part of Henry County, which today is a thriving and booming part of the south metropolitan area of Atlanta. The home still sits in one of the quieter areas of Stockbridge, but it is by no means isolated or off the beaten path. My friend and her family have lived there for almost 17 years and seem quite happy. Upon visiting her recently and eating some really great chili, she and her family told me about a mysterious safe that was left behind by the family as they fled. The safe is locked and the combination long forgotten. My friend has made no serious attempts to open the safe, more out of fear of damaging it and losing what is a really nice antique. I can attest to this because I saw it in the basement when I visited. She does, however, often ponder what is inside the safe. Another friend has offered to bring a a stethascope to the home and listen to the tumblers in an attempt to get the combination and open it. He has also offered to use a blow torch. Needless to say, the blow torch idea was quickly shot down. It is a large stand alone safe. Picture in your mind, if you will, the safes that Boss Hogg had in his offices on the Dukes of Hazzard. It even sits up on wheels the same way that Boss Hogg's did. It is a very cool looking safe, and I can understand why my friend does not want it damaged.

But what is in the safe, and why was it left there? For that matter, why was anything left in that house by this mysterious family? Even more curious is why they left in such a hurry? Does the safe contain clues as to the whereabouts of this family and why they had to leave in a flash? Were they being pursued by someone who intended to do them harm? Or were they scared off by something in the home? Were they the recipients of the ire of the ghost of the owner's dearly departed mother? She may have loved the home so much so that she did not want it sold outside of her family. Or was she furious when the family altered the home by closing in the carport? Or is this simply a case of a family whose father or mother got in to trouble in their past and it finally caught up with them?

Some visitors to the home have commented that the home is built on what they think might be a Native American sacred site. My friend and her family have experienced some very strange things while living there these past 17 years. For example, people have pulled in the driveway and seen what appears to be my friend standing at the window of her room or office area, but as it turns out, my friend is not there at all. A black dog has been seen in the house by the family as well, when no dog is present inside the home at the time. It also appears that there is a womanly figure in the house with long blonde hair, but with the face of an owl. My friend has also overheard voices in the house that appeared that someone was having a conversation in the house. However, noone was in the home besides her. She has also heard the deep laughter of a man inside the home when the only male there was her husband, who was visibly asleep in the bedroom and had to be awakened to investigate the laughter. Are these the manifestations of something sinister? If so, did these activities occur when the family who left in the night was living there? Perhaps this had something to do with their strange flight and disappearance. Who knows? I am afraid my friend may be living on the site of what is one of the strangest events in the area.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Camp Creek Train Crash book is now available

The book on the Camp Creek Train Crash is out. It is now available online and in bookstores. It is on Amazon.com, Booksamillion. com and at TheHistoryPress.net. However, it will be available locally and during a book signing with me at Bell, Book and Candle on John Frank Ward Boulevard soon. My great friend, Caprice Walker, has agreed to do another book signing.

Here are some links
www.historypress.net (Click on see all new titles or click on South and Georgia to see my page.)
www.bellbooksandcandles.com (This is Caprice's place..If you love old, creepy places and books at the same time, this is a MUST VISIT!)
www. amazon.com

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Atlanta's Lovers Lane Killer-A Southern Zodiac?

There are many baffling murders and crimes committed every day. Many go unsolved. I am always enthralled with the mysteries surrounding the Jack the Ripper and Zodiac murders. They were never solved, and the blogsites, presses, and chat boards light up with theories and ideas about the identity of these killers, as well as their motives.

In Atlanta, in 1977, such a crime spree occurred. The killings were dubbed the Atlanta Lovers Lane Killings, and the murderer was called the Lovers Lane Killer. Like the Ripper and the Zodiac Killer, Atlanta's Lovers Lane Killer was never nabbed. It all began on January 16, 1977, when police came to the scene of an accident where LaBrian Lovett crossed an intersection and hit a street sign. Inside the car, Lovett and a woman, 26 year old Veronica Hill, were found naked with gunshot wounds; Lovett's wounds were in the head, stomach, right leg, and left arm. Hill's wounds were in the left leg and her abdomen. Both were taken to the hospital and later died of their wounds. It was determined that the two had been involved in sexual intercourse at nearby Adams Park. Lovett attempted to drive for help, but obviously his injuries overtook him and caused him to loose control of the car. When police arrived at the accident scene, Hill was in the backseat of the car under a coat.

The killer came out again, twenty seven days later, on February 12th. This time he struck at nearby West Manor Park when he attacked a teenage couple who were necking in the park. He came to their car around 2:45 a.m. and fired six rounds in to the vehicle. Luckily, the two were not hurt, but the assailant, who was described as a large African American male, seemed to grow frustrated by the fact that his bullets had not hit their mark. He tried to open the car doors, but they were locked. He left the scene on foot, and the teeangers were spared of the fate suffered by Lovett and Hill earlier in the year. Police reported that it was a .38 caliber gun that was used in both of the shootings.

Police were baffled by these crimes. The motives did not seem to be rape or robbery, as the assailant took nothing from the scene and did not attempt to sexually assault the female victims. On March 12, some twenty eight days after the second attack, Diane Collins, age 20, was with her fiancee in Adams Park. They had seen a movie earlier that evening and were closing out their date there. The couple did not see the gunman as he drew near their vehicle. He shot six rounds in to the passenger side window, killing Collins. Her fiancee was wounded in the head, but survived. After the attack, he managed to drive the car to his home where he phoned for an ambulance.

Police had no answers to the puzzle of the Lovers Lane Killer. They felt that since there was a 27 day difference between the first and second shootings and a 28 day interval between the second and third, that it would be logical to stake out nearby parks 29 days after the third shooting. This would be April 6-8. However, the gunman did not materialize. As the days and weeks passed, the assailant remained quiet. He seemed to have left the scene as quickly as he appeared, and noone ever heard from him again. Two years later in 1979, police admitted that they had no leads or suspects in the case. The mystery of his identity and reason for his crimes has never been solved.

So who was the Atlanta Lovers Lane Killer? Why did he strike? Was he planning his murders in intervals, 27, 28.....? Why did he prey on victims in the park that seemed to be in love? Was he a rejected lover? Did he have some fetish with couples? Perhaps he watched the couples for a while before he struck. Is he still out there? Did he change his killing habits and strike again undetected by the police as the Lovers Lane Killer? Just as interesting as the disappearance of Mary Shotwell Little is the story of the Atlanta Lovers Lane Killer.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Book Signing this Weekend: Moments in McDonough History

There will be a book signing this weekend at Bell, Book and Candle in downtown McDonough at 45 John Frank Ward Boulevard for my local history book Moments in McDonough History. The event will be from 11:00-2:00. There are only a limited number of copies available, so come early.

Because of the number of responses and requests I have received, I plan on trying to do another one in the next few months. I would love for you to make it there if you can. The proceeds from this book will be donated to the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk for the Cure. We will also be holding a charity book drive at the same time. Come support this worthy cause and pick up a copy of the book.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mrs. Sammy King and the Haunting Near Eastman, Georgia

E. Randall Floyd, longtime columnist for The Augusta Chronicle, has quite a few titles to his name. He is also the owner and founder of Harbor House Books in Augusta, Georgia. One of the books he released before becoming the owner of Harbor House was More Great Southern Mysteries. This was the follow-up to his book Great Southern Mysteries. Both books are amazing, and I highly recommend that you check them out. I have provided a link to the Amazon site where you can order one. Click on the title of this blog article and it will take you there.

Perhaps the most interesting Georgia story in More Great Southern Mysteries is about Mrs. Sammy King, an older lady who died tragically in a thunder/lightning storm near Eastman, Georgia. For those of you who might not know where Eastman is, it is located in Dodge County not far south of Macon, Georgia. Apparently, Mrs. King had an affintity for enjoying the rainstorms and lighting that are so common to the South, especially in the spring and summer. Mrs. King loved to watch the lightning and listen to the thunder. However, on the night of her death, the thunderstorm and lightning displays made her uncomfortable. According to Floyd, the storm rattled doors and windows, making her quite fearful of the situation. Soon, she decided to close the window for safety. This was a mistake, for when she stood up to walk to the window, a bolt of lightning shot through the house and struck her. She died instantly, and three days later, her charred remains were buried in a cemetery not far from Eastman. But it appears that Mrs. King did not go to her rest upon being put in the grave. This all happened in the 1920s.

Reports have come forth over the past years that describe an older woman, stooped over and clad in darker colors wearing a bonnet, walking around near the old home that once was her residence. Mrs. Betty Kight, who purchased the old King residence in 1962, reports that the apparition is most commonly surrounded by a "soft haze of smoke." Kight first saw the apparition right after she and her husband Bob moved in to the house. One day, she was in the kitchen putting things away when she saw a lady standing in a flower bed outside the home. When she went to investigate, the woman was gone. After about a half dozen more sightings, Kight said that she became very unnerved so she removed the flower bed. That did not work. The ghost started appearing to her children during the daylight hours. All of her children had an experience with the ghost. Her son, Robert, heard singing one day, and so he went to the porch to investigate. Upon arriving there, he found Mrs. King's ghost sitting there singing from a songbook and three children were present with her. Her daughter, Elaine, went to feed the family dogs. With a plate of food in her hands, she opened the door only to find King standing there. She dropped the plate and fled.

The identity of the ghost bewildered the Kights until they reported their findings to neighbors who told them of King's tragic death in the late 1920s. The description of Mrs. King matched the ghost's description, including her bonnet. Kight found out that others have seen the ghost as well. In 1973, the Kight's bought a new house near the old one. They hoped this would relieve them of Mrs. King's hauntings. It did not. A few weeks after moving in, strange things happened in the new house. They noticed that flickering lights could still be seen in the old house. Moaning sounds were heard. Then, King began to make her presence known in the new house. There were opening and closing doors, things being moved, and other things that unnerved the family. The Kights thought about getting an exorcist, but decided against it. Soon, the Kight's accepted Mrs. King's presence. She is now part of the family, and Mrs. Kight feels that Mrs. King grew attached to the family and wants to stay among them. She feels that King did not finish her mission here on earth and is not ready to move on.

So is it possible that there are ghosts and spirits that still walk among us, and is it further possible that some of them can get attached to a living family and move with them? Who knows? But, I would suggest that if Mrs. King is going to stay, she should at least help out with the "electric" bills. I know, corny, but it fits.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

In Atlanta or In Hell: The Camp Creek Train Crash of 1900; the History Press is publishing my manuscript

I wanted to announce that the History Press from Charleston, South Carolina has asked to publish my manuscript on the Camp Creek Train Crash of 1900. The book is supposed to be out in October. That is not official, but according to my editor, it is the best time to release it.

I am honored that The History Press has asked for my book to be part of its catalog.

Who Murdered Georgia's First Governor

John Adam Treutlen was the first man elected as governor in Georgia after the state declared its independence. He came to Georgia with his family in 1743 from southern Germany at the age of ten. While en route to Georgia, his father died, leaving only him, his brother, and his mother to make the voyage. They arrived in Georgia and became indentured servants to Michael Burckhalter not far from Savannah.

Treutlen and his family were Salzburgers, and it is quite possible that they endured some persecution in Germany, which explains their flight to the New World. After 1756, Treutlen married and became prosperous. He served as a justice of the peace in Ebenezer, as well as road commissioner and surveyor there, and even represented Ebenezer in the Commons House of Assembly in Savannah, Georgia's first colonial legislature. He was also elected to Georgia's Provisional Congress during the American Revolution. He, Button Gwinnett, and George Wells (I have no clue if I am related to this man or not) helped draft the state's first constitution, and he would become so popular as a result that he was elected the first governor of Georgia under that constitution.

His time as governor was marked with controversy, as many of the conservative elements in Georgia killed the radicals who had helped put the new government in place. Lachlan McIntosh killed Button Gwinnett in a duel, and the other radical who helped draft the new state constitution, George Wells, was killed by James Jackson. So the conservatives, also called Tories, were on the prowl against many of the radical elements in the state. For the time being, Treutlen was spared.

In 1778, Treutlen dropped out of politics and returned to Ebenezer. John Houston became governor after Treutlen. However, in 1782, Treutlen returned to state politics and was elected as Ebenezer's representative to the state legislature. That year was very tumultuous in the legislature. There were only a few radicals in the state legislature that session, Treutlen being one. Conservatives continued their assault on the radicals and the political climate was very nasty. As a result, Treutlen left Georgia and moved his family to safety in the Orangeburg District of South Carolina. He was murdered in the night in South Carolina, in front of his family, in the spring of 1782. But the question remains, by whom???

One theory is that five tories lured him outside his home and shot him. Another theory is that an angry suitor may have killed him, for a few days earlier, he married again for the third time. Perhaps one of his new wife's old boyfriends came to do him in. Also, noone knows where he is buried.

This is a tragic story, especially given the fact that Treutlen was our first elected governor. Who killed him, and where did he end up??? Perhaps we will never know.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lions Loose in Murrayville, Georgia

This story comes from a blog reader by the name of Lu. I received this news article via email from Lu back in June. Sorry it has taken me so long to get to it, Lu. Apparently, there have been sightings of lions in Hall County this summer. Perhaps Georgia is a place where some pretty furocious felines are hanging out. If anyone out there lives in the area, email me.

In the story, a Hall County woman spotted an animal the size of a calf with a long tali. She said the animal was about three or four feet in length. Other sightings took place in the Hall-Lumpkin County areas right before this woman saw what she did. She was very adamant that it was not a fox or coyote. She saw the animal as it moved toward the woods close to a creek on her property. The Hall County sheriff's department was called in. They searched the area and found nothing. There is a nature preserve a few miles away, and a call was put in to the preserve about the possibility of a missing animal. However, all of their animals were accounted for. The woman said that there were cows on their property, but all were accounted for, so this beast must not have dined yet!!!


http://www.accessnorthga.com/detail.php?n=221024
The link above is to the story.

Airline Bridge Road in McDonough

I have had several emails about Airline Bridge Road in McDonough. I have never been out there, but I have read on the internet that it is a strange place. Some report that when you cross the bridge, your car dies for no reason. Others say they get strange and eerie feelings when crossing the bridge.

From what I understand, there are quite a few housing subdivisions in the area. Has anyone had any experiences there they would like to talk more about?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Book Signing-Moments in McDonough History

My first book, a local history book on McDonough, will be out in August. It is titled Moments in McDonough History. The proceeds from this book will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Walk For A Cure. We will be holding a book signing in downtown McDonough on Saturday, August 22, 2009 at Bell, Book and Candle from 11:00-2:00. Please join us. I will have about 20 copies of the book there available for purchase.

Bell Book and Candle is located at 45 John Frank Ward Boulevard McDonough, Ga 30252.
The phone number there is 770-957-1880. Their web address is www.bellbooksandcandles.com.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

109th Anniversary of the Camp Creek Train Crash

Today marks the 109th anniversary of the Camp Creek Train Crash of 1900. The crash took place on June 23, 1900 near McDonough, Georgia. The site today is still an active railroad line. It is right off Georgia Highway 42 north of the city of McDonough. Turn off Highway 42 on to Ivey Edwards Lane and the railroad line will be dead ahead. Once you cross the track look to the left and you will see the bridge over Camp Creek. Be careful when visiting this area. This is still a live track. The creek is not very big now, but on that fateful night, it was a raging river. Keep in mind when you visit this location that it was the sight of a tragedy. Be respectful.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sherman's Girlfriend(s)

Perhaps the largest tragedy in Georgia history was the infamous March to the Sea during the War Between the States. Union General William Tecumseh Sherman became quite famous for this march, which left a good portion of the state in shambles. The march began after the Atlanta Campaign ended with the Battle of Jonesboro. Sherman marched his army through Georgia and led them to the sea, taking the city of Savannah without firing a shot in the process. Savannah can be enjoyed today partially because the city was saved from the wrath of the man many called "The Butcher." Other Georgia cities were spared including Madison and Milledgeville. There are a number of rumors that abound about why some of the places along the march were not devastated. One of the most common rumors is that Sherman had a mistress in those places. I have always found that hard to believe. There is, however, a story of a young woman who did make Sherman's acquaintance some years before the War Between the States. This story may very well be the basis of some of those "mistress" legends.

The story centers around Cecelia Stovall, a beautiful young girl whose father was a wealthy cotton merchant in Augusta. Cecelia visited West Point Military Academy in 1836 to see her brother, Marcellus A. Stovall, Sherman's roommate. At a dance held on that visit, Sherman made her acquaintance. It is said that she told the young Sherman upon his advances that "Your eyes are so cold and cruel. I pity the man who ever becomes your foe. Ah, how you would crush an enemy." To this, Sherman replied, "Even though you were my enemy, my dear, I would ever love and protect you." Years later, Cecelia married Charles T. Shelman of what was once Cass County, now Bartow County. Charles built Cecelia a beautiful white house on a hill above the Etowah River. That is where the two lived when the War Between the States began in 1861.

As fate would have it, General Sherman came to the mansion on his way through the area in 1864. His attention was brought to the fine stately home high above the Etowah River. When he arrived there, he found that the family had left, and they had placed the home and its grounds in the care of an African American servant. The man exclaimed that he was glad Miss Cecelia was not there to see the sight of her lovely home being swarmed by Yankee soldiers. Upon further examination, General Sherman learned that the Cecelia of which the older man spoke was indeed his former interest, Cecelia Stovall, now Cecelia Shelman. After hearing this, Sherman ordered everything that had been taken from the home put back and that guards were to be placed at the house until his entire army had passed to avoid looting. He also left a message, which, at least until the early 1950s, was still in the family records of the Stovalls. The message read: "You once said that I would crush an enemy and you pitied my foe. Do you recall my reply? Although many years have passed, my answer is the same. 'I would ever shield and protect you.' That I have done. Forgive all else. I am only a soldier." As he handed the note to the elderly African American servant, he told him "Say to your mistress for me that she might have remained in her home in safety; that she and her property would have been protected. Hand her this when you see her."

As it turns out, Cecelia's husband, Charles, was a captain in the Confederate Army and that Cecelia had left the mansion to escape the invading army. Charles Shelman returned to the mansion after the war, as did Cecelia. He lived there until his death in 1886 and she until hers in 1904. They both were aware that they had once been absent when perhaps their most famous visitor paid a call.

This is a true story, although there may be some parts of it that were changed in the telling. However, the note that General Sherman left for Cecelia is still in the family records of the Stovall and Shelman families. Also, this story is recounted in the History of Bartow County, as well as Medora Field Perkerson's White Columns in Georgia. The note is authentic from what I have been told by local and Georgia historians. What I do wonder is if this story, while true, may have spawned the many unsubstantiated claims that Sherman did not burn other towns on the March to the Sea because he had a mistress there. It must be noted that Mrs. Cecelia Shelman was NOT his mistress, only a former love interest that never materialized. But can the many rumors and claims of Sherman's girlfriends in places like Madison, Milledgeville, Macon, and Savannah be spawned by this true story??? Perhaps.

The Legend of Rene Rondolia- Disappointing Myth

I remember watching a program called Scariest Places on Earth on the Fox Family Channel. One episode was totally about Savannah and the many hauntings that supposedly take place there. One story that was told was about a huge man who lived in the early 1800s named Rene Rondolia. It was rather disturbing to hear about this supposed gigantic killer of children, who, at his birth, weighed in at 16 pounds. According to the legend, Rene would roam the alleys of Savannah at night. Having grown in to a big child with abnormal strength, Rene could harm things without intent. Small animals would often fall prey to Rene when he would inadvertantly hurt them on account of his strength. To add to the depth of this legend, it was reported that Rene did not speak English, only broken French that he learned from his mother, a French Huguenot. According to the program, Rene was the inspiration for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. But as James Caskey, author of Haunted Savannah points out, there is absolutely no evidence to support such a claim, and furthermore, Joseph Bevan, the Savannah socialite who was a friend of Mary Shelley's father, visited with Shelley's father during a time when he and his daughter were estranged, so a meeting between Bevan and Mary Shelley would be very improbable. No credible scholar has produced any evidence that Shelley used Savannah or Rene Rondolia as an inspiration for her story. But there are still those who tell this story as if it were fact.
Moving on to Rene Rondolia, stories are told that the death of a young girl near Foley's Alley in Savannah was attributed to him. Her neck was broken, and as that was the same thing that was known to happen to the small animals with which Rene played, locals naturally assumed that this was the work of Rene Rondolia. They lynched him, hanging him from a tree in the southwest corner of Warren Square. Although it took a while, his neck broke and he died. However, it was said that the killings continued after his lynching into 1821. Others say that the ghost of Rene Rondolia can be seen near Warren Square. The story is known to scare thrill seekers and young children alike. According to Caskey, one can "Credit this tale with inspiring more sleepless nights on camping trips than any other story in Savannah."
It is good story, but sadly, it is just that-a story. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that there ever was a Rene Rondolia, and he was never buried in Colonial Park Cemetery as the show Scariest Places on Earth suggests. I noticed it was quite peculiar when on a trip to the cemetery a few years ago, I could not locate the grave in the plot where the show said it would be. Like many other legends and tales that circulate on tours and in discussions, this one was and is a total wash.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Was the Engine of the Camp Creek Train Crash Cursed?

As many of you may know, I have been doing a lot of research on the Camp Creek Train Crash of 1900. During my research, I have uncovered some macabre stories about the wreck. A few seem to indicate that something weird was going on with the engine that pulled the train. Consider the stories and see what you think.

Before arriving at the bridge which would carry so many of “Old #7’s” passengers to their final destination, it pulled in to the depot in McDonough around 9:30 p.m. that evening. Already behind schedule due to the weather, the train pulled in to the depot with a passenger car, baggage car, first class coach, and a Pullman sleeper. The train carried 48 passengers and crew. According to reports that surfaced shortly after the wreck, the locomotive for Old #7 had a sordid history. Put in to service in 1888, the locomotive claimed its first victims between Knoxville and Lenoir when it plowed in to a farm wagon and killed three persons. Eleven years later in 1897, the cursed locomotive took another nine lives when it collided with a covered wagon carrying members of the Woodward family at Avondale near Chattanooga. After this episode, the locomotive was rechristened number 851 in hopes that it could escape its apparent bad luck. However, the new number did nothing to stop the killing spree on which the engine appeared to be. For in 1898, the locomotive made its first dive in to a river. According to an article in The Atlanta Constitution on July 4, 1900, the rechristened locomotive crashed more than sixty feet into the Etowah River. The freight cars it pulled caught fire and destroyed a large amount of freight. Like Camp Creek on the night of June 23, 1900, the Etowah River had been swollen by rains at the time of the wreck. In fact, 851 lay buried in mud for several weeks. According to the article, “It was finally raised by the aid of a monster-derrick and a ten wheel locomotive. . . . It was rebuilt, and sent again on its career of killing, behaving well until it culminated in the Camp Creek affair. The original number 846 had been restored after raising it from the Etowah.” However, the eerie history of the 846 does not end there. The first engineer to handle the 846, John Ramsey, met a quirky fate when he was scalded to death. The second engineer, Abe Laird, died of typhoid fever during the summer of 1899, just one year before the wreck, and one year after the Etowah River crash. In addition, J.T. Sullivan, who drove the train on June 23, 1900 when it went down in the Camp Creek and killed dozens of people, was not the actual engineer. He was a replacement for the regular who could not make the trip for some reason.

Was the engine cursed? Who knows? But after the incident at Lenoire, the collision and death of the Woodward family near Chattanooga, the deaths of John Ramsey and Abe Laird, and the ill-fated run on June 23, 1900, there are many people who think it might have indeed been!!!