Sunday, July 20, 2008

Is the Old Governor's Mansion Haunted?

If you have not been to Milledgeville to the Old Governor's Mansion, you certainly are missing a treat. In the last few years, the state of Georgia has appropriated millions of dollars for the repair and restoration of the mansion. It served as the home of Georgia's governors from 1838 until 1868, some 30 years. Until 1879, it served as a boardinghouse, when it was then purchased by Georgia Military and Agricultural College as a dorm. After 1890, it served as the home of the presidents of what is now Georgia College & State University, the institution which owns the mansion now, although it is no longer being used as the residence of the college's president. Regular tours are offered, and the mansion staff is headed by Jim Turner, a professional public historian.

There are quite a few stories that exist about the old mansion, including one Georgia College student who witnessed the appearance of a meek, well-dressed woman one evening while tidying up after a catered dinner in the mansion in 1994. But the most interesting story behind the Old Governor's Mansion involves a former cook who spent most of her life preparing meals there. Her name was Molly, and she worked in the mansion when it was part of the dormitories owned by Georgia Military and Agricultural College, now Georgia Military College. She also served as a cook there for the first few presidents of what is now GC&SU. According to Barbara Duffey in her book Banshees, Bugles, and Belles: True Ghost Stories of Georgia, people who have been in the mansion often report smelling blueberry muffins cooking. Others smell pork and blackeyed peas cooking, all three of which were part of the culinary delights served by Molly during her tenure as a cook at the mansion. Each time these smells have lingered and tantalized the noses of mansion visitors, it has been found that noone is in the home cooking, and the kitchen is empty. On one occasion, visitors reported smelling burned potatoes. The smell grew so strong that the local fire department was called to investigate. Although all of the firemen could smell the odor of burned potatoes, the source could not be found. It was suggested that the smell came from Molly. The evening when this happened had been the occasion where a Texas Confederate soldier's remains had been unearthed and were placed in the mansion to lay in state to honor the fallen hero. There were thousands of visitors to the mansion during the event, and the doorbell rang numerous times. It was said that Molly must have been startled or confused by the incessant ringing of the mansion's doorbell that she forgot about her cooking potatoes and inadvertantly allowed them to burn.

Other incidents involve the lingering odor of cigars and pipe smoke in the mansion library. It should be noted that many of the college presidents who lived there would often retire to that room after dinner to have a smoke. Perhaps some of them are still keeping vigil in the mansion library. Stories are also told of a servant who after preparing and cleaning an upstairs bedroom was startled by someone (or something) throwing the bed linens off the bed on to the floor. After this happened several times, the servant decided not to enter the bedroom again.

I would highly recommend Mrs. Duffey's book. Not only are there great stories in the book about Milledgeville, Georgia's antebellum capital, there are numerous stories about ghosts of Macon, Savannah, and the small towns of Coastal Georgia. If you cannot find the book in stores, try contacting the publisher, Rockbridge Publishing Company in Berryville, Virginia. Happy reading!!!


Lady Em said...

I have never heard this story!!!!! How interesting. I will have to get that book, I am always looking for a good book on ghost's in Georgia!!

Todd Parmelee said...

I was at Fort George today in Darien and observed a strange sea creature. Jokingly, in my video I refer to it as the Loch Ness. I had no idea that Darien actually had a sea monster until I told the woman about it at Fort George and observed the brochure about Altie.