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 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, which may have contributed to the financial difficulties that resulted in William being declared insolvent. The home was auctioned off in a public auction in 1820 according to historian Robert Hughes of the Ships at Sea Maritime Museum and Scarbrough House. After William Scarborough lost control, the home was purchased by his brother-in-law, Robert Isaacs who allowed William and Julia Scarbrough to remain in the home. Upon his demise, he willed the home to his niece Charlotte-William and Julia Scarbrough's oldest daughter.  Because of legal issues, Charlotte was forced to sign over the deed for the lifetime use by both her mother Julia and her other sisters. This is when Godfrey Barnsley, another son-in-law of the Scarborough's, entered the picture. Godfrey came to manage the home and started renovations and repairs. Eventually, he was drawn into legal battles with Charlotte over the home, and these battles made their way to the United States Supreme Court.  During her tenure 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 in Savannah.

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 of poison. 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, 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 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 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.