Skip to comments.Haunted History, Urban Legends and Tall Tales
Posted on 10/20/2004 8:19:00 PM PDT by CurlyBill
JONELLE TOMBSON October 20, 2004
Tall tales of the macabre are always fun, but when they are centered around local places, events or people, they are even more exciting. Compiled from old folk lore and books, here is a collection of Fayetteville legends that are sure to make your hair stand on end.
Heart-pounding, spine-tingling, bone-chilling ghost stories and scary urban legends that have been passed down from generation to generation are as much a part of Halloween as candy, black cats and costume parties. Tall tales of the macabre are always fun, but when they are centered around local places, events or people, they are even more exciting. Compiled from old folk lore and books, here is a collection of Fayetteville legends that are sure to make your hair stand on end.
THE HANGMAN'S HOUSE
Near the community of Spring Lake, an old house is rumored to have claimed the lives of the people who have lived there. On three different occassions, three different men met odd ends. Nobody knows why these men were driven to early graves, but everyone knows that the circumstances surrounding their deaths are far beyond the realm of the normal.
Construction on the house began in 1910, and the strange occurrences first plagued the house as it was being built. The first contractor mysteriously disappeared. Finally, a second contractor was hired and the job was finished. The owner rented the building to a tenant, but the house was not his home for long. Less than six months after he moved in, the tenant hanged himself from a rafter in attic for unknown reasons.
After the unexplained suicide, the house stood empty for a while. When a few months had passed, a family from Virginia came to settle in North Carolina and bought the house, not knowing of the gruesome event that had occured on the top floor. Six weeks later, the man of the family hanged himself in the attic on the very same rafter where the first owner had met his untimely death. Now the site of two grisly suicides, the house became a completely undesirable location. It stood vacant for many years, making it suspectible to the ravages of age and environment. The dark, weather-beaten facade was an ominous sight, and no one would live there. In desperation, the owner finally offered the house rent-free to anyone with the nerve to live in it and keep it repair. A Fort Bragg soldier from Boston took the owner up on his offer.
The soldier and his wife moved in and tried their best to make the creepy old house into a suitable living area. However, the plague was not over. Strange happenings disturbed the house and its owners. Alarm clocks rang inexplicably at the wrong hour in the middle of the night. Closed books opened up on their own, and locked doors unlocked themselves.
When news of the house's many curiosities spread throughout town, visitors began showing up at the house. Sometimes, more than 40 people per day would knock on the doors and inquire about the supernatural phenomena. Finally, the dubious publicity struck the young soldier's last nerve. One day, his wife found him dead, hanging from a rafter in the attic-a rafter that was worn with a smooth groove where two other ropes had been looped before.
THE VANDER LIGHT
On a dark and solemn night in the tiny community of Vander, railroad switchman Archer Matthews was alone at the train station. While he awaited the next train to pass by the depot, he lit his lantern and stepped outside onto the platform to smoke a cigarette. A misty rain began to fall. In the distance, an unexplained noise pierced the darkness. Startled, Matthews leaned over the edge of the platform to investigate the source of the sound, but he lost his balance and fell onto the tracks below, knocking him unconscious.
Finally, the lonesome, crying whistle from the incoming train sounded. As the train barrelled toward the station, the conductor saw no one waiting to board at the Vander station. He did, however, see a faint glimmer on the horizon. When the conductor finally realized that the glimmer belonged to a lantern, he caught a glimpse of Matthews' body sprawled across the tracks. The conductor slammed on his brakes, but it was too late. Matthews was killed instantly.
Now, one can allegedly see a flickering light above the train tracks where Vander Station used to stand. The light floatover the tracks for a few seconds and then disappears. Watch your back, though. Eyewitnesses have claimed that if you get too close to the light, it will indeed disappear...only to reappear a few seconds later behind you.
Legend has it that the flicker is the flame from the old switchman's lantern, swinging back and forth from Matthews' ghostly hand. Naysayers may claim that the light is merely phosphorescent swamp gas, known as will o' the wisp. In marshy areas, such as the area where the Vander station was, natural gas is known to escape from the ground and glow as it rises. Skeptics might believe this story, but anyone who has actually seen the Vander Light holds firm to the idea that the light indicates the spirit of Archer Matthews, still waiting on the train that never comes and searching for the sound that literally scared him to death.
THE WOMAN IN BLACK
Now the home of the Women's Club of Fayetteville, the Sanford House on Dick St. is rumored to also be the home of a ghostly presence. Eyewitnesses have seen the spectre of a woman in black. The spirit has been known to slowly descend the staircase and then forlornly ascend to the landing and disappear. Who is this phantom lady? There are a couple of possibilties.
The most popular tale tells of a young woman searching for her lost love. As the story goes, a Civil War soldier was killed in the Sanford House and buried in the basement-possibly in the old vault that was used when the house served as a bank in the 1820's. The soldier's sweetheart searched the house for him, not knowing that she would never see him alive again. Devastated by her loss, the young woman mourned for the solider until her own death-a death which some say occurred as a result of her broken heart. Now she haunts the stairs of the house, still searching for her love for all of eternity.
Other stories claim that the spirit may be Margaret Halliday, the daughter of a prominent Fayetteville family and the wife of banker John Cameron. Cameron, who was the cashier of the Bank of Fayetteville, lived on the second floor of the house when it served as the bank's headquarters. Upon his marriage, Cameron bought the house and the family lived there for several years. Incidentally, the Oval Ballroom, which stands next door to the Sanford House, was supposedly built for the Halliday-Cameron wedding.
THE TRIAL OF THE CENTURY
Speaking of the Oval Ballroom, the ornate and oddly-shaped structure has some secrets that lie within its walls. Its story centers around Ann K. Simpson. Her 1850 murder trial was the "trial of the century" in her time-a captivating and controversial tale for a captivating and controversial woman.
On the night of November 8, 1849 Ann's husband Alexander, a wealthy carriage shop owner, died suddenly. Autopsy results revealed that Alexander had been poisoned with arsenic. The only suspect was his wife. A warrant was issued for Anne's arrest, and she was extradited from Havana, Cuba where she had fled to shortly after Alexander's demise.
Anne was the first woman ever tried for murder in Cumberland County and possibly in the state of North Carolina. The testimony presented at her trial was truly sensational: letters alluding to infidelity and Ann's visit to fortune-teller Polly Rising, who predicted that Alexander would be dead within a week. Then, there was the most damning evidence of all. An employee from Samuel J. Hinsdale's drugstore testified that Ann had purchased an ounce of arsenic, supposedly to kill rats, soon before Alexander's death. The prosecution claimed that Ann had used the rat poison to taint her husband's coffee at dinner in the Oval Ballroom on the fateful night.
In his closing statement, defense lawyer D. K. MacRae said, "You cannot give her peace. You cannot restore her joy. But gentlemen, you can let her live." The jury deliberated for three hours and returned with a not guilty verdict.
Did Ann really poison her husband and fool the jury into believing that she was innocent? Or was she the victim of an unusual coincidence? She took the truth to her grave. Only she (and perhaps Alexander) knew whether she had gotten away with murder.
THE KYLE HOUSE PRESENCE
The Kyle House, the grand Greek Revival Style house on Green Street, might be home to a restless spirit of its own. Several witnesses have claimed to hear strange disembodied noises in the house, such as furniture moving on its own or footsteps on an otherwise empty staircase. When one enters the Kyle House, there is definitely a strange vibe radiating from its elegant walls. Maybe its visitors are being watched. The house belonged to family patriarch James Kyle, a merchant and prominent city figure who immigrated to Fayetteville from Scotland. He built the beautiful dwelling around 1855 after his first home was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1831. After Kyle's death, his daughter Annie lived in the house. Annie was a nurse during the Civil War era. She eventually rented the house to borders, and for a while, the Kyle House served as city offices.
The strange atmosphere in the house is most often attributed to the presence of the spirit of old James Kyle. Is he still roaming the hallways, still taking care of his home from beyond the grave? Visit the Kyle House and listen up. Maybe you'll hear him yourself.
Up & Coming Weekly Staff Writer.
Bookmark to read SPOOKY stuff!
I'm going to have to bookmark this one since it's about bedtime and the one about the house in Spring Lake was enough for now. ;)
good read. Thank you. I just love these stories... Night home for R & R ... catchup... Half watching the Yankees NOT having a good night.. 9/3 at end of 8th
I grew up in a haunted house. My mom still lives there. No one in my family will spend the night there for any amount of money. I'll tell my story closer to Halloween even though you'll probably think I'm crazy.
Add me to your ping list please.
Thanks for the links.
"I'll tell my story closer to Halloween even though you'll probably think I'm crazy."
Yep I do...and why wait??
Put me your ping list for good Halloween spooky tale!:D
"We're looking into the case."
My house is occasionally haunted, but the terrifying episodes end when my mother-in-law leaves after the holidays.
How thoughtful of you, CurlyBill! Thank you!
Because good things happen to those who wait.
(Thanks for the ping!)
I took King Vanity to listen to an author locally who has written books on Hauntings in the PNW and this book on local hauntings in our area on the Central Oregon Coast.
We told him about our ghost my son named Charlie.
Charlie my son said was an Asian man and when we first moved in our home on occassion we could smell breakfest cooking in my sons bedroom. Also we have on recessed cam in the kitchen that blinks off and on. We have lived here 15yrs.
Well I did some investigating and seems back in the days when the RR was being built over the cascades the Asians had there camps at the top of the hill where we live one fellow, we did some research at the historical society, was not part of the Chinese RR workers but was a cook on a tourist ship in and out of the Yaquina bay.
THe ship sunk and all the passengers were safely taken off to shore when this Asian "Charlie" cook looked around to make sure all were gone he found a little toddler had been left behind and he swam ashore and saved the little tyke.
Days later he was found up at his camp that had a little veggie garden hung in the shack he lived in when not on the boat. It was deemed suspicious as his feet where touching the floor.
Rumor has it some locals murdered him in connection with saving the toddler.
To this day he has a tombstone up at the top of the hill. We got copies of the official papers sent to his country to let his relatives know of his death.
My son and I today call Charlie a friendly ghost.
We yearly pray that God will surround our house with an army of Angels to protect us.
I have an illness that leads to waking up to halucinations when I am really in bad shape. The night after seeing the local Ghost author I think we may have brought home a cling on or I was having a bad dream while awake.
The door to our room, we share due to my sons 24hr. care needs, flew open and I sat up to see WHO was coming in and got up to close it, then went back to sleep and shortly was startled awake to see a little girl with dark hair standing at towards the end of my sons bed between our beds facing away from me but looking at my son. I was so exhausted from pain that I just went back to sleep and wrote it off as a bad vision not beig fully awake. It was freaky. But I wrote it off as being in my mind as I have woken up before and seen long black hair growing all over my four poster bed and I was ill then too. So as real as the aparitions seem I just blame it on my mind.
Then I pray for God to cleanse our home and put the Angels up just in case.
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