By Tammie Beasley
“I do believe in ghosts, I do, I do, I do, I do believe in ghosts.” Does that sound familiar? Growing up in Meade County, I was raised on ghost stories and the occult. I watched fun television shows like Bewitched (although I tried very often, I was never able to move objects by twitching my nose), The Munsters and the Addams Family to the scarier Fright Night and Boris Karloff Presents thrillers faithfully every week. I dressed in scary Halloween outfits to go trick or treating with the neighborhood kids. I still have the witch costume my grandmother made for me as an adult hanging in my closet. Even our church got in on the Halloween spirit with a spooky Halloween party in the basement where, dressed in my Halloween costume, I bobbed for apples and walked through a darkened room sticking my hand into bowls of gooey ingredients that represented eyeballs and intestines! I walked through Halloween Haunted Houses. I wore my costume to Halloween parties at school where we were given treats and prizes for the best costumes.
At slumber parties, we played scary games like Mirror Wolf and Mary Mary. Two particular slumber parties stand out in my mind. One was at my house where nine little girls had already scared themselves out of their wits when a face appeared at the back door of the basement where we were playing the games and bedding down for the night. Sure that we had conjured up some sort of ghost, we started screaming bloody murder. My father came rushing down the stairs to see what had happened. When we told him someone had looked through the back door, he took off out the door and spied the culprit getting away at the top of the hill. It turned out that it was Jack Wilcox, better known to most of the town people as Mullygrub. My parents had built a room on the back of the house and the basement room had been left unfinished and always unlocked. My father said that Mullygrub probably just been looking for a place to sleep and that we had scared him as much as he had scared us. After that though, they did lock the outside back door if anyone was sleeping in the basement.
At a slumber party at a friend’s house, her older sisters made scary shadows on the walls of their big farmhouse and took us to the graveyard on their property at midnight and told us scary stories. I’m sure none of us slept very well that night.
I heard stories about Buttermilk Falls being haunted and witches having a coven there. I heard there was a house on Bland Street where people practiced their evil devil worshipping rituals at night. Needless to say, I took the long way home from ballgames at Ramsey Field at night to avoid walking by that house! I heard stories about a headless horseman sighted in several areas of the county. I am sure there are more stories that I don’t remember.
An older lady lived on the corner of my street from the time I remember until she died in 1978. She was “eccentric” as my grandmother called her. She wore skorts and mini-skirts and chain-smoked cigarettes. One of the neighborhood kids said she was a witch with a big pot of witches brew in her house and from then on, we believed it. From my house, I could see her working in her garden in back of her house and carrying items that I had imagined had to be do with witchcraft down into her cellar. Her yard was full of all kinds of items hanging from trees and posts, including gourds, chimes, birdhouses, and things I am not sure what they were but I imagined they were skulls and hanging heads! We walked past her house almost every day for one reason or another and although sometimes she met us at the gate and offered us milk and cookies, we usually declined saying we had to get home, go to a ballgame or anything we could think of. Finally, one day I walked by there alone and accepted her offer and went into her house although I was scared to death. She had a wonderful house full of antiques and treasures which even as a kid I could recognize. She had a piano and she asked me to play her a song which I did. She gave me cookies and milk and a wonderful wooden Santa sleigh which I still have to this day. After that, I enjoyed her hospitality several times. It turned out that she was just a lonely nice older lady wanting to befriend the neighborhood children but we let our fears get the best of us.
When I was 18 years old, I went to see The Exorcist with my friends. I slept with my light on in my room for at least a year. I still occasionally watched scary movies such as Halloween, Carrie, Terror Train, Friday the 13th and a Nightmare on Elm Street and even though I knew they were fictionalized stories for entertainment, my heart was no longer in it. As an adult, I went to see Nightmare Forest once with my husband, daughter and niece. That was an experience I did not care to repeat. I attended many Halloween costume parties and dances as an adult. I still enjoyed Halloween, but somewhere along the way, I became no longer thrilled by the scary stories and the occult; I became just plain scared. My mother assured me that all occult events could be explained rationally but I was not so sure. There are some things that I have seen in my lifetime that have remained unexplained.
Brandenburg is not the only place to have ghost stories in Meade County. There are lots of stories in Meade County about ghosts and the occult. I’m sure everyone has read or heard the legend of Leah Smock and other ghosts at Battletown. The lady who owned my daughter’s daycare grew up in Battletown and she took some of her young charges on a “ghost run” to Battletown around Halloween several times which scared them…and they loved it.
I heard stories from people who lived in Old Weldon about a ghost who walked along the train track. My grandmother’s farmhouse in Wolf Creek contained one room that all the grandkids were totally afraid to go in. It was always curtained off and dark (my grandmother called it the parlor) and had pictures of ancestors on the wall. As kids we swore those pictures followed us with their eyes. I would not have taken any of those pictures as a family heirloom if I had been offered them!
I heard noises in our basement at night in the house I grew up in and was sure it was some kind of ghost or monster. I would occasionally have nightmares about ghosts being in our house. My nephew swears that when he spent the night in the house there when he was a teenager, he woke up to see a presence in the room with him. He never spent the night there again. Even as an adult, I was spooked to go into the basement at night by myself in that house. My mother lived there until her death in 2014 but she alway said she never saw or felt anything in the house. Of course, she also said she didn’t believe in ghosts.
Then there is the famous haunted house on Highway 261 that was featured on a television show. The family ran a Christmas tree farm there for several years and we bought trees there when my daughter was a child. I don’t know if the house was haunted but I do know the family did not live in that house. They lived in a trailer on the property.
I also heard stories all my life about ghosts at Doe Run Inn. I ate at Doe Run Inn many times and attended a class reunion and dinners there but I never stayed in one of their rooms. Some people who stayed there have perpetuated those stories. If I am not mistaken, I think there were a few “ghost” events held there as well.
I have witnessed other unexplained events in my lifetime that were not scary. One of the main stories is when our brother-in-law died several years ago. We came home after the funeral and sat outside by our pool to listen to music and reminisce about him. All of a sudden our radio changed to a bluegrass station (our brother-in-law loved bluegrass) and we could not get any other station to come in on the radio. When we tried to play that radio station later, we couldn’t find it and we never did find it again. We became convinced it was a sign from him. I like those kinds of signs.
I don’t know if there really is any such thing as ghosts but I do know that I do not want to find out!
Happy Halloween everyone!