The Dry Bones
By M.P. Pellicer | Stranger Than Fiction Stories
In May, 1875, in the city of Montgomery, Alabama in an old building on the corner of Market and Lawrence Streets what was described as "a poor perturbed spirit" made its presence known.
Montgomery, Alabama 1875
It was one of the oldest building in the city, and the upper floors were once occupied by The State Journal printing office. It stood opposite to the Montgomery Hall.
This space was taken over as a flop house, and the lower floor was a large hall known as Freely Hall, used also as a carriage and wagon repository, and a bar room.
The whole building was very dilapidated.
Persons passing through this area said they felt a peculiar sensation as if they were by themselves in a graveyard.
About 8 o'clock those living upstairs heard a strange noise in the hall below.
"Some of them put their heads through the holes in the floor of their room where panels were missing." They thought they were being robbed.
They called out, "Who's that?"
Several voices shrieked out, "Who is you, I say?" then the clanking of chains echoed through the hall. Then it was followed by "low, rumbling sounds, groans, shrieks and a steady tramp, tramp, tramp as though a thousand soldiers were marching to their eternal bivouac."
"Ghosts!" one of the occupants shouted and they left the building, their eyes dilated to the "size and brightness of a Wethersfield onion."
The alarm spread over the neighborhood, Men with guns, women with pokers, and children all gathered to see and catch the ghost. They all told stories about ghosts, but none dared to go near the house.
Some brave souls eventually went into the halls and returned with stories that the "ghost blew his breath on their cigar, and another said he got close to him and it made a grab at him and his arm went though just he was mist."
Another said that as he was sneaking in through the window the ghost, "who was standing in the far end of the hall, jerked his own head off and threw it at him, knocking him about ten feet back out of the window."
The ridiculous stories demoralized the crowd who now numbered about 200, and it was finally resolved that it was up to the Mayor and the City Council to run out the ghosts.
Finally one man said that he wasn't afraid of ghosts and if 40 men would follow him he would go in the house and find who was there "dead or alive."
As he finished his speech a big, fat woman standing in the crowd raised her hands above her head and screamed, "Lordy, look a yonder! He's coming out of the window." In a few seconds not a "mother's son or daughter were to be seen in four squares of the place." It was observed that every occupied room in a square of that house had a light burning throughout the entire night.
A few nights later the rumor was that the ghost had reappeared at the same place. A large number people congregated at the corner of the haunted house to watch what would happen.
Again strange sounds and groans were plainly heard. This time the ghost replied to questions from the crowd.
He stated that his name was "Rodgers, and that he was murdered in that building 42 years before and that his family were now in indigent circumstances." He added, "that he was accompanied by the spirit of a woman who was murdered at Mount Meigs before the war." He stopped talking except to say he would return the following night and reveal the whole mystery.
Since the appearance of the the ghost many stories were told of former mysterious appearances in the hall.
Someone had kept a skating rink there several years ago, who said he closed it because he saw at several different times two strange figures passing the hall at night after he closed the doors.
The next day about 2,000 people gathered to witness the third appearance of the ghost. There was no ghost, and mediums said the spirits informed them they would appear if the crowd was smaller and less boisterous.
However, the ghosts didn't keep their word, and the story faded from the newspapers.
In 1857, there was a "strong suspicion" that a woman had been killed in Knoxville, Alabama. A "hideous amount of cotton, with pieces of whale bone scattered 'promiscously' around, was discovered" in the neighborhood of the railroad.
The impression was that a woman was murdered thereabouts. The matter had been kept quiet with hopes of finding clues to the guilty parties The remains were taken to the coroner.
Her identity was never established, much less who did this to her.
The description of what was found by the railroad is just as elusive. What else besides cotton and whalebone was left? Apparently enough to take to the coroner.
If there was ever a reason to haunt, a death like this would be it.
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Stranger Than Fiction Stories by M.P. Pellicer