Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

October 31, 2012

Halloween in the South

A few ghost stories for Halloween

VALDOSTA — It may or may not surprise you that many of America’s most haunted places are located in the South. Whether you believe in ghosts and ghouls, you must agree that there is a sort of fanaticism that has grown around the idea of the after-life, especially in relation with Halloween.

There are always a slew of movies, such as more recently released “Paranormal Activity” (1,2,3 and 4), that attempt to capture the idea that ghosts and demons walk among us, and on occasion, toy with us.

As is the case with “Paranormal Activity,” they are usually cheesy and border on the comedic as opposed to the intention of horror.

However, acts of violence and horror are very much a part of the American and the Southern tradition. Whether it be genocide of the Native Americans, the Civil War and the long history of the slave trade, it can be argued that the South has a few “skeletons” in its closet.

So, just in time for All Hallow’s Eve, here are a few of the South’s historically accurate horrors. Take them as you will, but keep in mind the words of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: “Where there is no imagination, there is no horror.”


Being from Savannah myself, I know a thing or two about spooky surroundings. Growing up, I had a friend whose family lived in a large, historically Southern house that was used as a hospital during the Civil War. While many of my friends claimed to not believe in ghosts, you rarely saw any of them accept slumber party invitations. The house was as beautiful as it was creepy.

Even just behind the house, there were gravestones with cages around them. For years, I had just assumed they had been vandalized at some point or another but I later found out that they were believed to be the graves of accused and executed witches. It was believed that the cages would keep the witches from rising.

While there are several

instances throughout history in Savannah — fire, diseases, war and even murder — that lay the way for a good ghost story, the graves throughout Downtown Savannah have always been the scariest to me. There is just something about knowing that there is a corpse just feet from you that is unsettling. Even more unsettling is the bells located by the graves, particularly in the famous Laurel Grove Cemetery located on the block of Ogeechee Road and 39th.

The fear of being buried alive is perhaps as old as the fear of death itself. While you don’t hear of this happening today, premature burial was actually something of a problem throughout the 18th and 19th centuries (though accounts of live burials date much farther back). These accounts and fears were included in famous works of literature such as “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Cask of Amontillado” and Edgar Allan Poe even wrote a paper in 1844 called “The Premature Burial” that allegedly contained accounts of people being buried alive.

This caused a fear in many and spawned the invention of the safety coffin.

The first recorded safety coffin was constructed on the orders of Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick before his death in 1792.

A number of safety coffins can be seen in Laurel Grove Cemetery. The seemingly typical graves have poles standing next to them from which a bell hangs. On the top of the bell, a piece of rope is tied and the rope travels down into the ground. The rope is actually tied around the wrist of the corpse. The idea is that if a person awakens in the coffin after it has been buried, this person can ring the bell and alert those above ground to dig them up.

This has spawned tales of restless souls in the cemetery who ring the bells to give passersby a spook, but many just attribute the ringing to the wind. Nevertheless, after a long night of River Street, walking by the cemetery at 2 a.m. and hearing the subtle ringing of the bells still strikes a chill.

Text Only
Local News
  • ARociewilliams_002.jpg Woman shares nearly a century of lessons

    With nearly 100 years of life under her belt, Ocie Viola Williams has plenty of advice to share with the world. Her top two pieces of advice: know the importance of education and don’t expect a teacher to raise your child for you. 

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • psst1 photo page copy.jpg PSST! finishes peachy season

    Peach State Summer Theatre concluded its 2014 season Sunday, a season which broke attendance records for the professional musical theatre company.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_2381.jpeg Award-winning young professionals share success secrets

    The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber’s MetroOne Young Professionals hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday at the Hilton Garden Inn to highlight successful business practices.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140726_summerlibrary002.jpg Library celebrates end of summer reading program

    With the first day of school just around the corner, students are soaking in the last few weeks of summer vacation. The end of summer also means the end of the South Georgia Regional Library’s 2014 summer reading program.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • artseason1 copy.jpg A sneak peek at some area arts organizations’ 2014-15 seasons

    Beethoven. Tennessee Williams. Non-stop art. Two versions of “The Wizard of Oz.” The 2014-15 arts season is coming.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • sabalmap.jpg Sabal Trail explains its position

    Representatives from Sabal Trail Transmission recently sat down with The Times to provide an update on the ongoing pipeline and potential economic development opportunities associated with the project.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072514-MoodyComp007.jpg Moody AFB crews race in load competition

    Moody Air Force Base hosted a weapons load competition Friday morning, a maintenance group tradition in which two 23d Maintenance Group A-10 munition load crews raced against the clock to load munitions onto an A-10C Thunderbolt II.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • moonshine bust.jpg Police close illegal drinking house

    After receiving numerous complaints, the Valdosta Police Department shut down an illegal alcohol sales operation Friday.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • election.jpg Black earns most votes in runoff

    State Rep. Ellis Black led the votes for state Senate District 8 Friday with seven of seven counties reporting certified results, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140724-LAT1.jpg Little Actors Theatre ready for summer show

    Since 2004, the Little Actors Theatre has provided a place for children ages 6 to 19 to express themselves through acting.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

Top News

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results