Are you brave enough to explore Mississippi’s haunted past?.
If you are up for more than costumes and pumpkins as Halloween nears, consider trekking to historical mansions, cemeteries, old hospitals and other sites with tragic stories and reports of paranormal activity.
“There’s plenty in Mississippi alone,” said Deborah Broadus, founder of Supernatural Investigation Group. Based in Pearl, members investigate sites across the state and the South.
The Clarion Ledger created a map of places across the state with reported hauntings and strange happenings using the Shadowlands Haunted Places Index, a collection of hauntings, ghost sightings, local folklore and urban legends.
Use the map to check out some of Mississippi’s haunted places and read some of their tales.
Tips before going
Always get permission to visit a property, even if it’s abandoned.
If you’re new to paranormal investigating, never go alone. Anything can happen and it’s better to have someone else with you for safety reasons, Broadus said. If you’re on a tour, stay with the group.
Do your research. Learn the terminology and technology that paranormal investigators use.
Ghost hunting events can be a good place to see how a paranormal investigation team works and learn from them, said Brian Riley, an investigator and co-founder of the Vicksburg-based Mississippi Paranormal Society.
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McRaven House, Vicksburg
It’s believed that at least 11 people were buried on the McRaven property, which once served as a Confederate campsite and hospital. Known as “Mississippi’s Most Haunted House,” McRaven is said to be home to several ghosts: Mary Elizabeth Howard, who died during childbirth in 1836; John Bobb, killed by Union soldiers in 1864; and William Murray, who died in 1911.
McRaven, located at 114 Harrison St. in Vicksburg, is on the National Register of Historic Places and first opened to the public in 1961. National Geographic magazine called the home the “Time Capsule of the South” because it was built in three different time periods, the 1790s, 1830s and 1840s.
Riley, from the Mississippi Paranormal Society, previously worked at McRaven and has investigated there many times. He said he has had paranormal experiences like witnessing doors opening, hearing footsteps and hearing disembodied voices.
“There’s something that draws us to that location,” Riley said about McRaven and other places his team has investigated in Vicksburg like the Duff Green Mansion and the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation.
Tours of several types — candlelight, historical and haunted — are offered at McRaven. Tickets can be purchased at mcraventourhome.com.
King’s Tavern, Natchez
The oldest standing building in Natchez, Kings Tavern, circa 1789, is known as the most haunted. Legend says that an expansion of the tavern in the 1930s uncovered a space behind a wall that housed three skeletons.
Also according to legend, Madeline, mistress of the tavern’s founder Richard King, haunts the tavern located at 613 Jefferson St.
The antebellum home at 905 Martin Luther King Memorial Drive was built in 1858 and is said to be haunted by two spirits, according to the Shadowlands Haunted Places Index: a man who died by suicide in one of the bedrooms and a young woman who has been seen glowing or holding a candle.
Broadus’s Supernatural Investigation Group has been to historical places like Merrehope while investigating potential hauntings and supernatural activity in private homes.
Broadus said she experienced heaviness and the feeling of not being able to breathe in the room where a man died by suicide, and that she and a team member heard a female voice on the second floor.
While stories mostly mention two spirits at the house, Broadus believes there are more, adding that she can feel the presence of former servants roaming the home.
She recommends anyone interested in the paranormal, history, architecture and beautiful grounds visit Merrehope and the Frank W. Williams House, another historical home located nearby.
“Make the trip,” Broadus said. “It would be well worth it.”
More information about tours can be found at merrehope.com/tour.html.
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Windsor Ruins, Port Gibson
Once a plantation mansion, 23 columns are all that remain of the site just north of Alcorn State University’s campus on Mississippi 552.
Its owner, Smith Coffee Daniel II, died weeks before the mansion was completed in 1861, according to the National Park Service. The mansion later burned to the ground in 1890, after a party guest allegedly dropped a cigarette.
There are reports of the ghost of a Union soldier who was killed in the doorway of the mansion during the Civil War. Daniel, legend has it, has also been seen around the ruins and sounds of a party can be heard there.
The ruins have been featured in films including “Raintree County” released in 1957 starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift and “Ghosts of Mississippi” from 1996 starring Alec Baldwin and Whoopi Goldberg.
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Rowan Oak, Oxford
Novelist William Faulkner lived at Rowan Oak for more than 40 years.
He told his children a bedtime story he made up that included fictitious character Judith Sheegog, the daughter of the home’s original owner, Col. Robert Sheegog, who reportedly threw herself off the bedroom balcony because of a lost love. Sheegog’s father buried her under a magnolia tree.
There have also been reports of sightings of Faulkner’s ghost around the property, including in his office, according to the Shadowlands Haunted Places Index.
Rowan Oak is open six days a week, year round, except for holidays for tours.
Vicksburg National Military Park
Thousands of soldiers died at the site during the Civil War, and some of their ghosts have been spotted by visitors, according to Visit Vicksburg, a tourist website for the city. People have reported hearing cannon fire, horses and screams of the wounded. Some have reported smelling smoke and gunpowder.
Tours can be scheduled by calling the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1-800-221-3536 or the Vicksburg National Military Park at 601-636-3827. Tours with a licensed battlefield guide are available.
Deason home, Ellisville
The ghost of Confederate Maj. Amos McLemore reportedly haunts the master bedroom of the Deason home.
McLemore stayed at the home when he was sent to capture a Confederate deserter named Newt Knight, who formed a renegade army with other deserters based in the Leaf River Swamp, according to The New State of Jones, the travel website for the city of Laurel and Jones County.
Knight went to the Deason home and shot McLemore, whose blood stained the wood floor and remains.
Paranormal investigators and visitors have reported doors swinging open and seeing floating orbs around the room where McLemore was murdered.
Broadus, of Supernatural Investigation Group, said she has taken pictures of a rocking chair in the room and captured images of McLemore rocking in it.
Reporter Mina Corpuz can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow her on Twitter @mlcorpuz.