Haunted Hot Spots

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Heritage Hall is said to still bear the presence of former resident Virginia Nisbet, who died during childbirth there in 1851.

Transcript of Haunted Hot Spots

  • LAKELIFE MAGAZINE FALL 20088

    s the leaves begin to fall and the cold air creeps uponus, is it easy to tell that autumn is approaching, andwith it Halloween. Soon trick-or-treaters will be outand about and haunted houses, complete with fog

    machines, fake blood, and disturbing reenactments, will be openfor another season.

    While these shows are indeed amusing, the interest in truehauntings, the stories of forces that some argue to be nonfiction,have a more terrifying edge to them. There is just somethingabout a ghost tale that makes it more spine-chilling when there isa chance the story is not a tale, but rather a perspective that thepast is here in the present.

    Although there is certainly speculation as to whether or notspirits and ghosts exist, those who dont believe sometimes canthelp but show slight curiosity. Lake Oconees surrounding citiesare no stranger to these paranormal occurrences; each town is fullof their own history and with that, comes their own hauntings.

    Madison is known across the nation as one of the best smalltowns in America, but what some residents and visitors might notknow is that Madison is considered a paranormal magnet here inGeorgia.

    Heritage Hall, an imposing mansion on South Main Street, isa tourists playground. Now maintained by the Morgan CountyHistorical Society, it is also the place where some believe theghost of Virginia Nisbet resides. The home was built in 1811 andpurchased in 1830 by Dr. Elijah Evans Jones, Virginias father.Virginia and her newborn baby died in 1851, probably due tocomplications of child birth. The room where her presence hasbeen reported is now called The Ghost Room of the house.

    Part of the reason we call it The Ghost Room is becausenumerous people have walked in the room and described astrange feeling. Some visitors say they have actually seenVirginias ghost lying in the bed, said Ruth Feliks, director ofHeritage Hall. However, the most important reason the namewas developed is because there is an etching of a woman on thebottom of the fireplace. The figure is believed to be Virginiaholding her baby. In the past there have been many efforts to sandthe image away but each time it returns just as clear as it wasbefore.

    There have also been instances in Heritage Hall where peoplehave said other strange things have happened. One ladyexperienced a mirror randomly flying off the wall. Former

    AWhere the past meets the present in Georgias Lake Country

    Story & Photos by KRISTI HALL

  • LAKELIFE MAGAZINE FALL 2008 9

    employees have also seen a woman whoresembles Virginia standing at the top of thestaircase. Marguerite Copelan, President of the MorganCounty Chamber of Commerce, witnessed one mansencounter with Virginia.

    I was in Heritage Hall one afternoon when a marriedcouple arrived to tour the home. The pair walked intoseparate rooms while I stood in the middle hallway, saidMarguerite. I could hear the man mumbling to himself but Ididnt think much about it. A few moments later the manexited the room and looked rather frightened. He asked mewhere his wife was I told him that she was in the room across

    CONTINUED ON PAGE 10

    Heritage Hall, home to the MorganCounty Historical Society, is said tostill bear the presence of formerresident Virginia Nisbet, right, whodied during childbirth there in 1851.

  • LAKELIFE MAGAZINE FALL 200810

    the hall.The man turned pale and explained

    to Marguerite there had been a womanin the room with him that he thoughtwas his wife. She was rubbing myshoulders and having a conversationwith me, he said.

    However, the room, which happenedto be The Ghost Room, had beencompletely empty other than him.Needless to say, he and his wife left thehouse in quite a hurry, said Marguerite.

    Lucy Monahan and her husband Timpurchased a home, also on MadisonsSouth Main Street, in 1984. The two,along with their children lived in thehome.

    Strange things started happening assoon as we moved in, said Lucy.Several times I was alone in the houseand would hear children laughing in theother room.

    The family had been living in thehome for about a week when theirdaughter, who was 6 at the time, had herfirst encounter with a ghost.

    Nisbets room is now the Ghost Room atHeritage Hall and is visited frequently byvisitors who want to see the etching onthe fireplace, below. No matter how manytimes the fireplace has been sanded away,an image of a woman cradling her babyalways returns.

  • LAKELIFE MAGAZINE FALL 2008 11

    She was upstairs playing in her roomone afternoon. She came running downthe stairs and said Mommy! An old ladywalked in my room, smiled at me andwalked right out of the window, said Lucy

    The Monahans house had been builtaround 1890 by Susan and Peter Walton.The Waltons had six children and Susan,who some called Aunt Susie, was knownin town for loving children and being avery generous woman. The Monahansbelieve Aunt Susie is one of the ghosts wholived in their home.

    The ghosts were always very friendly. Ithink this is because Susie was so happy wehad children around. It was as though shehelped watch over them, said Lucy.

    When I would lie down at night to goto sleep I could hear footsteps of someonewalking down the hall It was like she waschecking on the children before they wentto sleep.

    The ghosts also saved the Monahanshome and possibly their lives. My husbandwas a pilot so sometimes he would work atnight. One evening the kids and I were in

    a room watching television, all of thesudden we heard this huge, loud bangcoming from the hallway. Our dog, a blacklab started growling. All the hairs on hisbody stood straight up. When I leaneddown to touch him a spark of electricity,which was visible to the eye, shot from myfinger tip to his nose. It was bizarre. Whenthe children and I would touch each otherwe could feel the electricity. It was in theair.

    Lucy and her children wereunderstandably hesitant to go into thehallway so they sent the dog. When theyfollowed behind him they saw somethinglying on the floor, in the middle of thehallway. As they walked closer, thewooden object became clearer.

    The random object turned out to be thetop part of an antique bedpost. At thispoint the Monahans had been living inthe home for years. They had never onceseen the bedpost before nor did they haveany clue where it came from.

    The dog went over to it and startedbarking. When he got close, another spark

    shot from the bedpost to his nose. We wentto bed and didnt move the wood piece.When my husband came home later thatnight I told him about what had happened.He went downstairs to check things out.When he reached for the bedpost piece henoticed a strange smell in the air.

    Mr. Monahan went into the basementand checked the furnace. It was in flamesand about to catch the house on fire, saidLucy. Thank goodness Tim went to checkon the bedpost, if he hadnt we would havenever known about the fire.

    The Monahans lived in the house forabout 12 years before moving. Over theyears the family experienced countlessoccasions when the presence of a differentforce was at hand. One instance was whenLucy had placed a table cloth in the drier.Later, she went upstairs to get the clothout. When she did, the table cloth waslaying in the drier, neatly folded fromcorner to corner.

    Lake Oconees neighboring college

    CONTINUED ON PAGE 12

  • LAKELIFE MAGAZINE FALL 200812

    town, Milledgeville has its own hauntedhistory. Dr. Bob Wilson, a professor ofHistory at Georgia College & StateUniversity is also the Universitys Historian.He is known as the towns go to guy, whenit comes to ghost stories. According to him,there are three buildings in Milledgevillethat he said, Could really have somethinggoing on. Wilson, who is a self proclaimedskeptic, said he has experienced some eventsthat could cause him to sway his disbelief.

    The episodes he was referring to, tookplace in the Universitys Harrison House.The Harrison house is used to forinstitutional research by GCSU but at onetime, was home to Mary Virginia Harrison.

    Harrison is described by those who knewher, as an exotic beauty. She had a verydistinct look and was known for being quitepopular with the men she encountered.Harrison graduated from Georgia State

    College in 1946 and moved away from theMilledgeville area. It wasnt until later, afterthe death of her second husband, thatHarrison came back to the area and livedwith her mother. After a few years, whenHarrison was 54, she committed suicide inthe backyard of her home.

    It was at the Harrison house that Wilsonfirst noticed suspicious activities. He wasmoving his office into the house when it allbegan.

    It was about 11 oclock at night. I wasalone in the house and putting books ontothe bookshelves in one of the rooms. Therewere three doors in the room, which wasoriginally a bedroom. All of the sudden, thethree doors slammed shut boom, boom,boom, they went, said Wilson. There wasalso a time when the strong smell of perfumetook over the room, it left and the returnedagain.

    Long-rumored to be haunted, former residents of this Madison home experienced numerousparanormal activities during their 12-year stay.

  • LAKELIFE MAGAZINE FALL 2008 13

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    Sanford Hall is the second buildingWilson mentioned. This residential hallwas built in 1938 and is where people saythe buildings ghost bled to death on thetop, unused floor. In 1952 a girl whoeveryone called Cookie was found severel