Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011 - Two Fascinating Alabama Ghost Stories

Ghost Face in the Window
Two of my favorite Southern ghost stories originate in Alabama: Carrollton's mysterious Face in the Window and Newton's legendary Sketoe's Hole ("The hole that will not stay filled").

Both appeared in Katherine Tucker Windham's beloved book, 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey. Mrs. Windham was a major force in the preservation of Alabama and Southern folklore and heritage at a time when Southern history was disappearing at a tragic rate. She passed away this year, but will long be remembered as a wonderful teller of stories and as a much loved Southern lady.

In her memory, I thought I would remind you of these two wonderful ghost stories:

The Ghost Face in the Window
For more than 130 years, a strange image has been seen in one of the attic windows of the old Pickens County Courthouse in Carrollton, Alabama. It is so easy to see, in fact, that an arrow on the courthouse wall points to it so tourists can spot it with no trouble. Many believe the mysterious image is the ghostly face of a man named Henry Wells.

According to legend, Wells was accused of burning the previous Pickens County Courthouse. The replacement building was nearing completion when he was spotted and chased by a lynch mob. He ran into the structure and hid in the attic, where he could look out the window at the crowd milling in the street below. A heavy storm was passing over Carrollton at the time and a bolt of lightning suddenly struck the window. Since that moment, it is said, his frightened face has appeared on the glass of the window pane.

Is the legend true?  Does the ghostly face of Henry Wells still look out from a window in the old courthouse?  Learn the facts and judge for yourself by visiting

Recreation of Sketoe's Hole
Sketoe's Hole: The Hold that will not stay Filled
The remarkable story of Sketoe's Hole is an often told part of the folklore of the Wiregrass region of southeastern Alabama. The tale dates back to the violent days of the Civil War and the hanging of a man named Bill Sketoe.

The legend holds that Sketoe was a Confederate soldier who came home from the front to care for a sick wife. Military records indicate otherwise, as no trace of him has ever been found in a Confederate unit. Whatever his story, he was taken prisoner by a Confederate cavalry company in 1864. Carried down to a tree on the banks of the Choctawhatchee River at Newton in Dale County, Sketoe was hanged.

He was a tall man, however, and his feet touched the ground even after he was hanging from the tree. One of the men involved in the hanging had been wounded in battle and was on crutches. He used one of these to dig out a hole under Sketoe's feet so the man would not be able to stand on his toes. Sketoe died and was buried, but the hole remained. In fact, for more than 100 years it was said that the hole could not be filled. Debris and trash could be placed in it at night, but by the next morning it would be swept clean. Many came to believe that the ghost of Bill Sketoe still hung from a rope at the site, its swinging feet sweeping the hole clean each night.

Interested in learning the true story?  Visit

I hope you enjoy these little adventures into the folklore of Alabama. I think you will find the real history behind the tales to be just as fascinating as the legends.

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