Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Ghost of Sketoe's Hole - Dale County, Alabama

One of the most fascinating ghost stories in Alabama surrounds an incident that took place on the banks of the Choctawhatchee River at Newton during the Civil War.

Rev. Bill Sketoe, a Methodist minister and farmer, was arrested by the men of Captain Joseph R. Breare's company and accused of either desertion or assisting a band of deserters in their devastating raids on homes and farms in Dale County.  Although Breare's men are usually described as "home guards," they actually were members of a regular Confederate unit that patrolled South Alabama to enforce the conscription or draft.

Whatever his actual charges, Sketoe was hanged from a tree across the river from Newton by Breare and a detachment of his men. Eyewitnesses later described how, because Sketoe was a tall man, his feet touched ground after the wagon or buggy on which he was standing was driven out from under him. One of the soldiers, who had been wounded in an earlier battle, used his crutch to dig out a hole under the man's feet so that he would hang and die.

The hole dug that day survived for more than 100 years and, as the story goes, was mysteriously swept clean each night by some mysterious force. Many local residents came to believe that the ghost of old Bill Sketoe still hung from that tree opposite Newton and it was his feet that kept the hole clean.  The legend became one of Alabama's favorite ghost stories and was featured in Kathryn Tucker Windham's popular book, 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey.

Is it true?  What are the real facts behind the legend? Find out by visiting

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Face in the Window - Ghost Story in Carrollton, Alabama

The famed Face in the Window of the old Pickens County Courthouse in Carrollton is the visible reminder of one of Alabama's best known ghost stories.

Included in Kathryn Tucker Windham's popular book, 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey, the story of the mysterious face had been popular for more than 100 years. It is said to be the earthly representation of Henry Wells, a man suspected of setting fire to the county's previous courthouse that had stood on the same spot.

As the story goes, Wells was suspected of burning the Pickens County Courthouse on November 16, 1876. The people of the county had just raised enough money to replace the courthouse burned during the Civil War and were infuriated by the act. When Wells was implicated in the act, according to the legend, a lynch mob gathered. By this time construction was underway on the building that still stands and he fled into its attic to hide. As he was peering out on the lynch mob below, lightning struck the building and permanently etched his terrified face into the pane of glass.

Scientists say it is impossible for such a thing to happen, yet the face has remained there for more than 130 years. An arrow on the outside wall of the old courthouse even points it out to curious visitors.

So what can be told about the real story of the mysterious Face in the Window?  Read more at