Skip to main content

Unexplained: Haunts II Uncovered | Selma: Ghost Writer

Written by: Ouida W. Myers
Case Filed:
10/30/02 - Selma, Alabama
Executive Producer:
Rick Garner



Kathryn Tucker Windham is probably best known by young readers for her books about Jeffery and other Ghosts. Thirteen Alabama Ghosts and Jeffery (1964) written with Margaret Gillis Figh, was her first book about Jeffery and other ghosts. Other titles include Jeffery Introduces Thirteen More Southern Ghosts (1971), Thirteen Georgia Ghosts and Jeffery (1973), Thirteen Mississippi Ghosts and Jeffery (1974), Thirteen Tennessee Ghosts and Jeffery (1976), and Jeffery's Latest Thirteen: More Alabama Ghosts (1982). In the words of Kathryn Tucker Windham, "My desire is to preserve our Southern ghost tales-the true ones-before they are lost." She certainly seems to have satisfied that desire.

Kathryn was born in Thomasville, Alabama in 1918 to James Wilson and Helen Tabb Wilson. She had an early fascination with photography and has often told the story of waiting in line for hours to get a free Brownie camera when she was twelve-years old. She claims that many of her best photographs were taken with that camera. While still in high school, she worked as a movie reviewer for her cousin Earl's newspaper, The Thomasville Times. After earning an A.B. degree from Huntingdon College in 1939, she was hired by the Alabama Journal, Montgomery in 1940 to be a police reporter. She also worked for the Birmingham News as a reported and photographer (1944-1946) and the Selma Times-Journal (1960-1973) as reporter, city editor, state editor, and associate editor. Odd-Egg Editor (1990) is her "memoir of life as a 'lady editor' in an old-style Southern newsroom."

Kathryn Windham is also a renowned historian. These titles are evidence of this: Treasured Alabama Recipes (1964), Exploring Alabama (1969), Treasured Tennessee Recipes (1972), Treasured Georgia Recipes (1973), Alabama: One Big Front Porch (1975), Southern Cooking to Remember (1978), Count Those Buzzards" Stamp Those Grey Mules (1982), and out of print title, A Serigamy of Stories (1988). (Serigamy is a made-up word which means "a whole-lot,...a heap of, a goodly number").

As interesting as these titles may seem, you really haven't experienced Kathryn Tucker Windham's greatest gift until you seen or heard her in action as a story-teller. She is often heard at story-telling events, historical meetings, and most significantly, in classrooms.

She is a favorite on Alabama Public Television and National Public Radio. Her gifts have been recorded in both video (including 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffery, A Sampling of Southern Superstitions, and Cooking up Stories) and audio (including Alabama Folktales, Jeffery- Five volumes of ghost stories, Recollections-Five tapes of public radio stories). Kathryn Windham is in her very best story-telling fashion when becomes Julia Tutwiler in her one-woman show My Name is Julia, based on her book by the same name. The most recent audio titles (available in May) are Grits and A Barbershop Education from the Southern Recollection Series.

Additional Resources:

Listeners Connect with Alabama Through Radio Storytellers

Special People-Kathryn Tucker Windham

All Things Southern: An Interview with Kathryn Tucker Windham, First Draft, Journal of the Alabama Writer's Forum, Fall 1998

Let Her Own Works Praise Her. Julia Tutwiler Brent Davis, Producer. Video may be purchased from the Center for Public Television, University of Alabama - Free downloadable guide

Selma-to-Montogomery March

National Voting Rights Museum and Institute

Voting Rights Act of 1965

Importance of Selma to Confederacy

Battle of Selma

Selma Showcase

Selma-Dallas County Chamber of Commerce

Popular posts from this blog

Field Reports from Priestley House - Canton, Mississippi

Written by: Jeff Rent
Case Filed: 10/31/02 - Canton, Mississippi
Executive Producer: Rick Garner



At a glance, you can draw many parallels between the cities of Selma, Alabama, and Canton, Mississippi. Both are popular sites for Hollywood filmmakers. Both are full of historic antebellum mansions. And both seem to contain an abundance of ghost stories.
The Priestley House in Canton is one of these homes where residents say they're living with spirits. Owner Frankie McMillan says, "I did not believe in ghosts before I moved here. I thought they were silly. And it took me a while living here to believe it."

Sultana: Titanic of the Mississippi

Written by: Darren Dedo
Case Filed: 4/27/01 - Jackson, Mississippi
Executive Producer: Rick Garner



It was supposed to be a voyage home for Union soldiers that were former prisoners of war from Georgia and Alabama.

"The war was over," says author Jerry Potter. "The Union soldiers who had recently gotten out of Andersonville and Cahaba prisons, were not going to some battle, they were going home."
But tragedy happened.

Willie Mae Brister Murder Case

Written by: Greg Fetzer
Case Filed: 12/27/01 - Mount Olive, Mississippi
Executive Producer: Rick Garner




Willie Mae Brister and her husband had three daughters. He died in 1989. She continued to operate the store after his death. Her customers were her neighbors and she knew them well, giving many of them food and dry goods because they didn't have the money to pay.
She was well respected by most everyone in the community. She stood about 5' feet 2 and was the typical southern lady. Her life was simple. She didn't drive. She grew her own vegetables and stayed around her home which was just a few feet from her grocery store.
Family members say she saved just about every penny she earned. Those pennies grew into a small fortune: a fortune worth a little over a million dollars.
That fortune is what two of her daughters say killed her.