Wednesday, November 6, 2002

Field Reports from Selma, Alabama

Written by: Rick Garner
Case Filed:
11/06/02 - Selma, Alabama
Executive Producer:
Rick Garner



When I first learned that there was a city Chamber of Commerce sponsoring a "Ghost Tour" in the town of Selma, I was immediately intrigued. Through all my research for this series, this was truly a unique discovery. Yet, I've also concluded that there are so many odd and fascinating stories out there...I'll never locate more than a third of them!

After other locations had fallen through, Selma became the site for the sequel to Unexplained: Haunts from 2001. That program featured a year's worth of paranormal investigations from several locations in three states. So, you can imagine my concern of what we would, or more importantly would not, find in the one single location of Selma.


The town is a combination of old and new...antebellum homes and modern civilization. Downtown Selma still contained traces of the past through either current businesses preserving history or other structures long since abandoned. Living history is always fascinating to me.

We teamed up with WBRC Fox 6 from Birmingham, Alabama. Rob Ruffin, once a Videographer for Unexplained, worked with us on our Sloss Furnaces investigation. It was a pleasure to team up with him, again, and his reporter, Rhonda Robinson.

Our investigations were conducted by three members from the Alabama Foundation For Paranormal Research, Ronnie Nixon, Shaun Nichols and Jamie Cutler.

Each investigation below was conducted by the Alabama Foundation For Paranormal Research and documented by WJTV and/or WBRC crews.

 

Grace Hall

Reports:
At this beautifully restored antebellum home resides the ghost believed to be "Miz Eliza", who has been a regular guest since 1982. Several other ghosts have been spotted over the years for a total of five spirits believed to share the home with the owners and their guests.

Investigation:
Documented by WBRC, the AFFPR examined the location and experienced a fireplace with "knocking" sounds coming from it during the interview of the home's renter, Dr. James Johnson. While in the Green room, where "Miz Eliza" died, Shaun Nichols recorded what he described as, "the ghost dog barking and a woman laughing right after the bark. Also, while on the balcony of the guest rooms, the voice of a little baby saying, "what's dat?" You can tell the baby can not be more than 2 years old, because it is still in the stage of trying to learn how to talk."

 

Baker House

Reports:
This house was built prior to 1861. The grounds of this home were the scene of a skirmish during the fall of Selma. A wounded Union soldier crawled under the staircase and died following the battle. They say the blood is still visible under those stairs today. The current residents hear footsteps upstairs even though the second story burned many years ago and was never replaced.

Investigation:
Due to time constraints, we almost dropped this site from our list. WBRC, Ron and Jamie had journeyed to Old Cahawba to investigate the ghost town. While I was walking with AFFPR Investigator Shaun Nichols through the Baker House, we passed by the location of the bloodstain. I didn't know at the time that Shaun had activated his digital recorder. He conducted a question and answer session and we taped our interview sessions. Outside, Shaun began listening to his recorder and it was then that he heard a voice clearly say, "Talk to me."
I always examine any evidence with the eye of a researcher - finding every possible explanation. I had never heard anything like that before. No other Electronic Voice Phenomena could compare to that one, and I was there to know it wasn't a hoax or a mistake.

 

The Castle

Reports:
This German Gothic house even looks haunted at first glance because of its overgrown yard and long multi-paned stained glass tracery windows beneath sharply pointed dormers. The Weaver house was completed in 1865 and is said to be copied from a castle on the Rhine. The Weavers were one of the founding families of Selma and their house stands in what once was a walnut grove, which supplied craftsmen much of the wood used inside the home.

The present owner first detected the presence not long after they moved in. She kept hearing faint music somewhere in the house when she lay in her bed at night. A few years later they began hearing voices speak to them. Once when the family dog was in the kitchen barking someone said "Dog, shut up!"

Of course no one had been in the room with them at the time. Each time the voices are heard they are clear and distinct, there is never any doubt what has been said. A few years ago a friend was installing a ceiling fan while the owner was out of the house. While up on the ladder he was asked "What are you doing?" When the owner returned home she found her friend waiting outside, unwilling to re-enter the house alone. Another spooky episode was when the person delivering her paper in the wee hours of the morning noticed a light on in the attic. When the paper carrier, a fellow schoolteacher, mentioned it the owner replied that it couldn't have been because the attic isn't wired for electricity.

Investigation:
Our only abandoned home to investigate in Selma, the Castle proved to be in fair condition. Structurally, it seemed sound, although signs of vandalism and vagrant usage was scattered about. That was before the home was locked up, so it was somewhat like opening some ancient vault when we went inside.
The home had been abandoned for six years and seemed inviting enough. I could tell there was energy in the home, but it wasn't interested in us. Question and answer sessions were recorded and digital images were continually being taken.

Jeff Rent and I journeyed to the kitchen, which instantly appeared different than the rest of the home...stone floors instead of the hardwood, unkept elegance of the rest of the home. As if we had walked in on something, a surge of energy came across me. I backed out of the room and instructed the AFFPR members to follow me quickly to the kitchen and described what had happened. They began another Q&A session and more picture taking.
The EVP's collected here seem to be the result of having a "contaminated" investigation. Some additional talking was going on occasionally between our three hostesses, and even though they were never near a Q&A, sound carries in a large home. Having cameras rolling much of the time was the only way to confirm that what seemed like EVP's, proved otherwise.


The Castle of Selma: Historical Walk-through

 

St. James Hotel

Reports:
Workers have often heard the sound of dogs barking the courtyard, water faucets turning on and off in the men's restroom, the opening and closing of the front door, and actual manifestations have been seen by guests.
Until our investigation, the St. James Hotel had never had these accusations checked out.

Investigation:
This stop proved to be the quite interesting with an added bonus: a psychic, Karen McCutchen, joined us. Having experienced odd encounters at the St. James, Karen allowed us to hone in on two key areas of the hotel: the ballroom and the courtyard.


St. James Hotel: Ballroom Raw Footage


St. James Hotel: Courtyard Raw Footage


Karen McCutchen: Full Interview

We had the pleasure of eating both lunch and dinner at the St. James Hotel and I highly recommend a visit or stay here.

 

Sturdivant Hall

Reports:
Completed in 1853 by Colonel Edward T. Watts, the elegant mansion remained in the family until 1864 when it was purchased by John McGee Parkman, a young industrialist who went from a bank clerk to bank president in a few short years. Legend has it that while serving time in the federal prison at Cahawba for poor investment of bank funds, Parkman attempted a daring escape with the aid of his friends. It is believed that he was either shot to death or drowned after diving into the river. The volunteers at "the big house" can tell you story after story of the activities of John Parkman. Encounters even caught the front door opening and closing by itself on film for the segment they produced on Selma's ghosts.

Investigation:
Perhaps our timing was off, but the irony was interesting. When we wanted to scrap Baker House due to its potentially low yield and it provided startling evidence, Sturdivant Hall was expected to be the most productive and we collected no conclusive results.

The mansion is amazing and well worth a tour.

 

Old Cahawba

Reports:
Children's laughter near a children's cemetery has been heard by several.

Investigation:
No conclusive results were gathered here, although spending the night in Cahawba would be a rather intriguing event.

Special Bonus:

Kathryn Tucker Windham: Full Interview

Check out our other reports:

Selma: Ghosts of the Past


Selma: Southern Ghost Town


Selma: Ghost Writer


Special thanks to Trifieldmeter.com for the donation of a Natural Trifield meter, the best piece of scientific equipment for paranormal research.