By Alice C. Newgen, Reporter
Tales of the paranormal come alive as All Hallows’ Eve approaches. Halloween conjures up images of specters and sends chills up the spine when stories of the unexplained are told on foggy nights or by a crackling campfire. Sitting around the kitchen table can turn into an interesting conversation as different ones remember tales of ghost children, Confederate soldiers, or shrill sounds and strange lights in a graveyard.
Tree branches with their colorful leaves of yellow, red, and orange dance as a whistling wind rushes through a hollow. A slight movement in the darkness grabs the attention of a lonely soul walking through the woods. Could it be a ghost or just a wild animal nearby?
There are those who take the paranormal world quite seriously like Dewayne Patterson. He says Murray County has had its share of macabre and unusual occurrences that may date back to some of its tragic history, some scandals, and colorful past.
Ghostly school yard sightings to historic hotel activity in the county defies logic or explanation. He believes that not all is as it seems and that science and logic don’t always capture the true essence of what is around us. The hushed accounts of certain paranormal activity may be partly due to avoid scandals from being brought back up from the past. Others are afraid people will see them as being mentally unstable. He feels that times are changing and society is more accepting of an individual’s account of the unexplained. Especially since a lot of people have had similar experiences.
One particular story Dewayne remembers is the tale of the “Blue Hole” where a teacher lost her life in the early days of Murray County. The woman was in a carriage accident that plunged her and the horses into a cold, deep, watery grave. He says the exact location of where the incident occurred is hard to pin down, but those who have heard of the tragedy have spoken of hearing the cries of terrified horses and a woman crying for help on dark lonely nights when the moon is full.
There are other stories like the little ghost girl who seems to not find rest at the site of the old Eton Elementary school after falling and breaking her neck on a playground slide there in the late 40s.
Another tale Dewayne mentioned about paranormal activity in Eton has to do with a headless boy who has been seen at the old metal trellis bridge near the old Eton school. The story goes he lost his head after sticking it out the window as the school bus entered the narrow structure in the 1950s.
There is an interesting house that adjoins the Old Eton School, says Dewayne. It was a hospital during the Civil War and has had its share of reported activity and sounds over the years. No current paranormal occurrences have been reported recently.
“Chatsworth has a little activity of its own with the Historic Wright Hotel,” said Dewayne. “There have been reports of a small entity that has chosen to appear to a few people and has actually interacted with a few tour guests during the hotel’s annual Black Bear Ghost Walk Tours. There are also some interesting sounds on the floors above when there is no one up there.”
The holiday can be scary but it is also a fun time to reminisce of childhood trick or treating.
Charlie Wooden grew up near Fairy Baptist Church and said, “We wore whatever we could find for costumes for trick or treating. We couldn’t afford to buy outfits. Back then, we usually went trick or treating in Cleveland and around Cisco when I got a little older. Eton Elementary had candy that was handed out to the kids before school let out for the day. The classrooms would be decorated and some of the kids would dress up for Halloween but I never did.”
“All the kids got together and went trick or treating,” said Gale Dougherty. “We went just to the neighbors houses in Cisco. Daddy wouldn’t let us go very far. I was a ghost one year and a witch another year.”
“If you are skeptical, then there is no harm in letting those who truly believe have their moments,” said Dewayne. “The saddest day of our lives is when we lose the magic that populated our childhood. The loss of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy as we age leaves a sad bittersweet hole in our lives. Let your children keep the magic a bit longer and fill the world with wonder again.”