The old folks called them haints and knew they were watching. Today you may be unaware of their presence, but they are still watching.
While in the bathroom at Blue Jeans Restaurant in Blue Ridge a playful ten-year-old girl will call out your name. Back at your table, no one admits to being there. Haints. At a local law office a doorbell rings where there is none. Secretaries’ eyes smart from cigar smoke, yet no one is smoking. Haints.
Those who study the paranormal know they are watching. Indeed, seven locations in Fannin County have had investigations that uncovered unexpected specters. What ties phantoms to this earthly realm? Every ghost has a reason. Some have unresolved anger. The woman seen near the judge’s bench at the Art Center may have been the victim of what she considered a miscarriage of justice. Disturbed by this sighting and other unexplained occurrences, a former employee asked a psychic to search the premises. She noted three female ghosts, including one who was angry and seeking revenge. Locals taking classes in the building have heard muted female conversations, only to fail when seeking the source.
Other downtown spirits are protective and even welcomed back as old friends. Since the fire station in downtown Blue Ridge opened, fire fighters and emergency personnel have been hearing late night sounds on the second floor above their beds. Scraping sounds and footsteps occur, yet no amount of investigating turns up the culprit. Some believe it is a former fire chief. He was a man with no family and a commitment to helping. Perhaps he simply wants to continue doing what he did best.
Ghosts can be found in buildings, cemeteries and even the forest. The Crying Baby of Cashes Valley wails late at night in the dense forest of this remote section. When pursued the child is never seen, always just ahead.
A man who bought an antique car and restored it claims it is haunted. When he went back to the family that he bought the car from, he found out why. The ghost is a young woman who died of heat exhaustion when she took a nap in the car. She has even been seen on occasion by the new owner.
One Blue Ridge ghost came across the Atlantic haunting a set of antique Bavarian furniture. Odd happenings made the office staff aware they had a poltergeist (German for playful ghost). Undisturbed they named him Frankie. When the office moved, Frankie came along. A physic looking for legal help noted, “You have a ghost, don’t you.” Shocked, they asked if she could see him. Seems he is young, muscular, blue eyed and blond. Perhaps he made the furniture and stayed with his creations when he passed.
At Tilley Bend Cemetery three Civil War soldiers were seen during a midnight investigation. Indeed three Confederate deserters were shot by the Home Guard in the nearby settlement. One was tied to a tree and killed by a firing squad not far from Tilley Bend. The tree stood by the Toccoa River, but over the years leaned into the water and had to be cut down. Back in the thirties and through the fifties, folks in the settlement saw the soldier tied to the tree and heard the six bullets discharged. They referred to the tree as “that Dam haint tree.” Freed from the tree he, may have found his companions and sought out the cemetery.
The Chastain House in Dial may be the most haunted home in Fannin County. Ten-year-old Alice Chastain, daughter of early pioneer Jason Chastain, has been seen peering out of a second floor window. Her tragic death was a source of continuing grief for her parents. A caretaker who lived there for four years would see child-sized footprints trailing up the outer steps, made visible by the dew. That is not all that she experienced.
Skeptics beware. I told a Blue Ridge businessman about the three specters that are said to haunt his building and he replied, “You know I don’t really believe in ghosts.” A recent visit to the same man revealed a person who wanted to discuss his paranormal experience. While sitting at his computer screen, he felt a presence to his left. Thinking his wife had slipped in, he turned, looked and saw nothing. As he turned to look right, he felt a presence pass through him. “It felt cold and tingled. I was so shook up I wasn’t sure what to do. It took an hour to settle down,” he reported.
An unsolved mystery shows how messages can be left by the dead. Her large grave marker reads Mrs. A. J. Loggins. There is a birth date but no death date. What is jarring is the message etched into stone. “I am not dead, just sleeping. I will see you soon.” Perhaps she meant the resurrection. Even so, there are a series of questions to answer. Mr. A. J. Loggins was buried in the remote community of Noontootla while Mrs. Loggins was interned in town. His obituary noted that at the time of his death Mrs. Loggins was still alive, but why is there no obituary for her listed in the comprehensive book at the library? When I asked the man who runs the cemetery to check for Mrs.. Loggins, he could not find any records. The local monument maker told me he did not make the marker. Strange and unsettling.
There are many more stories and first person accounts, too many for this article. If you want to know more, consider participating in the Blue Ridge Ghost Tour. This two-hour walking tour of downtown Blue Ridge includes accounts of the paranormal as well as Cherokee monster stories and local folklore. Try your hand with a ghost meter as you amble to different haint sites. But remember, we can’t guarantee you won’t be followed home by a ghost. It happens!
For information call Kathy Thompson at 706. 633. 3865.
For reservations call Mike at 706. 258. 2665.
The tour starts at E. Quinn Booksellers located at 691 East Main in Blue Ridge. Find us on Facebook for updates and newly discovered hauntings.