A Ghost of East Tennesee

Have you ever wondered if spirts, ghosts, memories lingered around the corner, in the old house by the edge of the woods, across the water, tangled in vines of nostalgic recollections of late inhabitants? If the house had a soul, what would it remember? What could it tell you?

By the tender age of 6, I wondered. I knew. I knew that I knew the answer.

Most ghost stories begin with the history. I am gonna tell it just like it happended to me. History after happenings.

I grew up in rural Hawkins County, Northeast Tennessee, 15 miles from the county seat – the 2nd oldest town in the state. I started school at a K-12 school with a graduating class of 5; it’s a no stop sign kind of community. To get from the 1820s 2 story farm house we lived in to town, there’s a long windy mountain road – sometimes called the trail of the Lonesome Pine. Momma was driving into town that unforgettable day. My Mamaw was sitting beside me. Past the graffiti covered boulders of mountainside, past the roadside market, past other abandoned farmhouses and community after small community, across the creek from an old white church – another family was moving out of the tiny, blue house that sits off the road. That was normal enough. Momma said people were always moving in and out of that one. Even though I’d seen the house hundreds of times before out of the corner of my eye, that day my world changed and the blue house became a lankmark I would look at everytime I passed by. I looked at the front door, and something there held my little eyes – the opaque fully body figure of a man standing right the in the doorway. He had his arms and hand situated in a way like he was guarding his house. The kitchen door was open too; I could see right through him! No one was standing nearby. And, I knew he wasn’t a shadow. I stared him down as we drove right by. He didn’t move about. He just stood there.

My Mamaw saw him too.

She denied it twenty years later, speaking with my Momma…She tells me she saw something too. Between then and now, she saw a dug up trail from the house to the creek. Maybe the spirit left. Maybe not.

Recently ending the idea of a romance and looking for new entertainment, I began researching the old house. I dropped by, and got the address off the mailbox noting the for sale sign out front. No one was home. Turning around in the next drive, I met neighbors who said the house was haunted. The youngest daughter said her friend had a spirit cat too. The lady of the house said families had moved in and out of the house since she had moved in 14 years before. She said a young man had considered buying the house, heard stories about the house, spent one night there, and decided against it.

The next couple weeks, I learned so much. All I had was an address, no names. The County Archives said I needed more information. The librarians at the Geneology room said I needed family names. I had no idea what to do, but another researcher told me to look up the parcel number on the state tax acessor website. I did. With this number in hand, I was off to the Register’s office. Jackpot. The house has traded hands every two years since the 1980s. C.B. and Annie Shanks subdivided the property, Jay Lawson owned the property from 1939 into the 80s, and Kyle Henard – a prominent farmer – built the house in 1930 and lived there until his death.

Apparently, a court case arose soon after. You see, he had lived there with his wife Effa and daughters Beatrice, Opal, and Ruby. When Effa died in 36′, he remarried a little lady named Vannie. Vannie battled out against Opal, Ruby, and Janice – a minor- over who should inherit rights to the house. Opal and Ruby were married to men interested in other professions than farming. Janice was in tender age. Kyle had left unpaid debts, and his brother Gale said he was too old too farm the land. It was settled, the land would sell. Was Kyle worried what would happen to his daughters, his property, his pride? Maybe he’s guarding the house against Vannie or whomever might try to buy property rights, afraid she would take his home away from Effa’s babies. After all, he died in the house. I just don’t know how.

He was happy for awhile. Jay Lawson married Ruby. However since Lawson sold the property, the property has exchanged hands outside the family and ghost stories have been told. He has appeared to others. I am not the only one.

If specific stories come to light, there will an additonal update to the story 🙂

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