April 7, 2020
This story comes from Spirits of Frederick by Alyce T. Weinberg.
Hope you enjoy!
“”There’s a hant that lives in the holler of a big ol’ dead tree down the road a piece that growls like a bear at night,” says Marcella Thompson. No one has ever seen anything; they won’t go that close. And daylight reveals no sign of any disturbance around the tree, but Marcella has been told it was a hanging tree when lynching was a regular occurrence.”
This story takes place near Urbana, along route 80, where Marcella lived with her grandfather in a log house in Centreville. Marcella’s grandfather was a slave. Marcella was over 75 years old when this story was written down and still lived on the same property, The property where there are remains of rotten fence rows where slaves are buried, surrounded by old graveyards where most of the stones have been stolen or are decayed. Marcella goes by the nickname “Marcie”.
Marcie claims she doesn’t believe in ghosts, but confirms a story of “the man in black”, at Addison. She says that it was one of her granddaddy’s favorites. She can point out where “that devil on a big, snorting, black horse came a clattering”.
There’s a story of some boys digging up a newly-buried body, stealing the dead man’s gold watch. The man’s spirit haunted them, never giving the grave robbers a nights rest. The boys had to dig up the grave again and put the watch back.
As a little girl, she remembers pulling the covers up over her head to hide from a small light she would see go from room to room while everyone else was sleeping.
Her dad would tell her mom more than once at “noon dinner” that he saw the lady-in-white again, “jist a sittin’ an’ a rockin’.” She would appear in the shade of a tree on a hill, rocking in an old weather-beaten rocking chair. When they would venture closer, she was no longer there.
Two of Marcella’s sons claim to have seen a hideous thing “that looked like a sheet on a stick, with bony hollows for eyes and hands like turkey claws”. “It came wafting around the corner of the house one night,” while they were trying to unlock the door on a dark, country night. They clamored over each other, trying to get in the house, bolting the door, blocking it with a heavy chest. By the time Marcella got to them, they were standing in the middle of the room, with shot guns pointed towards the door.
“Pshaw,” said Marcella, tears rolling down her plump cheeks from laughing so hard. ” Locks and guns don’t do no good ‘ginst ghosts. They wants to sceer you, they sceers you. Ain’t nowhere you kin hide. But you doin’ the right thing you got nothin’ to be sceered of from ghosts.”
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