Kentucky has been described as one of the most haunted among the southern states, being featured in books and television series. Believers realize that is not an exaggeration. Historical reviews of how our cities and counties turned into the thriving communities they are today, leave many tales of woe unsaid. Everyone knows that many bloody battles took place, including the famed Perryville. However, the infamous Tuberculosis epidemic, along with accidents, witch hunts, and crimes of the insane, are often swept under the rug.
Here are 10 of Kentucky’s most infamous ghost’s stories:
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
10. Carl Pruitt the chain strangler.
In June of 1938, in a little town in Eastern Kentucky, Carl came home and caught his wife cheating. Her lover escaped out the window, but in his wrath, Carl strangled his wife with a small length of chain. Realizing what he’d done, he then committed suicide and was buried in a cemetery away from his wife. Several weeks later, cemetery workers noticed his grave stone had become discolored in the pattern of a chain, and became frightened. James Collins, a local boy, threw stones at Carl’s grave, and on his way home, the chain came off his bike, strangling him as he wrecked. Jame’s mother, in her grief, destroyed Carl’s grave with a small ax. The next day while hanging out the families laundry, she slipped and strangled on her clothesline. There were several other strange strangling incidents, totaling 5, but Carl’s grave remained untouched till 1958. A strip mine destroyed the grave when initiating a new project.
9. Federal Hill and home to John Rowan.
Federal Hill Cemetery at 501 E. Stephen Foster Avenue in Bardstown is the final resting place of John Rowan, who ironically owned the mansion. He was a Kentucky senator, and his cousin, Stephen Foster wrote “My Old Kentucky Home”, at Rowan’s home, Federal Hill. In 1833, he lost 4 family members, and 26 slaves during a cholera outbreak, but he survived another 10 years, passing in 1843. He requested no burial marker, as he felt his home stood as a monument to his life, but his request was ignored. Obviously unhappy about his family’s decision, not long after the burial, his monument was found toppled over. Repairs were made, but not long after, it happened again. Time and time again, the monument has been replaced, only to be found knocked over, even in the current days.
8. Ghosts of Camp Taylor.
The community of Camp Taylor was once a military camp, which is primarily why the streets are named for Generals, like Sherman and Lee. The camp itself was overtaken with disease during the Tuberculosis epidemic, along with a few other diseases. Sick and dying soldiers were sent to the camp from all around, many never to leave again. A few civilians operated businesses within the camp, including a local Bordello. There have been, and still are reported sightings of soldiers, sometimes groups of 6 or more, walking in formation around the neighborhood, including Taylor and along the railroad tracks. A blonde female in an old somewhat Victorian style dress is also often seen, and is usually unpleasant in her demeanor. It's rumored she was one of the women who worked in the bordello. The soldiers see to be going about their daily routines in most cases.
7. Jackson County railroad worker.
Back in the 1920s, a railway worker was on a ladder sawing on the Jackson tracks that head into Hazard. A huge trench filled with concrete was below him, and unfortunately he lost his balance. Before he could be saved, he quickly sank beneath the swiftly hardening concrete. Over the decades, his screams were heard periodically. The Kentucky River now runs alongside the site, and fishermen still tell tales of hearing the screams and a sawing sound from the area.
6. Octavia Hatcher, buried alive.
In 1889, Octavia Smith married James Hatcher, became pregnant, and had a son in Pikeville. The child passed away, sending Octavia into a dark depression. She eventually went into a coma, and then, was thought to be dead. Thus, she was buried. Not long after, other townsfolk suffered the same symptoms, but awoke a day or two later. Realizing Octavia could be buried alive, she was dug up, and had indeed awakened to find herself trapped inside a coffin. The lid was said to be bloodied from clawing, and her face in a grimace. Her spirit is said to haunt the Pikeville Cemetery.
5. The dancer of Harrodsburg Spring Park.
During the 1800s, the site of the Harrodsburg Spring Park was a fine hotel. One night, a beautiful young women checked in under a false name. There was a dance that night, and the young women wore a beautiful gown, joining in the festivities. She danced throughout the night with multiple partners, but her last dance was to be her final. She died in the arms of the last young man to spin her around the dance floor, and was buried on the hotel lawn. Five decades later the hotel burned down, and the park eventually filled the empty space. The young women’s grave site remains in the park today. The marker reads, “UNKNOWN, Hallowed and Hushed be the place of the dead. Walk softly. Bow head”.
4. The Russellville Girl in the window.
A private residence on Clarksville Road is now home to the caretaker of Maple Grove Cemetery. However, decades ago, a young lady and her family lived there. The story goes that on the night of a party, the young lady was awaiting her date and a horrible storm struck. The lightening went through the window, striking the girl and leaving her imprint in the actual window glass. Some say she was cursing the weather, so the gods trapped her in the glass, because reagardless of cleaning, her image stayed visible. People traveled from all over to see this ghostly image in the glass, so finally, they boarded the window up. It has since been painted over, as the image still remains.
3. The witch tree.
There is a spot in Alexandria where a tree once stood and the tales states three witches were killed. In a fork in the road, the tree has been removed, but three humps still remain. They are said to signify the graves of the three witches who died there.
2. Three spirits of Liberty Hall.
Frankfort is home to this historic mansion built in 1796, and owned by the John Brown family, one of Kentucky’s first senators until 1937. This is home to three different spirits. The Gray Lady, Ms. Margaret Varick traveled over 800 miles to visit during a family death, but passed of a heart attack herself within a few days. Initially buried in the garden but later moved, the spirit of an elder women dressed in gray is said to roam the property, opening and closing doors. The ghost of a Spanish opera singer from 1805 who attended a party and disappeared also still makes appearances, along with a young soldier. The soldier is said to peer longingly into a lower level window, at a lover he never attained.
1. Ghosts of Old Louisville.
Old Louisville is the oldest and largest intact Victorian neighborhood in the world that still stands from the 1800s. Thus, some residents from that era decided to stick around. There's a tale of a women in a fine blue dress that has repeatedly been mistaken for an actress, portraying a role as a Victorian lady. However, when approached, she disappears. The police have been called when residents witness strangers in antique attire entering their homes, but no human is ever found. There are also shadows that move about where they should not exist. These are but a few examples of the spirits that roam the area. It was part of the enormous TB epidemic that took its toll on the once thriving community. Some of the homes were burnt to the ground and rebuilt to prevent spreading the disease. Not everyone made it to the cemetery.
Whether you believe or not, one has to admit there are some strange occurrences that happen all across the state. Kentucky has been featured on television shows like Ghost Hunters. We have also been stalked by a multiple paranormal investigators over the years, especially in regards to Waverly Hills Sanatorium, possibly our most infamous haunting. Some of you might be familiar with the above traumatic tales, others may find them to be an old wives’ tale. Have you experienced anything you would consider a paranormal experience? Tell us all about your ghostly encounters in the comments below!