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Voices from Another Century

 

When I was a child, we lived in a most unusual haunted house. Built on the log cabin style, but larger, more like the Ponderosa, the house was at least a hundred years old. The upstairs and downstairs had been converted into separate apartments. We lived downstairs while an elderly lady, Ms. O'Kelly, lived upstairs... The house was situated on the outskirts of Atlanta on several acres, nestled away from the main roads where traffic flowed. Although electricity, running water and other modern conveniences had been added, even as a toddler I recognized the vestiges of a by-gone era. Rusty plows and other farm implements lay idle on overgrown fields. Ashen sheds, barns and other outbuildings still housed the remnants of harnesses, plows, pitchforks and other tools for farming, hunting and trapping. What remained of the flexible two handled saws they used were only the half eaten blades that time had devoured. Broken cast iron pots and shards of pottery lay half buried under the earth alongside the large lye vat which had been used for making soap. A dirt lane meandered around the premises into the woods where small dilapidated houses stood crumbling. Only one was occupied by a strange man, a bit of a recluse, as was Ms. O'Kelly, disappearing into the medley of strange sounds and people that was the backdrop of an already haunted world I had been born into.

In my youth, I never understood they were ghosts, not real people like Ms. O'Kelly or the man that lived in the woods... Let me explain. It was not a case where only one specially sensitive individual or clairaudient could hear the sounds. Everyone heard them. Our ghosts were toilers that worked from sun-up to sun-down. The matriarch of the family that we dubbed "Granny" was not that old by today's standards judging from her labor. She was the first and the last to rise and go to bed, playing out the same drama endlessly that began with the morning wake-up call. Granny ascended the stairs, clapped her hands and barked at the men, presumably her sons and husband, "Git ap! Git ap!" Most of what they said sounded like gibberish and the accent was strange. The thud of feet could be heard hitting the floor as well as their descent down the stairs. Granny could be heard in the kitchen clacking the dishes and silverware as she prepared the morning meal. The men always exited through the side door in the kitchen to harness the snorting horses with chains to continue plowing the fields.

Other sounds emanated from the house; the thump-thumping of Granny churning butter in the kitchen and later the rhythmic foot tapping on the floor of what we imagined to be a spinning wheel. Though no one ever saw a visual manifestation, to my knowledge, they had very definite roles that were easily recognized. The buck-board wagons creaked as the wheels turned and drowned out with distance... Later returning with louder sounds as they approached the house. Throughout the day the sounds of hammering, sawing and other work related noises could be heard. Upon entering a room, the noise would suddenly stop only to start back up again the minute you left. If you entered their work area outside, the noises would also cease temporarily only to resume as soon as you left. For that reason, I assumed they were real people that were just around the corner, in another room, outside or on or about the premises working.

At about this time, my grandmother became seriously ill and we began spending weekends away from home. Upon returning, Ms. O'Kelly said there was a "whole gang of them downstairs just jibber-jabbering away..." Our household ghosts had company with all the noises associated with a get together of family and friends. No one could understand them, except for the morning wake up call of, "Git ap, git ap!" That was close enough to, "Get up, get up," and with the accompanying sounds, there was no mistaking those words. Ms. O'Kelly said when we weren't there, they'd "carry on" all night and she didn't think she'd ever get any sleep and was always glad when we came back.

I asked my mother what she did when we first moved in and discovered the place was haunted to which she calmly replied, "Oh, we knew it was haunted when we moved in. The Wilsons had lived there before us and they told us about it, but they said the ghosts wouldn't hurt you..." Her only complaint had been that she thought she'd never get any sleep amidst the incessant noises that would often go on all night.

Other strange events she recalled, one that I vaguely recall, were the lanterns that floated through the woods at night at about the same level they would be if a human held them. She didn't know what to make of the events at the time, but in later years my family and I had many discussions regarding the ghostly manifestations. My mother and I decided to go in search of the haunted scape after some forty years. As we were driving there, I asked her if she thought they were still there to which she said, "Oh, no, you know as soon as they tore the house down they all left..." Interestingly, though I had been a child when I last lived there, as we neared the locale, I felt it and exclaimed to my mother, "We're close! I can feel it!" She responded, "So can I!" Though a mall and newer homes had been constructed at the site, something of the energy remained. We heard nothing nor did we see anything out of the ordinary, but there at ground zero we could still feel their presence.

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Comments about this paranormal experience

The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by yourghoststories.com. Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, Lenalaney, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

Mjr_Winters (17 posts)
 
3 years ago (2014-10-28)
Good, but scary story... I would glad to see more from you!...

~Major
Lenalaney (2 stories) (13 posts)
 
10 years ago (2007-08-28)
Thanks Athena, I appreciate your vote, but my site is about to be disconnected due to lack of funds. I will continue to write and when I get back on my feet, will post more of the many stories I have to tell. People like you made my time here worthwhile. Hugs and peace. Lena
Athena (9 stories) (222 posts)
 
10 years ago (2007-08-18)
lenalaney,Thanks for your note too. Regaling me with history accounts makes everything more interesting. Keep those stories coming. Your fan Athena.
KimSouthO (27 stories) (1960 posts)
 
10 years ago (2007-08-13)
that was an awesome account of a part of your child hood. I loved that story and I am glad that you weren't froghtened. I would have been terrified. I am always terrified of the unknown.

sounds like residual activity, they went about their daily chores as always.
Lenalaney (2 stories) (13 posts)
 
10 years ago (2007-08-13)
Note: Per my discussions with my family and a little knowledge of the history of the South, the inhabitants probably died of some kind of epidemic like cholera or typhoid which was endemic in post war reconstruction. I'm not sure if the house had originally been part of a plantation or if the little houses removed from the main house (typical of slave quarters) were originally for slaves and possibly became the homes of share croppers. They fared little better than slaves themselves, forced into endless toiling to eke out a living by dirt farming. Because of the "communal haunting" which included noisy visitors also, a mass of peole died on or about the same time. Had it been an Indian massacre, the houses and other buildings dotting the landscape would have been burned to the ground. There was no evidence of any such destruction---only time eating away at the mortal remains. To me it looked like the people had suddenly just abandoned their work and walked away. My gut level feeling is they were threatened already by a drought or some similar event that endangered their crops and they feverishly struggled to gather food for the impending winter. It was basic survival and I suspect the lanterns were used to check the traps in the woods for rabbits and other small animals they could eat. Already weakened, they fell victim to the "new black plague" that killed people by the thousands. My grandmother remembered those times and said, "People were dropping like flies..." There was virtually no one that did not lose a family member, friend or loved one. Penicillin had not yet been discovered and the cost of corn liquor which was the only "medicine" at the time and in very short supply, prohibited most people from getting some. Granny's house was the focal point of the community and she earned her matriarchal role by sheer labor...
Lenalaney (2 stories) (13 posts)
 
10 years ago (2007-08-13)
No, we were not scared nor did it ever occur to us to be scared. You must understand I was born there and didn't know they were ghosts. I thought they were real people. All the adults complained about the noise keeping them up all the time, but I slept like a baby as did the rest of us.
Annie (202 posts)
 
10 years ago (2007-08-12)
I love this story. Thank you for sharing it with us. It's nice to know that there are family gatherings, parties on the other side. And... How sad that this old home was torn down to make way for a shopping mall.
Athena (9 stories) (222 posts)
 
10 years ago (2007-08-12)
Whoa! Exceptionally written story. Did it scare you growing up there? I would have been.

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