College campuses around the country, and the world in fact, boast not only learned faculty and eager students but also remnants of the past that have been left to linger. The haunted colleges sometimes possess ghosts of previous students who have met with tragedy or foul play who haunt these hallowed halls of learning. They may just be echoes of times gone by, or souls with unfinished business, but whatever their reason for not moving on to the next plane of existence, they intrigue and frighten many of us at the same time. Here are a few tales of southern spirits who apparently do not wish to leave their college life behind for one tragic reason or another.
Athens State University, Alabama
Founders Hall at Athens State University
In northern Alabama resides Athens State University, founded in 1822 as a female college, today it is a thriving 2 year college owned by the state. There are several claims of ghostly activity beginning with the ghost of young female student who, with a friend, had snuck out of their room late one night to go meet with their boyfriends. As it was in the late 1800′s they used candles to light their way down the staircase when a sudden wind snuffed their flames but not before one of the flames caught the hair of one of the girls on fire and she was consumed with flames. Her ghost is said to haunt Founder’s Hall. People claim to hear footsteps on the stairs, lights going on and off, squeaking doors and a figure in a third floor window, which is where the dorms were at that time. Cold spots and weird clicking sounds have also been experienced by students, faculty and staff.
It is also been said that one of the headmistresses, a Madame Jane Hamilton Childs, haunts the dormitories still making sure curfews are met. There is also a story that a woman who had stayed behind on campus to nurse students with typhoid in the early 1900′s, while all the other faculty fled the epidemic, passed away from the disease and has never left the campus. In Brown Hall where the sick were kept there are unexplained phenomena such as objects being moved during the night, pictures falling off the walls and strange knocking noises. Also in McCandless Hall there is a ghost that haunts the auditorium. The young lady is seen in a formal white dress holding flowers wandering all around the Hall. Some students have claimed to even smell the strong scent of flowers and hear footsteps all around the auditorium when there is no one there. Rumor has it that she is the ghost of a singer who performed at the hall in 1914 and was tragically killed on her way home, and is now lingering in the place of her last joyful performance.
Harding University, Arkansas
Harding University was once the Galloway Female College, which opened in 1899 in Searcy, Arkansas. For many years back then it was the largest college for women in the Southwestern United States. It became Harding University in 1934 during the era of the great depression. After 50 years of being a women’s college, the new university did not only only inherit the land and the buildings, but also the ghosts of Galloway.
The most well-known ghost is Gertie, the ghost of a beautiful young lady who had returned late one evening to the dormitory at Gooden Hall and tragically fell down an elevator shaft. Students have claimed to see her walking through walls in her long elegant gown and wondering around the hall where the elevator is located.
Yet another tragedy occurred in Gooden Hall in the 1930s when a young lady who had lost her love to a horrifying traffic accident dealt with her grief by continuously playing piano in a room on the third floor. Inconsolable she would play the same sad, dark pieces of music ceaselessly. Apparently days passed until someone checked on her and she had passed away, by all accounts of a broken heart. From then on there have been accounts of hearing haunting piano music from the third floor and when it is investigated there is no one there.
University of Mississippi
The University of Mississippi, or Ole Miss, was founded in 1844, just a few short decades shy of the American Civil War. Not only did the school have to sacrifice many of its students for this cause, it still today is home to some of its victims, traumatized soldiers returning to the comfort of a happier place.
Lyceum at Ole Miss
The Lyceum, completed in 1848, one of the original buildings on campus and where all of the students who served in the Civil War went to classes, is the source of reports of numerous unexplained sounds. The Lyceum also served as a hospital for the dying and wounded from nearby battles and they too could be contributing to the odd sounds that may be echoes of the painful past.
Several fraternity houses on campus also claim their own ghosts. The Delta Psi house is supposedly home to a ghost of a now deceased member who died upon returning home from a football game. He is seen occasionally just hanging around the frat house. And at the Zeta Tau Alpha house a young female student who died there is said to be the cause of the sound of footsteps wandering around the house when there is no one visibly there.
The most famous of the Ole Miss ghosts is none other than the author William Faulkner (1897-1962). Although he did not graduate from Ole Miss he lived in Oxford for over 30 years and the University has since purchased his home. The house and grounds are open to the public and there are unexplained noises such as banging, footsteps, men’s voices and man’s cries reported by the staff and public alike. There have also been reports that his ghost has written on the walls.
Further, the previous owner of his home, Colonel Sheegog who built the house in 1848 had a daughter who also supposedly haunts the home. The tale goes that she was eloping secretly one night with her Yankee beau and she slipped, fell and died and is now haunting the property, mourning her loss of a life and love unfulfilled.
There are countless tales to be told of haunted colleges and their ghostly campus residents. Young adults at one of their most exciting points in their lives with so many opportunities and experiences in store, it is no wonder those that have long lives torn from them by tragedy refuse to concede to death.
Hauntings in Wilson Hall