|George 'Buster' Singleton|
(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The column below, which was titled “Alabama ghosts wait by the highways and bridges,” was originally published in the Oct. 23, 1986 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)
As the closing days of October and the pale light of the “hunter’s moon” cast its ghostly shadows across the crisp night air, the thoughts of Halloween come to mind.
The hair-raising stories of the supernatural take on special meaning, and the local tales of ghosts and goblins cause the hair along the back of the neck to stand up and tingle.
The cool nights and the effects of the creeping shadows cause a feeling of adventure and of desire to go forward in an investigative fashion and see for oneself the specters that roam the deliriums of darkness.
One can stand beside an abandoned road in the northern part of the county and wait for the clatter of the hooves as the “Headless Horseman” rides through the midnight air. There is a cold feeling of damp air as the horse and rider pass close enough that one could reach out and touch the sweaty sides of the galloping horse.
Or maybe lie beside another abandoned road in the dark hours of the night and listen for the sound of the wheels of the “Phantom Stagecoach” as it makes its midnight run along the paths of yesteryear.
A ghostly greeting
Watch as the driver of the stagecoach reels to and fro as he sits atop the seat, nodding to the rhythm of the rattling harnesses of the phantom horses. And, as the stagecoach passes your hiding place, look through the window into the eyes of the lady with the bonnet, as she slowly raises a gloved hand in a faint gesture of ghostly greeting.
Listen as the stagecoach rumbles down the steep, curved hill, and hear the iron tires of the coach’s wheels rattle across the old, abandoned bridge that leans dangerously from neglect in the shadowy moonlight.
If by now you have not had your fill of the mysteries of the past, you might want to visit the “Hanging Tree,” or sit atop the hill where the wailing music of a phantom organ rides the evening winds. Or perhaps observe the ghostly lights that roam the Franklin and Finchburg areas in the quietness of the dark hours of the evening.
Ghost Riders, Crying Child
Then, as the grand finale, one can choose between the famed “Ghost Riders” and listening to the wailing of the “Crying Child” as the sounds of distress fade into oblivion. Or wait in the quietness of a certain cemetery within the county, in the dark hours of the early morning, and watch the tall, ghostly gentleman in the top hat, walking among the markers in search of his lost love.
Each of the tales of the supernatural brings to mind the thoughts of a little-known poet of the area, as the following words play with the imagination:
“Walk with me into the past that was yesterday.
Hold my hand, for I fear; the evening winds sigh
With mystery. And the ghosts of an earlier time
Speak of their tragedies.
“Do not take lightly these tales of misfortune,
For somewhere in time, you too may join the
Ranks of those who wander in the night, and
Ride forever on the winds of oblivion…”
(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from 1964 to 1987. He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)