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Ghosts and Legends: A tour of local haunts

 

Carolyn Burns, caretaker and museum curator of the Stephen D. Lee home, says at least five “friendly ghosts” live in the home, including Lilly Lee, pictured behind her, Stephen Lee, and Lilly’s father, Maj. Thomas Blewitt, who built the home in 1847.

Carolyn Burns, caretaker and museum curator of the Stephen D. Lee home, says at least five “friendly ghosts” live in the home, including Lilly Lee, pictured behind her, Stephen Lee, and Lilly’s father, Maj. Thomas Blewitt, who built the home in 1847.
Photo by: Kelly Tippett  Buy this photo.

 

 

Garthia Elena Burnett

 

Do you believe in ghosts? 

 

A trip to some of Columbus'' most haunted houses and visits from beyond the grave at Friendship Cemetery could be enough to convert the most skeptic nonbelievers. 

 

"At Abor House, there''s a place called the gentlemen''s parlor, where if you hang a picture of a woman on the wall, it comes off," said Adele Elliott, one of the guides for this year''s Ghosts and Legends Tour. 

 

"At MUW, there''s a building where they say a girl hung herself," Elliot continued. 

 

During the Civil War, Mississippi University for Women''s Calloway Hall was used as a hospital, Elliott said. 

 

One of the students was volunteering in the hospital and nursed a soldier back to health; she also fell in love with him. 

 

"He returned to battle and died," Elliott said. 

 

The young woman was so distraught, she hung herself from the bell tower. 

 

"They say that the bell rang 14 times when she hung herself," she added. 

 

To this day, students living in the dorm report hearing the toilets flush and faucets run. Her ghost also rides up and down the elevator to bell tower. And students have seen her indention in the bed and have seen her weeping, Elliott said. 

 

Need more proof? 

 

Meander over to the Highland House on Highland Circle, where a certified ghost hunter will play electronic voice phenomenon recordings from the home. And stop at the Princess Theatre, where a photograph captured a ghost in the balcony. 

 

At Friendship Cemetery, visitors will meet Gen. Stephen D. Lee. Across town, Lee''s wife, Lilly, will receive visitors in the gazebo of the library. While the Lees will be portrayed by actors at the cemetery and library, sightings of the two -- especially Lilly -- often are reported at the Lee Home on Seventh Street North. 

 

Carolyn Burns, caretaker of the home and museum curator, has lived in the Lee Home, off and on, for many years. When she first moved into the home in the early ''90s, she was greeted by one of the home''s residents. 

 

Burns was alone in the house, putting things away in the bathroom cabinet, when she heard footsteps come up the stairs. 

 

"The footsteps came all the way to the door, and I saw nothing," Burns remembered. "But there was a warm, circular air, and it was the neatest feeling. It was like a warm, circling hug." 

 

People touring the home have seen a lady in an antebellum dress -- Lilly -- walking with the tour group. 

 

"In the past 10 years, I may have seen Lilly four or five times," said Gary Lancaster, Lee Home historian. "People have seen a young lady on the staircase with a lot of diamonds. Our research has shown Lilly had a passion for diamonds." 

 

Burns said at least five "friendly ghosts" live in the home, including Stephen and Lilly Lee and Lilly''s father, Maj. Thomas Blewitt, who built the home in 1847. 

 

"We do know Maj. Blewett is there, because my granddaughter, when she was 5, she''d come and visit, and she''d have tea with Maj. Blewett. ... She wasn''t playing make believe; he really was there," Burns said. 

 

A little girl, who plays the piano and sings scales, and another woman, in a Victorian dress, also haunt the house. 

 

"I can''t see these ghosts; I can hear them" said Burns, whose only sighting was the shadow of a man moving through the downstairs and the tail of a dress going downstairs.  

 

Sometimes, she said, "a warm breeze goes past, and I can smell flowers." 

 

On Friday, Oct. 22, and Saturday, Oct. 23, motor coaches will depart from the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center at 300 Main St. for the 2010 Ghosts and Legends Tour. 

 

Tours leave at 6 and 6:30 p.m., 8 and 8:30 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.. Tours run about 90 minutes. 

 

Tickets are $12 and may be purchased in advance at www.columbus-ms.com. Call the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau at 662-329-1191 for more information.

 

 

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Reader Comments

Article Comment regina commented at 10/15/2010 8:54:00 AM:

Hmm.. I lived in Calloway Dorm and never heard or saw any signs of ghosts.

 

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