Skip to Main Content
Shadows and Cypress

Shadows and Cypress: Southern Ghost Stories

Alan Brown
Copyright Date: 2000
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Shadows and Cypress
    Book Description:

    A bewitching convocation of Dixie's most frightening ghost tales

    From backwaters as dark as a cypress swamp to nooks as mysterious as a musty college library, southerners have conjured spirits and told ghost stories.

    Shadows and Cypress: Southern Ghost Storiesis a Dixie séance that summons ghost tales from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

    Collecting more than a dozen stories from each state, this book channels the South's entire panorama of creepy locales into one volume. The limestone caves of Kentucky, the swamps of Louisiana and Florida, the pine hills and hollows of Appalachia, and the plains of Texas -- these are perfect haunts for a host of narratives about visitors from the spirit world.

    The many cultures that converged in the American South enriched the region's ghost stories.Shadows and Cypresstaps African American, French, Hispanic, and Scotch-Irish storytelling traditions to capture the distinctive signatures that each has left on ghostlore.

    Throughout the region, the southern ghost story is hardly a curio from the crypt. It's still alive and well. Folklorist Alan Brown draws stories from crannies as contemporary as the college dormitory or cars parked on a lover's lane. To give the reader the unique experience of hearing a classic ghost story told, Brown presents these tales exactly as they were recorded in his field research or as archived in the trove of the WPA oral collections.

    A wide variety of spectres found only in this region arise inShadows and Cypress. The "fillet" and "loogaru" from Louisiana, "plat-eye" from South Carolina, and "haints" from across Dixie are among the creatures bumping in the night. Beginning with the Revolutionary War and continuing to present day, this generous gathering of tales will chill and delight readers and long haunt shelves as a comprehensive sourcebook of the region's supernatural allure.

    Alan Brown is a professor of English at the University of West Alabama. He has published several books, includingDim Roads and Dark Nights(1993) andThe Face in the Window and Other Alabama Ghostlore(1996).

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-664-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-X)
  3. Preface
    (pp. XI-XIV)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. XV-2)

    In an article entitled “The Ghost Theory” that appeared in theOxford American(October/November 1996), Marc Smirnoff said that he arrived at “The Ghost Theory” after polling twenty southerners from a wide variety of backgrounds and discovering that they all believed in the existence of ghosts: “Simply put, the Ghost Theory reveals a distinction that has hitherto been unvoiced: Southerners believe in ghosts; Northerners do not.”¹ While the recent publication of books such as Beth Scott’s and Michael Norman’sHaunted America(1994) and Dennis William Hack’sHaunted Places: The National Directory(1996), as well as many regional collections of ghostlore,...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Alabama
    (pp. 3-20)

    This house is an early 1900s [structure] as far as we can determine. There was a big house on the lot before that one. I don’t know what happened to that one. And before that, there was a stagecoach inn or stagecoach stop on that site. I don’t know the dates of that either.

    But as near as David [my son] could remember, it was probably the spring of ’93, and he had been stayin’ in the house, like, for a month or so. He said it was probably in the middle of the day. And he was in the...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Arkansas
    (pp. 21-32)

    [These stories] probably [occurred] from around 1910 up to around the mid-forties. I think the ones that come from the two sides of the family differ a little. The ones from my mom’s side of the family, the Tolberts, the favorite one of her stories, I like because it happened twice—the story about the eyes. I guess they would have been yellow or something. This would have been probably the early to mid-forties. This was in White County, Arkansas, probably southern White County. Some cousins of hers were walking home from church one night, and they were a very...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Florida
    (pp. 33-41)

    I’m pretty sure that this happened at the end of his [my father’s] senior year of high school or afterwards. He and one of his friends were out on a double-date. They had two girls with ’em. They [his friend and his date] were in the back seat of his car, and he was in the front seat with his girlfriend sittin’ beside him. They was drivin’ down a coastal road, right along the coast. There was marsh grass on both sides of the road. Marsh grass gets a foot-and-a-half or two feet tall. And since then, they’ve put houses...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Georgia
    (pp. 42-54)

    The fraternity Kappa Alpha at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, was the old frat house—the old president’s house, a historical landmark. And they say—not just them, a lot of different people—say that the daughter of the president (I believe it’s a fact) that she hung herself in the bedroom, which is the left-hand window facing the street. And it’s—I’m almost positive it’s a fact. All kinds of people come runnin’ out of there. They don’t even like to have their pledges stay there overnight or anything just because it’s so spooky. They hear things—footsteps, visions...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Kentucky
    (pp. 55-67)

    One time way back in the colonial days in Kentucky, there was an old woman who lived way up on a hill all alone except for her little baby and two great big black dogs. Her husband had been killed in the war. The people in town had always been very suspicious of the old woman. She never spoke to anybody and would never have visited anybody. One time, a great epidemic came. I forget what kind, but anyway, it was really bad. The children were dyin’ every day. Finally, one old woman (usually known as the village gossiper) told...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Louisiana
    (pp. 68-77)

    Throughout my life, I have heard of supposedly true stories of how different ghosts, goblins, and phantoms have disturbed people’s lives. I have always thought of the people who told these stories as a little crazy or who just wanted to show off in front of friends. My feelings changed one dark night when three friends and I visited T-Frere’s cemetery. It was a fall Friday night in Lafayette, Louisiana, and my friend Don and I had just finished playing a football game. We were meeting two other friends, Lindsay and Alexis, at the field house. After congratulating us for...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Mississippi
    (pp. 78-94)

    Stuckey Bridge is in the southwest corner of Lauderdale County. You go down Interstate 59, and you take the Savoy exit. And when you take off the exit, you go to the right. There’s a road to the left real quick, and it’ll have signs, I think, that say Dunns Falls. You keep going down that road. You don’t turn on the Dunns Falls Road. You just keep going, and you drive a good ways, and you come to a deep curve where there’s a dirt road that—there’s like a fork, like a triangle. And there’s two dirt roads....

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT North Carolina
    (pp. 95-105)

    This story is from my mother, Mary Lancaster Bradley. This is the way it was told to her by her grandmother, Mary Hines Lancaster. During the Civil War, sometime between 1861 and 1865, my Uncle Isum Hines lived in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain range, on the edge of Polk County, North Carolina. He and his wife and two daughters had a nice southern home there. It was a common occurrence during the Civil War for the northern soldiers to stop at these kinds of homes and demand food and help themselves to any money or any valuables that...

  13. CHAPTER NINE South Carolina
    (pp. 106-116)

    I guess the main ghost story from South Carolina that I would put any credence in is the Gray Man. I have a friend whom I consider to be very trustworthy whose parents moved to Pawleys Island in the last fifteen years. And they have either seen him or know somebody who has seen him. The pattern with the Gray Man is that he comes before inclement weather. I guess that in modern times, the first rash of sightings of him were in 1954 with Hurricane Hazel. He just walks up and down the Grand Strand of the South Carolina...

  14. CHAPTER TEN Tennessee
    (pp. 117-128)

    Mary [the Orpheum’s ghost] died in some kind of accident somewhere in Memphis, in either a street car accident or by a fall in 1921. I have never seen Mary, but I have gotten a spooky, cold feeling when I am in the balcony. Those who have seen her say she is about 12 years old, dressed in a white blouse or school uniform without shoes and has long, dark braids. She has been accused of unscrewing light bulbs and crying and laughing. She usually makes an appearance in the early morning hours when someone is playing the theater’s organ....

    (pp. 129-142)

    My big Aunt Jenny was my mother’s aunt. She was the oldest of about five daughters. They were born in and around Denison, Texas. Their family members were Morrises, related to signers of the Declaration of Independence and that sort of thing. They finally migrated to the West, and my big Aunt Jenny who married a Thompson, they built a big house in Hereford, Texas, a little town west of Amarillo between Amarillo and the New Mexico border. And they went there in the 1880s. Theirs was the largest house in town. My great uncle owned a survey company, and...

  16. CHAPTER TWELVE Virginia
    (pp. 143-156)

    Now this is not a folktale. This is something that really happened. Well, he [my friend] was house-sitting, and he was in a small bungalow next to the big house, if I can remember correctly, and he kept hearing all these banging and walking sounds. And he went back to sleep, and the next night, it happened again. Well, it happened again, and he talked, I guess, to the person living in the big house. He [the person living in the big house] said there was some spirit—a ghost—around there. And he went [back], and he was awakened...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 157-182)
  18. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 183-194)
  19. Index
    (pp. 195-199)