It started as a lark, a chance to scare the kids and have a spooky adventure. What it ended up as was one of the strangest and most unnerving experiences of my life.
A local (and very big) farmer known as Mr. Cunningham owns farmland or farms vast acres of land all around our property known as the Christmas Place. We get along well and one afternoon I met him on the gravel road beside our camp and we ended up talking for a few minutes. He mentioned that he had bought the old Belden Place and since I was an appraiser and ran the very cool Deer Camp Blog, I might want to go over and look at the old plantation home with it’s impressive wood work and fireplace mantles. He said it was about gone but it must have been a beauty in her day. He told me how to get there and later that afternoon I traveled the mile down the road, turned into an old road marked with a coke can on a limb, and made my way back into the base of the bluffs. I could see where field roads led off of the main road and that Mr. Cunningham was already getting the fields on the old plantation in order. I was surprised by what lay at the end of the road.
The yard was grown up in Cedars and Magnolia trees but the house itself was magnificent from a distance. It looked like the old haunted antebellum homes in movies. Getting closer I could see the worn appearance, missing windows, rotted porches and state of neglect of the old home. Still the lines and big columns were impressive. I closed the car door and went inside. Most of the rooms were empty, there was a couch, old piano and a few wooden chairs scattered around the big parlor. The fireplace had been used frequently, and there was some wood on the floor. I went up the wooden staircase (it was solid) and checked the bedrooms. Large and at one time luxurious, it gave me a feel for the old South. I never felt spooky or eerie or nervous. I love the wonderful architecture of these old buildings and it was a shame that it had been reduced to a haven for mice and other creatures. As I left, a plan emerged in my mind of something fun to do.
I called our farmer and asked him if it would be OK and he agreed. I got Burney and he helped me get flashlights for all the kids, I told them all that we had a big plan for that night. We had an early supper and as it grew dark I told them that we were going on a Delta Ghost Hunt.
Driving up to the old house that night was fun. Burney and I told the kids awful tales of murder and death ‘till they were almost scared and excited out of there minds. We broke them up into ghost hunting teams, started a small fire in the fireplace and turned them loose. They chased each other, they screamed, they hid, they screamed, they ran, they saw and heard ghost everywhere, did I mention they screamed?
We cooked marshmallows in the old fireplace and had a ball. No one caught a ghost, but we had a great time. We rounded them up after they ran through the house a few more times and Burney led them back to the truck. Through the window I could see flashlight beams everywhere and yes they were still screaming and hollering. I started making sure the fire was completely out.
That is when I felt the cold. Like a wave it hit me and I knew someone was looking at me. I shined my light all around and listened. No noise except the kids outside. I shined my light up the stairs and there was an older woman there glaring at me. She screamed “Get Out” as I panicked and started backing out. I could see through her and her anger seemed to hammer at my senses. I took a quick photo and ran out the door.
I did not tell anyone except Burney what happened later that night and no one outside had heard the shrill scream that she yelled at me.
The old house is gone now and I wonder if the ghostly woman on the staircase still haunts that spot.