A Berrien County Ghost Story

Haints of Berrien County

Just in time for Halloween, another Berrien County ghost story. This one comes from Dr. James Rountree Folsom, father of Montgomery M. Folsom. James R. Folsom, who was a teacher in Berrien County, and later, Postmaster at Cecil, GA, wrote occasionally of Berrien County oddities.  Folsom was a member of Salem Methodist Church; The Church cemetery holds the marked graves of many of the Folsom family connection, among them the grave of Dr. James Rountree Folsom.

Tifton Gazette
December 1, 1893

Berrien County Ghost Story

       Dr. J. R. Folsom, of Cecil, in a letter to the Atlanta Journal under a date of November 26, [1893] recalls a strange story the scene of which is partly laid in Tifton. The facts were true as stated; the editor did not visit the house, but an attachee of the Gazette did and said it was absolutely true, and he was entirely unable to account for it. We do not know whether the disturbing element followed Mr. Bradler away from Tifton, but the same dwelling is now occupied and the ghost has not been heard there since the present occupant moved into it: ” A ghost story of chronic type is and has been going on for some time a short notice of which appeared in the Tifton Gazette some months ago is fresh “on the tap” this morning.
       As related by a gentleman who spent some time trying to unravel the mystery, the story is as follows:
During the first part of the year – in February or March – various noises began to be heard at the house of Mr. Rufus Bradler an engineer working for the Needham Lumber company, near Lenox, a small station on the Georgia Southern and Florida railroad in Berrien county.
      The sounds made at intervals, were like knocks on the floor and wall, rattling chains, and other sounds. Search was diligently made by the Bradler family and later on for the cause, without however, learning anything in regard to it. On one occasion, when the knocking seemed to be done by some one under the floor. Mr. Gillis attempted to shoot where the blows falling against the floor, but his efforts seemed at first to be of no avail. After having snapped several times with his revolver, it fired, but the ball scarcely penetrated the floor, and the knocking continued.
     These noises seem to be always near Mr. Bradler’s little twelve-year old daughter, and her health beginning to decline from the constant annoyance, strong effort were made to solve the mystery. Fires were built in a circle around the house at night the premises repeatedly searched but all to no avail, when Mr. Bradler gave up his job and moved to Tifton, where the annoying sounds followed him.
     After living there some time and the child’s health seeming to be still failing, he again moved to Valdosta.
    “Has the trouble stopped? We would like to know. Mr. Bradler, as said, is a locomotive engineer, and of a class not easily frightened. What can the matter be?

♦♦♦

Tifton Gazette
December 22, 1893
The burning of Prof. Hendricks’ residence, corner of Eight street and Central avenue, recalls the Bradley ghost story. It was the house where that ghost made such wonderful displays of power, and had become known as the “haunted house.” As the house has gone the way of “smoke and ashes” it may not be amiss to enquire what became of the ghost?

Related Posts:

 

In Salem Church

Salem Methodist Church

Salem Church, Lowndes County, GA circa 1866

Salem Church, Lowndes County, GA circa 1866

Salem Church is among the earliest Methodist churches in this section. The church would have been on the Troupville Circuit ridden by Reverend Peurifoy, a Methodist circuit rider of Wiregrass Georgia. Other Methodist churches on the circuit included Troupville, established about 1832, Oak Grove Church, Concord Church, and Bethlehem Church. Pre-dating any of these churches was the annual Methodist revival held at the old Lowndes Camp Ground, later called the Mount Zion Camp Ground. The earliest Methodist church in Ray City was organized in 1910.

About Salem Church

“The exact year this church was organized is unknown but it is believed that the original church building was a small log structure constructed near a spring fed branch behind the present 110-year-old home place of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Folsom. The existing Salem UMC was built on its new location in 1856, on land that was deeded by Eli Driver Webb. The first trustees were Randall Folsom, Joseph T. Webb, William Varn, William D. Smith and Berry J. Folsom. It is believed that the first pastor of Salem was either Rev. Joseph T. Webb or Rev. Hamilton W. Sharpe, both local Methodist preachers of that era. Many of the citizens of the community attended school in a one-room school across the street from the church and, when needed, the church was also used for classroom space.”  – South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church

Salem Church was attended by slave owners and slaves, as well. The church kept two graveyards, a white cemetery and an  African-American cemetery. There is still a distinct line between the two cemeteries, one with unmarked graves, the other with neat white headstones and plush grass.  Laying in the marked graves are many of the Folsom family connection, among them Dr. James Rountree Folsom, father of Montgomery M. Folsom.

M.M. Folsom was one of the best known and most versatile newspaper men in the South, according to his obituary. He was a great and prolific writer of prose and poetry, which was widely read and copied.  In the September 14, 1885 Atlanta Constitution, Montgomery M. Folsom recalls Salem Church of his youth.

 

In Salem Church

The Memory of a Middle Age Man Stirred Up.

M.M. Folsom in Valdosta, Ga, Times.

        Let me see, the old church must be getting old indeed, now; I am shiffling along toward the dim and mysterious regions of the third decade of life, and, I am beginning to feel right patriarchal. Yes, I was walking along the street a few day since when a diminutive specimen of the genus homo accosted me with “hello, old chum,” and I came very near rebuking him on the spot, but on second thought I remember how fine a sense of ridicule the modern ragmuffin is blessed with, so I contented myself with a withering glance, and then winked to keep him from thinking hard of me. Good gracious! How egotistical I am growing. But never mind, I’m going to be a country editor, some day, and then I can use that delusive pronoun “we” and then we’ll make ourself just as great an ass as we choose, and no one will molest us or make our cheek to blush.
       Well, that church is a few months older than I, but I trust it hasn’t half as much to answer for. When last I threw a ball at its stately front I tried to hit the figure “6” in the date, “1856” painted above the tall columns which support its venerable front.
       Long time ago there was another Salem, built of logs, clap-boards and puncheons. “H.W.S.” could tell you all about it. The good Methodists decided to build a new one, and the present site, fronting the old Coffee road, was selected. I think William McGuire was the master carpenter in the job, but I don’t know, it has been so long. Oh! what a flood of sweet old memories come trouping along as, in fancy, I sit once more within those sacred walls. A goodly space, in the rear of the pulpit was partitioned off for the negroes who were then slaves, of course.
      Certain seats were recognized as the special property of certain old people, not that we had any pew renting, and the like of that, but they came so regularly, and occupied the same seat so often, that younger folks soon learned to look for Uncle Randal on a long bench near the partition, with the south window at his back. Dear old man! How I loved to watch his portly figure as he waddled up the isle, and the few scant locks glistening like a glowing silver light above his ruddy brow. Uncle Billy Sineath was bent with age and hard labor. He would plow hard all the week, and till near meeting time Saturday, then he donned his meeting clothes, and started for the church just like the true Christian that he was. His face was rugged, and the dark eyes glowed beneath a pair of cavernous brows, but never a kinder heart beat in the bosom of any man. Uncle Hamp was always there, too, with a kind word and a hearty handshake for every one. What made him more conspicuous was the tall beaver, that he took off at the door. Now there is a great deal of individuality about a hat. Grandpa and Uncle Billy Sineath wore broad brims, and the brim had to turn up in certain places, while in others it must lay flat, or curve around in a peculiar manner. I used to wonder how much time they spent training a new hate ere it acquired the regulation flop. Our old teacher was straight as an arrow and nearly as slim, his hair was always gray, I suppose, but when he patted one of us little urchins on the head as he stepped into the porch, we were of the elect the balance of that day. But why try to describe such individual? It would require volumes simple to record their goodness and the act of Christian charity which they did in their days.
        I remember one sermon that touched me, boy as I was, deeply and it stirred the depths of the hearts of every individual in the vast congregation that were packed in the church. Leonard C. Peake had lately been blind, but his sight was now restored. A man of venerable aspect and commanding presence, he stood in the pulpit that day and preached as I never heard man preach before. His text was “And Moses said unto——-” but I can’t remember, it was so long ago but it read on- “we are journeying unto the land which the Lord God hath given us. Come thou and go with us, and we will do thee good.” In the course of his sermon he told how, after a season of darkness, he had been allowed to look again on the blessed light of Heaven. Oh, that was a time long to be remembered.
      Then there was Jesse J. Giles, the happiest looking man I ever saw. His soul knew no wintry season. His face eternally beamed with the smiles of a perpetual spring season. To look at him was to love him, and to love him was but a step removed from the worship of that God whom he worshiped with the most sublime adoration. His voice was a s a woman’s and the musical tones were like the strains of music from some faraway land. The old well-worn copy of “John Wesley” that he gave me so many years ago lies before me as I write. Unhidden tears bedim my eyes as I think of the last words he ever said to me.
       But the grandest old warrior was big, burly, tender-hearted John Hendry. His voice was of that deep, rich kind which men of slender chests are wont to covet. The tawny beard covered his face and hung down on his breast. When he ascended the pulpit steps the evil doer trembled, and the first syllable of that deep voice sent a thrill through me like an electric shock. And oh! you ought to have heard him sing,
“I’m glad salvations’ free!”
      The great voice filled the whole building, and the thunder tones went reverbating and re echoing among the dark pine woods. Wafted by the soft evening breeze the echoes grew fainter and fainter until the word “Salvation” died away on the hilltops faraway, away, where the autumn moon shed such a wondrous shower of golden light.
       But we had one funny parson, I’ve forgotten his name. He said that when he left his last circuit he left “six crowing roosters sitting on the front yard fence.” He never stayed long.
       Another was a vissionary and a dreamer. In fact, he was so fond of relating his wonderful dreams, that there grew a proverb out of it, and we sacrilegious boys were in the habit of illustrating our opinion of a doubtful yarn by saying, “Ah! you thought like—–dreamt when you studied that up.”
      There was one man who could never pray without weeping. His voice would grow husky and broken and his petition always ended in a heart-broken sob. If that many wasn’t a Christian I never knew one.
Good men they were. I have not mentioned a tithe of them. The subject is too big for me. I cannot write of things that touch such tender chords, and wake such sacred memories. All that was best in my wasted life is interwoven with the story of old Salem. How often in my wanderings have I cast my longing eyes thitherward, and sighed to think of the days that are past forever more.

“Blest scenes of enjoyment long have we been parted,

My hopes almost gone, and my parents no more;
And now as an exile, forelorn, broken-hearted,
I wonder alone on a far distant shore.”

Related Posts:

Montgomery Morgan Folsom

Montgomery Morgan Folsom (1857-1899)
Montgomery M. Folsom was the eldest son of Dr. James Roundtree Folsom and Rachel Inman Swain. He was a grandson of Randal Folsom and great grandson of Lawrence Armstrong Folsom, one of the pioneer settlers of Lowndes County, GA. On his mother’s side he was a grandson of Sarah Wooten and Morgan G. Swain, early residents of Troupville, GA.

Montgomery M. Folsom was a poet and a writer of the Wiregrass section of Georgia who contributed to both Georgia and New York newspapers. He was a prolific writer of prose and poetry, which was widely published and read.  He was a protege’ of Henry Grady, outspoken white supremacist and publisher of the Atlanta Constitution.  Folsom’s works captured the spirit of his early life in old Berrien County and the oral history of Wiregrass pioneers and slaves.

Among other topics, Folsom wrote about the Withlacoochee River, Troupville, Coffee Road, the formation of Lowndes County,  the Battle of Brushy Creek, fire hunts, and early Wiregrass Methodists.

His literary writing seems clearly influenced by the work of Joel Chandler Harris; his creative period coincides almost exactly with Harris’ tenure as assistant editor and lead editorial writer at the Atlanta Constitution. In some of Folsom’s stories, his use of dialect and appropriation of African-American culture could be subject to the same criticism as Harris’ Uncle Remus stories.

Montgomery M. Folsom

Montgomery M. Folsom

 

Born in Berrien County, GA on January 31, 1857, he was baptized by Reverend Payton P. Smith at Salem Church near Hahira, GA; He was married in New Pleasant Hill Church, Colquitt County, GA, November 13, 1879 to Frances Edna Croft, daughter of Mary Ann Hiers and William Nathaniel Croft, born in Colquitt County, GA, July 15, 1860.

Children:

  1. Mamie Leona Folsom – Born near Hempstead, Colquit County, GA, August 25, 1881; married in Atlanta, GA, September 15, 1898, to Dr. Frank Alexander Wynne of Rome, GA; widowed [date unknown]; moved to Dallas, TX; wrote stories and articles for newspapers and magazines; taught voice and piano; prominent in club work; traveled to Europe.
  2. Ewell Vernon Folsom – born February 10, 1883 near Tifton, GA; married in Orange, TX, April 7, 190e to Emma Myer Curtis, of Orange, TX; engaged in lumber trade in Orange, TX; prominent in social circles, a writer of short stories, a singer with a fine bass voice; died in Beaumont, TX February 18, 1933.
  3. Noel Byron Folsom – Born December 2, 1885 near New River Church, Berrien County, GA; served in the Army after the Spanish American War as an Assistant Veterinary Surgeon; married in New York, NY in June, 1912 to Mabel Bell Walsh, a resident of Yonkers, NY; craftsman, engaged in ship-building during WWI; writer of prose and poetry.
  4. Julia Grady Folsom – born May 15, 1889 on Fort Hawkins Hill, East Macon, Bibb, County, GA; named for Mrs. Julia King Grady, wife of Henry Grady; married first at age 14 in St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Atlanta to Richard Trevanion Patton, son of Mrs. Julia Iverson Patton; divorced September 13, 1909, both being too young to carry on; married second on December 31, 1925 to John Daniel Hargraves, son of Frances L. Daniel and Dr. Benjamin Worthington Hargraves, who was First Lieutenant, Company K, 55th Infantry in WWI; writer of many fine poems, published in the Atlanta Constitution and other publications.
  5. Jessie Juanita Folsom, born February 9, 1894 in Atlanta, GA; graduated Law School, admitted to the bar but never practiced; feature writer for the Atlanta Journal; married July 22, 1917 in St. Philips Cathedral, Atlanta to Lieutenant Basil Stockbridge, Atlanta lawyer.

He died very suddenly of apoplexy in Atlanta, GA July 1, 1899. Upon his death, the Atlanta Constitution proclaimed Montgomery M. Folsom one of the best known and most versatile newspaper men in the South.  He was buried July 4, 1899 at Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, GA.

Montgomery M. Folsom Dead; Had Only A Few Hours’ Illness

Seized with a Sinking Spell Saturday Afternoon, He Rapidly Grew Worse Until the End Came Yesterday Morning,

Apoplexy Was The Cause

He was on the Streets Saturday In His Usual Health.

Was A Capable Journalist And Poet

He Was Well Known in the South and His Writings Were Widely Read and Copied – A Sketch of His Life.

      Montgomery M. Folsom, one of the best known and most versatile newspaper men in the south, died suddenly at his residence, 445 East Fair street, at 7 o’clock yesterday morning, after an illness of only a few hours.
      Saturday morning Mr. Folsom was apparently in his usual good health, and left his home in unusually good spirits. He returned home about 1 o’clock in the afternoon and complained of feeling bad. At 3 o’clock he had a violent sinking spell and was soon unconscious. His family became alarmed at his condition, and Dr. Johnson, who lives in the vicinity of the Folsom residence, was summoned. His efforts were unavailing, and the stricken man failed to regain consciousness.
       Later in the afternoon no change in his condition taking place, his son-in-law, Dr. F. A. Wynne, was called in. He remained by the side of Mr. Folsom all night long, but saw that his condition was hopeless.
At 6 o’clock in the morning he partially regained consciousness, but could not speak. At 7 o’clock death came suddenly and without pain.
      The immediate cause of death was apoplexy, superinduced by an affection of the heart, from which he had been a suffering for the past two years.
      Montgomery Folsom is survived by a wife and five children; Mrs. F. A. Wynne, Ewell V. Folsom, aged seventeen; Noel F. Folsom, aged sixteen; Julia G. Folsom, aged thirteen, and Jessie Juanita Folsom, aged eight. He also leaves one brother and one sister- Carroll R. Folsom and Mrs. Minnie Weeks.

The Funeral Arrangements
      The deceased was a member of the Cherokee lodge, Masonic Order, of Rome. The funeral will be conducted Tuesday afternoon at 4 o’clock with masonic honors.
      Up to a late hour last night it had not been decided whether the services would be conducted from the residence of a church. The list of pallbearers will also be announced later.

Sketch of his life.
      Montgomery Morgan Folsom was one of the most brilliant and prolific writers in the south, and his literary productions were widely read and copied. He wrote prose and poetry with equal facility, and his acquaintance with men and affairs was extensive. He was an indefatigable worker and one of the most productive newspaper men in Atlanta.
      By nature he was extremely companionable, and made many friends who were warmly attached to him. His death was the cause of universal sorrow among a wide circle of friends and acquaintances.
Montgomery Folsom was born near Hahira, Lowndes county, Georgia, January 31, 1857, and was therefore forty-two years old at the time of his death. He was the son of James Rountree Folsom and Rachel Inman Folsom.
       His grandfather, Randel Folsom, was at one time a wealthy planter, possessed of literary tastes, who, when financial reverses overtook him, retired to the seclusion of his library and spent his declining years absorbed in study. It was from Randel Folsom that young Montgomery attained the rudiments of an education, which afterwards ripened into a rare culture.
      Montgomery Folsom was essentially a self-made man, and his fight for an education was a bitter, uphill one, fraught with obstacles in the shape of poverty and scant resources that would have daunted a nature with less steadfast purpose.
      However, he had a marvelous faculty for acquiring and assimulating knowledge, and once he read a book its substance remained with him. His grasp at the salient facts of a history or a scientific treatise was remarkable from the time he was a mere boy.
      Up to the time he was eighteen or nineteen years of age his days were spent in toll on a farm, and his nights in study. Arrived at the age of twenty, he became a pedagogue and taught small country schools in various parts of south Georgia. It was at Thomasville, Ga., while engaged in the avocation of school teacher, that he did his first newspaper work. His first published writings appeared in the Savannah Morning News, when he was a mere boy. They consisted of poems and articles of a literary and humorous vein.
      Later he began to contribute to the northern papers, and the New York Post and The Sun accepted many of his prose writing and verse. Up to the day of his death the later paper gladly accepted everything he wrote.
      The success of his writings decided him to adopt newspaper work as a profession, and his first editorial position was on The Thomasville Times. While at the head of this paper he wrote “Jeff Hancock’s Bull,” a set of humorous verses which attracted widespread attention —– for him a more than local reputation
      From Thomasville he went to Americus where he edited the Times-Recorder. Later he was given a position on the Macon Telegraph, and it was while in that city that his work attracted the attention of the late Henry Grady, who made him the Macon correspondent of The Constitution and encouraged him to write special articles for this paper.

Would Not Accept Pay.
      During the early days when Montgomery Folsom was connected with newspapers in the south he continued to do work for the northern press. This work he refused to accept pay for, and time and time again he returned checks to the senders with the request that they pay him in books. In this way he managed to accumulate a handsome library, which was composed chiefly of the poets. He was particularly fond of Byron, Shelley, Burns and Caldridge and knew many of their works by heart. He was also an ardent admirer of Victor Hugo, and was a deep student of the French revolution. Napoleon was his hero, and probably no man in Atlanta had read more miscellaneous literature bearing on the life and personal characteristics of Bonaparte.
       From Macon he went to Cedartown, where he purchased an interest in The Cedartown Standard, and was placed in editorial charge. In 1887 fire visited The Standard office and the plant, together with Mr. Folsom’s fine collection of books, was burned.
      Soon after this disaster he came to Atlanta and secured a position on the local staff of The Constitution. His  special work at this time, under the pseudonym of “The Night Hawk,” attracted considerable attention throughout the state.
      A connection with Society, a literary paper published by Mrs. Lollie Belle Wylie, followed. From Society he went to The Journal and from The Journal to Rome, where he edited The Tribune for a number of months.
      When The Evening Constitution was started he returned to Atlanta and was placed on the local staff of that paper. After the suspension of The Evening Constitution he returned to The Journal once more, leaving that paper to accept a position on The Chattanooga Times during the Spanish-American war, when troops were encamped at Chickamauga.
       In 1894 Mr. Folsom began to correspond regularly for a number of northern papers, and this work he continued to do up to the time of his death.
       He was a brilliant writer and a kindly gentleman, whose warm heart and generous impulses made for him many friends.

Grave of Montgomery Morgan Folsom, Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, GA

Grave of Montgomery Morgan Folsom, Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, GA

Related Posts:

Strange Story from Sharpe’s Store

Sharpe’s Store

In 1852, a strange medical story from Sharpe’s Store, GA was circulated in state newspapers.

Sharpes’ Store was at a center of commerce located on the Coffee Road about two miles above the present day town  of  Morven, GA.  The store had been founded in 1826 when Hamilton W. Sharpe came down the Coffee Road and decided to settle near the home and traveler’s inn of Sion Hall in Lowndes County.  Sharpe built a small store building out of logs near Sion Hall’s place.    Thus, Hall’s Inn and Sharpe’s Store  were situated approximately 25 miles southwest of present day  Ray City, GAthe site where  the Knight family first settled in the winter of 1826. In 1828, Hamilton W. Sharpe obtained the establishment of a U. S. Post Office at his store, for  which he was appointed Postmaster.  The Sharpe’s Store Post Office served Wiregrass Pioneers for almost 25 years.

The medical mystery in 1852 concerned a son of Berrien County resident Ashley Lawson, who resided in the area of Troupville, GA and who was a veteran of the 1836 Battle of Brushy Creek. The story was reported by James R. Folsom, who was a teacher in Berrien County, and later, Postmaster at Cecil, GA.

It began when the Lawson boy choked on a chinquapin nut in 1845…

1852-may-11-milledgevill-southern-recorder_sharpes-store.bmp

Milledgeville Southern Recorder
May 11, 1852

Sharp’s Store, Lowndes Co, Ga.
May 2, 1852.

Gentlemen: – I wish to give you the particulars of a strange circumstance which has taken place in this neighborhood a few days since.- In the year 1845, a little boy the son of Mr. Ashley Lawson, got strangled in trying to swallow a chinquepin, and from that time he has been troubled with a cough similar to croupe every winter. This spring his parents thought he would die, (being worse off than ususal) but he coughed up the chinquepin. On examination it had a bony covering about one sixteenth of an inch thick on it. On removing the osseous substance, the chinquepin was found to be perfectly sound, the marks were on it where he had scraped it with his knife before trying to swallow it.
He is now in good health and is free from the cough, with which he has been troubled so long. In conclusion I would say, that there are many respectable persons who will vouch for the truth of the above statement. Respectfully yours,

Jas. R. Folsom.

Related Posts: