Last Friday, Oct. 21, several members of The Flor-Ala editorial staff, three photographers and two staff writers spent the night in allegedly haunted places on UNA's campus: Rogers Hall, Norton Auditorium, Wesleyan Hall and Coby Hall. These are their stories.
Andy Thigpen - Life Editor
The night began unremarkably. The sky was brown and cloudy. The music from Valhalla could be distantly heard. The drop in temperature made our breath visible as Malisa McClure, Ann Harkey and I walked to Rogers Hall to check on Josh Skaggs and Shelby Boman who were posted up for the night. We were on our way to Coby Hall and had just left Alex Lindley, Kayla Sloan and Tommy Bolton in Wesleyan to see what they could see.
When we arrived at Rogers, it became obvious that Josh and Shelby were bored. The only noises they had heard they determined to be the ice machine downstairs. Luckily, we had a Ouija board to try to liven things up and have some healthy paranormal conversation. Devin Kennamer joined us; we lit a candle and began to speak.
After a lot of questions and laughter, we decided that Rogers might not be the most haunted place on campus. We took Josh with us and proceeded to Coby Hall to drop off my supplies and look around. While there, Ann and I played a few pranks on Josh and Devin, who let out a good squeal.
Before getting settled, we all went to check on Jordan Bradley and Darrick Dawkins, who were staying in Norton Auditorium.
Talkin' With George
Jordan Bradley - Online Editor
Norton is supposedly one of the most haunted buildings in Florence, and the story of George, an unfortunate construction worker who fell from a high beam and died during Norton's construction, has appeared in several books about Southern hauntings.
We got to Norton around 11 p.m. and tried out several cameras and recording devices in the auditorium. We got nothing but gusts of wind and creaking from the catwalks.
Legend goes that if you stand on Norton's stage by yourself with all the lights out and yell "Hello!" George will respond to you in some way, so I had to try that out. With a night vision camera on, I screamed "Hello," "George," and a few other words, and then asked for any kind of sign that someone was there. Darrick came back in and reviewed the camera footage. A minute into the footage, Darrick got a call. His original model PS3 had died.
Around 2 a.m., Andy, Malisa, Ann, Josh and Devin came over to see our setup and try out the Ouija board.
We took the board off-stage to Norton's creepier and darker rooms. Everyone but Darrick circled around the board and put their hands on the pointer. As soon as everyone was touching it, and without asking it a question, it started to move, first to G, then E, then O, R, G and finally to E again.
We immediately started to ask it questions, but after a few mixed responses and garbled answers, Andy asked if George wanted to talk to us, and the board answered "No," and then "Goodbye."
With that burst of activity, we moved the board back to Norton's stage, and tried again. This time, when the board started spelling random words, Josh asked if George was messing with us. The pointer immediately flew to "Yes." We asked a couple more questions about George's identity.
After a moment of inactivity, we asked if George was really there. The answer "No" came back. We asked where he was, and the board spelled "W-E-S-L." When we asked if he was in Wesleyan Hall, George said "Yes." Andy asked why George was in Wesleyan and the pointer moved to "Goodbye." We took that as a sign, packed up and moved to Wesleyan.
Alex Lindley - Copy/Opinions Editor
I didn't expect to see anything during my night in Wesleyan Hall, but I did. I can't explain any of it, and I think it's better that way.
We arrived at Wesleyan around 9 p.m. Everything for the first three hours was uneventful, except for running into a guy who was there late using the WiFi and finding out that we couldn't lock the front doors.
We camped out on the third floor with all the lights off. Around 12:30 a.m., we heard a noise in the stairwell. After a fruitless investigation, we decided to make a trip to the bathroom on the second floor. As we descended the first flight of stairs, we heard the stairwell door (which had a doorstop under it) close abruptly.
The bathroom would have to wait. Tommy and I began checking the classrooms to see if anyone was upstairs. We found no one. I called Andy to tell him what happened. He said that the group was at Norton about to set up the Ouija board. We said we'd keep each other posted and hung up.
While Tommy and I were checking the classrooms, Kayla went into a classroom by herself. Moments later, she ran out terrified after we heard the classic Windows startup sound. The computer had turned on by itself.
Things had just gotten real. After a short break downstairs to gather our wits, we decided to check the classroom again. As I walked towards the opened classroom door to check if anyone was behind it, the door closed towards me suddenly with a loud "whoosh."
After a brief heart attack and some colorful expletives from the group, I decided to check the door, which I had pushed back open when it hit me, again. Again, it whooshed and shut towards me.
No one was behind the door.
Andy called back a few minutes later and asked if anything had just happened. I told him about our occurrence, and he told me about theirs. At the same time that the door shut on me, George was telling them that he was in Wesleyan with us.
Once the group joined us and got the Ouija board set up in the haunted classroom, we began a conversation with George. He was fairly talkative. He said the reason he was in Wesleyan Hall was because he had been woken up. Who woke him up? "A-N-N ... No, A-L-E-X," he said.
Just great, I thought. I was relieved when he said he liked me, though.
During the conversation, in which we asked George if he had turned on the computer and he said yes, the computer turned on and off twice in a matter of 30 seconds.
Through the Ouija board, George identified himself as a Christian and a dead human. He also said he would follow us when we left, but only to Coby Hall. He also specifically said that he would follow Kayla, but, when asked if he was joking, said "Yes."
As everyone was packing up to head to Coby, Devin walked past the open classroom door.
It shut towards him in front of everyone.
Dusk ‘Till Dawn
Andy Thigpen - Life Editor
We left Wesleyan in a hurry. It was 3:45 a.m., and we hadn't even spent any time in Coby Hall. We all decided that we would take the Ouija up to the attic, see what happened and then go home.
Some of the employees there had told me that they always hear sleigh bells fromup there around Christmas time, and that a student had once run out screaming after seeing a Civil War soldier standing close by, watching him.
Surely someone would be home to talk.
The attic was cold and slightly terrifying. Christmas decorations were in the corner, pipes ran around the floor, and hundreds of red nails poked through the roof from the shingles outside. In the center of the room there was a big ventilation fan that, according to Ann Harkey, looked like the type of thing that one of us would be thrown into if the night had been a horror movie.
We set up shop and asked, “Who is here tonight?” Slowly, with our hands on the piece, the letters “M-A-R-G” were spelled. I asked if her name was “Margaret” and she said, “Yes.”
Margaret was a previous owner of the house who died in 1851. Nothing else she said made sense.
We asked if she was the woman in the black dress, she said “No,” even though Margaret is the woman in the black dress pictured in the foyer of Colby. She did say she was from Florence, but that she didn’t live in Coby Hall. She said she died when she was 81, even though the “other Margaret” died when she was 57.
Then the air began to get tense.
We asked if she was friendly, to which she promptly said, “No.” When asked if she wanted to talk, she said “Yes.” She also said that she didn’t want us to leave.
Darrick, who didn’t want to touch the pointer, turned to me and said, “Ask her if she wants to hurt us.”
The spirit, hearing his statement, moved the pointer over “Yes.”
We asked “Would you hurt us if you could?” and the pointer never moved away from “Yes.”
The air was cold but thick. One more question.
I asked if she was involved in the Civil War, and the pointer immediately moved to “Goodbye.”
That was enough for us, so we scrambled out and decided to go to the place where all stories go to rest: Waffle House.
At some point during my gluttonous treatment of my All-Star Breakfast, the waitress told us we didn’t have to worry about our tickets and pointed to a man in the booth next to us.
At 5 a.m. on Saturday morning, a man bought all of us breakfast after we spent all night ghost hunting and participating in paranormal activities. The night could not have ended better.