Okay, so I’m a day early on this. Sue me. However, tomorrow is a Top 5 Tuesday post, and I didn’t want to delay it OR publish two posts on the same day, so I’m just wishing y’all a happy Halloween a little bit early. (Although if we’re going by Australia or Japan, I guess it’s already Halloween there?)
Anyway, for this post, I’m going to be sharing a few ghost stories that have to do with my college, the University of Montevallo, and at the end I’m going to share a few pictures of my Halloween costume. Please enjoy!
The ghost that haunts Palmer Hall on Montevallo’s campus is affectionately known as Trummy. His true name is Dr. William Trumbauer, and he was originally the head of the English Department at Montevallo and then later the Theatre Department. His ghost is said to haunt Palmer Auditorium due to everlasting bitterness over the fact that it’s not named Trumbauer Auditorium. His name was left off the cornerstone for the building, and as such, he won’t rest until he gets credit where credit is due.
During College Night (Montevallo’s version of Homecoming), during the last dress rehearsal for the college night play, Trummy is said to pick the winner by swinging a wooden batten over the side who is going to win the year. He’s not a malevolent ghost in the slightest…
Reynolds Hall is an old, plantation-style-looking building on the edge of campus. It was named after Captain Henry Reynolds, a Confederate officer and the original president of the University of Montevallo. The original name of the building was “The Chapel,” and the name was changed to honor Reynolds after he became Montevallo’s first president.
During the Civil War, the building was converted into a makeshift field hospital for Confederate soldiers. Word came that the Union soldiers were going to be making for Tuscaloosa to burn down the University of Alabama. Reynolds made the decision to leave Montevallo and head to Tuscaloosa to help defend it. However, the Union forces split: half went to Tuscaloosa, and the other half headed to Brierfield near Montevallo, which had an iron works center that made several things for the war effort. The Union soldiers spent the night in King House, and found out that Reynolds was being used as a hospital. The soldiers split again: half went on to Brierfield, and the other half went and massacred every Confederate soldier in Reynolds before going on to Brierfield. When Reynolds returned, he took all the blame for leaving his post and swore he would never abandon it again. And he hasn’t.
While we were on the ghost tour, he knocked on the door of the building. He likes to knock on things, and he also enjoyed moving his official portrait around the hall, until it was removed to another building entirely. He’s been known to pinch women’s bottoms and tug on their hair, but overall he’s not a mean-spirited ghost. He’s there to protect Reynolds Hall from any more disasters.
Main Hall is the location of the most famous haunting in Montevallo. A girl named Condie Cunningham burned to death in February 1908 in this very hall. The story goes that she was making hot chocolate with her roommate on a chafing dish in her dorm room, when the curfew bell sounded. They accidentally tipped over the burner, igniting the starting alcohol and sending Condie’s nightgown up in flames. She fled screaming through the halls, but by the time faculty was able to put her out, her burns were fatal. She succumbed to the wounds within 48 hours, but her spirit returned to Main Hall.
The door to her room has been replaced several times, because the image of a burning girl has appeared on it. (This door is now on display in the Carmichael Library on campus during Halloween, and resides in the library archives the rest of the time.) Reports of screaming and footsteps at all hours are the main hauntings that occur. It is not clear which room was Condie’s, but there are several sealed rooms in Main that nobody is allowed to live in…
What’s worse is that we have no idea what Condie looked like. The picture of the sophomore class from 1908 has no names under the pictures of the girls… So she’s doomed to remain known as the Girl in Flames for all eternity…
Now, I’ve actually been in King House twice. It is an absolute beautiful building. It was known as “The Mansion” when Edmund King built it somewhere between 1817 (when he arrived in Montevallo) and 1827, when it was completed. It was the first house with glass windows and shutters in Alabama, and it sat on top of a large hill. (It’s hard to see that it’s on top of a hill now, because there are so many other buildings around it.)
It is said that King turned his family’s fortune into gold coins and buried them somewhere in his peach orchard during the Civil War, so the Union soldiers wouldn’t be able to take his money. He died in 1863, and the Union soldiers used his house as a headquarters in 1865. Now his ghost walks the campus at night, with a shovel and a lantern, looking for his lost gold. (As far as I know, no gold has ever been found…) Faces also appear in the King House windows after dark, and it’s well known that if you can smell kerosene, Edmund King is somewhere nearby…
I have also heard rumors of a malevolent spirit in King House, though I don’t know if this is based on any facts or not. The story I heard is that King’s wife was a terrible woman and either beat a servant to death or nearly to death and she’s now the demon that haunts the house. I know several people who refuse to walk on King Quad after dark because they don’t like the feeling in the air around the house…
King Family Cemetery
Yes, you read that right: we have a cemetery on campus. It’s the King Family Cemetery, and it’s the final resting place of the majority of the King family. The large white obelisk in the above photo is the headstone of Edmund King. His second wife is buried next to him, as is one of his sons. The son buried next to him supposedly shot another son in what is described as a “hunting accident,” but most likely it was no accident. (Rumor has it that they were both in love with the same girl…)
There are rumors of Edmund King walking back and forth in the cemetery with his lantern, making sure his family still sleeps peacefully in their graves. There are also reports of the two sons having a stand-off, with the sound of a shotgun and the sound of feet running away from the cemetery.
The cemetery is certainly unsettling. (After all, how many other college campuses can claim they have the bones of the founder right on site?) It is incredibly creepy, even in the daylight.
I haven’t personally encountered any of Montevallo’s ghosts. I smelled kerosene once, but I never saw any apparitions. I really am hoping to have some sort of supernatural experience before I leave the campus, because it’s just too good of a story to not have. I’ve spent six years on this campus with nary a paranormal experience to show for it.
Montevallo has its fair share of rumors and ghosties. The ghost tours themselves could use a little work (my roommate and I were basically coming up with scripts as we walked home from it!), but the spirit is there. Montevallo is just too rich in history to ignore. I’m hoping that next year for Halloween, I can do an entire series on these ghosts and go a little bit more in-depth on each one. This was just a whirlwind tour.
Now for the fun part! This year for Halloween, I decided to dress up as a flapper. I bought the dress off Amazon, as well as all of the other accessories. Those pearls are glass, not plastic, and the weight of them really adds to the experience! I found some long satin gloves, too, and the headband, while not feathered, sits very well on my head. I absolutely love the dress, too. It’s so sparkly, I feel like I could be a disco ball. I got so many compliments on it at a party I went to on Friday night. I was going to wear it to the Art Stalk on Saturday, but unfortunately it was just too cold (50º! What is this!). Last year, I burned up in a fleece shirt, long dark pants, knee-high boots, and a Chewbacca backpack (I was Han Solo). This year, even with a sweatshirt, jacket, fleece stockings, a cat beanie, and jeans, I was freezing. I did get a lot of compliments on the hat, though.
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I absolutely love finding the best costume I can, and I love pretending to not be me for a night. Or two nights. Or however many parties I get to wear it to. I’m going to have to figure out a way to repurpose that dress.
I got a haircut on Friday after work, and the stylist’s idea of shoulder-length and my idea of shoulder-length are apparently two different lengths. Fortunately, it all worked out for me. My hair does look better if I wash it, though, so I guess on bad hair days I’m just gonna have to wear a hat from now on. I also can’t put my hair in a ponytail any more, so I’m wondering how that’s going to work out for work.
What are you going to be for Halloween? Are you someone who plans in advance (literally I had this costume all put together by September 15th!) or are you someone who wakes up on October 31 and digs through your closet for ideas? Let me know in the comments! And let me know what you think of my costume. And maybe how else I can use this dress.
And as always, keep reading.