Ghosts and Graves
As it is nearing Hallowe'en, I'd like to tell a true ghost story.
When I was a girl many people were superstitious. They believed in ghosts and warnings. Many ghost stories were told--some true, some imagination. This true story was related by my grandmother.
She and grandfather were coming from Tennessee to find a new home in these Ozark hills. They came in a covered wagon, pulled by a team of oxen. They would camp along the way.
One evening it was raining and turning cold. They stopped at a cabin and asked about staying for the night. They were told that the family could not keep them, but there was a cabin about half a mile away that was empty. It was haunted and no one would live in it. It had a stairway to the loft, opening outside, and according to the story someone would walk down those steps at night. A woman had been killed in the cabin years before.
Grandfather, not being superstitious, decided he would stop for the night. He built a fire in the huge fireplace. The family ate the evening meal and retired on pallets on the floor.
Along in the night, Grandfather was awakened by sounds from the loft as if someone was coming down the steps. He arose and got his lantern and went to investigate, going very carefully. And what did he see? A huge rat dragging an ear of corn down the steps!
He went on up into the loft and found several bushels of corn stored there. Rats scampered everywhere. So the mystery of the ghost was solved.
Grandfather decided to buy the spot of ground and build a new house, and he lived there happily for a number of years.
I enjoyed the ghost stories and they were more interesting if it was proved there was nothing to them after all.
There is something which is interesting to me in visiting old burying grounds. In the long ago this country was sparsely settled and, as it took too long to get to an established cemetery, people had small family burying places nearby. My sister and I visited such a one not long ago. It was in the woods, 7 or 8 graves. Some had tombstones erected by relatives at a later date. Some of the tombstones were dated 1871.
Another spot we visited a few days ago had just a few graves, one of a young bride. On the stone was the date she was married and died, but no birthdate. Two old former Negro slaves were buried there. Nearby is the old house, built 75 years ago. It is colonial style with large columns on the porch and has been remodeled recently.
We came across a lone grave not far from our home and nobody knows anything about it. There was just a rock at the head and [one at the] foot of the grave. We paused and wondered about the circumstances that caused that lone grave.
We've often wondered what the Indians did with their dead. At one time there were Indians here, as there are several springs here and one can find arrows and chips of arrows. Rocks have been found which Indians used to grind their corn.
This little quotation appealed to us--"Memory is a God-given gift. We live in the present, dream of the future. But great truths are learned from the past."