HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Huntsville is best known for space, Redstone Arsenal, and some great craft beer — but it’s also teeming with ghost stories.
The Rocket City has plenty of haunted history with several stories dating back to the city’s founding in 1805. However, none of the haunted spots across the city compare to those found in historic downtown and the famous Maple Hill Cemetery.
News 19 spoke with Jacquelyn Procter Reeves, a former president of Maple Hill Cemetery Stroll and the Huntsville-Madison County Historical Society, now serving as a guide on the Huntsville Ghost Walk. She provided insight on some of the city’s most famous ghost stories — and even debunked a major one.
The first story Reeves told on the Huntsville Ghost Walk is personal.
This is one that happened to me years ago, a man walking through the cemetery [told me] he saw ghosts.
He said he passed by the grave of a Confederate colonel every day, and the colonel is standing next to his headstone. He says ‘Good morning, colonel’ and the colonel bows his head.
I asked, ‘What does he say?’
He replied, ‘[The colonel] doesn’t say anything.’
I asked, ‘What does he want?
[The man replied], ‘He wants to be acknowledged.’
I said, ‘Well, what does this mean?’ and he said, ‘I don’t know but I’ll take you to his grave,’ and it was the grave of my great-great grandfather.Jacquelyn Procter Reeves, Huntsville Ghost Walk guide and author of “When Spirits Walk” and “Wicked North Alabama”
Another one of Huntsville’s haunting tales centers on a playground inside Maple Hill Cemetery, commonly known as the “Dead Children’s Playground.” Reeves says the name itself is misleading.
“One of the urban legends is that there were children that were murdered by a serial killer, and they’re buried at the Dead Children’s Playground,” Reeves said. “That’s not true.”
She told a different story about the area.
“I’ve had two people tell me, who didn’t even know each other and were there on separate nights, that they saw monks walking in single file in front of them,” she explained. “They didn’t look up, they didn’t say anything. They walked out of the wall on one side, and disappeared into the wall on the other side of the playground.”
Reeves said she recently discovered there was a Methodist seminary near the playground a long time ago.
“It would’ve been, not monks… they would’ve been the professors [at the seminary] because they wore the long cloaks,” she said. “And the hoods that they had over their heads, of course, would keep out the cold in the wintertime, but also keep the sun off the tops of their heads, so they wouldn’t get sunburned in the summer.”
That’s not the only story Reeves told about the cemetery.
She said one evening a young man told her he had seen a little girl in an elaborate dress who came up to him and told him, “I know who you are.”
“The next morning when he was telling his parents about this, his mother burst into tears, went into the next room, and brought out a photo album that showed a little girl wearing the same dress,” Reeves explained. “It turned out he had a sister who died before he was born.”
The ghost walk takes you through Huntsville’s downtown area, and through historic districts like Twickenham and Old Town. The tour stops in places like the mansion of LeRoy Pope, the Backwards House,
Reeves said one of her favorite ghost stories comes from Helion Lodge #1.
“Our medium said it’s surrounded by death,” Reeves said of the lodge. “There’s a rock wall around the front yard, and when the men were building that rock wall, they were pulling up headstones from Maple Hill Cemetery.”
Reeves said those headstones are now part of the rock wall, agreeing it is “surrounded by death.”
She said some of the lodge’s members have shared ghost stories as well, reporting there were footsteps seen on a carpeted floor, but no one was standing in that spot. They also claim to have seen the spirits of former members walking around the building.
Reeves shared another personal story she experienced while giving a tour one evening.
“A few on the ghost walk saw a ghost walk through the front door, lean on the column in the front of the building, and listen to me talk for a while,” she recalled. “One woman saw him [tip] his hat at her, then he turned around and walked back through the door.”
The Huntsville Ghost Walk is held annually in September and October. Tours begin at Harrison Brothers Hardware Store in Huntsville’s downtown square. Learn more about the Huntsville Ghost Walk here.