Urban Legends and Unsettling Lore of Tennessee

October 1st, 2020 by

Halloween is just around the corner, and it’s a time when many enjoy reading and talking spooky tales. Tennessee has no shortage of its own creepy stories. If you’re a fan of urban legends and unsettling lore, check out some of the wildest and creepiest tales in the history of Tennessee.

Bell Witch Cave

One of the most well-known horror stories in the state of Tennessee is the Bell Witch Legend, which impacted John Bell, an American politician, and attorney who served in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Bell and his family were haunted by a poltergeist or a spirit intent on doing them harm. During the summer of 1817, the family started to hear chains dragging in the rooms and choking and gurgling sounds. They also began to see strange animals on their property.

The spirit is known in the legend as the Bell Witch, and the associated cave is in Robertson County. Some believe that when the witch left their family, she sought retreat in this cave. Betsy Bell, one of John’s daughters, had gone to explore the cave on their property with some of her friends, and one of the boys with her got stuck in a hole. Legend has it that the Bell Witch pulled the boy out of the hole after exclaiming, “I’ll get him out.” Tours of the cave are given during the summer months and throughout October.

Haunted Pine Haven School

In Jamestown, you’ll find Pine Haven School, an abandoned building with an eerie history. A young boy was alone in the bathroom before going to class when he was accosted by the school bully. The bully pushed the boy into the mirror above the sink, which caused the boy’s head to hit the sink, crack open, and break the mirror.

The bully was afraid of getting into trouble, so he pulled up the floorboards and shoved the boy’s body under the boards. Legend has it that the boy’s ghost now roams the halls, and those who look into the mirror of that bathroom will see his spirit standing behind them.

Headless Train Conductor

You may have heard stories about a headless train conductor who drives a train without being able to see, but this legend could have originated in Chapel Hill, Tennessee. In this city, ghostly lights run along the railroad tracks, and a headless conductor wanders them in search of a train that doesn’t come. Some in the area claim to have spotted the ghostly conductor as he attempts to signal trains that never use the tracks.

Chickamauga Battlefield

Old Canon at Chickamauga Battlefield in Tennessee
    Image via Flickr by Gary Lee Todd, Ph.D.

The people who lost their lives on Chickamauga Battlefield include members of the state’s Confederate Army and the Army of the Cumberland. The Battle of Chickamauga occurred in mid-September of 1863 and was the second-bloodiest battle in the Civil War after the Battle of Gettysburg. More than 34,000 casualties occurred as the result of this battle, but one is believed to still haunt the area more than a century later.
This particular soldier is known as “Old Green Eyes.” Locals believe that only his head was found in the rubble. As a result, his eyes are believed to follow visitors when they walk through the fields of the battlefield after dark. If you visit this spot for a spooky experience, those glowing green eyes may follow you around, as well.

White Bluff Screamer

In White Bluff, a small town located 30 miles west of Nashville, locals talk about the White Screamer. Some of the longtime residents claim they have seen the massive white creature, while others believe the legends and simply keep their animals indoors and their deadbolts locked out of caution.

The story states that an older couple had a disfigured child, who they kept hidden in the basement of their cabin in the woods. When the child grew up, it escaped by killing its parents and ran into the woods. This white figure is believed to scream with abandon on chilly nights and take the lives of livestock and pets.

Ghost Bride of Rotherwood Mansion

The Rotherwood Mansion in Kingsport was constructed and owned by the founder of the town, Frederick Ross. His daughter, Rowena, had a tragic life, dealing with the death of her fiancé on the day of their wedding and the death of her second husband, who succumbed to yellow fever.

She married a third time and had a daughter, who later passed away. Rowena was overcome by her grief and eventually took her own life, and she is believed to haunt the mansion. The ghost is also believed to be dressed in white, which has earned it the nickname of the ghost bride.

Old Trinity Church

The Old Trinity Church in Mason, Tennessee, is an Episcopal church that dates back to 1847. It is located on the property of what was previously Saint Andrew’s Church, which burned in 1845. Over the years, the church fell into disrepair, and members of a nearby cult vandalized the building, breaking the gravestones and vandalizing the structure. One of the graves held the body of a woman who died in 1912, and it is believed that the statue over her grave bleeds from the eyes and neck.

The bleeding statue isn’t the only spooky element of the old church. Legend has it that both the church and graveyard are haunted, with people reporting that they have heard strange noises and have seen lights come on and off, even though the building is no longer used. Many believe that those laid to rest in the cemetery are distressed over the vandalism that occurred, and their spirits remain to express their displeasure. If you wander this cemetery long enough, you just might catch a glimpse of one.

At Stan McNabb Chevrolet of Columbia, we love to hear spooky stories from the area, and we always enjoy the chance to uncover the mysteries of our state. Did we miss one of your favorite Tennessean urban legends? Contact us to let us know about another creepy tale!

Posted in Local, Places