Spooktacular Tales of Murray
Murray, Kentucky, might be the Friendliest Small Town in America, but that does not put us in the clear of haunting tales. In honor of Halloween, we are providing you local folklore about our sweet, small town. Each of these stories shared from locals, are their personal adaptation and not necessarily fact.
The Vampire Clan
(Photo from www.explorekentuckylake.com)
If you have been in Murray for a couple years, you have more than likely heard the stories of the Vampire Clan. The scariest part about the Vampire Clan is that it is not just a story, it is cold, hard truth. Local teens started meeting at the Vampire Hotel, also known as Hotel California, which is an abandoned building located in the woods of Land Between the Lakes. Although no crimes have been proven to have occurred at the Vampire Hotel, it is likely where the clan put together their plan to commit the murder of one member's family's. Around Thanksgiving 1996, the leader of the clan and an accomplice began their trek down to Florida to free one of their members from her home, which she referred to as a "living hell". Their efforts to save the clan member from her home resulted in the murder of her family with a crowbar. After fleeing the scene of the crime, they were found in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and everyone served time. The leader of the Vampire Clan is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to the crime.
You can still venture through the woods of LBL to the Vampire Hotel. If you find it, you will have to look over your shoulder to make sure no other vampires are lurking around.
Haunting Hackberry Tree
Contributed by Dartha McCallon
In Calloway County, west of Kirksey, there is a small cemetery made up of only two headstones called the Griffith Cemetery. The Griffith family, made up of Martitia and Jerry, lived in a two-story log house. The story goes that Martitia was carrying a featherbed down the stairs, fell and burned to death. Jerry, a cattle trader, was away buying cattle. Upon his return, he found the house and his wife to have burned to the ground. Their tombstones are located under a hackberry tree known as "The Haunted Tree". The tree received this name because people have claimed to see a fire come up from the ground around the tree. No one has been able to discover the cause of the mysterious fire after all these years. Former Calloway County High School teacher, Douglas Tucker, used to challenge his students to determine the cause of the fire around the tree. (Photo from Pinterest)
Maybe someone will read this story and be able to find the answers...and maybe they will find the answer is something that scares them.
The Christmas Ghost by Robert Valentine
Copyright 2009 by Robert Valentine
(Photo from iStock 58436046)
Stories of this kind are not uncommon during the so-called “dead” of winter. The time in late December and early January is a time of short days and dreadfully long, cold nights. In the old days, wolves, bears and mountain lions, driven to desperation by scarce game and the cold that saps strength, might enter human encampments or even break into unguarded cabins in search of food. Lonely trappers and pioneers might lose food to vermin, thieves or rot, and find themselves at the mercy of chance and on the doorstep of starvation. It is no wonder that it is called the “dead” of winter, or that so many tales of spirits and unexplained events abound when night outnumbers day and the sun’s light is pale.
Daniel sat across from the old trapper and turned the rabbit on the spit over the fire. David and Joshua, his brothers, were going home after the long journey down the Tennessee, to the Ohio, to the Mississippi and thence to Natchez. The work of an entire year had traveled with them on their rafts: timber, pigs, hides, molasses and four small kegs of whiskey. Even the rafts had been broken up and sold for lumber, and the three had started north to Kentucky.
Up the Natchez Trace they had come, falling in with this band of pilgrims, and then another, for the Trace was dangerous. Robbers, bands of renegade Chickasau, and even wild beasts roamed in the long spaces between rare towns. At last, they were too close to home, and the large groups destined for Nashville or Memphis, or any of the other larger settlements were gone. They might be only a few days from Wadesboro, but they were not there yet. They were thankful to have fallen in with the old trapper, bound for Paducah on the shores of the Ohio.
They were lucky, too, for the weeks-long trip had made them tired of their own conversation and the old man was full of stories and recollections. They had left home in September, after the last harvest, and they had been gone two full turnings of the moon. It may have been near Christmastide, for all they knew. As they waited for the plump rabbit to supplement the pecans and flat bread they carried with them, he started yet another recol- lection. Then, abruptly, he stopped.
“Is yonder the Obion River?” he asked. The boys estimated that it was.
“Then I have seen this place before. I judge that in one day’s journey, you will come to a big log house of two stories. If you camp there—for it’s a large place, and the family is of an open hand to young travelers—I will split the trail with you.”
When the boys asked the reason for his feeling, he told the story.
“It’s been these ten year or more since McKenzie and I scouted this land. We were coming up from the Duck, ‘bout this time of year, when we fell in at this place, or something like it, with a youngish lad, dressed like a sailor, with a light muslin shroud for a cloak. He wouldn’t take my bear robe, but said he was not in need. Mac and I, we were near freezing.”
“We passed a good night with stories and recollecting about women and good stout, and when we woke he told us that his father had a great grant of land north of the Obion. We trekked all day, and had a bit of snow, such that all was white and the trekking hard. Near nightfall, the young’un leaps up and says, “Here’s my father’s house! See the light?” And off he runs into the thickest wood ‘til we cannot see him nor hear his step, nor saw we light of any kind.”
“Well, we come on that place in a short time. It was true that there was a great fire in front of a goodly-sized house, and a fiddle playing and hot rum passed about, for it was the eve of Christmastide. McKenzie and I give hal- loo, and are given leave to come into the firelight, and welcomed right enough.” The old trapper’s face grew grim.
“After a time, we asked after the master of the house and found it was him what gave us drink and food. We asked after his son, and he gives us a queer look. We give a good accounting of the lad, from the color of his hair, which was the spit of his father’s, to a scar he showed over his right cheek. We told of our night together and the trek of the day, and the old man looked dark and bids us come away to the house.”
“‘My son,’ he tells us when we’re alone, ‘Went off to fight the British in Orleans. He was killed by a musket shot and given a sailor’s burial in the mouth of the river. Who you saw could not have been him, for he is dead this year, and a year to this very day.’
“It was then that Mac and I knew what we had seen. We spent the night in the great room of the place, tucked up near the fire, but neither of us slept. By dawn, we give our thanks to the overseer and took our leave, and never looked back until we come to Clark’s River.”
By then, the rabbit was cooked, and the boys passed a quiet meal, with furtive looks over the shoulder, but it was only themselves by the fire that night. Good to his word, the old trapper had bid them farewell long before they came to the big log house of two stories.
It was empty of any living soul, and long deserted. The roof had crumbled in upon it and the stones of a great chimney had begun to fall away. They thought about spending the night in the empty walls but, for some reason, decided to trek another short hour while the feeble sun lasted. They slept fitfully, always waking to move nearer to the low fire which seemed to give no warmth.
In four days, they were home. They arrived near Wadesboro near the Clark’s River on the day of Christmas, glad and welcome.