Rodney: A Mississippi Ghost Town

By Natasha Mills

Mississippi is filled with thriving towns, each with its own colorful and interesting history. We often look at places we know when searching for information about the state we call home. Equally interesting and often overlooked are abandoned places. Places where circumstances changed and lives were interrupted. Sometimes these places disappear completely and are forgotten to history. Sometimes a bit remains and the story continues. Rodney is one of those places.

 Located in Jefferson County, just northeast of Natchez Mississippi, lie Rodney’s broken remnants. Long before it became a town, it was a popular place for Native Americans crossing the Mississippi River. It was also a crossing spot for travelers along El Camino Real (Spanish “Royal Road”). The area was originally controlled by Great Britain during the French and Indian War, but settled by the French in the 1760’s. They called it Petit Gulf, which means “Little Chasm”.

 When Mississippi was admitted as a state in 1817, it almost became the state’s first capital, missing out by only 3 votes. The town was noted for its high level of culture, literacy, and business activity. The town had 2 banks and 2 newspapers, as well as 35 stores. It also had a riverboat landing and riverboat taverns. All in all, Rodney was a booming and prominent river town. Even General Zachary Taylor was taken by the town. He bought a nearby cotton plantation, called Buena Vista. After returning as a hero from the Mexican-American War, he retired there, but left again when he became the 12th President of the United States. He never returned to the plantation, dying while in office. The plantation was later sold and was destroyed in the Great Flood of 1927.

In 1843, Rodney suffered a severe yellow fever epidemic. The fever was so devastating that it was reported in national newspapers. All of the town’s physicians were affected by the illness, with at least one of the physicians dying.  One newspaper reported that even the town’s Apothecary was closed. The village was depopulated and all businesses closed. Four years later, Rodney was again plagued by yellow fever, but this time it was far less destructive or lengthy.

By the 1850s Rodney was the busiest port on the Mississippi River between New Orleans, Louisiana, and St. Louis, Missouri. By then, the town had grown to 1000 residents and even had a large hotel complete with a ballroom. By 1860, the population reached 4000 residents. There were banks, wagon makers, tinsmiths, barbers, doctors, dentists, and pastry shops just to name a few.

During the Civil War, the Confederacy was cut in half and Union boats patrolled the Mississippi River to stop Confederate traffic. The Union Ship, USS Rattler was stationed in Rodney. The soldiers were told not to leave the ship. However, some soldiers were invited to hear a northern sympathizer, Reverend Baker, preach at the Rodney Presbyterian Church. They attended against orders and were unarmed except for Second Assistant Engineer A.M. Smith, who carried a hidden revolver. While attending the service, a Confederate Calvary commander, Lieutenant Allen, walked into the sanctuary. He announced that the church was surrounded by rebels and that the visiting Union soldiers were under arrest. The Assistant Engineer pulled out his hidden pistol and shot through the Rebel Lieutenant’s hat. The shot caused the congregation to dive beneath their church pews and all of the rebels outside fired through the church windows. The Lieutenant called for a ceasefire. He then took 17 Federal troops into custody.

The gunboat bombarded the town and the church when word arrived on the Union Ship. The church was only 300 yards from the river. Four homes were hit as well. A cannonball became embedded in the church front lawn and one also hit the church facade. The Confederate Lieutenant demanded a ceasefire or all captive Union soldiers would be hanged. The USS Rattler crew became the laughingstock of the nation. It was the first time in history that a small cavalry squad captured the crew of an ironclad gunboat. In the days after the incident, Rodney formed Company D. 22nd Mississippi Infantry to fight against the Union Army. Months later, the prisoners were exchanged for captured Rebel soldiers. The gunboat’s crew was reassigned. The USS Rattler was hit by a heavy gale near Grand Gulf, Mississippi that same year. She was driven to shore, hit a snag, and sank. The new crew survived, but the gunboat was a total loss to the Union and abandoned. Confederates burned her remains.

In 1869, Rodney was almost entirely consumed by fire, but an even greater event also occurred. A sandbar formed in the nearby Mississippi River. In 1870, that sand bar caused the river to change its course, taking it 2 miles away from the town. The town no longer had a port and many people chose to leave. Later, Rodney’s population declined even further when it was bypassed by the Natchez, Jackson & Columbus Railroad.

In 1923 the last full-time pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Rodney resigned. In 1966 the church was transferred to the United Daughters of the Confederacy. In 1973 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places and still stands in Rodney today. A replica cannonball was placed on the church façade where the original landed. 

The town is periodically plagued by floods. Most of the buildings and homes left in the town were virtually destroyed by floods in 2011. A few homes remain and have been maintained or restored, but no businesses remain. There is one small grocery store that continues to stand, but it is just an old shell.

Today there is only one serviceable road leading in and out of town. From Alcorn, Highway M-558 dead ends near the once thriving river port town. The final 3 miles of the road are dirt and gravel. The cemetery still remains and contains the bodies of local residents, river travelers, and folks from Saint Joseph, Louisiana across the river from Rodney.

Although only a few building shells remain, making Rodney a ghost of a town, you can still walk the streets and feel the history. You can imagine what it was like in its prime and see evidence of the Civil War in the church there. One can’t help but wonder, with all of the town’s disasters and bad luck, if there are ghosts lingering around from days gone by. Regardless, Rodney Mississippi should be on your list of must-visit locations. Get out and see some living history, take some pictures and if you visit, let us know what you find!


Images by Ashleigh Coleman


Bloody Bones

by Trista Herring Baughman

One night as we arrived home late from some event and began to settle in, I stood at the end of our long, dark hallway, hesitant to go to my room at the end. Daddy snuck up and whispered, “Nite nite. Don’t let bloody bones get you,” before he and mama headed to their room at the opposite end of the house. A shiver ran up my spine. I’d heard the stories many times; although I was pretty sure there was nothing lurking in the darkened rooms along the hallway, I didn’t really want to find out.

Chances are, if you’re from the South, you’ve heard some variation of Bloody Bones. Parents often use Bloody Bones as a way to get children to behave. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the story dates back to at least 1500s Britain. Bloody Bones is “a bogeyman or bugbear, esp. invoked to frighten children. Frequently used in conjunction with Rawhead.”

Of course, that led to a search for the definition of ‘bugbear’…

Bugbear, n.– an imaginary being invoked to frighten children, typically a sort of hobgoblin supposed to devour them.

Bloody Bone’s favorite hangouts are dark places such as underneath a stairway, in basements, in dark, wooded areas near ponds, and perhaps, underneath your bed.

There have been several books and movies loosely based on the legend. There are, as stated, several variations of the story, although the original story is believed to have been forgotten long ago. All that remains is an old nursery rhyme:

Rawhead and Bloody Bones

Steals Naughty Children from their Homes

Takes them to his dirty den

And they are never seen again

Bloody Bones has been described as a headless, bloody skeleton that carries away errant children. Or as a skeletal being, bloody and stripped of most of his skin and tissue, that rattles together as a skinless, bloody head (Rawhead) would take its place upon the neck. Watch out; it bites.

The original tale may be lost, but the legend will live on, passed from generation to generation in small towns in Mississippi and all across the South.

Original post July 21, 2022

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Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

I mentioned earlier this year that changes were coming, and a few will take effect beginning next month. The Mississippi Folklore post schedule will be bimonthly (twice a month rather than weekly) for the remainder of the year.

This will give us a bit more time to research and write. We are considering expanding the blog to include other Southern folklore (although our primary focus will still be Mississippi folklore). We’re looking to add more writers to our team.

We appreciate your patience as we learn and grow. We will continue to bring you entertaining folklore from our great state, so stay tuned!

If you have stories to share, please send them to Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

Y’all take care!


The Devil’s Crossroads: Clarksdale, MS

By Natasha Mills

I went to the crossroad, Fell down on my knees.

I went to the crossroad, Fell down on my knees.

Asked the Lord above, ‘Have mercy now,

 Save poor Bob, if you please.

– Cross Road Blues by: Robert Johnson

Mississippi, the Delta region in particular, is often called “The birthplace of the blues”. The term “Delta blues” is used to describe music characterized by the percussive use of the guitar. While various researchers speculate that the blues first emerged in Mississippi in the 1880’s or 1890’s, by the 1900’s, blues was gaining popularity across the South. 

 The exact location of the birthplace of the blues is lost to the sands of time. However, one of the primary centers for that type of music in Mississippi was a place called Dockery Farms. It was one of the most significant plantations in the Delta and it was essentially a self sufficient town, complete with a school, churches, telegraph office; as well as having its own currency. It was owned by William Dockery and housed hundreds of tenant families, most of whom were African Americans who had come to the area searching for work.

Since William treated his workers fairly, most of them stayed for long periods of time. One such family living in the area was that of Bill Patton Jr. He eventually purchased his own land and operated a country store nearby. His son Charley Patton began a career in music. He had been inspired by a local musician and in turn, Patton inspired many more. So much blues has been traced back to Patton and his contemporaries around Dockery that the area is regarded by some as “The wellspring of Delta Blues.”

 Mississippi was home to some of the greatest and most influential blues players of all time; Son House, Charley Patton, and Muddy Waters, just to name a few, but none have a story quite like Robert Johnson.

 In the late 1930’s a young musician, Robert Johnson, recorded 29 songs that would become some of the most influential blues music of all time. About a year after he recorded his songs, he died. He was 27 years old. We don’t know a lot about him. His life was not well documented, but what we do know, from those who knew him and heard him play, has painted a very strange tale.

 Before Johnson recorded the music that would go down in history as legendary, he performed in local juke joints, reportedly Dockery Farms. Some of the bluesmen that frequented these establishments, such as Son House, remember Johnson as a kid who could play the harmonica well at age fifteen. However, he was horrible at guitar. He would come into the joint and beg the musicians to let him play their guitars between sets. House remembers Johnson grabbing a guitar while the band was on a break. He would play it, making noise and annoying patrons.

The story says that no one could stop him from playing guitar and his father dogged him about it so much that he ran away. He took off one night down the road from Dockery Farms, according to legend, and disappeared for six months.

The next time Johnson walked into a juke joint and grabbed a guitar, Son was there to see it. Johnson walked up and asked Son if he could play. Son told him to do whatever he wanted, but not to annoy guests. He suggested that Johnson make use of his time on stage. Johnson played and it is said that he was so talented that all of his audience sat with their mouths open.

 People began to speculate that his leap from horrible noise maker to amazing guitarist was so drastic that it was leaning toward the supernatural. It was rumored that Johnson had spent his six months away learning to play guitar from a bluesman named Ike Zimmerman. They practiced at night, in a graveyard where no one would complain. Others say that he didn’t stop there. It is believed that when Johnson left Dockery Farms the night he ran away, he stopped at a nearby crossroads and made a pact with the devil.

 The traditional belief by locals about the devil and crossroads goes like this…If you want to learn to play an instrument, you go to a crossroads at midnight and you take the instrument you want to play. You get there early so that you are certain to be there at the stroke of midnight. If you take your instrument and play it while you stand there in the center of the crossroads, a big black man will walk over to you and take the instrument. He will tune it and then he will perform a piece of music on it. He will then hand the instrument back to you. Some believe that you also have to write your request and offer of your soul on a note. The note must be buried in the center of the crossroads for this to work.

 Either way, most people believed that something unnatural had happened to give Johnson such talent in such a short time. Even his own songs seemed to hint at something of that nature occurring. He recorded songs such as “Crossroad blues”, “Hellhound on my Trail,” and “Me and the Devil blues”, although his lyrics make no real mention of any unholy encounters.

 As Johnson and his music became better known, he was warned about the hazards of working in juke joints. All the women liked Johnson. He was told to be careful of women, because most that looked at him would already be spoken for and that could get him killed.

 One story of Johnson’s death states that Johnson had a lover, and his lover had a boyfriend. The boyfriend poisoned Johnson’s whiskey one night at the juke joint and Johnson was left feeling sick. He was taken to a friend’s home and died a few days later.

Some say that it wasn’t whiskey that killed him, but the devil that came to collect his soul. That version says that Johnson became feverish and seemed to think a hellhound was after him. He became ill and crawled across the floor while barking at the moon in pain. The official death certificate states that Johnson died from complications of syphilis.

There are conflicting reports as to his burial location. There are three different cemeteries with headstones that state he is buried there but none of them have ever been confirmed.                                    

 In Clarksdale, Ms., where the crossroads were said to have been, (Hwy 61 and 49) there is a large crossroad sign and a guitar to mark the spot, but that seems to be only a tourist attraction, meant to attract people to the area. It is said that the real crossroads are closer to Dockery Farms and the place where Johnson grew up. There is no marker. (Hwy 8 and 1). 

What really happened to Robert Johnson? Did he sell his soul to the devil in exchange for legendary talent, or did he simply practice with a professional? Did he die of poison, or syphilis, or did the devil come to take his payment? Which one of the cemeteries houses his body?

 We may never know for sure, but one thing we do know is that Johnson left his mark on not only Mississippi, but music history.

 If you have been to Devil’s Crossroads we would love to hear about it. Leave a comment or send your story via email to

Resources and Additional Information:

Vampires and Other Night Creatures

By Steven Cornelius

As a kid, I constantly read sensationalist magazines and trashy novels…especially anything I could find on vampires and werewolves. Visiting the town library, the summer I turned ten, I discovered the gory history of “Vlad the Impaler.” Vlad the Impaler, in full Vlad III Dracula or Romanian Vlad III Drăculea, also called Vlad III or Romanian Vlad Țepeș, (born 1431, Sighișoara, Transylvania [now in Romania]—died 1476, north of present-day Bucharest, Romania), voivode (military governor, or prince) of Walachia (1448; 1456–1462; 1476) whose cruel methods of punishing his enemies, by impaling his enemies on stakes in the ground and leaving them to die. This earned him the name Vlad the Impaler (Romanian: Vlad Țepeș). He inflicted this type of torture on foreign and domestic enemies alike: notably, as he retreated from a battle in 1462, he left a field filled with thousands of impaled victims as a deterrent to pursuing Ottoman forces.  gained notoriety in 15th-century Europe. Some in the scholarly community have suggested that Bram Stoker’s Dracula character was based on Vlad.

After bombarding my brain with such stuff for years, it was easy for me to believe that hordes of eastern European monsters were traveling to America to dine on a fresh young victim who tasted like pinto beans and cornbread. These beasts lurked in the shadows on dark nights, waiting for me to drop off to sleep. I lay for hours, petrified with fear, covers clutched around my neck, staring through a curtainless window into infinite darkness, listening as it was rattled by a strong north wind. Dropping off to sleep was no help because vampires chased me through gory nightmares until dawn. Vampires were especially frightening to me because they wield truly otherworldly powers, preying on victims at night when we mortals are at our weakest. Applying rational thinking to the irrational, how do you fight a creature capable of turning into a bat and giving chasing, or become a wisp of smoke and enter your bedroom through the tiniest opening? A shape-shifting night creature that can morph from human form into a bat or a puff of smoke and then reappear in the shape of a man or woman really got inside my head, and I’m not the only one.

More people than one would imagine suspend disbelief and embrace notions of the undead roaming the earth at night. Zombies, vampires, and werewolves creeping around under the light of a full moon feeding on us as we mill around like cattle with little to no defense against them. Why an otherwise rational nurse, policeman, or accountant willingly buys into such myth and legend requires much soul-searching and critical examination. It makes a rational person want to jump to their feet and shout, “just how much of this stuff are we prepared to believe?” In laying the groundwork that allows belief in such creatures, it is important to point out that all good myths and legends contain a kernel of truth, such as our friend Vlad, whom I referenced above, or at least the distant appearance of truth. I’ve certainly encountered co-workers early in the morning who looked undead, especially after a long night of drinking. However, the bottom line is…humans love a good scare. Horror movies consistently pack theaters…even when the plot and execution stink.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Ann Rice, renowned author of “Interview with the Vampire,” though I would have loved to have sat down with her for an hour or so. Maybe I could have screwed up enough nerve to ask her if she believed any part of the well-crafted fiction she created. I remember watching an interview with Ms. Rice just after her debut novel hit bookstores and became a runaway bestseller. She was very forthcoming in answering questions about how the idea for such a book came about. After a few minutes, the psychology behind her story wasn’t too difficult to puzzle out. Ms. Rice had recently endured the horror of losing her young daughter to leukemia. She began writing as therapy. Her daughter died from a disease of the blood, one of the characters in her first novel is a child vampire, created by the ageless vampire Lestat. In advanced stages of leukemia, the patient only looks truly alive after they’ve had a blood transfusion. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that one of the oncologists involved in her daughter’s treatment nicely fit the description of Lestat in her first book. Ms. Rice’s Vampire books created a huge number of fans, many came to book signings dressed as characters from those novels, and like any writer, she reveled in such devotion.

In searching the internet of things, I found oblique and vague accounts of those having seen or encountered a spirit, but no one has admitted to a firsthand encounter with a vampire, zombie, or werewolf. That supernatural aspect of the undead remains a mystery because apparently, no one survives such an encounter or will admit to having seen such a creature…if they indeed exist. I included one story below about vampires in Mississippi, though the proof is very sketchy. In the Vampire House story below, a body is found drained of blood. A hundred years later, a reporter accidentally captures a ghostly, transparent spirit on camera. These adventure seekers saw what they saw was captured on a digital camera for posterity, except it was ultimately lost to time. I have my own ghost stories, so I am the last person to cast doubt on what these young men experienced. Read the story and decide for yourself.

The Vampire House
Published 1 year ago on October 24, 2021, reprinted with permission
By JD Fogas

A white house with a red roof

Description automatically generated with low confidence

(Photo by Aaron J Hill from Pexels)

“When I was a younger man in my 20’s, my friends and I decided to play around with the paranormal. We heard a rumor that an old, desolate home that rested beside the roadway was haunted. Some called it the “Vampire House”.  The origin of the name was unclear, but the gist was that over 100 years ago, a reporter came to do an interview for a story. That reporter never returned to work.  They found his body, drained of blood, a few weeks later. I was the skeptic of the group. I didn’t believe in all the mumbo-jumbo but was more than happy to entertain the notion with my friends.  So, we decided to pay this place a visit for ourselves and see what was so spooky about it. We arrived to the home late one night. It was in autumn, though I cannot remember the exact month or day. I remember it being cold. The home was falling apart. Half the ceiling was in the living room and the floors were riddled with holes.

Being the bright bunch of individuals we were, we decided to enter the home and explore. Two of my friends started freaking out, saying they saw something, and decided to run to the car. Me and another friend decided to stay a bit longer and prove that we were not going to be scared so easily.

Now, I did not see anything myself, nor did my friend.  We decided to go back to the car and take the others home.  When we got to the car, the two friends that got scared started pointing at the house. “TAKE A PICTURE! TAKE A PICTURE!”  I did not see anything worth taking a photo of, but I was getting bored with the experience and humored them and took a photo with my cell phone. We got back to town, and I dropped everyone off and didn’t give it a second

The next day, one of the friends who wanted the photo asked me if I could send it to them. I told them it was no problem and began to pull up the photo. That’s when my heart felt like it stopped. I remember taking the photo. There was nothing to be seen with the eye except an old, abandoned, falling-apart home. However, the photo told a different story.  The photo captured, clear as day, an old woman standing on the porch. She was dressed in an old-time dress with ruffled shoulder sleeves and a long dress. The dress stopped at where her ankles would have been, and it appeared she was floating.  Her hands were clasped together as if she was praying. Her hair was arranged in a bun, and she appeared to be older, maybe in her 60’s or 70’s. There was also transparency to her. The home could be seen through her, yet she was opaque enough to be perfectly made out in the photo.  I freaked.

My skeptic thought at first “double exposure,” but this was not a film camera. This was digital, there would be no way to double expose it. I was at a loss for an explanation. I kept the photo for years, unable to explain it and showed it around to friends, who equally had no explanation to offer. Eventually the photo was lost. I made an attempt a few years later to go back to the residence to see if I could reproduce the photo but to no avail. The home had since been torn down the rest of the way and all that existed in that location anymore was woods.”

It is a shame that photo was lost to time. In the end, people will believe what they want to believe, and folks will forever remain spooked by swirling fog, glistening in the moonlight and cold shadows cast by tall, weathered tombstones in centuries-old graveyards.

I refuse to dismiss any claim of supernatural encounters, but I also reserve the right to be a skeptic. For a number of years, Duke University offered undergraduate and graduate degrees in Parapsychology and maintained an Extra Sensory Perception (ESP) lab on campus, conducting wide-ranging research, some of which was funded by the CIA. After three decades, Duke shut down the program. One day, maybe I can gain access to their archives and see what evidence professors and students gathered over those thirty interesting years.


  1. Pallardy, Richard. “Vlad the Impaler”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1 Jan. 2023, Accessed 12 March 2023.
  2. Vicksburg Daily News, October 24, 2021, Staff Reports (

Bigfoot in Mississippi

by Linda Mann, March 21, 2023

It was a perfect fall night for camping under the sky – clear, cool and dry. My friend and I settled in our sleeping bags on a slight incline with our feet against a log. We camped in hilly woods below Raleigh, in Smith County, Mississippi, on private property far away from towns. The woods were beautiful that day. We rode our horses all afternoon to make camp in time for supper cooked over a fire. Darkness came early under tall trees, and two tired campers welcomed it.

A large pack of coyotes tore through the hollow below us and ripped the quiet forest with their yipping and yapping. I still heard them as they ran farther away. Soon, all was quiet again, and I slid deeper into my sleeping bag for the night.

Forest sounds – water droplets, an insect’s buzz, an armadillo or racoon scratching around the little creek below us. The horses were quiet, but they shifted occasionally. A bird flew off a branch near us. Soon, these little noises began to lull me to sleep, but when they stopped all at once, my senses quickened to wide awake. Something was coming.

I heard someone approaching from a distance – a big man walking heavily and taking very long strides. In only a few steps he walked right up to me in the dark (our little fire was out!) He stopped next to my head. I heard steady, robust breathing.

I count only about three times in my life when I was so frightened that I could not move. This was one of them. I was too afraid to turn my head, too scared to move or even breathe lest I attract attention. My mind raced ahead to tomorrow’s headlines: COUPLE FOUND MURDERED IN THE WOODS BY MYSTERIOUS GIANT!

As I held my breath and awaited my fate, the intruder suddenly strode off at an abrupt right angle and was gone in a few steps. I felt deep in my gut that the giant decided to leave us alone instead of smashing us. When he was gone, I woke my friend up. He’d slept through the whole thing. He was sure I’d heard a deer. Giant, two-legged deer indigenous to Smith County? What the heck? 

“I heard a huge, loud, two-legged animal walk right up to me in the dry leaves!” I told him. 

“This is private property, and there’s no one else around,” he said. 

“Well, there’s a big guy in these woods somewhere!” I insisted.

Since then, I’m much more interested in the possibility of an unidentified, highly intelligent primate living in remote areas. Yeti, Sasquatch, Skunk Ape, Bigfoot. I’ve noticed that in hundreds of sightings around the world, the creature stalks, frightens, chases, screams, howls, smells terrible, builds shelters, leaves gifts, knocks wood and throws rocks. Mostly, it hides and runs away. I don’t know of any attacks on humans. Oh, there are ancient stories about Bigfoots carrying off children – very effective in keeping the kids close to home and out of the woods. Bigfoot may be the original Bogeyman!

Bigfoots may be mostly nocturnal. They are carnivorous. They are communicative with their kith and kin. They are intelligent. Most people think that Bigfoot sightings in North America occur mainly in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and Appalachia. I now find in my research that Smith County, Mississippi, is a hotspot of Bigfoot activity; furthermore, coyotes and Bigfoots may hunt together in symbiotic relationships! Our campsite was a pretty good location for finding Bigfoot. What?

That’s not all – I am gobsmacked to discover that people see Bigfoot in Mississippi all the time! Who knew?


Many believe that according to the historical record, the very first documented case of a Bigfoot sighting in North America took place near Natchez, Mississippi, in 1721.

French explorer and priest Pierre François-Xavier de Charlevoix made a journal entry on December 25, 1721, that described his first night staying with the Natchez Indians. He wrote that there had been “a great alarm about nine o’clock in the evening.”

The Natchez told him that it was caused by “a beast of an unknown species, of an extraordinary bulk, and whose cry did not in the least resemble that of any known animal.”

The beast carried off some sheep and calves. The priest tried to convince the people that it was a wolf, but they were sure it was not a wolf, but a “monstrous beast.”

The Chatawa Monster (see the Mississippi Folklore’s The Chatawa Monster for more details)

The Chatawa Monster is a famous tale about a circus train that derailed in the Tangipahoa swamp near Chatawa freeing a ferocious half-man, half-ape hybrid who roams the area to this day. There are nearly as many stories of derailed circus trains freeing beasts to terrorize swampy communities as there are swampy communities with train tracks. Could these simply be legends to rationalize the presence of real Bigfoots?

On SuperTalk Mississippi, Don McDonald, of the Gulf Coast Bigfoot Research Organization (GCBRO), related an experience he had at twelve years of age with found evidence of a beast in the woods. He came across a dead, 200-pound hog with its hind legs broken. Next to it was a tree with one of the hog’s ribs embedded in it. The hog had been slammed into the tree by its legs so hard that its rib broke away! Years later in 2012, he saw a Bigfoot, “not a bear,” that was 7 -71/2 feet tall.

In 2014, Peyton Lassiter found a large animal footprint in an abandoned Vicksburg playground and made a plaster cast of it. He invited David Childers, co-founder of the Delta Paranormal Project, also from Vicksburg, to see it. Coincidentally, Childers previously saw a grayish-brown creature with a shaggy coat run through the woods near the place where Lassiter found the footprint. The footprint cast trapped grayish-white hairs from the animal and showed ridges, unlike bear prints, which have no white hairs or ridges as primates do.

In June of 2016, at the tenth annual Down South Bigfoot Rally in Hattiesburg, the host Don McDonald of GCBRO spoke of his twenty years tracking Bigfoot while simultaneously being called crazy. “It has become a nuisance animal.” McDonald said about Bigfoots in the area. It kills pets and farm animals – even cows. It beats on people’s houses and frightens them!

In 2021, local organizers Brandon “Gator Man” McCranie and Jimmy “JimBob” Allgood threw a Bigfoot Birthday Bash in Natchez to commemorate the 300th birthday of that first recorded event in 1721. The weekend festivities included Bigfoot movies, bands, a casino event, a Barbeque Cookoff, 5K run, kids’ activities, and a lecture series featuring three well-known Bigfoot experts M.K. Davis, Dr. Jeff Meldrum, and Todd Standing. Other states throw annual Bigfoot Bashes to celebrate the great tourism attraction the big guy creates and for a perfect excuse for a party! 

Meanwhile, native Americans, including the Choctaws of Mississippi, hold close their stories of big black monsters in the woods that have been passed along since the people emerged from the mother mound.

In January 2021, Finding Bigfoot on Animal Planet traveled to Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, for a town meeting where about 40 people from southeastern Mississippi reported experiences with the big critter. They were thrilled at a local recording of a “big male howl.” The familiar howl occurs at about the same time each year in the same area, so it may be linked to mating behavior. 

An attendee reported a tall, dark, upright, hairy animal that walked from behind her barn and easily stepped over her fence without breaking stride before disappearing into the woods. Earlier, more coyotes than usual were noisily active in the area. 

Another attendee described finding a pile of 26 deer legs in the woods! Someone else witnessed an animal jump down from a tree a few feet in front of him. It had a human-like face, dark, baby-fine hair all over its body, and it was about five feet tall. 

Several others described face-to-face encounters with huge hairy primates ranging in height from five to seven feet. One animal was a female found shaking an empty trailer. As she walked away, she turned and screamed. The witness said he’d heard that sound a lot and believes there are many such creatures in the area – perhaps families of them.


Some believe that Bigfoot could be a relict population of one of several extinct apes including Gigantopithecus blacki, Paranthropus robustus, Neanderthal, Homo erectus, or Homo heidelbergensis. No trace evidence of any of these species exists in North America, however. A few black bears (200-250) live here, but no other bears, such as grizzlies, do. Most experts say that Bigfoot sightings are cases of mistaken identity. Bears walk upright and exhibit some of the same behaviors as Bigfoot, but they don’t run bipedally, swinging their arms, as humans do.And black bears have big ears.

The greater scientific community maintains there are simply not enough resources in nature to sustain a breeding population of large North American primates. Meanwhile, Bigfoot sightings continue.

In a National Public Radio interview, Jane Goodall, world-famous primatologist, joked, “Well, now you will be amazed when I tell you that I’m sure that they exist,” adding, “Well, I’m a romantic, so I always wanted them to exist.”

Later, in a Huffington Post interview, she said, “Of course, it’s strange that there has never been a single authentic hide or hair of Bigfoot, but I’ve read all the accounts.”

How do we explain a creature that cannot exist, yet appears frequently to people around the world? How does Science convince us that this ancient story is mythology while rational citizens encounter the “myth” face-to-face somewhere every day?

One thing is certain. Until physical evidence of Bigfoot appears, Bigfoot remains the stuff of folklore. I could have reached out and touched the “folklore” that scared me nearly to death that night in the woods in Smith County. It remains a great mystery in my life today.





VICKSBURG FOOTPRINT: Is this Bigfoot’s footprint? Men discover evidence of mysterious six-foot-tall creature in Mississippi woods | Daily Mail Online

GCBRO RALLY: Bigfoot hunters gather in Hattiesburg (


BEARS: Information about Black Bears in Mississippi (

Kowi Anukasha and Bohpoli: Mississippi’s “Little People”

By Natasha Mills

A Choctaw Nation Story

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, we can’t help but be drawn to the Irish tradition of tiny people referred to as leprechauns, but did you know that Mississippi has its own “little people”?

Mississippi is rich in native legends, and one such tale is that of the Kowi Anukasha ( ko-wih ah-nuh-kah-shah) or “forest dwellers”, as passed down by the Choctaw nation. These supernatural beings dwelled in the forests of Mississippi and made their homes under large rocks or inside small caves.

The tale is told that these pygmies were about two to three feet tall and could be very dangerous. However, they are also known to bestow certain powers on those who treat them respectfully. Their main purpose seems to be to guide and help the Choctaw people.

The legend that is passed down revolves around the nation’s youth. It is believed that when a young boy is between the ages of 2 and 4 he may wander into the woods. Maybe he hears a sound or maybe he is chasing a small animal. As he is led deeper into the shade of the forest, the boy would encounter the KowiAnukasha also known as Kwanokasha. The forest spirit beckons the boy to follow him to his home. This sometimes led the child to travel a long distance from his tribe. 

Once the boy has reached the home of the spirit, he is met by three other spirits. Each of the spirits appears very old and they all have long white hair. The spirits proceed to test the child. Each of them holds an item in their hand and offers it to the boy. The first holds a knife. The second holds poisonous herbs, and the third has healthy herbs.

According to legend, the boy’s choice determines who he will become. If he chooses the knife, he is certain to become a badman and possibly kill his friends. If he takes the poisonous herbs he will never be able to help or cure his people. If he chooses the good herbs he is destined to succeed as a man of medicine, an invaluable man for his people. He will win his tribe’s trust. 

This test is designed to determine the future doctors of the people. The forest dwellers took the children to determine their ability to be trained in the manufacture of medicines and to transmit to them special curative powers. If the child accepts the good herbs from the spirits, they tell him the secrets of making medicine from herbs and how to treat fevers, pains and other illnesses.

The boy has to remain with the Kowi Anukasha for three days. Afterward, he is brought back to his tribe. It is forbidden for him to tell anyone where he has been or what has happened to him. He will continue to grow as a normal child of the people until he has become a man. Only then will he be able to use the knowledge that he has gained from the forest dwellers.  

The Choctaw say that though many children may follow the spirits into the woods and choose correctly from the spirits, very few have the patience to stay the three days required, and that is why they have so few men of medicine or influence in the tribe.

Common Choctaws are never permitted to see the little people. Only the chosen children, prophets and herb doctors claim to have the power of sight and can communicate with them.

During dark nights, no matter the weather, you may be able to catch a glimpse of a strange light that seems to wander throughout the forest. It is said that this light is the lantern of a native herb doctor and his Kowi Anukasha, searching the woods for special healing herbs to heal his people.

The Choctaw also tell of a group of little people called Bohpoli(bo-po-lee). These little people are known for tossing rocks at people from the woods and are said to be very mischievous. Their name literally means “thrower”. Some believe that these are the same spirits as the Kowi Anukasha, but others believe them to be two separate bands of creatures.

In my childhood, I visited the Choctaw many times, and each visit to their tribe led me to love them more. They are vibrant, colourful and friendly people. Their history has not been an easy one, but they are survivors and they continue to keep their beliefs and traditions alive through song, dance and story. They are a significant part of what makes the state of Mississippi so unique and beautiful. Without them and other nations like them, the story of our state would be incomplete.

If you have visited the Choctaw or know any of their stories, we would love to learn about your experiences.

Sources and additional information:

Cahill Mansion/Gregory House – Gulfport

by Trista Herring Baughman

In an area known historically as Handsboro, overlooking Bayou Bernard, once sat a white, three-story house facing a circular drive called Cahill Mansion, built in 1915 by William Stewart. 

Although it was ordinary in appearance, many claim the house was haunted. 

From 1915 to 1941, various families inhabited the home. The Air Force leased the house in 1941 for use as a non-commissioned officer’s club. An unscrupulous sergeant ran the establishment and brought in gambling and prostitutes until his superiors caught on. 

This image was published in an article in The Sun/The Daily Herald circa 1981. 

If you grew up in Gulfport’s Bayou View neighborhood in the ’50s or ’60s, chances are you’ve heard stories of the house. 

In 1957, Dr. Kendall Gregory and his wife, Ginny, moved in (along with their children from previous marriages and a couple from their own.) Mr. and Mrs. Gregory did not take their children’s accounts of hauntings seriously until they experienced it themselves. 

 In a 1981 article in the Sun Herald, Ginny is quoted as saying, “My first feeling upon moving here was simply one of not being alone.”

Strange noises, such as grating sounds and screams, often prompted Mrs. Gregory to wear earplugs to muffle the terrible sounds. Other unnerving things happened to the Gregory family–mysterious cold spots, glowing figures, falling light fixtures, rooms that could not be painted, and unexplained footsteps in the night. 

Perhaps the most shivery tale of the old mansion occurred on November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Blood later determined to be human, dripped from the draperies and was smeared on the house’s windows. 

Another story tells of one of the Gregory children throwing his jacket on his bed after school and it bursting into flames. For more detailed accounts of the hauntings, click here

The Gregorys soon considered bulldozing the house and subdividing the property. Locals who knew the house’s history went seeking their own spooky experiences. Trespassers vandalized the property. 

But the story doesn’t end there. In a rather bizarre event, in late 1969, a Baptist minister who claimed to have psychic powers conducted a seance inside the home. Dr. David Bubar of Tennessee said he spoke with the spirit of a girl who had been forced into prostitution. The young girl’s name was Flossie, he said. Bubar also said she had been forced to have an abortion and was later murdered. 

Witnesses heard Bubar say in a strange voice, apparently channeling Flossie’s spirit, “He shot me. I’m sick. I’m corroded. My body is full of holes.” During the seance, Bubar mentioned other spirits from the World War II era. A report from the Daily Herald was in attendance and witnessed a table move several feet across the floor, moving according to instructed directions. 

Bubar predicted the house would burn. And burn it did, on July 18, 1970. Firefighters attempted to put out the blaze at 10 Kimball Drive but were not successful. According to the Daily Herald, the flames originated on the house’s second story, where another seance had taken place the evening before. 

When Bubar was told of the fire he was, “delighted that the place burned down”. He said it would free the “poor, unfortunate entities trapped there.”

Fast forward five years. Bubar was found guilty on four federal charges connected with a fire that destroyed a rubber products plant where he had once worked in Connecticut, which he had “predicted” would be flattened in an explosion. 

The charred remains of the mansion were torn down in hopes it would release the spirits trapped there. In 1989, a new house was built on the property. No word yet on if it’s haunted. 

Have you heard stories about Cahill Mansion or experienced creepy things on the property? We’d love to hear from you. Send your reports to 



Terror in Taylor, Mississippi

by Trista Herring Baughman

Taylor, Mississippi, population 298 as of 2020, is a small (4.1 square miles) town in Lafayette county, seated near the top of the state. Once home to the Chickasaw tribe, it was later founded in 1832 by the son of a Revolutionary War Veteran, John Taylor. Back then known as Yokona Station.

In the following years, the town saw homes and churches built, its railroad completed, an invasion of Grant’s army during the Civil War, and later Reconstruction. In 1907, the name officially changed to Taylor. 

Taylor suffered many tragedies: the worst trainwreck in the state, fires, yellow fever, and boll weevils. Though considered a declining small town by 1970, the town has persevered, thanks, in large part, to farm life, restaurants, and the arts.

Taylor’s past, although rich, may seem pretty average on the surface. But not everything is as it seems. 

For years stories of strange creatures lurking in the woods of oak and magnolia, stalking the town’s inhabitants, have surfaced. These creatures are known to the locals as the dogmen. They are said to have driven a local family from their ranch in the late ’40s. 

Dark Waters’ recording, linked above, recounts the story of the Lockett family as told by Edward Lockett the third; he mentions Chickasaw and Choctaw legends of the dogmen, but I haven’t found written documentation of this. I have not yet researched extensively.

The story goes (and I’m paraphrasing for those who didn’t listen to the aforementioned audio recording) that the Lockett family bought a large piece of land to farm from Chickasaw. For a while, things went well, but then the family decided to provide timber for the local sawmill.

The loggers began working.

Soon they started to feel uneasy, as though someone or something was watching them. 

They claimed to see fast-moving figures that followed them. Then, one of the men went missing. All they found of him was a piece of bloody clothing.

It wasn’t long before attacks began on the family home. Growling and howling creatures surrounded and smashed into the house on more than one occasion.

The family tried to protect their farm and kill the beasts. Armed with shotguns and rifles, the loggers attempted to help. Their attempts were feckless. There wasn’t one dogman, but many. 

Not unlike the werewolf and rougarou or loup-garou of neighboring Louisiana in appearance, these enormous beasts are described as wolf-like, covered in hair, but with the uncanny ability to walk on two legs.  

More men disappeared. The attacks continued. People in the town began to talk. What was happening at the Locketts’ farm? Were the Locketts murderers?

In a final attempt to save their farm, the Locketts set traps and hunted the dogmen. Once again, they were unsuccessful. 

Ostracized and defeated, the family deserted their farm and moved fifty miles or so away. Some say the dogmen still plague the town of Taylor and that the people of Taylor are reluctant to talk about it.

While not everyone in Taylor believes (or has even heard of) the terrifying tales, dogmen sightings are not exclusive to the town (see Google Maps’ North American Dogman Sightings tracker).

There was even a recent dogman encounter in the Australian outback. 

Growing up in the woods of Mississippi, I can attest that there are unknown, perhaps dangerous critters, in their depths. 

Are these sightings legit? Are they hoaxes? Perhaps well-intentioned citizens who’ve experienced optical illusions or the misidentification of some local animal? With so many sightings, it makes you wonder what is out there?

Have you seen a dogman or know someone who has? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or send your story to

Original post-July 2022





Franklin Cemetery: Gautier

By Natasha Mills

The Garden of Hope

Gautier Mississippi: The pronunciation of the name incites controversy amongst residents and visitors alike, so I wasn’t surprised in the least to discover a local cemetery that is equally as controversial.

Gautier is a city in Jackson County, Mississippi. It lies along the Gulf of Mexico, west of Pascagoula, and just like its neighboring coastal areas, Gautier is home to numerous paranormal sites. One such site is a cemetery known as the Garden of Hope. 

The first problem you may encounter when visiting the cemetery is finding its location. There isn’t an area listing that bears that name. But in the allocated spot, down a lonely, desolate road, you will find Franklin Cemetery. Some researchers have indicated that it is entirely possible that Franklin Cemetery was, in past days, known as the Garden of Hope. Regardless of the name, if the legends are to be believed and the location is correct, this resting place for the dearly departed is one of the most haunted cemeteries in the country.

The most oft-repeated supernatural story surrounding the cemetery is a tragic tale of murder. According to the tale, a local man traveled to work at Ingalls Shipbuilding in the late 1970s expecting to receive a bonus check. His wife and five children were waiting for him at a local motel. They were planning to use his bonus to put a down payment on their dream house. Instead of receiving a bonus that day, the man was laid off from his job. The story says that the man was so distraught that when he arrived at the motel that night, he murdered his family with an axe as they slept. He then walked into traffic where he was hit and killed by a passing truck. 

Some versions of the tale give the man the name Hal and one of his daughters is called Cheryl Anne. Most of the story versions place the father and mother in a “New Orleans style” tomb, but according to visitors to the cemetery, there is no such tomb in the graveyard. Most allege that there are several unmarked graves that could possibly belong to the family. However, none of the locals who were in the area during the time frame of the incident recall any such murders occurring there.

Regardless, stories continue to be told and ghosts claimed to have been seen. The most “sighted” ghost in this hauntingly tragic tale is a small girl of about 10 to 12 years, named Cheryl Ann, who is said to follow visitors through the graveyard. She appears to be a solid and very much alive little girl, eager to help people find whatever grave they are seeking. She even offers to hold your hand or carry flowers for you to place on the grave. She disappears as suddenly as she appears. Some reports state that she is often heard saying “Hope you’ll come back and see me soon.” Reports state that there have been many visitors to the site that have caught her likeness on camera, but my research efforts failed to uncover any such photographs.

Franklin Cemetery is also home to other ghostly legends. One such story tells of a man who climbs out of his grave and steals flowers from the headstones. He takes the flowers to his own grave and places them there. One version of the story tells of a mourner who complained that while at the cemetery, she was accosted by a man. He stole a bouquet of flowers from her hands. When the incident was investigated her flowers were located on the grave of a man unknown to her. His likeness was on his headstone and the woman identified him as the man who had stolen her flowers.

If that paranormal encounter isn’t enough to raise the hairs on your neck, there is the story of Bloody Sarah. Her name is reason enough for me not to want to discover her in the dark. Those who have encountered Sarah say she is seen walking through the grounds wearing a blood-soaked housecoat and fluffy white slippers. She has even been seen during daylight hours when it is said that she runs in front of passing cars. Drivers slam on the brakes and exit their cars thinking they have hit someone, only to be met with nothing beneath their vehicles. As the drivers return to their cars, her insane laughter can be heard.

There have also been sightings of orbs in the cemetery. Visitors have reportedly taken photos that show red ghost lights hovering above graves. They are said to fly high into the air and then dive back down. Again, my research failed to produce any such photos. Despite the lack of visual proof, people have claimed to have been chased out of the graveyard by the previously mentioned red lights.

Another spooky spirit said to haunt the cemetery is Gus, the grave digger. The tale states that Gus likes to help dig graves and is often seen by people who knew him in life. He has haunted the area since 1965. He is described as having dirty hands and knees but a smiling face. He is reported to leave the cemetery every day at 5pm heading for the area of the road where he was killed. Whether he was killed by a passing car or murdered, the story does not specify. It does however say that he liked to hitchhike and his ghost can be seen hitching a ride from passersby. Once someone picks him up, he looks at them and says, “You know, this is where I died” and promptly disappears, leaving the driver rattled.

One ghostly resident of the cemetery rivals even our first story of murder. This story revolves around a woman called Joanna. The story recounts that long ago, in the dark of night, Joanna followed her husband to the area of the cemetery. She saw him having a secret love affair there. Once she saw the two together she flew into a rage and murdered them both. Afterward, she shot herself in the head just inside the front gates. She has been known to chase visitors and even hit them. Those who have felt her angry fists say that they feel very solid.

The last, and certainly the most unbelievable tale of this garden of hope, is that of a grave that contains a coffin that has been cemented into the ground. The story says that contained in the coffin, wrapped in chains, is a werewolf. He is believed to be somewhere between life and death, trapped in his grave and begging to be set free. Visitors to the cemetery say they have heard him howling in agony from under the earth.

Is the Garden of Hope and Franklin Cemetery one and the same? Does the Garden of Hope even exist? If they are, and it does, is it really haunted by these lost and tortured souls? If you are in Gautier and you happen to find its location that is only part of your task completed. Franklin Cemetery is a privately owned property. Any visitor needs permission to enter the grounds. Should you be lucky enough to find the spot and enter, let us know what spooks you discover!