Stephen F. Austin State University

Ghost Stories from Panola County (October 2012)

Ghost Stories from Panola County
By Vina Lee

Panola County has its own ghost stories, haunted houses and ghost towns in it. Below is a selection of stories documented to be true by the writers. The first is an account given by Charley Mitchell after he became too old to work in the cotton fields in east Texas and written down for A Texas Salve Narrative.

The next one is slated as a real haunted house on road 2792 in Panola County.

Some of you may know the story of the Hanging Tree in Center, Texas. The building it is in front of was the Panola County Library at one time, later was used for a jail house. The story is written by copywriter James L. Choron in 2004.

I, myself have seen evidence of spirits hovering over the lake shrouded in foggy moonlight. The wind moans, turning orange and red maple leaves into fools gold, sweeping them, clinging to blackened piles like a hoarder's stash looking like snaggle-toothed apparitions with bony fingers pointing from pier to pier as ripples lap at tethered flat-bottomed boats. (VH)

Charley Mitchell , a Panola County farmer, was born in 1852 as a slave of Nat Terry , an itinerant Baptist preacher of Lynchburg, Virginia. His mother also belonged to the Terry's , and was hired out by them to other white families in the city. Charley was a house servant in the Terry household, and was also hired out by them as a nurse. He left the Terry's one year after surrender, working in a tobacco factory and as a "dining-room" man until 1887 when he moved to Panola County, Texas. For the past fifty years he has resided in the Sabine bottoms of Panola County, about 25 miles southeast of Marshall.

I don't 'lieve much in hants but I's heared my wife call my name. She's been dead four years. If you crave to see your dead folks, you'll never see them, but if you don't think 'bout them they'll come back sometime. Two [black] women died in this house and both of them allus smoked a pipe. My boy and me used to smell the pipes at night, since they died, and one morning I seed one of them. I jus' happened to look out the window and saw one of them goin' to the cowpen. I knowed her by her bonnet. They's a [black] church and cemetery up the road away from my house mere the dead folks come out by twos at night and go in the church and hold service. Me and the preacher what preaches there done seed and heared them. They's a way of keepin' off hants. That's done by tackin' an old shoe by the side the door, or a horseshoe over the door, or pullin' off part of the planks of your house and puttin' on some new boards.

*from Texas Slave Narrative

On 2792 in Panola County, you take a right and a little ways down the road there is an old broken down house with bushes and weeds overgrown. The story behind the house is in the mid 80's a young woman lived there with her husband and newborn daughter. On Halloween night her brother came to her for money (possibly for drugs) she told him no. He was already messed up he turned violent when she told him no. He picked her up and slammed her on the hot stove then shot her. It was rumored that he even broke the gun and stabbed her with it, but after she was already dead he drowned her in the bathtub. The police found him wandering the streets all bloody. The child was unharmed. Reports of strange feelings, not being able to breathe and people have seen a light come on in the attic and a white figure in the window and some have said to have even seen her face in the hallway of the house.

*from Haunted in 2792 Marshall Highway and 2792 Carthage