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Ghosts of the Bluegrass

James McCormick

Publication Year: 2009

In Ghosts of the Bluegrass, James McCormick and Macy Wyatt present stories of Kentucky ghosts past and present. Some of the tales are set in rural areas, but many take place in urban areas such as the haunted house on Broadway in downtown Lexington and in buildings on the University of Kentucky campus, where Adolph Rupp is said to have conversed with the deceased biology professor Dr. Funkhouser. This volume contains chapters on haunted places, poltergeists, communication with the dead, and ghosts who linger to resolve unfinished business from their past lives, as well as a chapter about ghosts who reveal themselves through lights, changes in temperature, or sound. The book even features a chilling account by a nineteenth-century family haunted in their Breckinridge County home. Whether witnesses believe that a spirit has come to protect those it left behind or to complete an unfinished task, ghostly appearances remain a mystery. As McCormick and Wyatt point out, there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to the supernatural. One thing is certain: these tales will bring pleasure and perhaps a goose bump or two to the reader interested in ghost stories and folklore in the Kentucky tradition.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Front cover

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Copyright page

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pp. iv


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pp. v

List of Illustrations

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pp. vi

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pp. vii-ix

Children have always looked to parents and grandparents for insights into the mysteries surrounding them, especially to explain the unexplainable, since adults have told stories that contain beliefs and family traditions they gathered or experienced across the years. These rich stories and beliefs, some of which were brought into Kentucky during pioneer times, tell a lot about who we are, ...


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pp. xi-xii

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pp. 1-7

Ghost stories have always been told. You may remember sitting on the front porch on a dark summer night, listening to someone tell ghost stories until you became overwhelmed with fear. Giving way to your fright, you ran home to the safety of a well-lit living room and comforting parents, but in the ensuing years, you have remembered the stories and perhaps even retold them. ...

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1. Unfinished Business

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pp. 9-27

We begin with stories depicting ghosts who seem to return to complete unfinished business. Some are quiet, and some are disruptive. They may or may not materialize. They may make themselves known by their actions, such as moving or rearranging objects, making the sound of footsteps, or turning lights on and off. They usually appear at the place where the unfinished business occurred (or didn’t...

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2. Disappearing Ghosts

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pp. 29-38

Disappearing ghosts make themselves known by manifesting in human form rather than by moving objects, creating disturbances, or making eerie sounds. Some of these ghosts are seen only in particular conditions or settings, probably associated with their earthly life, while others may be encountered at various places. The latter is true of the ghost in the first story in this chapter, “Walking...

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3. Mysterioius Events and Haunted Places

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pp. 39-50

According to one so-called expert, “Ghosts live in vacant houses, eat ‘ghost toasties,’ and drink evaporated milk!” Some places, vacant or not, are associated with mysterious events or hauntings. The mysterious or haunted place may be an abandoned house or a specific part of an occupied house, or it may be a natural area like a woods or a cave. The story “Mysterious Circle” in this chapter was told by a...

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4. Presences Sensed by Light, Cold, or Sound

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pp. 51-84

Popular themes of ghost stories are the feeling of cold spots and the hearing of strange noises that cannot be explained. Many stories, like death lore, involve the seeing of shadows and light. By nature, we want to explain all occurrences. The unexplainable causes great discomfort, which may be interpreted as fright. An inexplicable noise or sound conjures up images of ghosts for some people. ...

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5. Poltergeists

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pp. 85-99

A category of ghosts not yet fully discussed is the poltergeist—mischievous and sometimes malicious ghosts who throw things, move objects around, and generally create havoc. They are the most perplexing and violent of ghosts. The word poltergeist comes from the German words “polten” (to knock) and “geist” (spirit). However, the presence of poltergeists in the Western world has been noted from Roman times. ...

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6. Communication with the Dead

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pp. 101-116

Meetings for the purpose of bringing a paranormal communication to a group or to an individual, usually through a medium of some sort, have been recorded since as early as the third century b.c. by Porphery. S

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7. Ghosts That Weren't Ghosts

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pp. 117-129

One fact became quite evident to all those who collected stories for this anthology: people like to discuss the subjects of death and ghosts. Telling stories around the campfire (or in similar gatherings) has always been a great pastime, particularly when the atmosphere is just right. Consequently, some stories were collected that did not directly involve ghosts but were related. Some might...

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8. Ghosts at Educational Institutions

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pp. 131-150

At most older colleges and universities ghost stories have been passed down through generations of students. Stories are spreading at newer schools as well, as life—and death—go on. A well-known ritual involves upperclassmen acquainting new students, especially the most gullible ones, with tales of strange noises, unexplained movements of objects, sightings of shadowy figures, and...

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9. Death Omens and Superstitions

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pp. 151-163

“See a pin; pick it up; all the day you’ll have good luck.” “Don’t step on a crack or you’ll break your mother’s back.” “If you find a penny with its head up, you will have good luck.” Superstitions? Probably. Real predictions of things to come? Surely not! Yet even those who scoff at such sayings may find themselves picking up pins and avoiding cracks in the sidewalk. Most...

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10. A Collection of Ghost Stories

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pp. 165-171

The following stories were contributed to this anthology by Abigail McCormick Harris, now of Disputanta, Kentucky. She collected and wrote these accounts while in junior high school in Georgetown, demonstrating her sincere interest in the ghost lore of the Bluegrass region. There are many good ghost stories in Kentucky waiting to be collected, and even young people, equipped with a...

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11. A Ghost Story from the Nineteenth Century

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pp. 173-180

The following is an account of the strange occurrences that beset the Horrell family, as recorded in a small book with a long title, A Short Statement Concerning the Strange Visitation Which During Twenty Nine Years, Afflicted THE FAMILY OF JOHN HORRELL, Living near St. Anthony’s Church, Long Lick, Breckinridge Co., Ky., by J. J. Abell. This book was loaned to us by Mrs. Tillie...

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pp. 181-183

We are grateful to the many people who have contributed to this anthology, especially the students whose work formed the nucleus of this collection. It is apparent that the oral tradition of ghost and death lore is still alive in our culture today. While we have made no attempt to prove or disprove the truthfulness of the stories herein, we acknowledge that ghost stories are an integral part of our...


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pp. 185-187

E-ISBN-13: 9780813173566
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813192376

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2009

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Ghosts -- Kentucky.
  • Parapsychology -- Kentucky.
  • Haunted places -- Kentucky.
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