Ghost in the Courthouse Window: Beyond the legend. Wounded Confession Part 2

DSCN2587The mysterious face in the courthouse window has haunted the town of Carrolton, Alabama for over 100 years.  It is said to be that of Henry Wells, who died proclaiming his innocence of the charge of burning the previous court house.  It turns out that only parts of this story are true.  In fact it is a combination of 2 or possibly three different stories that have been combined over the years.

Let’s get one thing straight, Henry Wells was not innocent.   He did in fact burn the courthouse and was a suspect from the very beginning.  The night the court house burned he and an accomplish named Burkhalter had robbed a store in the near by town of  Reform.  Once back in Carrolton, Wells set fire to the Courthouse, then he and Burkhalter left the area.   It wasn’t until Burkhalter was captured that he spilled the beans that Wells was arrested.

Here is where there begins to be some trouble with the classic version of the story.  Henry Wells was wounded twice when he was arrested.  These wounds were so severe that he would die from them less than a week later.  Henry was taken back to the Carrolton jail (not the Court House) where he signed a confession that said he did it.

This is the part of the story where the mob gathers, it starts raining and the sheriff moves Well’s up to the attic of the new courthouse.  This is also the part of the story that most likely never happened.  Remember Henry has been wounded (mortally so)  some how the sheriff gets him across the street  (past a very drunk, blood thirsty mob) and up to the third floor attic of the court house.   (Remember no elevators at this time.)  Then Henry is supposed to have stood at the window and yell his innocence and give his prophecy through a glass window during a violent thunderstorm to these men below, before lighting struck the window…. Oh did I mention that there was no glass in the window.   Yes, folks those attic windows didn’t have the glass installed until after Henry’s death.


…….next Beyond the Confession: Nathaniel Pierce


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