If your looking for something (inexpensive)to do this weekend in North West Alabama. There are several options.
First there’s the scarecrow festival in Vernon Alabama. The festival includes a 5K, a corn toss and food and entertainment. There will be booths and vendors as well.
Second, is the “Dixie Division Military Show” at Tannehill State Park. There is no admission for the “show” but there is a small fee to enter the park. The show, showcases military surplus including jeeps and other vehicles. For information about the Dixie Division Military Club go to http://www.ddmvpa.org/. For more information about Tannehill go to: http://www.tannehill.org/ While your there make sure you check out the rest of the park. Especially the sweet shop, and ask for some Fairyland Fudge.
If you haven’t read the first two parts of this blog you will need to before you read this one.
After the courthouse of Carrolton, Alabama burned in 1876, the town immediately suspected Henry Wells of doing it. Henry a former slave was known for being foul mouth and mean tempered.
In 1877, a totally unrelated incident to place in the small town. Nathaniel Pierce, a black man, was being held in the local jail for suspicion of murder, when a mob broke in and demanded him. The deputy (not the sheriff) tried to stop them but soon gave in. September 26, 1877, Nathaniel Pierce was lynched You have to remember that this was post reconstruction south, racial tensions were very high.
While Pierce’s death had nothing to do with the courthouse burning, it does explain the part of the legend of the prophecy “spoken” by Henry Wells in the court house attic. “I’ll haunt you forever.” These words could just have easily been spoken by Nathaniel just a the mob put the noose around his neck.
As for the face. yes there is a face or something in the lower right hand corner of the attic window of the courthouse in Carrolton, Alabama. Is it Henry Wells, Nathaniel Pierce or someone else. Is it man made or a freak of nature. No one knows. But all anyone knows is that a lone silent face keeps watch over this small southern town.
The 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
Carrollton, Alabama is a small town where nothing much happens. There is no McDonald’s, no Walmart,and no Pub-lix. But this tiny southern town is known world wide for one thing. The mysterious looking face that appears on the lower glass of one of the attic windows of the local courthouse. Since 1878 the face has been a mystery to both historians, skeptics, and ghost hunters alike.
The classic version of the story goes something like this. The original court house was burned by the Yankee’s during the American Civil War, and was rebuilt. Then in 1876 it mysteriously burned and arson was immediately suspected. The sheriff arrested Henry Wells, a local man (former slave) with a very bad temper. Word soon spread of Wells arrest. The townsmen decided that there would be no use for a trial if the man was guilty, and made up their minds to take care of Henry their way, i e lynching. It didn’t help that these men had been drinking.
The Sheriff fearing for Henry’s life, took him into the new courthouse (which had been rebuilt) and up to the attic. As it started to rain, and the mob started to grow, the tempers of these men grew as well. At some point Henry looking down at these men shouted. “I’m innocent and if you hang me I’ll haunt you forever.” The story ends with lighting hitting the window, and Henry mysteriously dying that night, from one cause or another. According the classic tale of the story, the next day one of the members of drunken mob looked up at the window where Henry had stood and started screaming. Others came running and confirmed that there was a face looking at them. The face of Henry Wells!
This story can be found in the book “13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey” by Kathryn Tucker Windham.
Next: What really happened…
Don’t Drink and Drive. Stay safe this Halloween.