This Halloween, forgo the horror movies. Instead, stoke your imagination, toss some candy corn in the popcorn, and treat yourself to some spooky tales of Fayette County.
Two “ghost study” groups agree that spirits live in the Holliday Dorsey Fife House in Fayetteville. Built in 1855 by Dr. John Stiles Holliday, the home held special memories for his nephew, the legendary “Doc” Holliday. Perhaps that’s why a Fayetteville policeman once saw a figure resembling “Doc” in a second-floor window. Further investigation proved no one was there.
Another owner, Solomon D. Dorsey, died in the home in 1901. When his descendant’s husband photographed the home’s exterior, he realized he had captured the likeness of a mustached man peering from an upstairs window.
Deborah Riddle, Fayette County Historical Society president, said each time a Dorsey descendant visited the house, which was used as a museum for a time, strange things happened. Riddle and other volunteers experienced many of these happenings—an untouched CD player starting to play, its volume increasing and decreasing, display items moved from one place to another and floors creaking from the restless footsteps of ghostly guides from the past.
Before it tragically burned in 2021, the antebellum Woolsey-Bell House was reportedly inhabited by a male spirit. Mrs. Virginia Bell and her young daughter who lived in the home watched a man in colonial clothing descend the stairs. Most notable was his peculiar, stunning ring. Mrs. Bell thought she was imagining things until her daughter asked, “Where did that man go?”
Also located near Woolsey are the mysterious Gypsy Woods, where large numbers of Gypsies camped in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. And the Woolsey Woods at the end of Old Farm Road, is allegedly haunted. It is said that the ghost of Thomas Gay, who owned much of the land around Woolsey in the early 1800’s, is desperately searching for silver he hid from the Yankees.
Apparition’s Appearance and Terrifying Stowaway
John Lynch, Fayette County’s official historian, shares two spine-chilling stories from his mother-in-law, Mrs. Gladys Mann. Mrs. Mann’s grandfather was working in the fields located near where Flat Rock Middle School is today when he saw a young girl sitting on a stump. Walking closer, he recognized the girl as his recently deceased sister. He talked with her for several minutes before she vanished.
As a young girl in the 1930’s, Mrs. Mann and other children were riding in the back of a truck near Jenkins Road. Shortly after dark, a terrifying “creature” unlike any bird or animal they recognized, alighted in the truck bed. It stared at the children who were frozen with fear until it disappeared as quickly as it appeared. “She has told this story over and over and swears that it’s true,” Lynch said.
Creepy Peters Road
Don’t risk a breakdown at night near the Peters Road Bridge, a stone’s throw over the Fayette County Line. Long-time residents know that grotesque creatures with large heads and glowing eyes lie in wait under the bridge for hapless victims.
Fayette County Sheriff Barry Babb, who grew up in the area, is familiar with the legend. “I heard that from the time I was old enough to walk,” he said.
On a nearby hill, is the final resting place of the reclusive Peters family. Mr. Peters forbade his seven children to marry and required them to stay in the family home. One daughter married and was disinherited, and a son married after his father’s death. The remaining children lived together until they died. All were buried in Peters Family Cemetery inside graves blasted from rock.
Legends about the odd family claimed the girls were witches and that their deranged father had hung a daughter who tried to escape. These tales gave the cemetery a haunted reputation. It became a popular hang-out and has been vandalized through the years. “It’s really sad,” Babb said.
Ironically, this family that seemingly craved isolation became the center of attention in Fayette folklore.