Usually Throwback Thursday posts are photos and/or videos of the past. Today, we want to throw back to your elementary school days when teachers read spooky stories leading up to the classroom Halloween party.
Do you remember Jeffrey and his ghostly friends? Let us help jog your memory.
“The Unquiet Ghost at Gainswood” tells of the spirit of Evelyn Carter who fills an antebellum mansion in Demopolis with midnight musical lamentations because her body wasn’t returned to her native Virginia.
Maybe you’ll remember “The Phantom Steamboat of the Tombigbee” about the wreck of the steamboat Eliza Battle, which caught fire on the way to Mobile and sank one February night in 1858. Residents who live along the river say the flaming steamboat wreck still rises on cold nights, its cotton cargo blazing across the waves while its terrified survivors cry for help from the icy waters.
Kathryn Tucker Windham first met Jeffrey in her home in Selma in the summer of 1968. After a series of unusual events took place at the Windham home, including cakes flying off the countertops, loud footsteps in the hallway, and bedroom doors being slammed shut—all with no one there—the family began to wonder if perhaps there was someone or something in the home.
Admiral Hornblower, the Windham family’s cat, confirmed their suspicions. The cat would wake suddenly from a deep sleep, digging his claws into the fabric chair, every hair on his body standing straight up, and then sprint terrified out of the room. Windham often wrote about “Jeffrey” in her stories in The Alabama Journal (now the Montgomery Advertiser), The Birmingham News, The Selma Times-Journal, and other regional magazines and described the curious incidents as “something in our house that’s creating mischief.”
Jeffrey himself inspired Windham to research other haunting tales from across Alabama, and together, with the help of co-author Margaret Gillis Figh, the most spine-tingling thirteen stories are retold in the landmark collection, 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey.
First released in 1963, the book became an instant classic. Windham continued her chilling research and wrote five more books for the Jeffrey series: Jeffrey Introduces 13 More Southern Ghosts, 13 Georgia Ghosts and Jeffrey, 13 Mississippi Ghosts and Jeffrey, 13 Tennessee Ghosts and Jeffrey, and Jeffrey’s Latest 13: More Alabama Ghosts.
Earlier this year, Big Communications brought our friends and Windham’s children, Dilcy Windham Hilley and Ben Windham, with The University of Alabama Press to recreate 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey in the ghoulish glory of its original illustrated hardback format. They even penned an original forward for this very special commemorative edition.
So on this Halloween Eve, pick up a copy of 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey at Alabama Booksmith and other stores throughout the state, take a moment to read about some of Jeffrey’s spooky friends, and learn about the eerie happenings across our state.