Volume VII, No. 2, Winter 1979
OZARK GHOST STORIES
Collected by students in Ellen Massey's Ozarkia classes of Lebanon High School. Edited by Melinda Stewart
Maybe you can remember nights at sleepovers or campouts when someone would start up, "This is a true story," and then give an account of a bizarre adventure a friend, aunt, uncle, parents or grandparents had. Or maybe you've had an experience which seemed strange. In any case, I'm sure everyone has heard at least one ghost story.
THE BALL OF FIRE
This is a story my dad told me about what happened to him and a friend. They had been working all day in the woods cutting logs. It was just getting dark when they finished and started the six miles down and up the hollow to home. It would take a while to travel this far with a horse and wagon. They were talking about what they were going to do with the money they earned cutting logs.
The horses started fretting a little, but they thought it was probably some wild animal. They approached the forking in the hollows to go up what is called north hollow, when from away back of them came what seemed to be a ball of burning fire. It seemed to be following them. When it got close, the horses begun to rear and buck. The men got off the wagon to settle the horses. Both ducked their heads by the horses' necks just in time to see the object whizzing right above them. It was never explained. Maybe it was a meteorite, and maybe it wasn't.
A WASHDAY GHOST
This is a true story. It all started right after my grandpa and grandma were married. They moved in this old house that people thought was haunted and no one would live in. But Grandpa didn't believe in ghosts. My grandpa always liked moving $n old houses just to prove that they weren't haunted.
On this particular day my grandfather decided to go to town. My grandma had washed and had spread the clothes over fences and the big cedar trees in the front yard. She had spread a white sheet over a smaller one which stood directly in front of the house.
It was dark when Grandpa had got back from town. That night after he rode up, he got off his horse and took it in the barn as he usually did. But as he was coming out of the barn and heading to the house he stopped. There it was in his front yard. A ghost! The house really was haunted! How was he going to get to the house? The only way was to go right past it no matter what it was. As much as he hated to, he finally started on. When he got closer, it seemed to be jumping in all directions. Then as he got real close, he began to laugh, for finally he realized that it wasn't really a ghost, but that Grandma had washed that day and hung her sheets on the cedar tree to dry.
MRS, KOOFINDIG, WITCH
In a small settlement near California, Missouri, there was said to be a witch by the name of Mrs. Koofindig. She was always trying to get people to give her things. So anyway, one day Mrs. Koofindig came over to one of the settler's houses and asked the man of the house for one of his pigs. Of course, he said no.
The next day when the farmer came out to tend to his pigs, they were all lying dead in the pasture. Then the next morning he came out and all of his horses' manes and tails were knotted so that they couldn't be combed out. They had to cut them off. There was an old belief that to throw water on a witch would break the spell. Next day the farmer threw water on her, and when he got home all of the tail hairs were standing straight up on the ground signifying the breaking of the spell.
Another Mrs. Koofindig story is about a family that had a baby that cried and cried all night long. The Koofindig woman lived down the road from them. Big red spots started appearing on the baby every time it cried. It was said that getting a piece of clothing from the witch believed to be casting the spell and putting it under a fire would cause the witch pain. She would come and find where it was and try to get it back. So the family got the clothing and put it under the fire. Sure enough, she came down and asked for her clothing back. They told her to take off the spell. when she said no, they put another log on the fire. She started to scream and agreed. The spots never appeared on the baby again.
This story was passed on three generations by a grandfather to a son and then to his son. Jimmie Morrison told me the story about his grandfather.
This man was walking home from church one real dark night. He always carried a pistol. He was on a path and not too far up the road he thought he seen something dark. He thought it was either a man that was going to jump him, or maybe an animal. So he yelled, knowing that if it was a man, he'd stand up and acknowledge himself, and if it was an animal, the yelling would scare it off. He yelled about three or four times, and no one stood up or no animal ran away. So he took out his pistol and emptied it in the black object. It never did move so he walked on up to it, and he found out that the black object was an old black tree stump!
THE UNKNOWN VISITOR
This is a true story told to me by my grandmother. It takes place down by Plad, Missouri, around 1920. She lived in a two-story white house with an old shed in back. Lowell, my great uncle, was off in Buffalo and was not expected back until Sunday. It was a usual Saturday night, with supper already eaten. The whole house made it to bed around eight o'clock, for there was lots of work to be done the next day. My grandmother slept by the fireplace in the living room. She was half asleep when she heard a horse come up. Then the saddle hit the porch just like her brother always did when he unsaddled and set it on end. The figure came and stood by her bed, but didn't utter a word. "Lowell, your bed is fixed, so go on to bed." The figure moved on up the stairs to his room.
The rooster started their awakening so my grandmother helped her mom fix breakfast. Everyone showed except Lowell. She went to the bottom of the stairs and called, "Lowell, you come on down for breakfast now." There was no reply, so she went on up to the room. The bed hadn't been slept in and there was no sign of Lowell. About noon Lowell came riding in. When questioned he said he had spent the night in Buffalo. Grandma turned white. What did she talk to that night?
THAT SUNDAY NIGHT
My great-great-grandfather told me this story of when he was in his late teens, back in 1896. It was Sunday night, a night for church. The old brown church was about five miles through the woods by wagon, so they always took along a basket of food to eat on the way. Only him and his brother were going to church. They had to start out about five o'clock for the seven o'clock services. So off they went after their mother had packed their food. As they approached the church they could see nobody else around. When they went in the oil lamps hadn't been lit, and the stove was still cold. There wasn't no church that night.
As they were walking home on the old road, they were wondering why there hadn't been church. Behind them they could hear someone riding up the road on horseback. The hoof beats came closer and closer. They stepped on each side of the road, but the horse never passed, just the sound. They looked at each other in the moonlight, stepped into the road, and didn't stop running until they hit Blue Ridge, which is about two miles from where they started. They could never figure out what mysterious rider rode past them that night.
THE DEATH STAIRCASE
My grandmother also told me this story of a big white house in Plad. The oldest thing in this house is a long, curving staircase. They moved there on a clear spring day in about 1903. The house had a sense of a cool breeze down the staircase, but they didn't think much about this. That night they went to bed early. Then about midnight there came a thud at the top of the stairs and it ended at the bottom of the staircase. Everyone got up to see if someone had fell. It was unexplainable.
The next night the same thing happened. It was repeated the following night, only on the third night everyone gathered around the bottom to wait and watch. So as midnight approached, they heard it at the top. What was it coming down those stairs? They didn't see anything. They could feel a cool breeze coming down until it hit the bottom.
The following day they went to the former owner and told him of the happening. The owner explained that it had been happening for a year now. "About a year ago last month," he began to explain, "there was a young boy about nineteen who ended his life on that staircase." So could it have been the boy, for this phenomenon was never cleared up. To my grandmother's knowledge that ghost is still jumping off that staircase.
WOMAN IN WHITE
An older friend of mine who lives near Houston, Missouri, tells this story. A neighbor's wife was in heavy labor with their first child when he and the neighbor went for a doctor. As they were traveling down the road they saw a woman dressed in white carrying a baby. The neighbor said, "We should turn back, my wife has died." When they arrived back at the cabin the woman was dead. They were told the woman had died at the exact time they had seen the woman dressed in white.
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