I have a haunted little fishing cabin in Kentucky on Greasy Creek near the Harlan/Leslie county lines where my mom’s ancestors have lived and died for 220 years.
Every little homestead along that creek has a cemetery carved into the side of a hill that was too steep to plow, and I’m related to almost everyone who has lived there since the first white settlers arrived in 1800.
I don’t know if ghosts really exist.
But I do know that when I’m at the Greasy Creek cabin I have the weirdest, haunted dreams. I’m not going into details about them here because if you get me started I could write a novel about them.
I will say that I’ve never had dreams like that anywhere else.
Ghost visit or weird dream?
OK. I’ll tell one quick story. I spent a cold week alone at the cabin in April about 20 years ago, and one night I dreamed that my Great-grandfather Cooper was seated in a rocking chair between me and a fireplace.
Cooper, who died in 1978, was just rocking beside a roaring fire and we had a pleasant conversation, chatting about nothing much in particular. And then at one point Cooper says, “You better wake up. It’s cold and your fire is fixing to go out.”
Then I woke up and Cooper was gone, and sure enough, the room was freezing cold and the fire was about to go out. Cooper spent his entire 86-year life within a stone’s throw of where that cabin is located.
That visit from Cooper was a nice dream. There have been plenty of horror show dreams as well.
One of my crazy theories about that cabin is that the ghosts or spirits of my ancestors come to visit me there in my sleep, and sometimes they’re little meanies trying to scare me. It probably gets boring on Greasy Creek after 200 years, so I don’t blame them for trying to have a little fun at my expense.
Another less crazy theory is that I eat too many Vienna sausages and Beanie Weenies while camping and they cause me to have weird dreams.
A tremendous performance
That first theory came to mind on Dec. 1, however, after a visit to the 180-year-old Canton Hall in Church Hill during the new owners’ first annual Christmas at the Mansion event.
It was a fun little shindig with Christmas caroling going on at the front of the house, and then some things for kids to do in the back, along with free popcorn and hot chocolate, and a live Nativity scene out in the yard.
Shortly after sundown, a fellow by the name of Ben Christian from Kingsport began singing, and he really knocked everyone’s socks off.
A tremendous performance, and in between songs he read a poem he’d written called “The Gift,” which was about the eternal gift we all receive by accepting Jesus Christ as our savior.
My plan that night was to shoot video of singing, so I stopped recording during Ben’s poem reading and shot some still photography instead.
A mysterious ghostly mist
It was a clear night. Not a cloud in the sky, and although it was chilly, it wasn’t cold enough to see your breath.
That’s why I was surprised when I got back to the Times News office that night to see a mysterious ghostly mist hovering above Ben’s head in one of the photos I took while he was reading his poem.
I immediately posted that photo on my personal Facebook page, asking folks if they thought it was a ghostly mist or a computer glitch. Then I went back to editing all my photos and videos from the mansion and parades I covered that day.
A little while later I went back to look at the photo on Facebook to see if anyone had commented.
Some people thought it was a ghost
That was the first time I really looked closely at the photo. That was also the first time I noticed what appeared to be a ghostly face hovering above Ben’s left shoulder.
It makes me wonder if the face was even there when I first posted the photo, because you’d think I would have noticed it. I typed the comment, “Anybody else see a face?”
At that exact moment, my niece's husband Jerry typed, “Umm I see a face. Look to the upper right of the picture. There’s one huge face right over top of him.”
All of a sudden everybody was seeing the face, but that was like an hour after I posted it.
Some people thought it was a ghost. Some people thought it was a camera glitch.
I suggested in one comment that it might be Eldridge Hord, who built the house in 1840 coming back to participate in the festivities.
“Maybe Jesus was proud of his praises”
Keep in mind, as far as I know no one saw anything unusual during Ben’s poem reading. It was pretty dark, though, and it would have been a good time for a ghost mist to float over undetected. Maybe I just caught it at the right moment with my camera flash.
As I said, the photo with the ghostly mist was taken while Ben was reading his poem “The Gift.”
I’ll post the entire poem in the photo gallery of the online version of this article, but the last two verses read: “So if you're reading today and you’re wondering about the best gift in life you’ll ever receive; I present to you Jesus and the power of his might, from you He’ll never leave. So what can you offer this Holy King, is it gold or something else of greater value; Indeed it is ... the only gift that He's seeking from ‘any’ today is the person that dwells inside you.”
Amanda Jackson, who owns the house with her husband, Hunter, said in a comment that whatever the mist was, it had to be something good.
“Maybe it was the Holy Ghost because Ben’s voice was absolutely Heavenly,” Amanda said. “Maybe Jesus was proud of his praises.”
So what do you think?
Holy Ghost, Regular Ghost or camera glitch? You be the judge.
I want everyone who writes a comment on this column, whether it be on Facebook or on www.timesnews.net, to tell me what you think it is.
I have included a video of Ben’s singing with the online version of this article so you can see the conditions that night for yourself.
In a couple of weeks I’ll tally up all the votes and post the results.
As far as I’m concerned, it could be any of the three.
One thing I know for sure: It's not a weird dream caused by eating too many Vienna sausages and Beanie Weenies.
Jeff Bobo covers Hawkins County for the Times News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.