One of Alabama’s Most Haunted Historical Cities

October 2021

The City of Selma is one of Alabama’s most historic as well as one of its most haunted. Ghost hunters have discovered that the region has a lot of paranormal activity because of the region's Native American and Civil War history. Alabama author Kathryn Tucker Windham also lived in Selma and told stories about a ghost named Jeffrey who lived with her. Jeffrey even got Windham her big break as the subject of her book, 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey, published in 1969. The book is now part of Southern folklore that has been handed down for decades. Interest in the paranormal seems to increase during this time of year, so here is a list of the region’s reported most haunted places.

Kathryn Windham Tucker Private Home

The storyteller’s home was built in the 1950s, and it serves as the backdrop of Windham’s famous book, 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey. As legend has it, Jeffrey is the ghost that lives in the storyteller’s home.

St. James Hotel

The St. James Hotel was built in 1837 and sits atop the banks of the Alabama River. Originally named The Brantley, it served as the home for Union soldiers during the Battle of Selma in the Civil War. The city had a large concentration of Confederate arsenals and factories and was burned to the ground during the battle. However, the Brantley was spared. In addition to soldiers, the hotel was a favorite of plantation owners, businessmen and other travelers who were conducting business in the city, and it is even rumored that Frank and Jesse James were guests. Because guests who have stayed at the St. James Hotel have reported experiencing paranormal and ghostly activity, it is a unique stay and has been reopened in 2020 as part of the Hilton Tapestry Collection. r

Live Oak Cemetery

The large oak trees draped in Spanish Moss and spooky gravesites are the reasons this cemetery is listed on Alabama’s ghost trail. Many residents report paranormal activity in the cemetery even during daylight hours. Kathryn Tucker Windham is buried here, in an obscurely marked gravesite in the newer part of the cemetery. 

Sturdivant Hall

This antebellum home is haunted by its second owner, John Parkman. He was a wealthy banker and president of the National Bank of Selma, however, he was arrested for losing large sums of money and was killed after trying to escape prison. Legend has it that he promised never to leave the house until his name was cleared. The home is now a museum and event venue, and many who work there say that they hear footsteps and things moving around on the second floor of the home. 

Tally-Ho Restaurant

The Tally-Ho Restaurant in Selma is rumored to be haunted to this day by a young woman, who some say worked and died at the restaurant while others say she partied at the restaurant when it was a Speakeasy. The young woman was known for wearing lilac perfume, and some current day patrons say they catch whiffs of the perfume in the air. Betty also makes her presence known by playing with the light fixtures.

Old Depot Museum

Selma’s Old Train Depot was a munitions depot during the Civil War. Today, it is a museum that houses a lot of artifacts from the Civil War era. Visitors to the museum say they have seen the building’s elevator go down and the door open by itself. 

Vaughan-Smitherman Museum

This museum was a girls’ school before becoming a military school. During the Civil War, it was converted to a hospital and remained a hospital until the late 20th century. Ghost hunters have often investigated the museum’s paranormal activity.

Old Cahawba

Located in Orrville, Alabama, this national historic site is filled with picturesque ruins making it an archaeological gem. Old Cahawba was built upon the famous Native American village of Mablia which was destroyed by DeSoto in 1540. It was the capital of Alabama from 1819-1826 as well as a booming river town before the Civil War. It became one of the most haunted river towns after the War.  Alabama Governor William Bibb, who served as governor from 1817-1818, had plans to build the statehouse on top of an ancient Indian mound complete with a moat to restrict access. During the fall, visitors from all over take the Haunted History tour of Old Cahawba, and many experience paranormal activity. 

The places mentioned are not the only ones with reported paranormal activity. Many locals say that a number of Selma’s private residences are haunted, and visitors to the homes say they have witnessed paranormal activity. These homes are known as The Castle, The Brownstone Manor and Baker House.

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