The Union Recorder

Neighbors

October 30, 2006

Lockerly spirits are quiet this year

Unexplained and unearthly sightings and mysterious sounds in years past have the caretakers of Milledgeville’s historic Lockerly Hall on the watch for new apparitions as Halloween approaches this year.

Heavy pocket doors slamming when no one is nearby, a marble ashtray flying across an unoccupied room, a shimmery apparition with a long gray beard — local residents swear all these and more creepy phenomena are matters of fact in the history of the 150-year-old plantation-style mansion, located on the grounds of the 50-acre Lockerly Arboretum in this central Georgia town. Some even claim to have seen a photograph of the bearded ghost, but no one has been able to find it.

“Years ago, the mansion was used as a guesthouse by my company to entertain customers,” recalls Bill Hartley, who is president of the Lockerly Arboretum Board of Trustees and the retired president and CEO of Dry Branch Kaolin Co. “Two ghosts in particular seem to have appeared to different generations, especially during times of major disruption.

“The first time was in the late 1960s when the house was undergoing a major renovation. Two workmen who were installing plumbing felt like someone was staring at them and, when they turned around, saw a girl of 12 or 13 dressed in flowing white lace and a man, very tall, in a black trenchcoat.”

A decade later, Hartley said, the same two figures appeared to two electricians who were working on the wiring of the mansion. “These workers had never heard about the other appearances and didn’t even know the first contractors,” he said, “yet the way they described the ghosts was exactly the same, down to the last detail.”

Fortunately, adds Hartley, “They’ve always been friendly.”

The haunted mansion is one of the most popular features of the Lockerly Arboretum tours regularly conducted for middle school and high school students in Baldwin and nearby Putnam and Hancock counties as part of their biology

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