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The (real?) story of the Surrency ghosts – Georgia

4 min read

One of the most famous ghost story in the history of the South dates back to the early 1870’s in the town of Surrency, a small hamlet located about sixty miles southwest of Savannah, Georgia….

That place was possessed by something evil.

That was the opinion of such a Herschel Tillman when he recalled his many visits to the home of Allen Powel Surrency when he was a boy in the early 1870s.
And, interestingly, he was just one of the thousands of witnesses to the strange and sometimes violent paranormal activity that plagued that home.

In any case, Allen Powel Surrency, a sawmill operator and founder of the town, built his family in a large, two-story farmhouse near the railroad tracks. But not long after moving in it and when returning home from a trip to Hazelhurst in October 1872, became horrifyingly apparent to the family that they were not alone in the house. Strange things started to happen, and before long the family realized their house was nothing more than a den of angry, restless spirits.

In a letter he wrote to the Savannah Morning News, Surrency himself said:

A few minutes after my arrival I saw the glass tumblers begin to slide off the slab and the crockery to fall upon the floor and break. The books began to tumble from their shelves to the floor, while brickbats, billets of wood, smoothing irons, biscuits, potatoes, tin pans, water buckets, pitchers, etc., began to fall in different parts of my house. There have been many other strange occurrences about my house. These facts can be established by 75 or 100 witnesses.

It was a violent haunting witnessed by every member of the family. No one was spared the rage of the ghost, (or ghosts) that inhabited the house. Windows slammed shut, doors opened and closed and the clock on the wall spun wildly. Silverware flew from the drawers, along with pots, pans, and anything else lying around the house. Wailing voices and angry screams pierced the night while the family tried in vain to sleep. Boots worn by invisible feet walked down the darkened hallway outside the bedrooms.
On the face of it, it sounded as if Surrency’s house might have suffered an earthquake. In fact, that theory has been offered to explain the phenomena at the house, even if that explanation does not hold up: the strange activity lasted weeks, even years off and on, and the Surrency house was the only one affected, and an earthquake? Improbable…

What makes the Surrency haunting so unique is that it was one of the most verified ghost story in American history: word traveled across the county about the small town and its haunted house, and visitors came from all over (even from England and Canada) to witness the haunting in person. Interestingly, few were disappointed because apparently the Surrency ghosts were anything but shy.
The haunting went on for several years until one night, after his son was chased down the hall by a floating ghost with unseen hands, Allen decided enough was enough and moved his family out of the house. But the ghosts followed the family also to their new home.
Strangely enough, the haunting ended when Allen Surrency died in 1877. Were the ghosts finally satisfied that they had their man, or was it a coincidence? In any case, unverified rumors spread that Allen had dabbling in the dark religion, or had committed some other heinous sin that warranted the haunting. No one knows for sure.

Today few people talk of the Surrency ghosts anymore.
All the witnesses to the haunting have long since passed and the story has almost been lost to time.
Some, however, say it continues to this day around the town of Surrency: in fact, there is a famous ghost light there, a bright yellow ball of light that appears along the railroad tracks.
In any case, the town is still there, located where highways 341 and 121 cross but Allen’s house is long gone, burned to the ground in 1925.

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