On two separate occasions, Page News and Courier columnist Jacob R. Seekford wrote of an account of an undertaker and his encounter with a ghost. The first mention of this was in 1930 and the second was in 1937. It is interesting to note that the story got a little better with age. The story as written in 1937 was certainly more interesting and much more detailed (and slightly altered at different points from the story from 1930).
Nevertheless, since the story from 1937 has so much more detail in it, we will use that version as the primary source for tonight’s dispensing of the paranormal.
In this letter I am going back to 1867. At that time Sam [Samuel M.] Larkins lived out on the Hawksbill not far above the old Marksville Store, where Skeet Good now lives.
Mr. Larkins had a shop and made all kinds of furniture and coffins.
Mr. Larkins said, “One day a strange looking woman walked in my shop and I gave her a chair to sit on.”
In 1930, Seekford’s story differed slightly when he said that Larkin encountered the ghostly woman after “going up in the mountain to bury an old woman and after the burying . . . just about dark, and when he got down in a dark hollow.”
But, onward with the story as told in ’37…
She said to him, “Do not be frightened when I tell you my story. Seventy odd years ago I died and was buried down here on the hill. I am not a human being. I am a spirit from the spirit world. I came here today to see you on some business. Not long after I died the Indians made a raid through this country. My father and mother left their home and went up in the Blue Ridge [Seekford said the “Roundhead mountain” in his story from 1930] to hide from them. They took shelter in a cave under a large flat rock. That night it got very cold and my father and mother froze to death. Their bones are in that cave, also the money that my father took with him. I want you to make a coffin and go up there and get all their bones and bring them down and bury them in the old grave yard by the side of my grave. For your trouble you can keep the money. Come outside your shop and I will show you where you can go and find the cave.”
Mr. Larkins said that she promised to go and get the bones and the woman then turned to a shadow and he could see her fly away. He said that he was very much excited and called his friends in and told them the story. They all agreed to go with him and gather up the bones.
He made the coffin and soon one morning they put it in the wagon and started to the place that she had pointed out.
They drove as far as they could go up in the Ridge, they took the coffin out of the wagon and carried it up to the cave.
They had taken some fat pine along to make a light in the cave. Mr. Larkins lit the pine and started back in the cave when he got in about two steps he heard some rattling and he looked ahead and saw a pile of rattlesnakes bigger than a washing tub. He went out and told his friends what he had seen and all the rest of them one by one went in and saw the great piles of snakes. [In his story from 1930, Seekford made no mention of snakes but of a “great black animal’ that came to the mouth of the cave] Finally they all got deathly sick from the poison that the snakes had thrown out. They then stuck the coffin back in the cave and started down the mountain to their wagon. Mr. Larkins never went back any more.
Twenty years after that time old man Joe Campbell was up in the Ridge after chestnuts and he passed by the big flat rock and saw the coffin still in the cave.
Mr. Larkins was a Dunkard preacher and nobody ever doubted his story. This was the most exciting time that we ever had in this part of the country.
Fifteen years after that time Mr. Larkins left here, moved to Kansas and died there.