historical fiction

Book Excerpt: “From Turkey Creek – A Memoir”

As many already know, From Turkey Creek – A Memoir is a long-term work in progress. It is my childhood memoir of growing up at the most remote, fun, and wacky place in the world: Turkey Creek, in Humphreys County, Tennessee. This is a short, transitional chapter I wrote, which describes the “general stores” that dotted the countryside near Turkey Creek back in the day.

 

ON COUNTRY STORES

Nearly every dirt road out in the country had a general store. Within an eight-mile radius of Turkey Creek, there was Nolan Sulley Grocery, Thomas Freeland Grocery, George Harris Grocery, Leonard Barnes Grocery, Clyde Rose Grocery, Harold Smith Grocery, Dudley Jones Grocery, and William Covington Grocery. Usually named for their retiree owners, these rural mom-and-pop institutions were the places where good country folk met, talked politics, and engaged in long, serious talks about the lack or overabundance of rain. Women bought what they needed and left; the men stayed and gossiped.

(more…)

Summer Greetings

Time truly flies when you’re having fun–and when you are busy. I apologize for the long delay between updates; it has been a very busy and productive last few months. I plan to post a lot of pictures, videos, and news in the coming weeks.

As 2017 reaches the halfway point, I am repointing and refocusing my efforts on current research and writing projects, and fewer ghost investigations. Not that there is anything wrong with ghost hunting, but planning the investigations, the travel involved, and spending weeks reviewing evidence takes a LOT of time. And so does writing. Finding the time to investigate hauntings, research cases, and write books, all at once, and hoping for the proverbial “big bang,” is daunting at best. Any more ghost investigations? You betcha–but just not as frequently (for a while). It is now time to catch up on my writing projects.

I have several works in progress, some of which are near completion. In my queue is a new, revised edition of “The Bell Witch: The Full Account,” a sequel to “Ghostly Cries From Dixie,” entitled, “More Ghostly Cries From Dixie,” and two new, first edition books: “The Outlaws and Ghosts of The Natchez Trace” and “From Turkey Creek – A Memoir.” The Natchez Trace book is in its early stages, and Turkey Creek is almost finished.

You will be hearing much more about these titles, as well as release dates and upcoming appearances, through more frequent updates of this web site/blog. I will also be sharing pictures from various ghost investigations and my travels.

In the meantime, I leave you with a video from a ghost investigation near Jackson, Tennessee, conducted on January 21, 2017. Three of us investigated an 1850s-era church building and Masonic hall, and the graveyard behind it, which dates back to the early 1820s. Activity was fast and furious, so much that we brought a much larger group for another investigation on June 24th; we encountered the same results.  The area is chock full of history. Watch the video and read the captions for more information!

Thanks for watching. See you soon!

About My Upcoming Title – The Outlaws and Ghosts of The Natchez Trace

The Outlaws and Ghosts of The Natchez Trace, a working title for now, will be released in 2015. Its release will culminate a long journey of intrigue and fascination that began in the early 1990s.

At the time, I lived just outside of Nashville, on McCrory Lane. Directly across the road from me was the northern terminus of the recently-completed Natchez Trace Parkway, a modern highway that roughly follows the path of the old Natchez Trace.

The Natchez Trace was a footpath that led from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi. Created by prehistoric animals and used by Native Americans for centuries, the Trace became a major trail for European and American explorers and traders in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

Despite the presence of today’s modern parkway and thousands of visitors each year, the Natchez Trace’s enduring sense of time, place, and mystery is ever present along its 440-mile path through the wilderness. Although the Trace is known for its natural beauty and rich history, it is also shrouded in mystery. Tragic, often savage events were common in its early days when foot travelers attempted to make the grueling, six-week trip from Natchez to Nashville.

Because most of those travelers carried large sums of money, the Natchez Trace became a haven for land pirates, thugs, and even cold-blooded killers. Some travelers managed to evade or fend off the hoodlums, only to succumb to disease, snake bites, or other perils of the wild before they could make it home.

With its sad and often bloody history, the Natchez Trace is the collective footprint of tragedies past. And, as one might expect, the horrendous events that occurred along its path over two-hundred years ago left behind a spiritual residue that still lingers today.

Ghosts of weary travelers, friendly innkeepers, and infamous outlaws keep a vigilant watch over the old Natchez Trace. Who were they? Why have they not moved on? Is there something they want to tell us?

~~~

As an avid, lifelong researcher of history and the paranormal–and a Southern author to boot–I have studied the Trace for many years. The place has always intrigued and fascinated me, and no fewer than one-hundred people have told me that I “definitely” need to write a book about the Trace. But that was easier said than done.

Although living on McCrory Lane had its advantages, such as spending every weekend and holiday driving the Trace and scouting all of its trappings, another book project lay in front of me, one that I had been researching ever since I was a child in the 1970s–the Bell Witch. After the 1999 “short version” was released, followed by the comprehensive, 406-page version some time later, pressure from the reading public forced my writing and research to take a more paranormal turn. So that, I did. And I still do. History and exploring historic locations is my first love, and the paranormal is my second.

It gives me great pleasure and satisfaction to finally be able to commence working on the Natchez Trace book. Although I will cover lots of paranormal locations and stories, the book’s common thread will be history. And, most notably, the history of those who MADE the Natchez Trace such a haunted location in the first place: the ruthless, throat-slitting, disemboweling scoundrels who made it their sinister playground.

I am looking forward to weaving this nasty and unnerving tapestry of greed, bloodshed, and the supernatural.

The Outlaws and Ghosts of The Natchez Trace
ISBN: 978-0-9705156-7-4
Coming in 2015!

Official Facebook page for updates, excerpts, and signing & lecture informationhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Outlaws-and-Ghosts-of-The-Natchez-Trace/1574089829479013

Facebook Pages for Two New Books

The Facebook pages for two of my three upcoming books are now online. They’re new, and I’m still moving in, but please feel free to “like” those pages. By doing so, you will receive periodic updates on the progress of each book, as well as release dates, signings, and other events! Just click on the title.

The Outlaws and Ghosts of the Natchez Trace

MORE Ghostly Cries From Dixie

Fall Update

I hope everyone had a great Halloween and is enjoying this creepy fall weather.

I’ve been involved with several projects as of late, one of which is more ghost hunting and paranormal investigation. If you write books about ghosts and the paranormal, you need to live the part. Right? I’ve been to several places over the past year, most notably The Thomas House in Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee. Why there? Why so many times? That’s because it’s one of those places where you will always be guaranteed action. I like action, lots of action. With its sordid past, the place stays active around the clock, every day. It’s also a short drive for me, the overnight room rates are cheap, the food is great, and the place makes an excellent getaway for reading, writing, or just relaxing and rebooting the old mind. It should come as no surprise that I am including The Thomas House in the sequel to Ghostly Cries From Dixie, which I am currently working on.

The sequel, still unnamed but using “MORE Ghostly Cries From Dixie” as its working title, will be released in the spring of 2015. As was the case with its predecessor, it will be a compilation of weird and ghostly tales from the South. Sound easy? Given the South’s reputation for haunted places and campfire tales, one would think it easy to find plenty stories for the book. Not so. Finding ghost stories for inclusion in a book is one the hardest projects I’ve ever worked on. The story needs to be rich enough in history to create a backdrop and backstory, yet creepy enough to be consistent with the book’s theme. Well-grounded ghost stories, especially those from the South, contain not only spooky elements, but also a strong sense of place.

During my search for bookworthy ghost stories from the South, I kept finding stories from the Natchez Trace, a footpath through the Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee wilderness back in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Apparently, some of the early travelers along the old path, who never made it home, are still wandering up and down the trail or lurking in the nearby woods after more than 200 years. There were a few Native American attacks, a couple disease scares, and a handful of natural deaths, but most of those who died on the Natchez Trace were murdered by outlaws and bandits. Money was not always the motive. Some “land pirates,” such as the Harp Brothers, killed people just for the sake of killing. They thought it was fun. The Natchez Trace is full of history, outlaw stories, and ghosts. So, guess what? In addition to the “Ghostly Cries From Dixie” sequel, I am also writing a book about the infamous ghosts and bandits of the Natchez Trace. Look for it in the summer of 2015.

Also, at some point, I will hopefully get From Turkey Creek – A Memoir and the Bell Witch update book done as well.

Later……

The Death of Sarah (An excerpt)

Below is a short paragraph excerpt from my forthcoming sequel to Ghostly Cries From Dixie. The excerpt comes from a chapter dealing with Tennessee’s infamous “Thomas House,” one of America’s most haunted places. Scheduled for release in the fall, the “Ghostly Cries” sequel follows in the terrifying footsteps of its predecessor by serving up a bewitching concoction of weird and ghostly tales from the American South.

The Death of Sarah

In the summer of 1929, eight-year-old Sarah Hanning and her parents visited the Cloyd Hotel and Spa in hopes of curing her rare stomach condition. Her doctor believed that bathing in the water from nearby springs would help her. She tried to stay active and cheerful throughout her stay at the resort, but her stomach ailment often brought intense pain and weakness.

Sarah’s daily trips to the spring did more harm than good; in just two weeks, the color had faded from her skin and a yellow puffiness had begun to fill her eyes. Her health deteriorated rapidly, and it wasn’t long before she couldn’t muster enough energy to get out of bed. One sultry July morning, Sarah began shaking violently and vomiting profusely. Over the next few minutes, she rolled around in her bed and covered her mouth with her hands to try to stop the vomiting, but to no avail. When the violent spell finally subsided, she developed severe chills and passed out. She lay motionless in her mother’s arms while her father and Mr. Cloyd went to fetch the local doctor. By the time they returned, Sarah was dead.

End

If you haven’t already snagged a copy of the first book, Ghostly Cries From Dixie, you can get eBook and paperback copies by clicking here and following the Amazon links. If you prefer a signed and personalized copy, click here. To keep tabs on all of my writing forays and initiatives, click here to join my official Facebook page.

Chattanooga Trip Highlights and Info

In a recent post, I mentioned going to Chattanooga, Tennessee for a few days. Now I’m back. What’s up with Chattanooga–why several trips in only two months?

The focus of my southeasterly travels has been the Delta Queen, a legendary, 90-year-old steamboat that is currently a floating hotel in Chattanooga. Only two hours down Interstate 24, the Delta Queen affords me three opportunities: 1) To see, feel, and essentially “live on” a boat I’ve been passionately interested in since my childhood; 2) to have a fun yet cozy “instant getaway,” anytime I need it; and 3) to study history and ghosts (two of my favorite subjects), and do some writing along the way. Ghosts? Yes. Read on.

Several of the Cabin Deck’s rooms (106, 109, 110, and 111) — the last two, in particular–have seen their share of weird, unexplainable activity. This includes water faucets turning on and off by themselves, guests feeling “watched,” personal items being moved or rearranged, and “whispering” sounds emanating from the walls. Also on the Cabin Deck, The Forward Cabin Lounge (aka the main lobby) has seen spooky activity in the form of ghostly figures of old ladies and men decked out in suits and ties peering into the lobby from the decks outside. This phenomenon is especially noticeable in photographs. Although plenty interesting things happen on the Cabin Deck, it is only the beginning; ghosts inhabit the entire boat.

Staterooms on the upper decks often experience the alarming sound of someone (or something) desperately trying to open the doors to the rooms. The sounds range from the repeated jamming of a key into the locks, to the doors actually being jarred back and forth, violently, as though someone were trying to force them open. Startled guests have awoken to the noises and, when not too terrified to move, tried to find the culprit. They never find anyone outside their doors; and the 285-foot deck is void of people. Another upper-deck room has, on one occasion, echoed a woman’s mischievous giggles. The incident occurred about 4AM, when most guests were asleep. No one was staying in the adjoining cabins.

Perhaps the most haunted place on the Delta Queen is the expansive Dining Room, named “The Orleans Room” and situated on the vessel’s lower deck. From the shoreline outside the boat, visitors have reported seeing “shadow people” moving about the dining room at all hours of the night, even when it is closed. Others have noticed a heavy, dark shadow suddenly looming over them as they worked in the kitchen. The shadow disappears after a second. Phantom footsteps are also commonly experienced in the Dining Room, along with the sound of dishes being clashed together and moved around in the kitchen, even when the kitchen is void of people. On one occasion, the piano on the Dining Room’s entertainment stage reportedly played by itself.

What proof do we have that the Delta Queen is haunted? The most convincing evidence comes in the form of unaltered photographs, their authenticity to which I can attest. Also, over the past few years, paranormal investigation groups have obtained very convincing EVP’s. In my opinion, there are TWO parties happening simultaneously on the Delta Queen. The first is the here and now; the present day, you and me. The second party happened many, many years ago, and is constantly replaying itself with the passengers, crew, sights, sounds, and even smells, of a bygone era being played out aboard the Delta Queen. And, at rare moments when the veil thins, we can partially see and experience the ghostly sights and sounds. But, aside from the boat’s glamorous, romantic past, a few tragedies also deserve mention.

In World War II, the Delta Queen served as a hospital transport boat in San Francisco Bay. It transported severely injured and mortally wounded soldiers from ocean-going “hospital ships” to medical facilities in San Francisco. Shortly after the War, Greene Steamboat Lines of Cincinnati, Ohio purchased the boat and began offering cruises of the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers. From 1947 to 1949, Captain Mary Becker Greene, America’s first female steamboat captain, was at the helm of the Delta Queen. She died on the boat, in room 109. She was 80. A benevolent spirit, her presence is consistently felt throughout the vessel. Later, in the 1950s, a chef in the kitchen was killed with a meat cleaver after he pulled a knife on the butcher (go figure–you DON’T pull a knife on a butcher, ever), over a poker debt. Others also have died on the boat. Packed with such tragedy and triumph, and blanketed with the spiritual residue of four generations, it’s no wonder that the Delta Queen is literally infested with ghosts.

That’s all for now, but I’m sure I’ll write more on the Delta Queen in the coming months. Also, the full Delta Queen story, including all of its haunted history, will appear in my next collection of ghost stories (the sequel to Ghostly Cries From Dixie).

Last but not least: Here is a link to the boat (hotel’s) Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/DeltaQueenSteamboat

 

“Elly Hays” Book Release Tour — Stops Here Nov. 6th!

Elly Hays of Tennessee

by Lori Crane

 

At 2:15 a.m. on December 16, 1811, residents of New Madrid, Missouri were shaken from their beds by a 7.7 magnitude earthquake. The ground rolled, snapping trees, destroying homes and barns, and creating large fissures in the earth. In some places, the mighty Mississippi flowed backwards, and some people simply disappeared without a trace. The earthquake was felt in an area as large as 50,000 square miles. (In comparison, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake was felt in a 6,200 square mile area.) Church bells rang as far away as Charleston and Boston, sidewalks cracked in Washington, D.C., and chimneys toppled in Cincinnati. The initial earthquake was followed by two more large quakes: one on January 23 at 9:15 a.m. that registered 7.5, and one on February 7 at 3:45 a.m. that registered 7.7. The year 1812 saw more than eighteen hundred aftershocks shake the region, registering between 3.0 and 7.0.

In late 1811, Shawnee Chief Tecumseh was traveling the south, encouraging the various Indian Nations to unite against the white settlers. Somehow, he used a prophecy of coming earthquakes to convince the nations to follow him. He promised arms and ammunition from the British, who were gearing up for the War of 1812 and who needed help from the Indians to defeat the Americans. For the Creek Indian Nation of Alabama, the difference in opinion as to whether or not to join Tecumseh resulted in a civil war called the Red Stick War. Alabama saw the Creeks fighting among themselves, against the U.S. governments, and against the white settlers who were continually encroaching upon their tribal land.

It was during this time, a white pioneer family left their shaken land and destroyed home in Greene County, Tennessee and moved to Alabama for a fresh start. Unknowingly, they were moving into the middle of Creek territory—into the middle of a hornet’s nest. The Indians taunted them, stealing their livestock, destroying their crops, and the final straw, burning down their house and everything in it.

The wife and mother of this pioneer family was Elly Hays Rodgers, and she is the heroine of my new book, Elly Hays. She is in fact my 5th great grandmother, and her story is one of courage, fortitude, and determination. She was a brave and protective mother who faced the frightening Creek warriors head on. “Elly Hays” is the third book in the Okatibbee Creek series, following Okatibbee Creek and An Orphan’s Heart. They are stand-alone stories and do not need to be experienced in order.

Elly Hays is the epic saga of a fearless warrior with nothing to lose and a young mother on the verge of losing everything.

"Elly Hays," by Lori Crane

“Elly Hays,” by Lori Crane

 

GIVEAWAYS

1. EBOOK!  Every comment on this post during the Elly Hays book tour (Nov 4-16) will be entered to win an ebook of the 1st or 2nd book in the Okatibbee Creek series, OKATIBBEE CREEK or AN ORPHAN’S HEART. Your choice of Kindle or Nook. One winner will be chosen. Prize will be delivered by email. Winner will be posted here in the comments on November 17, 2013. Visit each stop of the tour to increase your chances. An ebook will be given away at each stop. Tour schedule is posted at www.LoriCraneAuthor.com.

2. $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD! If you sign up for Lori’s newsletter by November 16th, you will be entered into the drawing for a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card. One winner will be chosen. Prize will be delivered by email. Winner will be announced in the newsletter on November 18, 2013. Sign up at www.LoriCraneAuthor.com.

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Lori Crane

Late Summer Update

Hey! Long time, no see! I’m sorry for the prolonged absence, but a half dozen projects have kept me busy. The “fun” projects include working on the Bell Witch Thirteenth Anniversary Edition, and editing Turkey Creek one last time before I send it off to the REAL editor. That poses a problem because I keep recollecting boyhood stories that I want to add, yet when I am editing, my goal is to cut, cut, cut. Since beginning my edits–and working through all seven passes–I’ve managed to cut about 200 pages. And the stories I want to add? They equal… about 200 pages.

The paperback copies of The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge, signed by author Lori Crane, have arrived and are on sale. I will join Lori by signing and personalizing them (I wrote the foreword). You can snag your copy here. Any copies not sold online will be signed and sold at lectures and signings.

Speaking of book signings, I am proceeding with the fall signing and lecture tour, although I won’t be swinging by some of the regular, out-of-state venues. Projects, along with several local events and private engagements, are keeping me close to home this fall. In October, I will participate in a panel discussion about folklore and historical research, and I’ll discuss the methods I’ve used in researching the “Bell Witch” case over the last three decades. This is for the Tennessee Society of Historical Archivists, I believe. Several fall signing and lecture events are also in the works, and will be announced soon. Stay tuned.

Book Signing and Storytelling Event

Sunday, October 27th, 3-6 PM Central

Author Pat Fitzhugh will be on hand for Bell Witch storytelling and signing the books, “The Bell Witch: The Full Account,” “Ghostly Cries From Dixie,” and “The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge.”

Chester’s Halloween Costume Ball and Karaoke
Shady Acres Activity Center — Old Rink Plaza
1649 Murfreesboro Rd.
Lebanon, Tennessee

Also: DJ and costume contest!
ADMISSION IS FREE!