Ghosts - Haints - Spooky

Ghosts at the River

Today’s guestpost was written by Garland Davis.


ghost at the river

Ghosts at the River written by Garland Davis

It happened on a clear night shortly before Halloween when I was a little boy. I think I was ten or eleven years old. I remember it well. It was the night the ghosts talked Grand Pap into whipping Uncle Buddy and me.

Seven or eight of my cousins, my brothers and I wanted to camp out overnight down by the river. Our parents said okay as long as Buddy stayed with us. Joe Davis Jr. (AKA Buddy) was four years old when I was born. He was more like an older cousin or brother than an uncle. Since buddy and I were the oldest kids, our folks gave us the responsibility of overseeing the activities along the river.

Our parents provided three or four packs of weenies, buns and mustard. We also had a box of graham crackers, marshmallows and a couple of Hershey bars each. We were set for a big night on the river.

It was between a quarter and half a mile to the area we had selected for a campground. Buddy had a large square of canvas that he and I pulled over a rope stretched between two trees and pegged the corners down, creating a tent like structure to sleep in. We each had a quilt to wrap up in.

We set up the camp, gathered stones for a fire ring, pulled up logs to sit on, laid in enough dry wood to keep the fire going all night and settled in for a memorable night. The fire was started, after a couple of arguments about the best way to do it. My cousin Tony, a Boy Scout, tried to start it by rubbing sticks together and got mad when someone else struck a match and set his sticks on fire. This almost started a fight until Uncle Buddy threatened them with bodily harm.

Once the fire was going and the sun was sinking low, we settled in for supper. Weenies were roasted, hot dogs were consumed and marshmallow and chocolate sandwiches were eaten as the mosquitos began snacking on us. Green leaves and water plants were thrown onto the fire to create smoke. I don’t know whether it bothered the mosquitos more than it did us. It did seem to help a bit with the skeeters.

At sunset, as the dusk settled, my little brother and my cousins began to hear things moving in the woods. There was talk of alligators, ghosts, haints and painters (country for haunts and panthers). Buddy and I added to their unrest by periodically exclaiming, “Did you hear that! What’s that noise?”

Buddy says, “I’ll bet it is the haint of Jim Westmoreland and his four boys that drownded in the river back a few years ago. I’ve heered it said that if’n you call out their names, they will come and set with you.”

We were all quiet. One cousin, began crying, saying, “Don’t call them. I’m scared. I don’t want to set with no haints,” as the wind shook the leaves in the trees. By this time, I think staying close to the fire and the dark was the only thing that kept them from running for home.

We all gathered closer to the fire, one cousin adding more wood. I said, “Don’t use up all the wood, it’ll get dark and they will come for sure.”

Buddy laughing, calls out in a loud voice, “Jim, Jim Westmoreland, Bob Westmoreland!”

I joined in calling, “Franklin, Junior, come sit with us.”

My youngest brother begins crying, screaming “I want to go home.”
Buddy and I are laughing. The others are caught between laughing or running. More wood was thrown on the fire. By this time, we had a veritable bon fire going.

“Ooooo, Jim, Bob, William, Franklin, and Junior Westmoreland come set with us. Oooo.” Buddy says laughing. The younger kids were crying and begging to go home.

I threw a stone into the river and yelled, “They’re coming, I hear them in the river!”

My youngest brother wet his pants. The other brother and he broke for the path toward home, both screaming bloody murder. The others took off behind them leaving Buddy and me. Laughing, we put the fire out and followed the path back up to Pap’s house.

Pap was on his way to feed his pigs as my brothers and a stream of cousins came screaming into the yard and house. Half of them had wet or messed their britches. They all had tears and snot running down their faces. Their mothers ran to comfort them while their dads were laughing saying, “They held out longer than I thought.”

It seems that a great flood of the river in the early nineteen hundreds had relocated the river from a point near Pap’s place to its present location. The Westmorelands had drowned just down from Pap’s hog pen. He had been feeding his pigs when Jim and his four boys appeared out of nowhere and told him. “Joe Davis, stop, them boys from calling us. I thanks they need a good hidin’.”

When Uncle Buddy and I got back to the house, Pap took his razor strop down and whipped our butts for disturbing the ghosts.


I hope you enjoyed Garland’s story as much as I did. As a once backward skinny little girl who was sometimes aggravated to death by older cousins I find myself smiling that the ghost of Jim Westmoreland instructed Pap to whip the boys.



You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    October 25, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    What a story teller and writer, I was there with them seemed liked sitting by the smoking fire freezing my butt off, but afraid to move for fear I would see the haunts of the ones that were drowned close by. Thanks Tipper and Garland for sharing this I was a Davis before marriage. When I was a little girl a group of nieces and nephews were sleeping on pallets The beds were full of adults who had shared haunt stories all evening and up until bedtime.. We were all close to the same ages and when the lights went off everyone dove under the cover. I was really hyped up after playing all day and all of a sudden there was something bend down over me felt like a fuzzy cocker spanler dog, boy my heart raced ninety to noting and I pulled the cover tighter over me soon after my fright I musted have dozed off, Never knew what that was either.
    Mary Lou McKillip

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    October 22, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    I am honored that Tipper chose to feature my story on the Blind Pig. I am humbled by the many complimentary comments from the readers of the Blind Pig. My thanks to you Tipper and to your audience.
    As they say in Hawaiian, Mahalo Nui Loa. Aloha!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 22, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    Garland, now then I wouldn’t jest fess up to the Ethanol part, although that explains somewhat Pap talking to ghosts. You could always say he heerd a varmit in the corn patch behind the hog waller and ran into Jim and the boys! ha
    I loved your ghost tale Garland. I bet you you have some more of those tales som’ers, you ort to send Tipper some more of them. Such fun hearing the mountain stories! Just like sittin’ on the porch listenin’ in the folks tellin’ tales back at my grannies!
    Thanks for sharing,

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    October 22, 2016 at 6:48 pm

    I guess all kids sit around on dark nights and tell ghost/monster stories, cause we did too. I remember one time we were all sitting on our side stoop before the garage was built there. Cousin Rick was telling a spooky story (his Mom let him see all kinds of scary movies while our Mom didn’t). Our brother’s little beagle dog Scout was sitting on my lap when our Cousin Rick let out a monster roar. He scared the dog so much, the dog peed in my lap and ran off, leaving me to take some teasing and need a change of pants. LOL
    I pray everyone’s having a wonderful weekend, and a safe one too.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    October 22, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    I don’t know how you find these talented people, Garland is a wonderful storyteller and writer. I enjoyed and can relate to those times when we were just mischievous boys.
    Hope Chitter and Chatter did well at the Cherokee County Fair. Wish I could have been there and our friends at Wofford College are in for a real treat come Thursday. …Ken

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    October 22, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    You are right b. Ruth, it is too late to be feeding pigs. I will rewrite it to say that Pap was down by the river tending his still. After all, my Grand Pap was a pioneer in the Ethanol Industry, you know converting corn to alcohol…

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 22, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    I happened to recall a somewhat spooky, somewhat comic and rather serious family story about things in the dark.
    My Mom was born in a coal camp down under the cliffs in the river holler and lived there until she was three. One night a neighbor woman sent someone to ask her mother, my grandma, to come to her house. Part of footpath she took passed underneath the cliff. It was late when she started back home and she had the thought, “Now underneath this cliff would be the perfect place if someone was to jump out at me.” So she got out her pocket knife and carried it open in her hand. And when a big black something did leap out at her she slashed across it only to hear a voice she knew well say, “Lord, Jane you’ve killed me!” Shaking and weak they tottered on to the lights to discover that the blade had just reached through the clothes, leaving a dashed line of a very shallow cut across another neighbor’s body. I don’t think either one ever knew who was scared the worse

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    October 22, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    Thanks to Garland Davis for a great story! Those poor little boys.

  • Reply
    Betty Louise Saxon Hopkins
    October 22, 2016 at 11:56 am

    What a great ghost story! It brings to mind the many times when, as a little girl, I would spend the night with my grandmother. It was long before TV came to our little community, and the mountains could be a lonely place after the sun went down, so storytelling was our entertainment. I heard many stories about “haints” and “painters” and “Rawhead and Bloody Bones.” As the stories unfolded, I could just feel them creeping up the stairs to get me, and it would just chill your bones. Better than anything on TV! Thanks for sharing this story and bringing back such wonderful memories!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 22, 2016 at 9:17 am

    and Garland
    That is a good ghost story for sure! Were you still there when the ghost of Jim and his boys made the visit to Pap to instruct him to whip you boys? Just seeing their ghosts would have been punishment enough for me! I don’t think I would set foot near that river again especially at night!
    Thanks Tipper for posting Garlands story!
    PS Garland, one more thang…What wuz Pap doing feedin’ his hogs so late in the evenin’? Just wondering?
    I also place Pap as being the “good feller” (disciplinarian) in this situation. He was trying to teach the older boys not to tease, scare and bully the younger ones even in jest. Then he was smart enough to blame the fact he had to (correct) “whoop” them on the ghosts of Jim and his boys. He (probably a favorite grand pap) wouldn’t have to be the bad guy in his grandchildren’s eyes, he was just doing the ghosts bidding! Great Story!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 22, 2016 at 8:59 am

    What a neat twist to the usual ghost story! And also how true to life of country boys. I was struck also by the maturity credited to the group. I have long thought that country life does train boys and girls to act responsibly because there are always plenty of responsible chores to be done that even children can do. So they both are given and take responsibility early. When they fail to act responsibly, the bad result is often rather obvious and not long delayed and in addition affects more than just themselves. I was not so glad at the time, but I am glad now that I had chores from an early age; drawing water, carrying in coal and wood, feeding the stock and so on. I am actually sorry my children did not have that discipline, though they are adults to be proud of if I do say so myself.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 22, 2016 at 7:59 am

    Good story, I’m smiling with you, Tip!

  • Reply
    October 22, 2016 at 5:55 am

    Thanks so much Garland Davis for a great story of boys being boys. They certainly used to give children a lot more freedom than they do nowadays. They trusted children to somehow have adult responsibility to behave and stay out of trouble. To turn several boys loose and expect a good outcome would be a miracle. I seem to have my hands full while closely supervising just two boys. I daresay I would fear letting them spend the night in a tent in the back yard.
    Bad behavior is not reserved for young boys however. A neighbor lady got in trouble with all parents when she decided to dress in a sheet and scare about a dozen kids into the houses when they hesitated to come in after dark. We fell over stumps, fences, and her trying to get home.

  • Leave a Reply