Appalachia Appalachian Dialect Ghosts - Haints - Spooky

Haunt Tales

haunt tale noun
A variant forms haint tale, hant tale.
B A ghost story
1938 Hall Coll. Emerts Cove TN People’s quit seein’ hants and tellin hant tales. (Glen Shults) 1940 Haun Hawk’s Done 174 Just some little old hant tales was all I knowed. c1940 Padelford Notes A-swappin’ hant tales way up in the night. 1963 Edwards Gravel 116 Uncle Bill, what about that haint tale you promised me?

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


People are still seeing haints around my area of Appalachia…and folks are still talking about seeing them too! In fact we’ll be talking about haints in the coming days. Be sure to tune in if you like that sort of thing.



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  • Reply
    October 23, 2014 at 12:37 am

    Grew up in a slightly haunted house.
    Live in a slightly haunted one now.
    Long as all the haunts stay slight and behave themselves, I’ll be ok with it.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    October 22, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Oh my goodness! I remember hearing false face when I was a kid and never heard off mask until I was older! Have not thought of that expression forever and a day.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    October 22, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    I had an uncle who used to tell this story: “It was around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. There was an old plantation house in Yadkin County. Some of the family still lived in the house. My uncle, as a boy, was tasked, by his father, with delivering a jug of milk to the house each evening. He said he would drive a mule and wagon to deliver the milk. There was a u-shaped drive leading up to the house. Many evenings when he turned into the drive a young Negro boy dressed in white would walk leading the mule to the door. There were no blacks on the place, and hadn’t been since the slaves were freed.” He always told us he thought it was the ghost of a slave boy who had worked as a groom taking care of visitors horses. When we asked him why he continued to deliver the milk after seeing a ghost, he said that he was more scared of the whipping his dad would give him if he didn’t deliver the milk.

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    October 22, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    The Virginia Blue Ridge mountain folk I’ve known from 60+ years ago called them “hants”-ghosts that “riz up from the grave to worry the liven’ folks.” “Haint” was mountain dialect for “aint”, like “h’yar” for “here.”

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    October 22, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    Mother and I was walking back from church one night we had to pass a June apple on the road. when we got under the June apple it was like a chain was dropped behind us in the road. Mother immediately shinned the flash light behind us we saw nothing. I hurriedly got the flash light and shined up in the June apple tree thinking someone might be in the tree . No one in the tree, we saw nothing, sort of eerie……..

  • Reply
    October 22, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    When I was teaching sixth grade, the classes always looked forward to a tale or two during the three or four days before Halloween. I always gave an assignment for them to write a scary, but not gory story. It was a fun writing skill for them to use their immaginations and I looked forward to reading and following their thoughts and grammar usage. The final closing on that lesson was for names pulled out of a box to read their story to the class. With a hundred seventy children a day, I had to find a fair way to select the stories.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 22, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Wow, did Cindy bring back a memory! My Grandmother used to ask us near Halloween…”What kind of false face are you going to wear?”…I don’t recall her ever asking about a mask, like today!
    Also, wasn’t there a “haint tale” about a false face?
    Thanks Tipper,
    Looking forward to everyones stories… This is going to be fun!
    I just hear the wind whistling around the corners of my Grannies house, and me under the covers, listening for footsteps on the darkened stairs, after a evening of haint tales…

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    October 22, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Since Halloween is drawing closer
    I figured it’s about time for all
    them Haint and Booger Stories. I
    enjoy all the commenters’ stories
    from their childhood…Ken

  • Reply
    October 22, 2014 at 11:43 am

    Personally always felt we limit ourselves tremendously when we think the five senses is all the human body has. I have very rarely and unexpectedly seen something before it happened, and also have seen something I could never explain. Fortunately, I had witnesses to most of this, but they don’t talk about it either. I rarely have spoken of this, as don’t want some to think I am “tetched” in the head.
    I grew up with a wonderful childhood full of night time ghost and haint stories from cousins and grown-ups alike. The Golden Arm was told over and over, and mostly told by a cousin in the upstairs of an old log house. In fairness to my Dad, he never knowingly permitted anyone to scare us. I saw no harm, and am not afraid of anything much except flying. Not much to entertain back then, so we made our own excitement.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    October 22, 2014 at 11:35 am

    caint wait for haints!!!!!!!!

  • Reply
    Mel Hawkins
    October 22, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Tipper: Have you ever heard of a “Dumb Supper”?

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 22, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Back in the late 1800 my great-great grandfather William DeHart left Licklog for market one day with a wagon load of apples and disappeared. At about the same time Martha the servant girl also disappeared. This could be more science fiction than a haint story because they both remineralized in Pike County, Alabama. Fate would have it that they were beamed down in the same place and since they were alone together in an alien land, they became fast friends. In fact they were so close they had five children between 1885 and 1897. In 1904 they got married. Maybe it’s a romance. “A Tale of Requited Lust!”

  • Reply
    October 22, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Mama told us a story about her grandpa who was susceptible to “seeing things” or at least thinking he did. Mama said he came in flying one night with the horse about rode to death & told everybody the devil had chased him home.

  • Reply
    October 22, 2014 at 9:29 am

    I hope you and your readers share lots of “hant tales”. That’s something our family never did. Although I enjoy Edgar Allen Poe’s stories and think Stephen King does a gripping job of telling his extended tales, I am not a fan of “horror movies”.
    Still – a good story teller can pull you in with their facial expressions, their body language, and their voice.
    We did, however, tell ghost stories on campouts. I differentiate between ‘ghost stories’ and ‘hant tales’ because I think our ghost stories may have been a bit more interactive.
    One cub scout campout was by a lake. We adults got together on one tale and after corraling the boys in one tent proceeded – with special effects. At a critical point the special effects guys got a little carried away, throwing several buckets of water at the tent simultaneously and upsotting (spelling intended) the tent. Little boys either scattered and ran or landed firmly attached to me in my lap.
    One unfortunate runner was stopped by a cactus patch – we wound up at the ER with a doctor and nurse trying to remove all those barbs.
    – – so, be careful – – one spooky story can lead to another!

  • Reply
    October 22, 2014 at 9:22 am

    I love hearing haint stories. Both my parent believed in the supernatural and did a good job of keeping their kids under the covers at night with their “true” stories. If we had friends spend the night, telling haint stories was our form of entertainment. After Dad had our hair standing on ends, he would offer us a dollar (a whole dollar!) to go get something from the barn. None of us ever wanted candy or ice cream that bad.
    Miss Cindy, I must have been 10 years old the last time I heard anyone say false face. I don’t know why I forgot that part of the boogerman stories I heard so often. I loved your comment!

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    October 22, 2014 at 7:33 am

    We told haint tales in Choestoe when I was growing up. There never seemed to be any thought that such tales might give children undue fears or “warped” personalities. My cousins and I loved “spending the night with” Allie and Early Hood. They were a couple without children. He was my mother’s nephew, but more my mother’s own age, for he was a child of my mother’s oldest sister. Earl and Allie entertained Wilma, Harold, Genelle (my cousins) and my brother Bluford and me after supper with the most awesome haint tales you’ve ever heard. Yes! They scared us in a good way. And when finally the fire had burned low and it was time for bed, we kids would be so scared that Earl would sleep with the boys and Allie with the girls to assure us no haints were lurking in the attic to “git” us as we slept! It was a chilly fear, but a good “tucked-in-warm-and-safe” feeling, too. Part of my growing up that I look back on with fond memories are all the stories we were told to entertain us. One of the “haint” tales I wrote about is the mother’s concern to get milk for her baby. It was commonly passed around in haint tale sessions in my growing-up years.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 22, 2014 at 7:31 am

    Here is one part of one tale I remember hearing…now-a-days I have to make up the rest of the story myownself!
    “Yeah, that’s what Lone’s was told his Uncle seen! Well, he was a’watchin’ him from acrost the field while he was a’plowin’!
    He was leadin’ that mule down the row, late that evenin’, when he just disappeared right before his eyes! When he got over to that side of the field, there wasn’t a trace of him, nothing, not a shoe, his pouch, not his hat, nothing! The row, he was a plowin’ left half finished!”
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…I was thinking that those hilly mountains, left a slight rise in the elevation and drops as well. The guy plowing just decided he was done for the evening. Hawed left and went down towards the woody short cut to the barn. When the viewer looked back it appeared to him that he disappeared! At least that is what I made up in my mind…No, never did hear if someone saw him again or not??

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 22, 2014 at 7:19 am

    Not big on haints, but I’ll be tuning in any way and I’ll be listening for a story about false face.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 22, 2014 at 7:00 am

    I love to hear “haint tales”! I wish I could remember all the parts to the ones that I heard when I was a child. I remember stretched out on the porch on a pallet just at dusk and the soft voice of someone starting the tale. I could always tell when there was going to be something I knew I wanted to hear, because they would lower their voices just in case I wasn’t quite asleep. That is when I wouldn’t move and my ears would strain to hear every word. A lot of the times before all the tales of this and that were told, I would fall asleep. Those were the good old days!
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…The next day I would ask about a certain tale, and would be told, “Ahhh, you know your Uncle makes most of that stuff up!”

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