Appalachia Ghosts - Haints - Spooky

The Cemetery Lights

The cemetery lights by keith jones

The Cemetery Lights written by Keith Jones

I guess it’s no surprise that we spotted something ghostly that night. After all, we were having a church Halloween party at the old Bethabara church outside Athens, Georgia. We’d even fixed up a ‘haunted house’ for the youth to enjoy in an old office trailer that sat up in the woods behind the church. It was one of the first really chilly nights of fall, and tendrils of drifting fog gave the oak grove where the church house sat just the right ambiance for an evening of spookiness. It was all in good fun—until one of the older youth rushed in the back door. “Brother Keith!” she yelled breathlessly. “You’ve got to come! Somebody has lit a fire over in the cemetery!”

I thought the whole thing was a practical joke or a Halloween hoax, but I went outside on the office trailer’s porch. To my surprise, the flicker of yellow flames could clearly be seen across Highway 78, among the headstones and statues. Hmmm, I thought. Must be some local kids camping out or pulling some mischief down there. Might even be someone messing around with the occult. We’ll send someone to look into it.

Mr. Asa Thomas wasn’t a big man, but his background as both retired military and an Internal Revenue Service officer made him the first person I thought of to send to check out the miscreants. He climbed into his black Ford Crown Vic, promising “I’ll take care of it.” We watched as his car pulled across the four-lane highway and into the gravel of the cemetery driveway. Momentarily, just as if someone had hastily doused it, the light from the ‘campfire’ disappeared. But just as Mr. Asa’s car came opposite our position, high beam headlights blazing, the flickering dim yellow lights reappeared, right between us and his car. He didn’t seem to observe them. He didn’t stop but continued slowly on, returning to our parking lot to report, “I didn’t see anything.”

By this time a considerable group of youth and adults was standing in the church yard. Several folks said, “We watched the light from the fire right when you drove by! How could you not see it?!” But of course, when we tried to show Asa where the lights had been, they were not to be seen.

Asa started to kid us a bit about being too ready to see something eerie. “What’s that, then?” demanded one of the girls, pointing at the yellowish, sickly-looking light that had just reappeared. Asa’s mouth may not have dropped open, but his eyes certainly got big. “I’ll be right back,” he said as he jumped back in his car. He very quickly pulled back to the entrance of the cemetery, but then drove extremely slowly through the loop road. We could see him swinging his big police-type flashlight from side to side, trying to spot whoever was in the graveyard. Occasionally he would dim his lights and then switch back to high beams, as if trying to make sure he didn’t miss anything. Of course, the campfire lights had disappeared again. Then, just as Asa again drove up the middle part of the cemetery lane straight opposite us, here came the shine of the lights again! To our frustration, Asa didn’t stop.

“I don’t understand it,” were the first words from Asa when he returned. “I saw that light when we were standing here before, clear as anything. I even rolled my windows down when I went through the cemetery this last time, and you saw me using the flashlight. I even heard some of the kids yell, ‘There it is!’ when I was right over yonder (he pointed straight across the road). But I did not see anyone, any lights, or any evidence of a fire over in that cemetery.”

“Come on, Mr. Asa,” I said. By this time, I’d had enough. Taking a few of the adult men from the group, we started to walk down between the oak trees in the church yard, heading straight at the light that was again flickering in the cemetery. It snapped out again as we got to the shoulder of the four-lane, but we had our bearings in spite of the dark. We headed right on toward the spot where the light had been. Fog swirled around us, and we had to pause in the grassy median to let some westbound traffic go by. “Y’all be careful!” I heard the wife of one of the men call.

Asa swung his flashlight ahead of us as we started up the far bank toward the old graves. There it was again! But this time the light was white, not yellowish. Then through the fog from my right, a yellow rhythmic flash of light started. And it hit me…the ‘campfire’ we’d been seeing was a reflection of the new intersection warning lights that had been installed at the same time as the new stoplight at the intersection of US 78 and Georgia 53. The lights themselves couldn’t be seen from the church because there were woods in the way. But one of the polished granite headstones was at just the correct angle to reflect the warning lights back up toward the office trailer. The wisps of fog and the intermittent nature of the warning lights had done the rest.


I hope you enjoyed Keith’s tale! I suppose you’ve noticed things are looking different here today. There’s still some bugs to work out but hopefully I’ll have those sorted out soon!



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  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    February 14, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Reread on Valentine’s Day, 2016, and enjoyed the story again.

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    November 1, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    I sure love a good ghost story, and this was a good one. It’s fun to let your mind wander to the unexplained from time to time. When I was a teenager I was at my best friends house. She lived in a big old 2 story house with a basement. No one else was home and we were in the kitchen listening to the radio, looking at romance comic books and eating. We kept hearing noises upstairs, and we were big chickens! We finally decided to peek up the steps. When we heard it again we went outside. We looked up to her bedroom window and her curtains were open about 5 or 6 inches. All of a sudden it was like someone grabbed the curtains and jerked them closed!! I looked at my friend and she looked at me and without speaking a word we both took off running up the street to my house. We were scared to death! We told her Father and he checked the whole house and could not find any explanation. I still remember it so vivid like it was yesterday. I spoke with my friend a few months ago and we talked about that incident. It still scares us both to this day!

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PHD
    October 31, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    Tipper: This “Mountain Storyteller” reminds me of my Daddy and and his youngest brother. They could tell the scariest stories with Grave Yard connections! In fact my uncle refused to be buried in the family grave yard because he had see ‘haints’ floating around in that place many a night!!
    Oh my! I will be glad when daylight comes!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Darlene Debty Kimsey
    October 31, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Good tale!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 31, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Last Tuesday night when I went out, the moon was a perfect circle and looked twice as big. I chased it all the way home. I even went over Yellow Gap and out Old 18 which was miles out of my way. Very few people live out that way so I figured could see the moon in all it glory without background lights to detract from it.
    I went to the store again about 9:00 last night because my wife thought four bushels of candy might not be enough for two trick-or-treaters. Once again the sky was clear and the moon was up but not as high in the sky. And the perfect pie shape had a big bite taken from it. But it was still pretty and I decided to chase the moon again. As I neared home I had a clear shot at it across a soybean field.
    Now comes the strange part. There seemed to be two beams of light projecting up from the horizon on either side of the moon and almost converging above it. The two light beams and the horizon formed a perfect pyramid with the moon in the center. My first thought was “This is something right off the History Channel.”
    I am not a scardy cat. I am more like the one that curiosity eliminated. So I head out toward the moon as best I could. In the general direction of the Hickory Airport. I have seen all kinds of lights in the sky in that direction before but they always swept back and forth or flashed on and off and they only appear on cloudy or foggy nights. Last night was perfectly clear. Not a cloud in the sky.
    Why would two lights be focused on a single stationary point in the sky? Why did the triangle they formed so perfectly encase the moon? Those questions and many others whirled in my head as I raced toward the impossible (or at least the highly unlikely.) But as I drove in the direct of the rays of light they seemed to grow dimmer. Then first the right one then the left one faded away to nothing.
    I went back to where I first saw the beams of light. The moon was still there but without its frame . By then it was after 10:00 PM and I had to get home before search parties came looking for me.
    So ends my Halloween Eve adventure. Maybe I’ll figure it out or maybe one of your readers can tell me. In the meantime I will sit and wonder, “Did I see something special or am I just seeing Things?”

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    October 31, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Keith gave us a nice, scary story perfect for Halloween. There’s usually something
    logic for just about everything, but I like to let my imagination run wild most of the
    My grandma Delia could tell some of the scariest tales ever. I remember her
    telling of looking out her window on night and seeing a ball of fire rolling down
    the mountain. She sent her husband and some more men to investigate and
    they said they saw the ball of fire rolling into the Green Hole. (a place in the
    Nantahala River that supposedly has no bottom.) …Ken

  • Reply
    Keith Jones
    October 31, 2015 at 10:46 am

    Thanks, Tipper. I like the new look. And especially thanks for the photo, it’s just right for my story!

  • Reply
    October 31, 2015 at 9:13 am

    After reading the first three paragraphs, I thought I might have to call my grandkids to come keep me company on this dark and gloomy morning. But I let the dog in until I finished reading the story. That was a good one, Keith!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 31, 2015 at 9:01 am

    Closest I ever came to seeing anything otherworldly was one night in the church cemetery. I was sitting in the car waiting for my wife when I saw movement. Something in the cemetery was passing back and forth between me and a solar light down near the woods. Not only that, but when it was in front of the light the light still shone through it ! I thought I must finally have seen a ghost for real. Only after watching it come and go for some time did I realize a flag at a soldiers grave was fluttering in the wind, alternately blocking and revealing the light.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 31, 2015 at 8:26 am

    I enjoyed this post by Keith Jones…the description, “tendrils of drifting fog” did set the right ambience
    for this reader….I could imagine the long finger-like fog drifting down and around the haunted scene!
    I was a little disappointed that there was an explanation for the lights…ha…but of course there usually is an answer whether one finds it right away or not for these ghostly sights…Happy Halloween to all!
    Now then….I think I like the look of the website…I do miss all the color…I would describe the look like my Grandmother used to if we had a misery…”You look a little bit peaked, are you feeling well!?” ha
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    October 31, 2015 at 8:02 am

    Leave it up to my son, Keith Jones, to weave a tale. “Mountain Storyteller,” is his venue. He, like his father before him, has the ability to tell stories and more times than not they have a punch line to accompany what he is preaching or teaching. I can imagine that group of church youth and their excitement as they awaited Mr. Asa Thomas’s report from the “ghouls in the graveyard” that were making the strange fire, and especially on Halloween. The new look of “Blind Pig and the Acorn” is good! We enjoy it either way, new format or old, and thank you for a “daily-must-see” post!

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