Kingsport hauntings …are you a believer?

Thump thump, Thump thump, Thump thump … your heart is pounding, your breath quickens, and your chest tightens. To some this sounds like torture, but for others, this is part of the thrilling feeling of being scared at Halloween!

October is a time for horror flicks, hot cider, hayrides, pumpkin patches, and haunted houses. Luckily for local thrill seekers, our own town of Kingsport is filled with its own macabre folklore and spooky stories.

Turn on a light, look around for what may be lurking in the shadows, and if you dare, read deeper about the hauntings of Kingsport.

Was Betty Hazel Price a witch?
According to Kingsport legend, Betty Hazel Price was hanged for witchcraft in 1888. She is buried in the seemingly serene Boatyard Cemetery on Netherland Inn Road across from Riverfront Park, a hotbed of paranormal activity. Believers say Betty “Witch” Hazel is notorious for making her presence known. Many a night-time visitor to her grave has claimed she will beat on her coffin warning you to stop disturbing her eternal slumber.

Skeptics believe the initials W.H. on the tombstone in Boatyard Cemetery don’t stand for Witch Hazel, but in fact belong to William H. Price, a local dry goods merchant that died in 1888.

We will leave it to the reader to decide … does a witch still cast her spell over Kingsport? Perhaps only those who visit the grave know for sure.

Does a former student take the stage at Ketron?
In 1966, before Ketron High School was converted to an elementary school, its history was marred by the tragic collapse of student Barbara Ann Dixon. According to the Kingsport News, Barbara Ann was laughing and walking down the hall with friends when she inexplicably dropped dead!  Even though administrators and staff performed CPR, Barbara Ann never took another breath.

An autopsy was performed on the young woman, and surgeons were able to determine the cause of death. However, the medical team mysteriously declined to release their findings. Since the premature death of young Barbara Ann, many reports have been made that a girl dressed in a long white dress has been seen walking the gym stage at Ketron.

What folklores lie in Warriors’ Path State Park?
Within Warriors’ Path State Park lie archaeological ruins of Childress Town, founded in the late 1700s by William Childress. It once stood on the banks of the South Fork of the Holston River at the Childress Ferry. On the Fall Creek Road entrance to the park is the historic Roller-Pettyjohn Mill, which was built in 1903.

Settlers from Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina who chose to settle and farm there enjoyed the peaceful valley of Fall Creek. Visitors would pass through, and stories would be told for nightly entertainment.

One of these legends featured William Childress. Quick with an axe and crosscut saw, William cleared many acres to establish his homestead on the settlement. He rarely was seen without his tools, but even more unsettling is he is still seen wielding his saw centuries after his death.

Legend says that William met his untimely end when he ingested poisoned moonshine. And it’s told he still haunts the town’s ruins, crosscut saw in hand, forever looking to expand his property line.

Darker tales of Childress Town include a witch at the ruins of the old mill, seen in the form of a black cat or a shadow, she curses those unlucky enough to catch a glimpse of her.

If you choose to visit the fading ruins of Childress Town, you may also come face to face with the souls of travelers who died on wet nights, when their horses slipped in the treacherous mud of Childress Ferry Road. If you hear the ringing of the old ferryboat bell, don’t be alarmed. It’s just the ghosts of left-behind travelers trying to catch the last boat out.

Have you seen the Long Dog?
According to Waymarking.com, there is a mysterious creature in Kingsport named Long Dog. The Cherokee Indians were the first to spot Long Dog and early settlers saw this beast by the Holston River along the road now known as Big Elm Road near Sensabaugh Tunnel—if you have lived in Kingsport for any time, you know Sensabaugh Tunnel has its own haunts.

The website claims the Cherokee Indians sighted a ghostly creature they named Oolonga-Doglalla, roughly translated as “spirit with knife teeth.” The part dog, part human beast roamed the North Fork of the Holston River Valley at night, moaning and sometimes killing at random. Over the years of storytelling, its name evolved to “Long Dog.”

The victims that lived to tell the tale have described the dog’s gait as a lope, much like a wolverine. They also said it was five- to six-feet long, like a short-tailed panther. The creature has yellowish-red, glowing eyes and its breath smells of burning sulfur. Its hair is matted and oily. Tracks found along the riverbank showed massive, sharp claws.

If you’re in the area, you may not want to turn around … unless you want to see the Long Dog stalking you.

Is Long Island cursed?
Long Island is located near the intersection of the north and south forks of the Holston. The Great Indian War Path was located nearby and brought many natives past this land. This island served as an important ceremonial site for the Cherokee Indians and was also considered sacred ground.

When white settlers started building on the land and establishing a boatyard on the river, the natives left, and a medicine man laid a curse that nothing would prosper on the island.

Eventually parts of the island were developed, and some businesses suffered many hardships. Was this the result of the medicine man’s curse? Visions of Native Americans, unexplained campfires, and ghostly travelers in canoes still hold strong on Long Island.

So why do we love to spook ourselves?
Stacey Allen McGee, CGH, from Appalachian GhostWalks, has been involved with professional paranormal and parapsychological research for 28 years.

He said, “I believe deeply spiritual people of good heart love a good ghost story for one simple reason. When we speak of ghosts, what we are truly speaking of is the extended story of the human experience. Who are we? What are we? What happens to us when the body dies? These are the compelling questions that speak to the deepest nature of who and what we are, and this is what drives folks to seek out real ghost stories as well as the history and mysteries of our Tennessee mountain heritage.”

Matthew Sorge, founder of SRS Paranormal, thinks our fascination with ghosts is a natural thing. Sorge has been investigating paranormal activities for more than 15 years and has 11 people on his team, including a historian.

“There are some haunted places in Kingsport,” he said. “We want to tell the story and separate folklore from fact. Some of these stories probably didn’t happen, and we want to get to the truth.”

Ready to see some ghosts?
Venture out alone to some of the haunts listed above, if you dare.

Or let someone guide you:

Appalachian Ghostwalks offers a Kingsport tour called the “Great Stage Road Haunted Adventure Tour,” which educates about the many old inns and taverns that once followed its path. The scenic driving tour is followed by dinner with the guide and a lantern-led tour of Blountville, which is rich in Revolutionary and Civil War History. For more information, please call 423-743-9255.

And if you think you may have a paranormal activity in your home or residence, visit srsparanormal.com for a consultation free of charge.

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