By Nethan Crew
King House, one of campus’s oldest buildings, is said to be inhabited by the ghost of its namesake, Edmund King.
There are conflicting viewpoints on how King died. Some say that he died in 1863 when he was 82 years old from health issues. Others claim that he died by getting hit by a tree limb while walking through his orchard. He often walked between the fruit trees, tending to them and occasionally walking to the nearby family cemetery to visit his deceased wife and son’s graves.
Even in death, King is rumored to continue his orchard walks, with many claiming to see the shadowy presence of a man with lantern and shovel in hand lurking around King House at night. Rumor has it, King buried gold coins around his property during the Civil War to hide them from Union soldiers.
Others have reported seeing a figure in the dimly lit windows of the house’s upper floor, opening curtains and smiling at passer-bys. This figure is often accompanied by faint footsteps coming from the bedroom that King spent much of his later years in or the sound of jingling coins, allegedly the sound of King counting his fortune.
All attempts to catch the ghost of Edmund King have been unsuccessful, with those who have stayed in the house reporting that the sounds vanish as soon as one comes to the door of the bedroom.
There have also been reports of spectral bobbing lights around the headstones of the various King family members in the cemetery, including his first wife, Nancy Ragan King, who died in 1842 and his second wife, Susan D. King, who died in 1850.
Several of King’s children also lay in the cemetery, many of whom had tragic and untimely deaths. This includes Lylleton King, who was buried in 1848 after a hunting accident where he was shot and killed by his brother Nathaniel. Nathaniel later died of tuberculosis in 1863.
A few of King’s grandsons were also buried in the family cemetery, following untimely deaths in the Civil War. Eli Shortridge was killed in the Battle of Seven Pines at the young age of 18, and Frank Forrester Shortridge was only 19 when he found his demise during the Battle of Atlanta. King’s other grandson, George D. Shortridge, Jr. lost a leg in the war, returned home to Montevallo and, shortly thereafter, passed in 1868.
While signs of the paranormal are debatable, many of the stories about his ghost ring true to King’s life. The King family was extremely wealthy, with a house fashioned with glass pane windows and an orchard to exude this wealth. The house, after King’s passing, was used as a Yankee troop headquarters, making it unlikely that King buried gold coins to hide from their seizure.