One of campus’s oldest buildings, King House, could also be one of its most haunted, with the ghost of its owner, Edmund King, suspected to still lurk there.
There are conflicting reports on how King died. Some say he died of health issues in 1863 at 82 years old. However, others claim that he died when a tree limb fell on him while he was walking through his beloved orchard—an activity he did frequently in life, working to cultivate his numerous peach trees or often walking to the nearby family cemetery to visit his deceased wife and sons’ graves.
In death, King is reported to continue his orchard walks, with many claiming to have seen the ghostly figure of a man carrying a lantern and a shovel lurking outside of King House at night. Legend has it, King’s ghost is searching for a stash of gold coins he buried in the orchard during the Civil War to prevent Yankee troops from seizing them.
Others report seeing a dim light and a figure in the windows of the house’s upper floor, sometimes opening the curtains and smiling at the passersby. This figure is often accompanied by the sounds of someone slowly walking around in the room—the same bedroom King spent much of his old age in. Some have also reported the sound of clinking coins coming from the room, allegedly the noise of King counting his fortune.
Any attempts to catch the ghost in action, however, have been fruitless. Those who have attempted to enter the bedroom to investigate the noises say that the noises stop when you touch the bedroom door.
Beyond King House, in the nearby family cemetery, visitors are said to have observed spectral, bobbing lights around the headstones. Here, several members of the King family are buried, including King’s first wife, Nancy Ragan King, who died in 1842. His second wife, Susan D. King, was buried here as well, following her death in 1850.
Several of King’s children are buried in the cemetery as well, many of whom had untimely and tragic deaths. This includes Lylleton King, the seventh of Edmund and Nancy King’s children, was buried in 1848, following a hunting accident where he was shot and killed by his brother Nathaniel. Nathaniel later died of tuberculosis in 1863.
Three of King’s grandsons buried in the family cemetery also faced untimely deaths during the Civil War. Eli Shortridge was killed during the Battle of Seven Pines and was just 18 years old at the time of his demise. Another, Frank Forrester Shortridge, was killed during the Battle of Atlanta at 19 years old.
George D. Shortridge, Jr. lost a leg during the war but lived to return home to Montevallo. Not for long, however, as he died shortly after in 1868.
While King’s ghost’s existence is debatable, many of the stories about his ghost are consistent with his life. The King family was very wealthy, as shown through the extravagance of their house—the first in the area to have glass pane windows. It was known for its magnificent orchard, as well.
The house was also used by Yankee troops as headquarters. However, King died before this happened, making it seem unlikely that King buried gold coins to prevent soldiers from seizing them.