The Ghost of King House
By Cady Inabinett, Managing editor of content
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 ceasing 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 passerby. 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 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 ceasing them.
The Ghost of Palmer Hall
By Madelyn Alexander, Editor in chief
When the time is right, even some of the ghosts on UM’s campus get into the College Night spirit. The most well-known example being, of course, the Ghost of Palmer Hall: Trummy.
Palmer Auditorium has been the infamous home of the College Night tradition since 1930, but a lesser-known part of the building’s history comes from its construction, and a man spited by a lack of recognition.
Dr. William H. Trumbauer was one of the chief designers of Palmer Hall. He played a significant role in the design and construction, but his name was left off the building’s cornerstone.
It is believed that his bitterness over this is why his ghost resides in Palmer Hall.
Any feelings of bitterness once held by Trumbauer are not reflected in his playful hauntings, however. Affectionately referred to as Trummy, this spirit reflects the love of theatre Trumbauer had in life.
Among the spectral pranks played on those in the dressing rooms in Palmer Hall, Trummy’s most well-known appearance is during the final rehearsal of the College Night show each year.
Trummy uses his love of the arts and perfectionist reputation to predict the winner of College Night. During the final dress rehearsal, Trummy will swing a wooden batten, used for anchoring set pieces, towards one side of the auditorium. Whichever side he chooses to land on will reportedly win that year’s College Night: stage left for Gold Side, stage right for Purple Side.
It is unknown when Trumbauer died, but since then he has taken great pride in predicting the answer to that familiar question.
So Trummy, “what’s it gonna be?”
The Ghost of Main Hall
By Cady Inabinett, Managing editor of content
Do you think if, in 1908, you told Alabama Girls’ Industrial School student Condie Cunninham that students on her campus would still be talking about her over 100 years later she would’ve believed you? How would you tell her it’s because she dies in a horrific accident?
On Feb. 4, 1908, Cunningham and her roommate were making hot chocolate in their dorm room in Main Hall using a chafing dish, a metal pan that typically uses an alcohol lamp for cooking. When the curfew bell indicating lights out for the hall’s residents was rung, the two hurried to put their supplies away. But, in their haste, some of the alcohol used as fuel spilled on Cunningham’s nightgown which led to her nightgown catching on fire.
Cunningham sustained serious injuries and burns from this incident, and two days later, on Feb. 6, she died from them.
Residents of Main reported eerie phenomenon in the years after Cunningham’s death—with the first reports of ghost sightings in the hall coming in 1909. Some residents claimed to have heard a woman running through the hallways and screaming in the bathrooms at night, for instance.
But the most notable sign of Cunningham’s haunting was her dorm room door. The story goes that an image of a face surrounded by flames appeared in the wood grain of Cunningham’s old room. Once this door was removed, the same image was said to appear in its replacement.
Residents of Cunningham’s former dwelling became unnerved, and eventually the door was removed and the room was sealed off. The door is now kept in Montevallo’s archives and is often displayed around Halloween.
Regardless if Cunningham really haunts Main Hall, her death did leave a permanent mark on the building. The fire escapes that remain on the building and a water tank were installed in response to her death, in hopes that a tragic incident such as Cunningham’s would never happen again.