Overview

Berry Collegeis surrounded by both factual and fictional history. These fictional histories of Berry College stem mostly from legends, myths, and rumors of ghosts and hauntings that run rampant throughout the campus. Students are notorious for passing these stories on from one generation to the next and most at Berry have heard of at least one of the many ghastly stories. The consensus is that most of Berry's alleged ghosts are predominantly friendly and do not antagonize students.

The Ghost of Mary HallGhost of mary hall.jpg

High in the central tower between the girl's dormitory of East and West Mary in the Ford Complex there is an empty room subject to many activities that exceed the norm. According to the rumors, just after World War II, a female resident hung herself in one of the closets of the tower following her boyfriend's death in the war. To this very day, her troubled spirit forever roams the halls of the tower. Students often report hearing her soft, mellowing cries in the distance, and feeling a sudden inhalation of cold, dense air as her ghost passes right through you on her never ending quest through the abyss of the after-life.

Today the room remains unoccupied but unlocked, a quiet place to study for those not deterred by the ghost stories. However, the closets and tower's bathroom remain mysteriously locked with dead-bolts, reinforcing many 'abstract' suspicions among the students. Though there is no record of a suicide in the tower, believers claim that this was indeed a true event that was purposely not recorded, for fear of scaring the girls who would live in the residence hall in the future. Skeptics, on the other hand, claim that the opposite is true; the girl's death was a myth invented by previous students to scare later generations.

The Legend of Swafford

The story of Swafford is the strange tale of a mysterious mountain man who lived near the House O' Dreams. When interviewed for a newspaper article in 1993, Dan Biggers, the Director of Oak Hill and the Martha Berry Museum, said that back when the Berry Boy's School was in operation on Mountain Campus, the older boys would tell the freshmen stories about the horrible things Swafford did ("Ghost Stories Alive at Berry"). These boys even told their younger classmates that a few boys had gone missing. Eventually, they would convince the new freshmen to take a walk in the woods to try to find Swafford and to prove that they were not afraid. According to legend, these boys always became lost and were never seen again. There is, however, no official record of any missing young boys at the school, but could this be another Berry cover-up? Another worker at Oak Hill and former Berry student in the 1940's, Lillian Farmer, reported to the same journalist that, "There really was an old recluse named Swafford who lived up on the mountain." Farmer explained that the high school boys were never allowed to go up on the mountain except when the headmaster took them camping as a reward for good behavior and studies. Swafford considered them trespassers and felt they were intruding. He would play tricks on them at night to try to scare them off the mountain ("Ghost Stories Alive at Berry").
Since then, stories about Swafford's ghost haunting the mountain have circulated on Mountain Campus. Some say that Swafford's ghost still terrorizes those who stray onto his territory. Many students at the elementary school on Mountain Campus are still wary about venturing out on their own in fear of never returning.

The Green Lady and Stretch Road

The story of the Green Lady is one of the most diverse and most told stories at Berry College. There has been more than one death associated with Stretch Road and no one is sure who the Green Lady actually is.The most accurate, yet most untold speculation is that the Green Lady is the ghost of Becky Stanton. A group of WinShape students who attended the school in the 1980's had heard the stories of the Green Lady and decided to take matters into their own hands, using a Ouija Board to contact the ghost. The Ouija Board informed them that the ghost's name was Becky Stanton. The students asked the board the year and cause of death, it replied "1921" and "Red Death." One of the students from this group didn't believe in the power of the Ouija Board so the following day she went to the Rome/Floyd Records Center. Her discoveries were shocking. She discovered that in 1923 a girl by the name of Becky Stanton, age 13, was killed in a house fire. While the Board and the actual evidence vary slightly, it was determined that a young girl growing up in the rural south may not have known the proper year ("Main Campus Haunted History Tour").

Another speculation is that the Green Lady is the ghost of Lindsey Elizabeth Will, who was a student at Berry until her death in 1988. Lindsey Will died in bicycle accident on Stretch Road after having a fight with her boyfriend. Having ridden their bicycles on Stretch Road until night had fallen, she and her boyfriend parted ways in the dark as he rode ahead of her to calm himself down. When he turned around to ride back to his girlfriend, they could not see each other in the darkness. They collided, and Lindsey Will died when she suffered a head injury. The most commonly told story about the Green Lady is derived from this. The legend says that a young couple went down Stretch Road one night to be alone. Shortly after the couple had a disagreement and the boyfriend left her behind. He started to regret his action, so he turned the car around to go back and get her. He hit something, but assumed it was a deer. When he got out of his car, he discovered he had hit and killed his girlfriend, but this story has no factual evidence to support it. However, another event that did take place on Stretch Road was a suicide by one student in 1985. This student poisoned herself with carbon monoxide by locking herself in her car and inhaling the fumes ("Main Campus Haunted History Tour").

The first documented sighting of the Green Lady was recorded in 1985, which was before the death of Lindsey Will and the suicide by poisoning. While it would make more logical sense to believe that the Green Lady is the ghost of Becky Stanton, most people do not know the factual events that took place on Stretch Road. A fourth, less familiar story rooted in fact is that the Green Lady is the ghost of yet another girl who lost her life on Stretch Road during a flood in 1964 ("Main Campus Haunted History Tour"). While the most told story is the fictional tale involving the boyfriend running over his girlfriend, it is just as likely that the Green Lady is the ghost of Becky Stanton or the young girl who drowned in the flood. It is rumored that the Green Lady prefers to haunt the area surrounding the bridge on Stretch Road, possibly the place where the young girl drowned.

Another story associated with Stretch Road claims that if one drives up the road, stops near the speed bump just before Mountain Campus, and turns his lights off, a mysterious green mist will surround his car. Many others have reported seeing this strange green mist while camping at the campground off Stretch Road. Other stories are even more far-fetched and say that if you stop your car on Stretch Road and honk your horn three times, a small green girl will appear in the car beside you. While many of these stories may seem comical, there remains something mysterious about the three-mile road that connects Berry's campuses.

CCC Road

CCC Road, also known as Seven Bridges Road, is a dirt road on the North side of Berry’s campus that runs parallel to Mount Springs Cemetery and Mountain Springs Church. The road runs from east to west and contains seven bridges. CCC Road (which stands for the Civilian Conservation Corporation camp that used to be located on the land) is not the most popular attraction at Berry College, but it draws the attention of anyone interested in the paranormal because it is surrounded by an abundance of stories of supernatural phenomena. As one legend would have it, if one travels the road from east to west and counts the bridges, he will count seven on the way in; but when he turns around and travels from west to east, he will count only six. Some say that if seven people walk the road and one person stands at each bridge, by the time the seventh person reaches the seventh bridge, one of the seven people will have vanished into thin air and only six will remain. This is one of several very creative and imaginative stories about CCC Road, but while it may seem a little absurd, one should not be too quick to dismiss the possibility that the road is haunted. On February 28, 1993, the body of Mark Allen Gregg, a sophomore from Jacksonville State University, was found on CCC Road where he apparently committed suicide. According to police reports, Gregg, who was originally from Kingston, GA, died from a single gunshot to the head ("Apparent Suicide Found on Campus"). Perhaps it is the spirit of this young man that haunts the road.
Other ghost stories about the road stem from the cemetery and the mysterious church that are nestled deep in the woods off CCC Road.

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Mount Springs Church

Mountain Springs Church

Mountain Springs Church, located off CCC Road at the foot of a large hill that contains Mountain Springs Cemetery, is riddled with rumors of being the meeting place for a satanic cult. The historic church building is situated in a small clearing in the woods a few miles behind Frost Chapel. The stories about devil worship and cult meetings at the church most likely stem from an incident in the twentieth century in which the church was vandalized with satanic and occult symbols. To this day there hangs an aged sign on the front of a small white building opposite the church that says, "There's a $500 Reward for Information Leading to the Arrest of Church Vandals." According to the Oak Hill Museum, the son of the church's pastor of a century or so ago went to the church late one night for solo devil worship. While there is no evidence that the pastor's son had any followers in his late night activities, rumors of a cult presence at the church still run rampant because so little is known about the church and its services. Mountain Springs Church is actually a Methodist church whose congregation meets once a month, but because of its secluded location and lack of advertisement, the church remains mysterious to many and thus invites rumors about its shady activities.

Many stories have also been told about strange music and bells that can be heard coming from the church at night. The stories say that when one goes to investigate the source of the music he will find the church empty while the bells continue to ring. Another, more outlandish story that haunts the church's reputation is the legend that a pack of ghost dogs prowls the nearby cemetery at midnight. It is said that if one goes to the cemetery at midnight, he can hear the growls and snarls of them. Still, another story says that the area surrounding Mountain Springs Church is haunted by the ghosts of the young men who used to work at the Civilian Conservation Corp. Camp which used to be located were the church now stands.The young men are said to have died under the harsh conditions of the labor camp, and that their angry spirits now haunt the grounds. While there is no historic evidence to support most of these stories, Mountain Springs Church still remains the center of many chilling tales.

The Hoge Building

On September 9, 2012, a documentary came out which discussed haunted locations around Rome, Georgia. In this documentary, The Hoge Building at Berry College is investigated. The Hoge Building is supposedly haunted by the roaming spirit of, none other than Martha Berry herself. The story is that a woman was working in the Hoge Building while her daughter was playing in the hallway outside her office. It was not long before the mother started to hear her daughter speaking to someone. At first the woman didn't think anything of it, but as her daughter continued to speak as though she was having a conversation with someone, the woman became curious. Finally, she went out in the hallway to see who her daughter was talking to, only to find her daughter sitting alone in the hallway. When the mother asked who she was talking to the daughter answered, "The lady with the cold hands." The little girl said that the person she was talking to had touched her face after they were done talking. Years later, the same little girl saw a picture of Martha Berry and identified her as the lady with the cold hands. There have also been reports of lights being turned on in the third floor, despite the third floor not having electricity.

Whether the stories be true or false, whether they consist of suicide, murder, or cold hands, theres more to Berry College that meets the un-dead eye.

Works Cited

"Apparent Suicide Found on Campus." Campus Carrier, 2. March 4, 1993. Print. Berry College Archives, Memorial Library, Berry College.

"Ghost Stories Alive at Berry." Campus Carrier, 7. October 28, 1993. Print. Berry College Archives, Memorial Library, Berry College.

"Main Campus Haunted History Tour." n.d. Oak Hill and the Martha Berry Museum. TS.

Rome 175 Spirits: Martha Berry Makes Herself Known at the College She Built. 2009. www.youtube.com, Rome. Web. 5 Dec 2012.