Memories From The Past
Papaw’s Haunted House
In the early 1950’s, there stood on a knoll overlooking Reservoir
Road a deserted house. This house stood approximately where Eastman Credit Union
building now stands in the Meadowview area.
The house was a red brick two-story farmhouse such as was typically
built in the area in the latter part of the 19th century on
more affluent farms.
The building gave the impression of having been empty for quite a
while. No panes were present
in the dark gaping window frames. If doors were still present, they were swung open to the
elements. The tin roof was
showing evidence of the neglect, rusty patches and streaks from ridge to
It was of this house Papaw told the following story.
It seems a few years after he had moved to Kingsport, one morning
in the restaurant on Broad Street, just behind Kingsport Drug Store, after
having served the breakfast crowd, he was having a cup of coffee with a
few of the lingering customers that had just completed their night shifts
at the Brickyard or cement factory when the subject of haunted houses came
up. This was when many grown
men believed in ghost and some even swore they had seen them.
Some of the men swore the old house on Reservoir Road was haunted.
They told of hearing strange noises in the night when passing the
After a spirited discussion on the existence or non-existence of
said ghost, several of the group made up a collection of five dollars, to
be paid to the person brave enough to spend the night in the old house.
The night was to be spent on the upper floor, in a bedroom where an
old bed staid stood with a straw tick.
Another period of spirited discussion followed on ghost lore and
after several of the group turned down the opportunity to win the five
dollar prize, Papaw accepted the dare and a date was set for when he would
spend the night in the old house.
On the date of the dare, some of the group accompanied Papaw out to
see him into the house just as dusk was deepening into night.
There being no electricity in the area, one of the men had a
carbide lamp of the type used by miners.
The lamp was lit and the owner of the lamp escorted Papaw into the
house and up stairs to the agreed on bedroom.
Papaw was to pass the night in this room, using the bed with the
straw tick to sleep, if he could.
After the man with the carbide lamp left, Papaw found his way to
the old bed by the weak light of a waning moon and lay down.
Covering himself with a quilt brought from home, he was soon
Some time later, he was awakened to a dark room by a movement of
the straw tick below his feet. There
followed a ‘thump-thump-thump’, as if someone was stomping on the
floor. The thumping quit and
there was a rising of the straw tick near his feet.
The room having been in total darkness, Papaw could not tell if
there was anything presents to have been seen if light existed.
Lying awake in anticipitation of what might follow, Papaw finally
drifted off to sleep. He was
determined to win the five dollar prize.
The sequence of the rising straw tick, ‘thump-thump-thump’ and
rising straw tick repeated itself two or three more times during the
night. Finally a faint light
could be seen creeping through the glass-less window.
Papaw roused himself from a fretful sleep.
He could now make his way downstairs and outside to await the
returning escort to accompany him back into town to claim his prize.
Just before he left the room, he determined to make an inspection
of the room to see if he could solve the puzzle of the rising straw tick
and the ‘thump-thump-thump’.
As he turned from the doorway and looked back at the bed, a corner
of the straw mattress rose and an old blue-tick hound crawled out from
under the bed. Settling on
his haunches, the old hound began a vigorous scratching behind an ear, the
joint of his leg making a loud ‘thump-thump-thump’ on the floor.
A happy Papaw continued on
down the stairs to meet his escorts and collect his prize.
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