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    They say Old Louisville has a few ghosts.  As a skeptic, it wasn't until I moved into a home there, near the intersection of Oak and Floyd Streets that I slowly began to question my baseline disbelief. Sometimes, it takes moving in a little too close to a 19th century cemetery to open your eyes, or send a chill down your spine. I did not want to believe at first, but Old Louisville has turned me into an amateur ghost hunter. Or at least, an amateur ghost researcher. 

    By day, South Floyd Street’s Fort George cemetery is utilized by the residents of Old Louisville as a quaint dog park. With the American flag on display near the entrance of the cemetery and only a couple of headstones, the small area is often overlooked as a memorial site rather than recognized as a cemetery. The park’s tall iron gate allows dogs to roam freely without a leash, and serves as the neighborhood’s creepiest feature after sunset. That dark gate is bound to make observers wonder: is this gate there to keep dogs from leaving the park, or is it there to keep something else locked in? Admittedly, these thoughts may only creep in when the weather is chilly, the cracked sidewalks are scattered with dead leaves and the windows of tall Victorian houses are muffled with long lace curtains or garbage bags. Which is more Old Louisville; a mansion in a tawdry state of disrepair with overgrown gardens, or an immaculately-kept restoration with proud stone columns and paned glass? 


    Upon moving to Old Louisville, I had completely settled into the house before I noticed anything out of the ordinary. At first, the strange happenings were subtle. The odd feeling that someone – or something – was watching would sometimes fall upon everyone in a room at my house. A relative came to visit one morning and reported feeling uneasy and inexplicably frightened when using the bathroom. Dismissing their strange reaction to the specific room, I didn't think of it again until my friend Ashleigh had came to visit for the first time. After using the bathroom, she hurriedly unlocked the door and swung it open to reveal her ghostly white face and a look of uncertainty. "I'm not using this bathroom again. I felt like someone was watching me the entire time."

    Then strange sounds started coming from the attic during all hours of the day and night. It was as if someone  - or *gulp* something - was up there stomping around and rummaging through the few dusty boxes filled to their brims with storage that had been long forgotten. And one night I even came home to a light shining through the lonely attic window. Unsure if I was more afraid of what could be waiting for me up the narrow steps leading into the attic, or just the fact that I was actually believing there could be something paranormal happening at my own home, I opted not to investigate the cold attic alone that night and fell asleep with every light in my apartment on instead. 

    I grasped for logical explanations for these happenings, and there was Fort George at the back of my mind, right around the corner outside, waiting for the blame. Surely any spiritual entities haunting my home had to come from behind that black gate. Naturally my next investigative step was Google: a search for the Fort George Cemetery will bring up reports that several generations of Revolutionary War Captain George Gray's family are buried there, but each source was unspecific when detailing names and dates of burials, and unable to explain all of the missing headstones. It was time for some deeper digging. I contacted the Toonerville Trolley Neighborhood Association, which is where I spoke with historian Susan Miller, who gave me the full scoop on Captain George Gray.

    Born in Virginia in 1756, the second cousin of president James Monroe, Captain George Gray moved to Louisville after the Revolutionary War in 1798 with his family of ten children and wife: Mildred Rootes Thompson. The family farmed nearly 200 acres of land spanning all the way from today’s Kentucky Street to Preston Street. The area known today as Fort George served as a small Gray family cemetery.


    After years of unconfirmed information about who exactly was buried there, the Toonerville Trolley Neighborhood Association conducted a geophysical survey of the area to find out just how many Grays claim Fort George as their grave site, and the results were surprising. “When we first moved to Louisville, we were told there were 300 people buried in the area,” recounts Miller, who did most of the research on what we know today about Fort George. “But the survey showed that there are only four graves.”

    Both Captain George Gray and his wife were buried in the far left corner of Fort George, along with two others who are believed to be grandchildren of the couple. Feeling relieved that there were just four graves nearby rather than 300, I felt more at ease. With this information, it was easier to dismiss the noises, the feelings, the tingle in my spine. However, I still couldn’t explain the strange occurrences happening at my house.

    It seemed as the though the sounds coming from my attic were getting louder and louder, yet I still couldn't bring myself up that tall wooden staircase in total fear of coming face to face with whatever was causing all the ruckus. And my guests continued to feel strangely unwelcome when using my bathroom, as if there was a set of hidden eyes observing their every move. How was I supposed to continue living in a place that clearly had so much negative energy?

    So before packing my bags and finding another place to live, I decided to apply my investigative skills to the symptoms of my house's hauntings. After a few long phone calls with my landlord, I had made an appointment with a handyman to come inspect the attic. And within just a few minutes after venturing into the dark abyss on my building's top floor, we learned that a family of mice had sought refuge in the attic after scurrying in through a crack in the rear window. The light that shone through the attic window that one dark night was left on by my landlord, who had stopped by unannounced to check the building’s heating system and forgot to flip the switch on his way out. As for the uneasy and frightened feelings of my guests, I'll blame those on too many horror films and too much alcohol. 

    Then again, as far as I know, the ghost of Captain George Gray could be lingering in Fort George Cemetery, just waiting for someone to leave that gate open. 

    Photo courtesy of Michael Johnson

    Carly Garcia's picture

    About Carly Garcia

    Lover of vegetarian cuisine, Stephen King, puppies, camping and wine...lots of wine.

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