The person interviewed insisted that he saw the ghost
During the 1930s, Great Depression era, many writers were employed to interview people and write stories about life in the United States. The program was named the U.S. Work Projects Administration, Federal Writers’ Project and it gave employment to historians, teachers, writers, librarians, and other white-collar workers. This is a transcribed, unedited story from a WPA writer Lillian Finnell, November 7, 1936.
The stairway in the entrance hall of the Masonic Home occupies much of the space of the rear half of the 20 x 24 foot hall.
It rises by two separate flights of steps to the second floor. The first flight leads up from the floor about half way by the left wall to a platform that crosses by the end wall to the opposite wall of the hall. From the right end of the platform the second flight of steps ascends by the wall to the upper story. A door in the right end of the rear wall opens on the platform, and is an opening from the top of a stairway from a side porch back of the entrance hall.
Standing at the right end of the platform, between the flight of steps leading up beside the right wall and the door in the rear wall, was the ghost.
Old Alabama Masonic Home (Alabama Department of Archives and History)
In the words of the one who saw the apparition:
Remaining with the family in the living room awhile after we had all come from the dining room, I decided to go upstairs to my room. I went out into the entrance hall and had ascended to within a step or two of the platform, when I felt impelled to look up. As I did so, I saw standing at the far end of the platform, a soldier in confederate uniform. He was well proportioned, perfectly erect and rather above average height.
Of middle age, apparently, as gray hair was visible between the tops of his ears and his hat, he was wearing a Confederate gray hat. His entire outfit if not new, looked to be so. I noticed the freedom from stains and creases of the hat and the suit, also how the buttons and some insignia on the shoulders of his coat shone.
I expected him to speak
At sight of him, I stopped involuntarily. I expected him to step forward and speak. Instead, he continued standing perfectly still.
A flash through my mind, to account for his presence was that he was a guest in the home, and that the family had just forgotten to speak of it to me. He continued perfectly motionless, and it became apparent to me, that he was not looking at me at all. He was looking straight out in front of him, and the level of his gaze was some distance above my head, as stated, I had stopped on the second step below the platform. There was then borne into my consciousness the fact that I was “seeing a ghost”.
How I descended the stairway, I shall never know. those present say that having a face chalk-white, I reeled into the sitting room. I recall falling into a chair. To the many questions asked me, I finally incoherently though it was, acquainted them with what I had seen. They were incredulous, of course. It was an “aberration” of mine, “the lights and shadows at that place, produced the effect”, I “had been thinking on the subject and it was easy for such a picture to materialize” before my eyes.”
Conducted an investigation
Becoming somewhat more composed, but insisting still that I had seen the Confederate soldier as plainly as I was then seeing those before me, it was proposed that there be an investigation. All went.
Besides the door of the room where we were sitting, the front door, one in the room opposite the one where we were, and one at the rear, below the stairway platform, were all the openings there were on the ground floor into the entrance hall. All these doors were found closed and locked on the inside of the hall.
Mounting the stairway, all eyes were focused upon the right end of the platform. Nothing obstructed the view of the wall at the end of the platform. There was only one other way of gaining entrance into, or of leaving the house than through the openings examined, and that was the door in the rear wall opening from the back stairway onto the platform where I saw the ghost standing. This door was tried. It was found to be locked with the key also in the lock on the inside.
Every closet, wardrobe, even the beds were looked under, and every room of the second floor was minutely searched. Nothing out of the ordinary was seen anywhere.
Although those present insisted that I was mistaken in thinking I had seen a ghost, I more persistently asserted then, as I do now, “I saw one.”