Alabama is known for a lot of things like introducing Mardi Gras to the Western part of the world and building the first ever rocket to put people on the moon.
A scenic spot in Alabama. (Link: https://www.thecrazytourist.com/the-15-most-beautiful-spots-in-alabama/)
However, not all people know that Alabama is also known for the location of the famous ghost town in Cahawba. The ghost town was abandoned after the Civil War and since then, an eerie feeling envelopes the area and many claim to have experienced paranormal activities here.
The History Of Cahawba, Alabama
Cahawba, sometimes also spelled as Cahaba, was the first ever permanent state capital of Alabama. It got its name because it is located near the Alabama and Cahaba rivers. Because of the two rivers surrounding the area, during the rainy season, citizens suffered floods. Also, because of the damp area, mosquitoes carried diseases. Thus, a state legislature was made in order to move the capital to Tuscaloosa in 1826.
A sign showing the Cahawba River. (Link: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g30832-d3405413-i228716496-Old_Cahawba_Archaeological_Park-Selma_Alabama.html)
Although Cahawba was no longer the capital of Alabama, it still became a busy place because of the cotton trade. It later became a social and commercial center. It served as such for decades but shortly after the American Civil War started, Cahawba added a prison called Castle Morgan and was used as such from 1863 to 1865.
A portrait of the Castle Morgan in Cahawba. (Link: http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/m-8523)
In 1865, a major flood ruined the town and caused a lot of hardship for it to be rebuilt again. Within 10 years from the major flood, many of the houses and churches in Cahawba began to be dismantled and little by little, residents abandoned the area.
In 1870, the population was down to 431. Accordingly, 302 of them were blacks and they stayed in the area after gaining freedom in the wake of the Civil War. They tried to make a living out of the town by turning the empty lots into fields and gardens. Gradually, towns were developed but eventually, people left Cahawba. By 1903, most of the original buildings in Cahawba were gone and a number of structures were put up. Despite this, people still continued to leave Cahawba.
Now, Cahawba is monitored by the Alabama Historical Commission and the Old Cahawba Archeological Park is being maintained by them. Visitors can walk through the abandoned streets, ruins, cemeteries, and more.
One of the buildings at the Old Cahawba Archeological Park. (Link: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/old-cahawba-archeological-park)
Unique Facts About Cahawba
Aside from Cahawba being a ghost town, Cahawba is also filled with unique facts that make the place more eerie and weird. The first fact uncovered about Cahawba is that it was once a huge tall-grass prairie. Accordingly, it was the home of rare plants that do not grow anywhere else in the world. Now, only less than one percent of the prairie remain in Cahawba.
The next fact that makes Cahawba a unique place is that it is where the once deepest artesian well in the world is located. It remains to be preserved to this day. Also, it is where one of the funny-looking wellheads can be found. The wellhead has a face shaped into it and it is one of the most photographed feature of Cahawba.
A photo of the well in Cahawba. (Link: https://www.ruralswalabama.org/attraction/perine-well-old-cahawba-park/)
A photo of the wellhead with a face in Cahawba. (Link: https://www.pinterest.ph/pin/36591815692614453/?lp=true)
A shootout took place on the streets of Cahawba on May 23, 1856. A dispute among the members of a family resulted in a gun battle and it ended in two people being killed. A trial ensued but the shooters were acquitted. Thus, the family of those killed wrote on the epitaph of one of the men who passed away the words, “No murdered hath eternal life abiding in him.” The epitaph can be seen in the New Cemetery of Cahawba.
The Buildings That Remain Standing In Cahawba
If you visit Cahawba, there is a tour available and you have to pay a certain amount. During the tour, you will come across the many buildings that still stand in Cahawba.
First is the Barker Slave Quarters at Kirkpatrick Mansion. The slave quarters is all that remains because the building was engulfed in flames sometime in the 1930s. Another building is the Crocheron Mansion but only a few of its columns stand to this day.
The slave quarters at the Kirkpatrick Mansion in Cahawba. (Link: https://www.ruralswalabama.org/attraction/barkers-slave-quarters-at-old-cahawba/)
One of the eeriest structures at Cahawba is the Fambro-Arthur Home. It looks like one of the houses you will see in a horror movie and you wouldn’t want to go inside because you might find something you will regret seeing.
The Fambro-Arthur Home in Cahawba. (Link: https://www.ruralswalabama.org/attraction/fambro-arthur-house-at-old-cahawba/)
In Cahawba, you will also find a one-room schoolhouse. This schoolhouse is said to have taught African-American children and it was used until the 1950s.
A photo of the one-room schoolhouse in Cahawba. (Link: https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g30832-d3405413-i311909405-Old_Cahawba_Archaeological_Park-Selma_Alabama.html)
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is also still standing in Cahawba. It was built in the 1850s.
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Cahawba. (Link: https://www.ruralswalabama.org/attraction/st-lukes-church-at-cahaba-al/)
You will also get to see a burial ground for the slaves, which was created in 1819. Allegedly, hundreds of bodies are buried in the burial ground but there are only a number of headstones for identification.
The Most Famous Ghost Of Cahawba
The most famous ghost of Cahawba is called Pegues’s Ghost and reportedly belongs to Colonel C.C. Pegues.
The house of C.C. Pegues is located on a block that used to be full of Pine and Chestnut Trees. The first ever sighting of the ghost was reportedly in 1969 and it was published by a writer named Kathryn Tucker Windham in the book “13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey.”
An undated photo of C.C. Pegues. (Link: https://texasscribbler.com/2008/01/10/col-christopher-claudius-pegues-c-s-a/)
The home of Pegues was very hospitable although it was not as grand as the other homes. Accordingly, his home had a maze of thick cedars and young lovers would go here for a stroll and for privacy. One evening, this was after Pegues already passed away, a young couple were walking through the mazes when a large and white glowing ball went for them. The ball appeared to float and it seemed like it taunted the young couple because it moved back and forth from them. The gentleman tried to catch it but it disappeared later.
Weeks after the first sighting, many people reported the same phenomena. It is believed that such glowing ball is the ghost of Pegues. He died in a battle in Virginia and accordingly, news about his death did not reach Cahawba soon enough so it is possible that the orb hovering near his home is him trying to tell them about what happened to him during the battle.
The Ghost Of A Man That Accompanied A Young Boy
Another ghost that haunts Cahawba is said to belong to man who accompanies a young boy named Herbert Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick spent his summers with is grandfather in Cahawba. One time, when Kilpatrick went home after spending time in Cahawba, he told his brother about a man named Gatt. Accordingly, Gatt accompanied the boy whenever he roamed around his grandfather’s property. He was shocked when his brother told him that it was impossible because Gatt was already dead even before he was born.
Haunted History Series In Cahawba Every October
During the month of October, which is fitting because it’s when Halloween takes place, the Old Cahawba Archeological Park hosts the Haunted History series. This is the only time of the year when visitors are allowed to be there at night time.
The Haunted History series is a tour with historians and archeologists. Many visitors claimed that they appreciated Cahawba more after the tour and that they experienced paranormal activities first hand during the night tour.