Way down south in Georgia, in a railroad settlement on the edge of the Altamaha River Swamp, people talked about the Surrency ghost as if its reign were only yesterday. But it was more than a century ago, in the late 1870s, that the hotel of the Allen Surrency family – the family for whom the town was named- became center stage for one of the most spectacular hauntings in American history. In less than a decade, news of the strange happenings at the Surrency home had spread all across the country with thousands of journalists, scientists and curiosity-seekers pouring in to investigate.
Diaries, books, newspaper and magazine reports and hundreds of personal accounts vividly describe the unearthly activities that occurred in that house:
tables and chairs flying through the air, mirrors exploding in hallways, clocks running wild, hot bricks raining from the sky, mysterious noises ranging from sorrowful weeping to sadistic bursts of unexplained laughter.
Only a handful of oldtimers are still around who actually saw the house; fewer are alive today who witnessed the spooky manifestations before the structure went up in flames early one Sunday morning in 1912. Those who remember speak nostalgically of their town’s infamous ghost, pleased at the attention their community once received.
Phillip Dukes, who ran a local grocery store until his death in 1985, did not believe in ghosts. But in an interview with an Atlanta newspaper right before he died, the elderly Surrency native said he didn’t “doubt for a moment” the veracity of accounts handed down to him from his grandmother. “She used to spend the night at the house often, because she was Mrs.Surrency’s sister. A lot of times when she put her shoes under her bed at night, she’d wake up next morning and find them out in the hallway. That happened so many times she came to expect it every night. She never figured out what caused it, so she thought i
t must have been the ghost.”
The late Hershel Tillman, a longtime postal carrier for the Surrency district, was also convinced that ghosts were responsible for the haunting. As a boy he visited the Surrency house many times, but it was stories related to him by his father, uncle and other relatives that convinced him there was more to the Surrency ghost than just talk. “No doubt about it, a ghost was involved,” Tillman said. “I wasn’t old enough to understand, but the poor people who lived in that house always had trouble going to sleep once the ghost invaded the place.”
Directions: Surrency is located on Highway 341, South East of Baxley