Let Me Introduce You To…My Childhood Haunted House!

Southwood Manor, Burnside, KY (before my parent’s renovation)
So, it’s that time of year again. The leaves are turning (well, at least for anyone not living in Florida). There’s sharp crispness to the air. And the little tykes are dragging mom and dad through the aisles of the local Walmart to pick out what superhero/princess/robot/ninja turtle they want to dress up as on the 31st. And most importantly, awesome ghost stories to share with friends and family. It was this thought in mind that I decided to do something a little different on my blog this year [last year, I shared an original zombie-awesome short story I wrote starring Ash from the Evil Dead movies]…this year, we’re going to talk about ghosts and haunted houses for the better part of the month. I’ll be sharing stories from people all over the world of their own paranormal experiences and providing theories that might just explain what these encounters really are. But tonight…I thought I’d start closer to home. Tonight, I thought I’d share with you the legends of Southwood Manor, the home in which I grew up in Burnside, Kentucky. A house shrouded in death and mystery…of dark magic and curses…and yes, perhaps even a few ghosts.
What I saw when I was 5 years old.
My parents bought Southwood Manor back in 1976. I would have been five years old at the time. I’ll never forget the first time my eyes looked at that rundown old house. I’ll never forget the rhythm of my heartbeat as my Zips-clad foot stepped into the foyer for the very first time. I’ll never forget the feeling of dread and exhilaration as I explored the numerous rooms inside the house. And that was only the beginning…
I lived there for about seven years and during that time, I can’t even begin to count the number of weird occurrences that happened. Simple things like noises and voices in the night were the most common. Occasionally, a brief apparition was seen by friends, family, and pest control people. And on more than one occasion, objects would be moved in the house when we returned home from school or work…objects arranged in the most sinister of patterns (I’ll share more about this in a bit). But before I go into detail about the spooky things that walked up those creaky stairs at night, I should first tell you a little bit about the history about the house (or perhaps legend. I’m not really sure). 
It was built in the late 1800s by Mr. Charles Southwood. In the way that legends often work, he is said to have built the house for the love of his life…the woman he intended to marry. So what happens next, you may be asking? Come on…do you really need to ask? Of course, the story goes that the woman eventually refuses to marry him. Breaks his heart and [no, to my knowledge, he doesn’t die there or anything] he simply sells the place off. The house is passed on through a few different hands. Details on these other owners are fuzzy, but we know of at least one mysterious death…of a woman…in an old fashioned claw foot tub. The same tub my parents used to have me take baths in, I might add [Is there a statute of limitations on ghostly child abuse? Ha!]. Then, in the early 60s, the house came into the ownership of…. Mr. Todd. 
I honestly do shudder every time I think of that man. From the stories I’ve heard, there is probably not a more sinister human being to ever walk on God’s green earth…of course, once again, distinguishing legend from history is the tricky part, right? Anyway, Mr. Todd. Where do I begin with him? How about the part where he practiced black magic? Or perhaps the police raid of his house where they found a casket in the parlor where he is said to sleep from time to time…or the shrunken heads that hung from the ceiling in what would one day become our formal dining room? How about the stories of curses placed on locals that crossed the old man? Or the marijuana crop he was growing upstairs in a room lined with tin foil? How about the rumors of inappropriate contact with children in the neighborhood? So many things to share about Mr. Todd. But remember those shrunken heads? Guess how Mr. Todd died. That’s right. He was in a car crash…and when they pulled his remains from the crumpled heap of scrap metal they discovered that he had been beheaded. Rather ironic, wouldn’t you say? 
Anyway, soon after the death of Mr. Todd, the house was put up for sale once more. My parents purchased it for an amazingly low price (around $6000 total) and we had moved in by 1977. Of course, it took about two or three years for my parents, grandparents, and their friends to whip the place into the beautiful home it would eventually become. And during that time, some of the strangest things began happening.
Southwood Manor as it looked after my parent’s renovations

Objects would move unseen. For instance, a wooden barrel filled with nails mysteriously moved from one corner of a particular room to another. This happened after my dad and his friend had left the room for only a few minutes. No one had entered. No one was around to move the barrel (it would have actually taken two strong people to move this barrel from what I was told). This, I believe, was the beginning of the series of strange events that we would encounter over the years. Strange black lights of unknown origin would flash in certain sections of the house was common occurrence. These lights could actually be seen from the exterior windows from the street and often, neighbors would inquire about what the lights were. We, having been in the house at the time of the lights, would have seen nothing. 

Another common occurrence were the footsteps up the front stairs. At Southwood, there were two sets of stairs…front and back. My bedroom was located right across from the front stairs. There were thirteen steps in all…a strange number given the superstitious times in which the house was built, to be sure. Often, at night, when I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, I would listen to the silence. The deafening silence. And then…I would hear them. The footsteps coming up the stairs. I would lay there, knowing everyone else in the house was in bed, and I would count each step up those rickety steps. It was so clear. So vivid. And when I garnered enough courage to peer over my own bedsheets to look out the door of my bedroom toward the stairs…there would be no one there. Often, these footsteps would be accompanied by voices…muffled voices, that sounded eerily like that of a little girl (a girl my parents would eventually come to call Angel). If it wasn’t for the fact that others who stayed in the house heard those voices too, I would think it was the mindgames of an over-imaginative child. But sure enough…others heard those voices too. And the footsteps.
But those aren’t the strangest occurrences at the old Southwood house. There were much darker, sinister things afoot. Warnings, perhaps. Messages. And a great deal of fear. But unfortunately, these things will have to wait until my next post. Next week, I will continue the saga of Southwood Manor…the first haunted house I was ever exposed to. Trust me…you won’t want to miss it. 
However! In the meantime, if you’re hankering for a really awesome (and very scary) read this Halloween, have I got news for you!! New York Times bestselling author David L. Golemon’s latest thriller THE SUPERNATURALS (A Ghost Story) is finally out in ebook format!!! You can pick up the Kindle version by clicking the link below. It’s also available for the Nook, as well as other ebook formats (at Smashwords.com). For you guys who don’t have ebook readers, have no fear! The print edition will be available by October 18 via Amazon (and your local bookstore). Seriously, if you’re looking for a great Halloween scarefest…THE SUPERNATURALS is for you!


In the meantime, if you enjoyed today’s post…please come back next week to learn more about my very first paranormal experience (as well as a future post where I discuss possible explanations for such encounters). You won’t want to miss it!

2 thoughts on “Let Me Introduce You To…My Childhood Haunted House!”

  1. my great uncle John Golden who built the Seven Gables Hotel in old Burnside Ky owned this house he bought it in 1916 from V R Southwood. who purchased it from the Buchanas in 1914. I have the copy of the deed.

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