The ghosts of Milledgeville


Isabellea van der Lende

With Halloween just around the corner, the Milledgeville Visitors Center decided to highlight Milledgeville’s spooky and sinister past. That is why the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Convention & Visitors Bureau brought back the Milledgeville Ghost tour for October.
This walking tour covered about 8 to 10 blocks of downtown Milledgeville, including many buildings on GC’s campus.

The tour, guided by Jackie Turner, visited historic buildings around the area and gave insight into some of the eerie stories of the town.
One site included the Old Governor’s Mansion. According to Turner, the mansion is allegedly haunted by a previous cook, Molly. People have claimed to smell some of Molly’s signature dishes.

“On one occasion, they said that they smelled the smell of burnt potatoes and the smell was so strong that they actually searched the home from top to bottom and could not find the source,” said Turner. “The fire department came, and they also searched the mansion. They were unable to locate the source of the smell so we can only think that maybe Molly had a bad day in the kitchen.”

Another stop on the walking tour included GC’s Sanford Hall dormitory. Turner believed Sanford is haunted by a former student who died on the top floor.
In 1952, Betty Jean Cook, also called “Cookie,” committed suicide on the third floor of Sanford Hall. Many speculated she was murdered. After her death, GC closed off the third floor. Since then, there have been several instances of people having bizarre or paranormal encounters in the hall.
A Colonnade article from 2012 described a resident advisor’s paranormal interaction. “Matt Cobb, the resident advisor of Sanford Hall, lives under the inaccessible room where Cookie committed suicide,” wrote reporter Hollyn Phelps.
Cobb went on to describe that he would occasionally hear strange bumps and footsteps above him at night. They all came from the room where Cookie died.
Other stops on the tour included the Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority house and the Harrison House which serves as an office building for GC. Turner believed the sorority house is arguably the most haunted in Milledgeville.
The Tate House, located on 201 N. Jefferson St., is argued to be the most haunted, having been home to three deaths in the late 1800s. The home was built by the Williams family in 1818. In

1870, Sam Walker purchased the house and moved in with his third wife, niece, and son. It is said that he verbally and physically abused his four wives; some speculated that this caused their deaths. Walker soon became known as the “meanest man in Milledgeville.”
In 1873, Joe, Walker’s son, was sent home from his university due to a meningitis outbreak. He began to fall ill, but Walker refused to let his son be seen by a doctor. Three days later, Joe fainted at the top of the stairs and fell to his death. However, speculations arose, accusing Walker of shoving his son down the stairs. Later that week, Walker’s wife and niece also died from meningitis.
Former residents of the house claimed to hear Walker and his son arguing at the top of the stairs, Joe’s body tumbling down the stairs and cries from the room where Molly and Alice died.
“In 1970, a gentleman purchased the house. He was asleep upstairs one night when he heard a commotion going on downstairs,” said Turner. “He went to the top of the stairs and saw an entire party. The people were dressed in attire from the 1840s.”
Years later, the man said he discovered old pictures of the house when it was first built. In the photographs, the house had wooden steps leading up to the door, unlike the brick ones which would later replace them. This convinced him that it was real; in the “party,” the steps were wooden.
“When COVID-19 hit, we had to pause our normal trolley operations,” said Executive Director of Visit Milledgeville, Rebekah Snider, “We started to assess what types of walking tours we could activate in their place that would allow people to stay outside and more spatially distant.” Due to its popularity, the ghost tour has continued year-round, with two tours a month.
“We have increased the number of tours that we are doing during the month of October, with it being the time of ghosts,” said Turner
Turner did the research and wrote the script for the ghost tours. She said she enjoyed the process of creating this excursion.
“I love history, and I found years ago that the best way to convey history is to tell a story to make it interesting,” said Turner.