We here at Serpents of Bienville have a lot of different projects currently running. One project that we are particularly excited about is the Alabama Oddities pieces that Amanda is writing for our social media sites. She is doing daily updates, bringing you a new story every morning, of something strange and odd from our Southern home. Not everyone has social media, so we will be doing weekly rundown's of her stories, which we will be publishing every Sunday. We hope you guys enjoy, and remember to follow us on our social media sites to get daily Alabama Oddities stories. With the opening of the new Serpents of Bienville Art Gallery we have been a little behind on the rundowns so here's one a day or two late. So enjoy!
Monday February 8th - Searching for Love at the Battlehouse
The Battle House in Downtown Mobile has long been an incredibly popular place for young Southern couples to celebrate their weddings and receptions in the famous Crystal Ballroom. In 1910, an Alabama couple did just that. Yet, before the two could make it to the ballroom for their reception, the husband had to leave his new wife at the Battle House Hotel. He promised to return, but after a long while, when his promise went unfulfilled to her knowledge, she hung herself in the middle of the ballroom. The lavish hotel has since been renovated, with these upgrades completed in 2006. A few weeks after these renovations were complete, it seems the long lost newlywed had returned to find his wife. In a large framed photograph of a woman to be wed at the Battle House that day, a man dressed in an antique gray suit joined her in the scene. As more people showed up to the event, the ghostly man must have realized that wasn't his wife, and disappeared. More than a few people backed up the account of seeing the man finally returning, searching for his love. There are many other reports of hauntings in the Battle House on Royal Street in Mobile, and if you were lucky enough to book a room there for Mardi Gras, let me know if you meet any permanent guests.
Tuesday February 9th - Floating Eilands
Little Mary Eoline Eilands fell in love with a man twice her age. She was fifteen in 1869 and he was not opposed to the love affair. The last time she ever saw this man, he told her, "Stay just as you are until i return." But the man never came back. Was he in distress? Did he die? Did he just not love her the way she admired him? Eoline never changed a thing about herself. She wore a long black dress every day. She wore her straight long hair neatly flat down her back. Her parents owned the house on St. Emanuel in Downtown Mobile, and Eoline walked from the house every morning to the Cathedral Basilica, stopping by the docks on the way home to gather fish scraps for her numerous cats, and return home, like clockwork, every day. Maybe people were turned off by the outlandish idea of a woman living on her own, taking over the St. Emanual house after her parents' passing, but no one approached her and she bothered none. Her daily trip to church, out to the docks, and back to St. Emanuel is said to be unchanged since the day her love left, and death hasn't seemed to deter her from routine. Mary Eoline Eilands died in 1937, and if you ask anyone whose elders grew up in Mobile, they will tell you the story of "Floating Eilands." No one noticed she had passed away because everyone still saw her, now floating, to church, to the docks, and back home. If you get downtown early enough on this chilly Shrove Tuesday, you may even catch a glimpse of her.
Wednesday February 10th - Reynolds Hall is Under Surveillance
Today, I take you to school in central Alabama. The legend of Reynolds Hall on the campus of Montevallo is attributed to its namesake. Captain Reynolds was a soldier for the Confederacy before he was named president of the college. The Hall was, at one point, used as a wartime hospital. Union soldiers were searching for Reynolds when he was assigned to protect the building, but left his post to assist in a nearby battle. He returned to find a heart wrenching massacre—everyone that he left behind in that hospital was dead, ambushed by the Union. He vowed to never leave that building exposed again, and has held his promise in death. Reynolds is reported shutting doors and windows behind students leaving them carelessly open, lest Union soldiers come sneaking in when their backs are turned. He also moves his own picture away from the front room where it hangs, knowing that he is wanted by his enemies, that they may see his photo and come in looking for him again.
Thursday February 11th - The Brothers Grave
A tiny town off Highway 82, named Eoline, is such a small dot on the map, locals nicknamed it "End-of-the-line." A cemetery sits on the outskirts of Eoline, and has been full for so long that the wooden crosses used as grave markers have all but rotted away. The few stone markers sprinkled across the old cemetery are almost the only indications that people are buried under the surface. Almost. A large family lives on the other side of the tree line from this graveyard, and the children can be found playing among the headstones. They even make up stories for the people whose names are still legible, who they were in life and how they met their death. Two graves were discovered by the children one day. The family names and dates of death matched, and the children knew these men must have been brothers. Their imaginations ran wild, coming up with different scenarios as to how these young adults passed together, and eventually the stories were so intense, the kids ran screaming, racing for the safety of home. The next day, when the sun was securely hung in the sky and shadows dare not spook them, the youngsters returned to the brothers' graves. They witnessed a sight that disturbed them deeply, the once full graves were now freshly dug out, and they knew this must be righted. The kids filled the graves and returned home just before dark. As they reached their porch, each child turned to see two men walking the tree line, and the men turned to the children. Two young men tipped their hats to the children, and turned to face the woods. All of a sudden, the kids knew who they were seeing. Running as fast as their young legs could carry them, they returned to the graves. Enough time hadn't passed for anyone to have undone the work the children had just accomplished, but their eyes were not deceiving them. The graves lay empty once more, with all the dirt, pine cones, sticks and leaves that were gathered to fill the wholes laying neatly beside the headstones.
Friday February 12th - Return to Jackson Oak
Jackson Oak is named for the legend that took place as the troops of General Andrew Jackson were passing through the Eastern Shore on their way to Pensacola during the War of 1812. Jackson is said to have climbed up into the far reaching limbs of this 95 foot tall live oak, delivering a speech that would instill a fire in his men. He gave them the motivation to push on through those trying times. This must have been one whopper of a speech, because locals and visitors to the famous tree have reported soldiers returning to the area, if only in spirit. One man that is seen more so than any is a brunette lad riding a white horse. He rides the trails of the park, ending his journey at Jackson's Oak. He stops directly in front of the tree, climbs down from his horse, turns his back to the oak, stands tall with pride, then vanishes. The tree can be found at the Village Point Park Preserve in Daphne, Alabama.
Saturday February 13th - The Magical Healer, the Sawfish
The narrowsnout sawfish finds its home in warm and shallow, brackish waters. Also known as the Longcomb or Green Sawfish, this sharp snouted creature is partial to muddy bays and estuaries. Sightings were common in our coastal delta region, but overfishing and ceremonial sacrifices of this elasmobranch have brought its kind to the brink of extinction. Asian cultures have deemed the sawfish a protector, warding off demons and disease, and its use in ceremonial exorcisms have almost deleted their presence on earth. The Aztecs, fabled to have traveled from the Mexican Pacific Coast to the Shores of Alabama and on into Georgia, viewed this creature with reverence and respect, dubbing the Sawfish a highly regarded “Earth Monster.”
This specimen, gifted to Sean Herman, and more oddities of the Gulf Coast Area, now on display at the Serpents of Bienville Gallery!
Sunday February 14th - Hoodoo Cat
Ask anyone that grew up in a rural Alabama town, and they most likely knew of a hoodoo doctor living nearby. Skeptics will always chock up incidents involving these practitioners to circumstance, and those that believe otherwise are never going to be willing to share the truth with anyone. Hoodoo believers agree that if someone shares their mystic-magic, they will no longer possess it themselves. A story is told of a neighbor throwing a brick at the local hoodoo doctor’s cat. A week later, the offender began having regular choking and vomiting fits. Through hospitalization, the man continued to regress into illness until he met his death. No matter circumstance or conjuration, no one should throw bricks at cats.
More on hoodoo and voodoo practices in Alabama coming soon to the blog! Serpentsofbienville.com