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The Serpents of Bienville is an artist collective started in Southern Alabama by Amanda and Sean Herman. The project has grown from a study of southern mythology and folklore to include art, books, and merchandise available for purchase. The Serpents of Bienville is a celebration of the Southern Arts community and the people that carry on the tradition of creativity. Subscribe to our blog to hear about Alabama's history, oddities, lore and hidden treasures. Follow us on social media to stay up to date with new artists and projects in our community!





Filtering by Tag: school spirits

School Spirits: Auburn University

Emma Wilson

Auburn University has almost 30,000 students, but a couple souls walk the halls and are not counted, because they are unseen. The university was founded in 1856, less than a decade before the Civil War. These years between founding and the end of the Civil War are when the majority of the ghostly inhabitants at Auburn began calling the campus home. Over 150 years later, they have yet to leave.

One of the most famous ghosts lied in the oldest building on campus, Auburn University Chapel. Used as a hospital during the Civil War, many men died in the red brick chapel. One of those men was Sydney Grimlett. During an amputation of his leg, he bled to death. In the 1920’s the building was used by the theatre department. This is when Sydney began to make his presence known. Paranormal occurrences in the building include orbs of light being seen on stage, whistling and tapping being heard during rehearsal, and props randomly disappearing from the set or malfunctioning. Students have been said to make contact with Sydney using Ouija Boards.

Photo courtesy of Amanda Herman

Photo courtesy of Amanda Herman


Many Auburn players grew an affection for Sydney, and when the theatre department was moving from the Chapel to a new building, the Telfair Peet Theatre, students invited Sydney to make the new drama complex his home for haunting. Sydney gladly followed. His activities are similar to those at the Chapel: random noises, turning on and off lights, opening and closing drawers. Sydney is commonly seen on the catwalk above the stage. This is where students will leave candy for Sydney, his favorite being Peanut M&M’s.

During an investigation by the Alabama Paranormal Research Team, upon asking Sydney what his favorite color M&M’s were, he only responded to orange and blue. It seems not only the students have spirit at Auburn, but so do the spirits! Sadly this spirit is lonely. Sydney is the only commonly known ghost on campus, and the only ghost that is well-known enough to have a name.

Another ghost haunts arguably the most iconic building on Auburn’s campus: Samford Hall. This particular building does not hold a ghostly past, but the building before it. When Auburn was still East Alabama’s Male College in the 1800’s, there was a building in the center of campus called the Old Main. The lawn outside the building was used by soldiers for training. This building was also used as a makeshift hospital during the Civil War. The bodies of dead soldiers would be piled on the lawn during the fighting in Auburn. Old Main was burned down in 1887. Its replacement is the well-known Samford Hall. Ghostly figures have been known to linger around the building. One particular ghost wearing his military uniform haunts the bell tower, as he still keeps watch over the city.


Another occurrence around Samford Hall is phantom fires. This is when you can smell smoke or wood burning, but there is in fact no fire. This is the ghostly reminder of the fire of 1887 that destroyed the Old Main.

Not far from campus is Salem-Shotwell Covered Bridge. This is not the bridge’s original location. While it used to reside over Wacoochee Creek, in 2005 a fallen oak tree caused the bridge to collapse. Volunteers salvaged parts of the bridge and the recovered shortened portion now stretches over a small creek near Auburn’s campus. The bridge’s infamous reputation began before the relocation.

While still spanning Wacoochee Creek, it was fabled that spirits of drowned Indians would grab anyone who dared to cross the bridge at night and pull them to a fate similar to their own.

Another story is of a girl asking her prom date to meet at the bridge. When he never showed, she could not handle the rejection. She hanged herself from the rafters, still in her prom dress.

Photo courtesy of Amanda Herman

Photo courtesy of Amanda Herman

The most recent and notorious story is that of a mother and her two children fatally crashing at the bridge. Some say it was originally just a woman that crashed, others say it was a woman and her son. Phantom fires at the bridge are connected to these occurrences. No matter the details, the spirit of a child or children haunted the bridge. If you put candy on the bridge’s edge you could see the ghostly children appear for the sweets.

All of these stories were before the relocation in 2005. The only ghost that remains with the bridge at the Opelika Municipal Park is that of a barefoot young boy who stays near the creek or the playground nearby. Only children can see him, but adults can hear his eerie giggle as he says “Come play with me!”

While, Auburn may not be riddled with ghosts, there are definitely more beings than the roster says!

School Spirits: University of Alabama

Emma Wilson

The University of Alabama is definitely a school full of spirit. It is also said to be full of spirits. Most of the campus was destroyed during the Civil War, but almost all of the buildings that remain from that time contain haunting reminders: ghosts. 

The Gorgas House is one of the oldest buildings on the University of Alabama campus; it might also be one of the most haunted. Story goes that despite dying in the house, Josiah Gorgas, former President of the University and Confederate General still walks the stairs of the building, clanging his sword against the wall as he goes. He is not the only Gorgas that paranormally remains on the campus. 

The Gorgas House

The Gorgas House

Amelia Gorgas Library is not only named after the wife of Josiah Gorgas, its haunted by her. Amelia was the university librarian in the late 1800’s after the passing of her husband. With a library named after her now, she likes to make sure everything remains in order. Elevators are programmed to bypass the fourth floor which holds special-collections. Despite this, one elevator has been known to stop on the fourth floor, only to open its doors to no one inside. No one we can see anyway. Amelia isn’t far from her husband, who haunts the neighboring Gorgas House. 


Attached to the haunted Amelia Gorgas Library is an even more haunted building. The Little Round House, aptly named, acted as a guard house during the Civil War. As Union soldiers were attacking campus, two cadets from the University acted as welcoming party to the northern force. One cadet hid in the Little Round House, watching the campus go up in flames around him. The other cadet was questioned by three Union soldiers as to where they could acquire some whiskey. The cadet pointed to the Little Round House. As the Union soldiers breeched the door, they were met with gunfire from the hiding cadet. The cadet mortally wounded all three soldiers. Both cadets managed to escape. Today, the ghosts of the three Union soldiers still roam the near the Little Round House. It is said if you put your ear to the door of the building you can hear the voices of the soldiers, still in search of a drink. 


Many other ghosts of Civil War soldiers haunt the campus. Three ghostly figures have been known to walk the Quad during foggy mornings. Some believe one of the apparitions is the ghost of Colonel Murfree, commander of the university cadets during the war. The Colonel is also said to be seen in Woods Hall as well. The other two figures on the Quad are claimed to be past teachers. 

Smith Hall on the campus of University of Alabama also acts as Alabama Museum of Natural History. The building however, has quite a history of its own. The building is named after Eugene Allen Smith, former state geologist. Smith would frequently take tours of schoolchildren through the museum. At the age of 85, Smith died in 1927, but he was not done with giving tours. It is said that if you are in the museum after hours you can still hear the footsteps and voice of Eugene leading tours of schoolchildren through the second and third stories of the museum. It is also said he haunts the elevator, which appears on the second and third floors without being called. This is all harmless activity, but to there are more chilling occurrences.  

On the second floor of the Alabama Natural History Museum is the carriage of Eugene Allen Smith. Despite being sectioned off in a display, students say they have witnessed this carriage rolling down hallways of the building. Sometimes they can hear the sounds of horses and the cracking of a whip. Again, this seems rather harmless, but darker goings-on occur. A common tale is that a group of students stayed after hours and followed ghostly sounds to a classroom. When they went inside the desks were in disarray, though they had been in straight rows earlier. The students would later learn this is the classroom said to have been the site of the deaths of several students years earlier during a boiler room explosion. Another incident involved a lab assistant being pushed into a closet one night and locked in the room until the following morning.

 While not as menacing, there is another more active ghost on campus.

“How’s my blocking Miss Galloway?” These are the words you should say while on stage in the Marian Galloway theatre if you want to see the ghost of Marian herself. She is said to appear in the back of the theater. Other times students have seen her in the audience during a performance, on the stage dressed in white, or walking the sidewalk in front of the building. She is not always seen as an apparition. Students have been known to see her, seemingly as alive as you and I, only to learn later that she passed years ago. While a benevolent presence, she does not appreciate lollygagging. Mrs. Galloway has been known to slam doors if actors aren’t putting enough effort into rehearsal. 

The University of Alabama is most widely acclaimed for its football team, but if this supernatural activity continues, the school might soon be known for spirits instead of spirit.