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  • Writer's pictureCheré Dastugue Coen

The Ghosts of Beaver House

This Statesboro, Ga., institution serves up apparitions with its family-style meal.

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Beaver House in Statesboro, Ga. The massive house has a storied history and for 34 years, come August 2023, it’s served up delicious fried chicken and sides, among other delectable dishes, as a trademark Statesboro restaurant.

The Beaver House is also very haunted.

We spoke with its current owner, Clay Beaver, whose great-grandfather built the house in 1911. Clay related both history and ghost tales as we devoured his family’s recipe for fried chicken, fresh summer squash, black-eyed peas and rice and other delightful Southern dishes.

It all began with John Alexander McDougald, who made his livelihood in the timber commodities, Beaver told us. McDougald was mayor of Statesboro at one time and the city’s McDougald Memorial Parkway was named for him. He donated all the land on the south side heading west of Highway 67 to the Georgia Teachers College, which is now Georgia Southern University and also property to the African American congregation of St. John Baptist Church.

John Alexander McDougald was married to Pamela “Mella” Klarp and they had seven children: Ruth Elizabeth, Annie Laurie, Sara, Walter Edwin, Donald Outland, Dougald Worth and John Sidney. The last two died early from tuberculosis.

“When they were building the house, Annie was outside playing,” Beaver explained. “They hadn’t quite finished the house. Annie fell out of a tree and broke her neck and later died of pneumonia.

Several family members love the place so much, they refuse to leave.

“Annie haunts the house," Beaver said. "The uncles haunt the house. Mella haunts the house. John Alexander haunts the house.”

Clay Beaver is descended from Ruth Elizabeth McDougald, who married Roy Beaver. The couple

adopted two children, a daughter named Jane and Clay Beaver’s late father, John William Beaver. Ruth later had a biological child named Ann.

Jane and Ann didn’t have children but Clay Beaver’s father had three boys: Clay, Hank and West.

“We were the last generation to live in the house,” Clay Beaver said.

Ruth served up lunch for those who stayed in the house, such as that now-famous fried chicken accented by side dishes.

“Every meal was like this, she was always cooking big meals,” Beaver said. “For lunch, all Dad’s friends would come up here and sit in the kitchen and eat lunch every day. So Mom thought, ‘I’m tired of this.’ She borrowed $10,000 and bought tables and chairs and she set up a side of the house. Sure enough, they all came by.”

Beaver’s parents “were here hands-on every day” since the beginning and Clay Beaver came home in 1997 to be groomed to take over the business.

“And yes, I’m hands-on in the kitchen every morning, I’m on the floor, I’m washing the dishes,” he said.

Who haunts the house?

“Things happened when we lived here but mom and dad blew it off,” he told us. “The first time I saw Annie, it scared the hell out of me. But I thought, 'There’s no way.'"

One day when temperatures dropped from a balmy morning to freezing the hydrangeas in the afternoon, Beaver’s mom and dad tucked he and his brother Hank into bed with a thick comforter.

“They pulled the blanket tight, tucked where you couldn’t move,” he recalled. “I remember something sitting on the edge of that bed and we were stuck.”

But he really started to believe after his grandfather bought military barracks from Fort Stewart in the 1950s to be used as apartments behind the main house.

“These apartments were 450 square feet, a little kitchenette, breakfast nook, living room, bathroom and a bedroom. That’s all it was.” Beaver moved in, built an elaborate fireplace, pulled out the carpet and redid the hardware floors and got comfortable.

“I was the only one on the property,” he said of one night. “We’d have projects going on up here (in the main house) and the girl I was dating at the time in college, she said, ‘It’s 11:30 and you have work in the morning. You need to go home.’ I turned everything off. I started down the stairs and at the bottom landing, Annie was kneeling down at the courting bench. She jumped up and took off to the living room. Julie and I both looked at each other at the same time. We took off running as well. I got to the apartment and I said, ‘Julie I forgot to lock the front door.’ We walked up the stairs, locked the door and ran back to the house.”

Another time he and a friend were closing down the night shift.

“We used to have a radio that sat on the tea cart in the first room on the left. It was an old-school radio with a dial that lit up. We were listening to Led Zeppelin or whatever and all of a sudden it goes funny and then there’s big band music. I called Mom and I said, “Have you ever heard this music?” And she said, “That’s way before my time.’”

When psychic Greta Alexander visited the restaurant, that episode became clearer.

"She asked, 'Who’s the man that walks the house?'” Beaver related.

“She’s in there with 30 ladies from the psychology department from Southern Georgia,” Beaver expounded. “Dad starts telling who built the house and she says, ‘No, that’s the little guy. Who’s the big man who walks the house?’ She says, ‘He’s sitting right there in a green chair with a red ottoman next to a radio.’ Granddaddy Roy was 6 feet, 6 inches and 180 pounds. He was a huge man.

“It scared Dad to death because he remembered his daddy sitting in that chair listening to Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chats” on that radio. He called Mom and said, ‘I’m leaving, I’m coming home. I’m not staying here.’ It really upset him.”

A friend named Jenny who was at that meal got mad at Greta, Beaver said. “She said, ‘Don’t ever scare him like that. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You read that somewhere.’ Greta turned around and looked at her. She said, ‘You’re from Liverpool, Ohio. You didn’t talk to your dad until you were 14 and your first contact with him was in a Walmart parking lot in Ohio.’ And Jenny said, ‘Never mind.’”

Once a wedding was held in the house and a friend scanned photos onto a computer. “She zooms in on a photo and the two uncles are standing in the two windows in the front hall watching the ceremony,” Beaver said. “And you can zoom in on the front porch of the house and to the right of the front door there was a red tricycle and a little bike. You couldn't see it with the naked eye. Now, that was scary.”

Once a woman from Pennsylvania visited and asked to explore the house. “I said, Okay, well, we close at nine, can you maybe get here at 9, 9:30? So I grabbed my cooler and six-pack and I walked up here, said, 'Do whatever you want to do.' She started taking these pictures.

“The main power of the Beaver House runs dead center of the hall. It can kill your cell phone. She got her little ghost router out and she hit that energy where all that power is and it went off like crazy.

“But she took pictures of a window and Annie was in the top pane and her mother was in the bottom pane! Their facial images. The photo’s in an article in a Statesboro magazine. We had the hard copy of the photo in a Ziploc bag and it stayed on the shelf behind the cash register and one day it disappeared.”

Beaver and staff used to come in to work around 8:15 a.m. but changed their opening to 9 a.m. “Every morning at 8:30 Mella walks through that back door and goes straight up the hall.”

Other odd things happening include plates and glasses missing, air conditioning shutting off and lights flickering. Once a pan flew off the rack by Beaver’s head.

There used to be an eBay store next door and one day they were selling a Navy Zodiac. Beaver went to look at the boat and on his way back Annie was standing in the front door watching.

Things have “chilled” since Beaver’s father died, but not completely.

“The other day I know I saw somebody. I’m not sure who it was but I was walking from the wait side to the kitchen side and there was somebody standing in the front hall. I don’t know what it was for sure because I didn’t stop long enough.”

What Clay Sees

Annie’s always in a crushed brown velvet dress and the two uncles wear cut waist jackets “with a bob tail in the back.”

Everyone appears at the age when they died, he added.

“It’s like looking at you,” Beaver said of the apparitions. “No mist. There is a person right there in front of you.”

They mostly hang around Beaver’s father’s brass baby shoes on a table at the end of the hall.

Many discount these occurences but Beaver believes.

“Dad wouldn’t talk about it because he didn’t want people to think he was crazy. But I don’t care what people think. It’s a waste of energy to worry about what everybody else thinks is true.

“This is what I tell people. I might be talking to a group of 30-35 people and ask, ‘How many people believe in God?’ Then I ask, ‘How many of you actually seen him?’ And they say, ‘I've never seen him. I've felt him.’ ‘I'm like okay, but you believe in that, right?’ I said, ‘I’ve seen this firsthand.’

"And then that’s it, there are no more questions.”

Weird, Wacky & Wild South is written by Cheré Dastugue Coen, author of "Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana" by The History Press and the Viola Valentine paranormal mystery series under her pen name of Cherie Claire.

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1 commentaire

Bruce Coen
Bruce Coen
07 juil. 2023

Wonderful story! Loved the pics as well!

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