What’s haunting Americus, Georgia?
Updated: Oct 26, 2021
Something strange happened on the third floor of the historic Hotel Windsor, a Victorian gem in the heart of downtown Americus, Georgia. Room 333 was mentioned, as well as the now-defunct staff elevator. In fact, a friend who took the local ghost tour approached that elevator only to have it rock as if it were in service. Needless to say, she had a fright — as did all the folks on her tour.
I was staying on the other side of the gorgeous old hotel, but when I used my ghost app on the hallway where both haunted sites are located, lots of activity popped up, mostly in twos. The word “mirror” always appeared.
So, I was eager to know more when I took the Americus Haunted History Tour with native historian Steve Short. My tour was one of several happening in the month of October — they continue the weekend of Halloween (2021) — and consist of a walking tour through downtown Americus, ending up at the Windsor Hotel.
We started with an introduction at the Americus Visitor Center, where Short mentioned the Confederate woman haunting the Rylander House in Plains, a town about 10 miles west that’s the birthplace of President Jimmy Carter. Carter and his wife Rosalynn lived in the pre-Civil War home for a while and their oldest son, Jack Carter, found a secret room containing a ladder and a chair between the attic and the ceiling. That might be strange enough but Rosalynn Carter related a story of the sound of a window slamming shut only to find no one there and the window closed, Short related.
“It was always known as the ‘Haunted House’ even when the Carters lived there,” Short said.
“I don’t know when I first heard it was haunted,” Rosalynn Carter told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a 1973 article. “Over the years, there were many bizarre occurrences, but one story I remember was that a light in the attic window was a candle kept burning by a lady so soldiers would know where to hide during the Civil War.”
A woman in white also appears from the nearby Lebanon Cemetery and walks toward the house, Short said, but when she gets closer, she disappears. A former owner claimed a white dog would appear on the porch but disappear when people got close.
Ten miles in the other direction from Americus, Short described Andersonville National Historic Site where thousands of Civil War Union soldiers died and where a chaplain still walks the grounds.
We then followed Short to the oldest cemetery in town, where Americus’ first sheriff, John Kimmey, was murdered by his opponent in an election. George Robertson used a Bowie knife on the sheriff in 1839 and Kimmey fled the scene after shooting Robertson. A friend of Robertson took off after Kimmey and shot the sheriff. Both Kimmey and Robertson died of their wounds, but the other killer was never found. Both Kimmey and Robertson are buried but only Kimmey has a marked grave.
The most gruesome tale Short related was of William Redding, an African American who grabbed the police chief’s gun and shot him during an altercation in June 1913. Redding was arrested but a mob of 500 men dragged him out of jail and hung him at the corner of Cotton and Forsythe. Redding was also riddled with gunfire and his body set on fire and it’s believed that visitors can still smell the odor when visiting that corner.
The tour passed by the Rylander Theatre, where “Frank the Friendly Ghost” makes his presence known, and the Allison Building, where owner Richard Allison took his life on April 6, 1932, after losing everything in the market crash of 1929; his face can sometimes be seen in the windows.
When we reached the Windsor Hotel, Short paused on the front steps and explained its history, then mentioned the lobby mirror where people have witnessed unusual faces in its depths. I immediately thought of the word I caught on my ghost app.
We then proceeded to the third floor, where Short related the story of the housekeeper who was pushed down the staff elevator by an angry lover. The housekeeper’s daughter clung to her mother so she perished in the fall as well.
“The lover shoved the woman, the little girl grabbed her mom’s hand and they fell in an empty elevator shaft three floors to their death,” Short said. “They say that to this day, you will hear the footsteps of a little girl running up and down this hallway.
“The front desk clerk here has told me that they've had a lady come down at two or three in the morning and she said, ‘Would you please tell the little girl to stop running down the hallway?’ The clerk looked at the book and said, ‘Ma’am, there’s no little girl on the third floor tonight.’”
Once the lights on the third hall hallway stopped working.
“One time, every light on this floor, all the power went out for no reason and nobody could explain it,” he said. “They went through and tightened the lightbulbs and the power comes back on. So someone unscrewed the lightbulbs but security didn’t pick up anybody doing that.”
I used the ghost app while Short was talking and again, two dots appeared regularly around where we stood, just opposite the staff elevator. The words I got this time were “fighting” and “pull.”
Room 333 is notorious for being haunted, but Short doesn’t know why. Visitors have noticed items being moved and heard weird noises.
Before we left the haunted third floor, Short mentioned that Floyd Lowry, who worked at the hotel years ago, may still remain. He never drank alcohol in his lifetime, so the hotel named its pub in his honor. Floyd’s a happy spirit, Short added.
Want to see what we're talking about?
Check out Good Day Atlanta's reporting on the Haunted History Tour here.
Want to go?
Tickets for the Americus Haunted History Tour — dates are Oct 27-Nov. 1, 2021 — may be purchased at the Americus Visitor Center or by calling Steve Short at (229) 928-6059. Visit www.visitamericusga.com for more information.