Another of Eufaula’s odes to days long gone by—to days of king cotton and steamships and of an age when southern Alabama was the wealthiest region in the nation—is the Kendall Manor. This is a gorgeous two-story mansion in the Italianate style. Sitting on a hill and crowned by a cupola that overseers could use to monitor both slaves working in the cotton fields and steamboat traffic coming up and down the Chattahoochee River, the owners of Kendall Manor must have felt like the entire town of Eufaula was their own kingdom to survey.
The town of Eufaula gets its name from one of the Indian tribes that used to call the area home. Meaning “high bluff” in the Muscogee language, the embankments overlooking the river and the fertile cropland fed by regular floods quickly drew white settlers to the area. Houses like Kendall Manor were built as monuments to the wealth and prosperity that followed. Soon the town had become a major shipping and trading mecca, with traders and merchants from all over Georgia and Alabama drawn to the bustling city.
But it wasn’t just the fertile land that made Eufaula wealthy. Someone had to work that land, and it was that need for labor that brought thousands of African slaves to the area. When the question of secession to protect that way of life became a pressing one after the election of Abraham Lincoln, the wealthy and powerful of the area, called the Eufaula Regency, were adamant supporters of separation. When the Civil War began, the people of Eufaula answered the call for soldiers, and many from the area would fight in some of the biggest battles of the war.
What the people of the town could not know is that they had signed the death warrant for the glory days of the Black Belt. The war, which started with many promising victories for Confederate forces, soon turned against the South. When Montgomery fell in early 1865, there was nothing to stand between federal troops and the town of Eufaula. Given that many of the towns that fell to the Union were burned to the ground, the people of Eufaula prepared for the worst. When a messenger arrived with word that four thousand Union cavalrymen were moving in their direction, it seemed that all hope was lost.
But luck was on their side. With Union troops across the river and in sight of the city, news came of the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House, as well as Joe Johnston’s capitulation to William Tecumseh Sherman in Raleigh, North Carolina. Under a flag of truce, Union troops crossed the river and marched into the city, peacefully and without incident. Unlike so many of the great cities of the South, Eufaula survived the war without death and destruction.
But things would never be like they were before the war. Even as new rail lines and cotton mills brought a measure of prosperity back to the town, places like Kendall Manor watched as the world passed them by. But while Eufaula isn’t as wealthy as it once was, it is one of the most historic cities in the country. And Kendall Manor is one of more than seven hundred buildings in Eufaula listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A little bit of that history remains at Kendall Manor. It often seems like every house in Eufaula is haunted, and Kendall is no different. The manor’s particular ghost is called Annie. She was, a very long time ago, a nursemaid who cared for generations of children who passed through the halls of Kendall. It is said that she was very protective of the children and rather strict in their upbringing. Annie has long since passed from the scene, but her spirit remains, and it is said to appear whenever there are children in her area who are acting up and need discipline. And if anything would keep kids in line, seeing a ghost is probably it.
We know less about the other story attached to Kendall Manor. It involves a spirit that is said to ride a white horse. When danger is about, or when something tragic and horrible is about to happen, the man on the white horse appears at Kendall Manor, a harbinger of doom. Let’s hope that’s a spirit you never encounter.
Haunted Alabama Black Belt written by David Higdon and Brett Talley – Copyright © 2013 by David Higdon and Brett Talley – All rights reserved