Only 5 days until Halloween! Get pumped with this tale about the friendly spirits inhabiting a house in Tennessee.
“The Oakslea Place Haunting”
from Ghosts and Haunts of Tennessee
by Christopher K. Coleman
Lying nearly halfway between Nashville and Memphis, Jackson is a convenient stop for weary travelers…
John Read was the presiding judge for two different county courts and a highly respected local citizen. In 1860, he built Oakslea Place on a quiet branch of the Forked Deer River. Back in those days, the house was deep in the countryside and surrounded by a stately stand of oak trees on a large tract of land….
As the years passed, Jackson grew up around Oakslea. Sections of the plantation were parceled out for other houses. Today, Oakslea is situated in the middle part of Jackson on a quiet, tree-lined boulevard. One of the oldest homes in town, it has accumulated a long history. It has also accumulated a few things not of this world.
In 2004, Oakslea Place came into the possession of its present owner, Richard Testani. From the first, Testani recognized the house’s uniqueness and set about restoring it with a view to turning it into a bed-and-breakfast. Meanwhile, he began to suspect he was not the only one to possess the house. After Oakslea opened to guests and others began having similar encounters, Testani realized that some of the house’s dearly departed had not quite departed.
At first, the new owner experienced things that might be easily dismissed as the products of an overactive imagination—the sounds of footsteps and of voices whispering. Then he began to notice things not so easily dismissed—the strong scent of a woman’s perfume and the distinct aroma of fresh flowers. Finally, the master of Oakslea started seeing full-blown apparitions. Nor was Testani the only one to witness the elegant bed-and-breakfast’s spectral residents. Guests staying in the four well-appointed suites experienced an assortment of paranormal phenomena and even had ghosts materialize before them.
Despite all the spectral activity, no one at Oakslea has expressed any fear at having to share their stay with the resident spirits. In fact, by all accounts, the ghosts who haunt Oakslea have impeccable manners.
Perhaps the most interesting apparition is a rather dignified spirit named Hampton. According to eyewitness accounts, Hampton appears as an elderly African-American gentleman always dressed in formal attire such as a butler might wear. His name is known because he once materialized before a bartender working a catered party in the mansion. The bartender was busy dispensing beverages when the tuxedo-clad apparition appeared and introduced himself by saying, “I am Hampton the butler.”
Over the years, the owners of Oakslea Place employed house servants. Hampton, by all accounts, was one of the home’s more devoted domestics, serving as butler there for most of his adult life. He has appeared to the present owner on a number of occasions and has occasionally materialized before visitors and staff. Apparently, his spirit still looks after Oakslea and its guests, making sure things run smoothly. Hampton’s dignified demeanor in death, as in life, adds a touch of class to the ambiance.
Hampton is by no means the only spectral presence known to haunt Oakslea. Two female apparitions are present as well. It is believed that they are mother and daughter and that they are former residents. It is to these ghosts that Testani attributes the various olfactory phenomena commonly experienced at Oakslea. At unexpected times, the scent of a woman’s perfume will flood a room. Similarly, guests may come into a room thinking it contains a large bouquet of flowers, only to discover that no such arrangement is there.
Testani and his guests have continued to experience the kinds of spectral encounters that the new owner first noticed—the sounds of footsteps and of barely audible voices, as if a conversation is being held in another room. Testani has even felt the touch of unseen hands. What ghosts are responsible for these phenomena and how many of them haunt Oakslea in this manner remain two of the house’s several mysteries.
A common element among all the uncanny experiences that guests and staff have had at Oakslea Place in recent years is that the specters definitely seem to be the protective sort. Apparently, these particular ghosts grew so fond of their abode in life that they have chosen to also abide there in the hereafter.
Check back for more terrifying legends in our Haunted Halloween Countdown or pick up one of the spooky books they come from.