CRESTWOOD, Ky. (January 2004) In the small community
of Floydsburg, Ky., Mary Belle Wilsons name has become synonymous
with things that go bump in the night. Some believe it is her ghost
that haunts the Floydsburg cemetery, which occupies the same property
as Duncan Memorial Chapel near Crestwood.
Mary (or Emma) Belle, is said to return periodically to the neighborhood
and walk the cemetery grounds, where she and her family are buried.
In her hands she carries a lantern or clutches a prayer book.
by Helen McKinney
house in Floydsburg
is believed by some to be haunted.
Across from the front gates of the chapel stands the log home, now
a gray vinyl sided home, where Mary Belle once lived. Her father was
Col. James F. Wilson, and the Wilson family was a prominent one in
the area. The upstairs bedroom where it is said Mary Belle met her
death overlooks the chapel grounds.
Mary Belles story is an old one, one that predates the Civil
War. She was in love with two suitors and couldnt bring herself
to choose between the two. When both young men joined the ranks of
fighting soldiers during the Civil War, Mary Belle believed her dilemma
would be solved of its own accord. What she didnt count on was
the fact that both suitors would return from the war, still enamored
After some time, Mary Belle chose Joseph Vincent as her fiancé
and began wedding preparations. On the eve of her wedding in 1874,
the rejected suitor returned to her home and stabbed her on Dec. 27.
There is supposedly a spot of blood on the second floor of the house
in what was her bedroom that will not go away.
Many residents claim to have seen this beautiful apparition attired
in her wedding dress walking the cemetery grounds. Others claim there
is no truth to this tale. Henry and Mabel Cassidy have lived in the
Floydsburg community for 30 years and heard Mary Belles story
While they may not put much faith in a supposedly haunted house, Mabel
does provide insight into the longevity of the story. She said the
tale still exists because the house has existed this long. Its
one of the oldest surviving houses in the area. She said the
fact that Mary Belles father was a man of prominence,
has also contributed to the storys survival.
Helen Bryant, caretaker of Duncan Memorial Chapel for more than 20
years, said there is a memorabilia case within the chapel that contains
an old newspaper clipping referring to Mary Belles ghost. But
she, too, discounts the ghost story as a myth.
Oldham County has another ghost story to tell, and most shop owners
along Main Street in La Grange are familiar with it. There are
all kinds of haunted buildings on Main Street, said Dorothy
Lammlein. Lammleins building, which now houses Sign of the Times
Too gift shop, is located in what used to be the old Heads Drugstore
at 104 E. Main St.
Lammlein offers as an explanation for the Main Street hauntings the
story of Don Carlos McDowell, the first mayor of La Grange. McDowell
was the original owner of the building that houses Lammleins
business, and from it ran McDowells Pharmacy. He was killed
while helping extinguish a fire on Main Street. It is perhaps his
spirit that returns to haunt the building.
Lammlein said that she purchased her business space from Billy McMakin,
after Heads Drugstore had gone out of business. Being quite
familiar with the buildings history, McMakin had left a brief
message on her Rolodex, Hope you like the ghost. Lammlein
scoffed at the ghost stories at first, but she said it soon became
apparent to everyone in the building that something (abnormal) went
on in the building.
McMakin had warned her that things would turn up missing. Lammlein
said she began missing things such as contracts and ribbons she had
prepared for wedding decorations. These items would later show up
but conveniently disappear when needed. This distraction got to the
point where it was really aggravating for Lammlein, who couldnt
ignore what was going on.
Noises seemed to originate from the back rear upper section of the
building early in the morning or at nighttime, she said. Loud banging
and clanging overhead sounded like furniture being dropped. Lammleins
employees saw glimpses of a woman, but when they went to the front
of the store to wait on her, the mysterious figure had disappeared.
Music boxes would often play by themselves.
Frustrated, Lammlein had radio announcer and ghostbuster Chris McGill
visit her building to see what he could detect. She said McGill and
his crew set up cameras a year and a half ago, but their orbs ghostlike
balls of light detected very little activity.
Whatever had been haunting her building left with the ghostbusters,
Miriam McDowell Kircher is Carlos McDowells granddaughter. She
finds it hard to believe that her grandfathers spirit would
haunt the building and make so much noise because he was deaf. McDowell,
a pharmacist, was only 46 years old when he died, Kircher said. Feeling
as if he should be assisting with the firefighting efforts, he went
into his drug store to make sandwiches for the firefighters. A chimney
fell on McDowell and killed him.
I guess there is some truth to this story, said Kircher.
Lammlein had called her to ask if she had any idea who was haunting
the building. When Lammlein described the mysterious female figure
in a long, old-fashioned dress, Kircher guessed it was her grandfathers
half-sister, Betty McDowell.
Aunt Betty, as Kircher referred to her, had never married and had
always helped in the drug store. Its what she did her
whole life, said Kircher. She was so helpful. There
was a large room in the building where Betty devoted her time to making
chocolate syrup and ice cream, as well as other concoctions for drug
The home where Don Carlos lived still stands behind the old Heads
Drugstore. His father, William Albert McDowell, once owned this property.
Don Carlos lived between Betty and his other half-sister, Isabel.
His home has recently been renovated into a bed and breakfast.
The Oldham County Chamber of Commerce is located nearby at 108 E.
Main St., and chamber president Joe Schoenbaechler backs up Lammleins
ghost story. Most of the activity we noticed were sounds coming
from the roof, he said. And these were no ordinary sounds, but
very loud noises, he said.
Ironically, Schoenbaechler found these odd sounds disturbing because
he said, When workmen are on the roof working, we cant
hear them. But the odd noises on the roof continued fairly regularly
and always when someone was in the office and working alone.
That is, until the spirits disappeared suddenly with the ghostbusters.
Things were really active until that night, said Lammlein.