‘Spirits of La Grange’

Popular ghost tours to include
storytelling on the square

Local building owners
report ‘strange happenings’

By Helen McKinney
Contributing Writer

(September 2010) – When Shannon Pottie and her parents, Nancy and Randy Winstead, purchased the home on the corner of 109 N. Walnut St. and Main Street in La Grange one year ago to house their barbeque eatery, the previous tenant told them it was haunted. At first they laughed it off. But since then, Pottie has become a firm believer that there are certain spirits that just won’t leave the house alone.
“There have been a couple of different things that have gone on here,” said Pottie. For example, the day her family was moving in and cleaning, a lady stopped by to ask if they were hiring and said the house was haunted.

Shannon Pottie

Photo by Helen McKinney

Shannon Pottie, one
of the owners of Big
R’s Barbeque in
La Grange, poses on
the staircase of the
haunted home.

“We kind of joked about it and just playing around my sister said, ‘Ghosts, you better be good.’ As soon as she reached for the light above her it blew up,” said Pottie.
According to her, a lot of strange things happen in the house with lights. The coffee pot has been known to run over, and the cooler door has been found wide open when the family knew they had shut it. But the most hair-raising episodes have occurred with Pottie’s three-year old daughter, Brooke.
One day while Pottie was in the kitchen and her mother in another room of the house, they both heard Brooke carrying on a conversation. When Pottie walked around the corner leading to a set of stairs, she found Brooke and asked who she had been talking to.
Brooke replied, “The man. He’s a really nice man.” Pottie was puzzled but thought maybe her daughter just had a vivid imagination, until it happened again about a month later.
As Pottie was upstairs working her daughter ran up and grabbed her by the shirt and said, “That man just scared me.” Brooke’s grandmother told the girl to show her where the man was. Brooke took her to the room she had been in and looked around in each corner of the room, stating the man was still there, but in a different corner of the room this time.
“We’ve had three groups come out and spend the night,” with their paranormal equipment, said Pottie. “One group got some interesting things on record such as voices speaking back to you,” she said.
The house originally dates back to the 1800s and is supposedly haunted by a mother, Annie Wheeler, and the son, Gilbert, who shot her. It is one of several stops on this year’s Spirits of La Grange Ghost Tours, which will begin on Sept. 10 and run through Oct. 30 on Friday and Saturday nights. One tour per night will be offered in September starting at 7 p.m., and a second tour will be added based on demand.
“They seem to start out slowly in September, I think because of the heat and people just don’t really get in the “mood” until October,” said Barbara Edds, executive director of Discover Downtown La Grange, the organization that runs the tours. During the month of October, two tours per night are offered at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
“This will be the seventh year for the Ghost Tours,” said Edds, who is frequently a guide on the tours. Some of the favorite old haunts will be visited in the nine block walking tour, in addition to a new stop at Big R’s Barbeque. “Lots of spooky things are going on there!” said Edds.
The candle-lit tours begin at the Oldham County History Center located on Second Street, adjacent to the Oldham County Courthouse. Tours are limited to 18 people and not recommend for children under age 12. Reservations are required.
Children are encouraged to attend a new offering held in conjunction with the Ghost Tours, Ghost Stories on the Square. Professional storytellers Roberta Brown, Bill Watson and Thomas Freese will spin their spooky yarns at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11 on the grounds of the Oldham County History Center. “This is a bring a blanket, lawn chairs and picnic family evening,” Edds said. Admission is free.
“We’re really excited to have ghost stories for the first time this year,” said Karen Eldridge, board member for Discover Downtown La Grange.
Roberta Simpson Brown will be one of the storytellers whose tales are “not for the faint of heart,” Brown said. Known as The Queen of the Cold-Blooded Tales, she grew up on a farm in Appalachia hearing family, friends and neighbors relate stories.
“It was our entertainment back in the country,” said Brown, 71. Where she grew up near Russell Springs, Ky., it was a tradition to spend a summer’s evening out on the front porch sharing stories of all kinds. “I’m glad La Grange is bringing back that interaction and tradition that we had.”
A retired teacher, Brown now devotes most of her time to storytelling and writing. She has written seven books, the latest with her husband, Lonnie E. Brown. The book will be released in October and is “a collection of stories we heard growing up,” she said.
Brown has always preferred ghost stories. She refers to her signature story as Storm Walker, based on an incident that happened to her when she was a child and terrified of storms.
She has been a featured author and storyteller at many events. Brown has traveled to California, New York, Texas and Wisconsin, among other states to speak about her work.

• Tickets for the Spirits of La Grange Ghost Tours can be reserved by calling The Spirit Line at (502) 291-1766. Price is $15 per person.

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