On December 10, 1978, the “Atlanta Constitution” carried a story by reporter Charles Salter where he detailed the very strange goings on in an antebellum mansion. At the request of the current owners of the home, he did not give the family’s real name, and the location was described only as “a little north Georgia town.” However, he believed that the source for his story--the lady of the house, whom he called “Mrs. Jones”--was credible when she stated that her home was haunted by a woman who had owned the mansion over a century ago.
Even when she insisted on not discussing her ghost under her own roof. “She does not like to be mentioned in the house,” “Mrs. Jones” explained. “We never mention her there. If you do, something will happen every time. We are on very good terms, pleasant terms.”
The first sign given to the Jones family that there was something very unusual about their home came soon after they moved in twenty years before. Mr. Jones was alone in the house, reading in an upstairs bedroom. He heard the back door open and the sounds of someone walking into the house. When he went downstairs, he found the door wide open, but no one was there. He shrugged and went back upstairs. A few moments later, the door opened and slammed shut.
Mr. Jones was not an easy man to rattle. “The heck with it,” he thought as he returned to his book. “They’ll just have to get me.” When his wife returned, he greeted her with the news that they had a ghost. The pair laughed, thinking it was all a fine joke. Their tranquillity remained undisturbed even when a framed painting in the living room mysteriously crashed to the floor.
And then came the episode of Margaret the Disappearing Mouse.
Mrs. Jones bought Margaret from an Atlanta pet shop two weeks before her daughter’s birthday. The squeaking little gift was, in the meantime, kept in her cage in a locked guest room. On the birthday morning, Mrs. Jones went to this guest room to find the door was open, with the key still in its usual place on top of the door. The mouse cage was closed, but empty. Margaret was never seen again.
At this point, the Joneses became a bit perturbed, and if you just had a mouse dematerialize on you, you probably would be too.
About eight years after this incident, the Jones daughter, by then a teenager, was alone in the house, waiting for her date to arrive. Then she suddenly heard “loud noises, someone slamming and blamming in a bedroom.” When she went into the bedroom, it was empty. The girl--perhaps fearing the ghost might do a Margaret on her--locked herself in a bathroom and when her boyfriend turned up, shouted out the window to him, “Come up here. I can’t get the bathroom door to open.”
Mrs. Jones explained to Salter why they were convinced their ghost was a female former resident. One night during the Christmas season, the Joneses went to visit friends, turning their holiday tree lights off before they left. On their return, they saw the Christmas tree fully lit up, shining brightly in the living room window.
Then they saw the woman standing next to the tree. Although they could not make out her face, they noted that her dress was of a style worn in the mid-19th century. And then the figure disappeared.
Both Mrs. Jones and her sister occasionally had the sinister feeling that they were not alone in a room. The family’s three cats also clearly knew something uncanny was present. They would stare intently at this “something,” their heads turning and their eyes following it around the room. Mrs. Jones often saw “fleeting shadows” moving through doorways and halls.
One night, one of the two Jones daughters came home and heard “strange, deep-toned music, as if a record were being played slower than normal.” When she went into the room, she saw that the record player was unplugged. However, the turntable was rotating, and even though no record was playing, the player continued to emit that weird, unearthly music.
As frightening as this spectral concert was, that experience was soon eclipsed by The Face. The family had a mirror over the kitchen sink. One day, a Jones daughter and one of her friends were in the kitchen, when the girlfriend began mocking the ghost.
“Don’t say that,” the Jones girl warned. “My mother doesn’t like for you to say that.”
She wasn’t the only one who didn’t care for such flippancy. The girlfriend suddenly looked at the mirror and ran screaming into the yard. She said, “I’m not going back in your house. There was a horrible face in the mirror.”
That girl wasn’t the only one to see disagreeable things in mirrors. When one of her daughters was a baby, Mrs. Jones heard her scream. When she ran into the room, she saw the child pointing at a mirror. “I looked in the mirror,” said Mrs. Jones. “The image was horrible. It was just a head with big eyes and the mouth smiling. Nothing on the bed was reflected that could have been this thing in the mirror. I took the mirror out of the room.”
Mrs. Jones said that, to date, the haunting had been creepy, rather than actually dangerous. The only violent act attributed to the ghost was when a friend of one of the daughters was heading down the stairs. She felt two hands on her back, pushing her down the steps. Fortunately, she was only left a little bruised.
Perhaps the weirdest incident happened only a short time before Mrs. Jones spoke to the reporter. One morning, she was sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee when she suddenly heard a splashing sound, as if someone was pouring liquid on the floor from a considerable height. Nothing was dripping from the ceiling, but Mrs. Jones saw a puddle of thin, brownish liquid forming on the floor. One of her cats ran to the puddle, sniffed it, and angrily arched his back. When Mrs. Jones cleaned up the liquid, she noted that it smelled like cat urine.
Mrs. Jones told Salter that an old woman she knew once commented that she didn’t believe in ghosts, because if you go to Heaven, you won’t want to come back. And if you go to Hell, the Devil won’t let you come back.
Mrs. Jones might have once agreed with that remark. Now she wasn’t so sure.
We know nothing further about the Jones family and their ghostly adventures, which is a pity. I’d sure like to know where Margaret is now.