November 30, 2006 posted by Lindsay

A Ghostly Encounter in Rugby, Tennessee

A Ghostly Encounter in Rugby, Tennessee

“Did you hear that?” my husband whispered.

“Yes!” I said, clutching my blanket tightly around my neck.

It was 3am and outside the door of our inn room, footsteps could be heard stomping up and down the stairs — footsteps in a house that was empty, except for the two of us.

“It must be Charles Oldfield’s ghost!” I moaned. Dennis’s teeth chattered in response.

Three hours east of Nashville, Rugby, Tennessee is famous both for its Victorian-era structures and, as Dennis and I would learn after staying in one of the town’s bed and breakfasts, its ghosts. When we checked in at the 125-year-old Newbury House that night for a weekend getaway, we thought we had the place to ourselves. But as we learned from entries left in the rooms’ guestbooks, some of the former boarding house’s tenants apparently never left the premises.

The woman who was staying in Room #2 screamed and came hysterically downstairs, wrote Carol from Lascassas about her recent stay. She said a man whispered in her ear, ‘Hey Girly’. I went upstairs and said, ‘So you like to scare girls, do you? Well here I am, give it a shot.’ Suddenly, the hangers began to swing significantly, like an unseen hand was pushing them.

British colonist Charles Oldfield died in Room #2 more than a century ago. Legend has it he’s been hanging around the house ever since, slamming doors, tickling toes and sending the more sensitive guests into paroxysms of terror. After Dennis and I spent a sleepless night listening to Charlie’s supernatural antics, we knew we had to bring our kids back for an Oldfield-style haunting. That’s how we ended up celebrating my 16-year-old’s birthday at the house last weekend, renting all six rooms for our family and her friends. We started off the party with a guided ghost tour before returning to the inn and reading aloud from the rooms’ journals.

Odd occurrence at 3:00am, wrote Jim of Tullahoma. We were the only guests, but heard something walk down the hall and shut the door to the end bedroom. When we got up, we looked in the bedroom and it was untouched from our night before inspection.

“It had to be Charles,” the girls solemnly concurred. After reading a few more peculiar entries, they had sufficiently worked themselves into a high-decibal frenzy.

“Janie, come with me to the bathroom!” screeched Amy as the girls gathered around a Ouija board in the parlor. “I’m afraid to go alone!” Two minutes later, the pair ran shrieking from the hallway lavatory.

“Charles poked me on the butt!” Amy yelled.

Yep. These girls were primed for some paranormal activity, all right. But was I? Nightfall found me walking with our group to a nearby café on a dark, gravel road just outside the house. Before I knew what was happening, my ankle turned sideways. I used the side of my foot to keep myself from falling, bearing down hard on the outside bone, which promptly fractured.

“FUUUH-“ I bellowed, forgetting in that excruciating moment that my 13-year-old was walking beside me.

“UUH,” I finished lamely. “Fuh. That hurt.”

Obviously, Charles had pushed me and broken my fifth metatarsal bone. The bastard. What had I ever done to him, besides bring a bunch of cute young girls to his Victorian bachelor pad? I spent the rest of the evening with a big sack of ice on my swollen foot, staring darkly into the parlor fire. Charles wisely stayed away.

“If I so much as hear a peep out of you, Oldfield, I’ll kick your invisible ass all the way to Perry County,” I said aloud before turning out the lamp beside my bed that night. “And you will not like it there, let me tell you.” It worked. My room was as quiet as the grave. It stayed that way until 3:20am, when I woke to find a mysterious apparition staring mournfully down at me.

“What the…” I said confusedly. “I thought I told you not to bother me!”

“I just wanted to say sorry about the foot,” Charles responded. “The worst thing I’ve done up to now is give someone an asthma attack. I’m really not a bad guy.”

“Just misunderstood?” I asked sarcastically.

He nodded.

I shook my head. “You know, I could have you exorcised for this,” I threatened. Charlie blanched. I felt bad. “But maybe we can work something out.” I thought for a moment. “Okay, go upstairs and scare the girls. Not too much. Just give them something to remember.”

Charlie smiled. “Done,” he promised, before disappearing.

The next morning, the girls tumbled downstairs with a host of strange incidents to report. The hallway lights had turned on and off from 3am onward, all by themselves. The alarm clock in Room #2 went off three different times throughout the night. Even Hubs claimed to have heard men’s voices in the hallway. Of course, you might have scientific explanations for all of these occurrences, but come on, people. Humor me.

It’s my ghost story and I’m sticking to it.

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This column originally appeared in the Nashville Scene.




  • >I try not to believe in ghosts because it’s like the alien theory – once I start thinking about, I just get more and more creeped out. But I, too, have had experiences that I just can’t explain. We refinished an old farm house and the attic (which was on the same level as the loft) was always freezing cold – even in the dead of summer. I was climbing out of it once and I SWEAR something pushed me out. I never went back in again.

  • ang

    >I was about 15 at the time my mom wasnt home and it was starting to get dark I was laying down in my bed I swear something grabbed my knee I screamed then whatever it was was gone but the most bizzare thing was when I was 26 My aunt gave me some tarrot cards and a spell book for my birtday not sure why. For fun I tried one, a few nights later I immediatley woke up out of a dead sleep because I felt something rush through the room I said whos here. Seconds later the rain stick that was in my closet laying flat on the floor started making the rain noise. The tarrot cards, book and the rain stick were in the trash the next day,. My boyfriend at the time was a witness to this….

  • >Creepy things always happen to me when I drink too much caffeine late at night.I swear, I don’t think too much about ghosts. I’d be up all night scaring myself. But, when I was in the military, we lived in old dorms in England, land of ghosts, and my two friends and I got very creeped out because we were convinced one of the girl’s rooms was haunted. We’d be there and stuff would happen and it’d get cold. She’d leave the light on because she was scared, and would wake up with it off. So one night she left it off, and it turned on.Crreeeeppy.

  • >My grandfather used to be a ghost hunter. He wrote several books, all veerrrry spoooooky. 🙂 I love to hear his stories. I totally believe in ghosts.There is a ghost in the house that I grew up in. Both my father and mother (separately) have seen a little girl in a very old dress. My dad saw her first and never told my mom because he didn’t want to scare her.One time we were coloring at our kitchen table and when we stopped you could still hear a crayon coloring on paper. A few minutes later the locked doorknob to our utility room starter twisting like someone was trying to open the door. There is a window in the door, though so you can see through to the other side and there was no one there. Things dissapear and reappear frequently in this house.

  • >This gives me an idea for another show. I’ll call you.

  • >There is a show I love to watch called “Most Haunted”, which is filmed in England. It’s funny to see them freak out in these old places, but there have also been some weird things caught on tape.I had an experience at the hospital where I used to work – I walked by a very sick patient’s room and swore someone else was in the room. Odd considering it was the middle of the night and it was only the staff on the floor, none of whom looked like the person I saw. In the 5 seconds it took me to walk around the corner and look into the windows of the room no one was there and the nurse sitting there swore no one had been in that room. I actually blogged about it earlier this year if you want to read the whole thing.

  • >I have had some weird things happen in my house. When my son was a few months old, I had to go back to Tennessee to settle a probate issue for my mother’s estate. She had been dead a little over 18 months. I brought some small items back with me that had belonged to my mom. Anyway, a few nights after I returned with these items, my husband and I suddenly heard music coming from our 4-month old son’s room. He couldn’t roll over yet because he was a bit plump and couldn’t do anything to turn on the toy that was playing music. And, he was sound asleep. Another night, in the same time frame, I was cooking dinner. I was exhausted and somehow failed to realize I had left a burner on. It stayed on all night, but when I got up in the morning, the actual burner had been pulled out of its housing (these can’t pop out on their own and have to be physically pulled out by hand). I believe both instances were my mom. In one case, meeting her grandson and in the other perhaps saving our lives.We have had other things happen, but I can’t remember any of them at the moment. Thankfully, nothing like that has happened in a while.

  • >In one apartment where I lived, my room mate and I would both find this one particular stair case very creepy, and it always felt like someone was chasing us up the stairs.At another place I lived, one of my room mates had a motion sensitive “Ash” doll from Army of Darkness that sat in the kitchen. Well, before we even had that thing in there, we would often “feel” someone else in there, but the creepy thing would be that this doll thing would start talking when there was NO ONE in the room.The “ghost” in that house would often chase us through the kitchen and towards the bathroom, where we’d often have to run to hide. These things happened to all three of the room mates at different times, but it wasn’t until months after it started that we told eachother about them. And then we asked the ghost to leave. But we left before he did.

  • >Another girl who says she doesn’t believe in ghosts has another haunted bathroom for you!On Constitution Ave. in D.C., right next door to the EPA building, is the Mellon Auditorium. It was built sometime in the early 1930s, I believe. Like most buildings in that part of town, it’s big, white, and vaguely Grecian, without a whole lot of personality. People love to use it for special events – corporate gatherings, awards ceremonies, that sort of thing.I am one of the people who sets up the pretty lights for these events, and part of the reason I refuse to work at the Mellon is the ladies’ room.The ladies’ room is in the basement which, in and of itself, isn’t so creepy. There’s nothing particularly unsettling about the room itself – tile floors, drab stalls, just your average bland bathroom. But the moment you walk through the door, you get the sensation that something is behind you, almost touching your back. The feeling stays with you as you walk through the large-ish lobby area, while you’re in the stall doing your bid-ness, while you’re washing your hands, and as you walk back out. It only disappears when the elevator doors shut to take you back upstairs.At first, it merely feels unfriendly, unwelcoming. The closer you get to being finished, the less welcoming it becomes. By the time you start walking out, it’s downright hostile.The weirdest part is that this only happens after midnight (which is when we’re there, removing all evidence of the big, expensive parties). During the day, it’s only creepy because you expect it to be creepy.None of the women who work in that place go to that bathroom after dark; if we do, we go in a pack, even those of us who would never consider doing so anywhere else.The men’s room doesn’t seem to have this problem. None of the men believed us until we sent three of them down, one at a time, to experience it for themselves. Not one lasted long enough to take a pee.’Scuse the long reply, Lindsey…guess I’ve been holding this in for a long time. :o)

  • >I was sleeping in my great-aunt’s house and woke up halfway through the night to see my uncle sitting on the chair beside the bed with a set of beads he used to always hold. The thing is that he died when I was very young, and I never knew that that chair was his favourite or even that he held the beads.

  • >In college, I was in a sorority. The sorority house had been a brothel in the early 1900’s (go ahead and make the obvious jokes here). Apparently one of the prostitutes, named Rebecca, fell down the back stairs and broke her neck and had been haunting the house ever since.One summer, I had to stay at the house by myself one night (no one lived there during the summer break). I was kind of freaked out overnight and basically closed myself in a room with the TV on. No incidents whatsoever. The next morning, a friend of mine came over and we had breakfast and I got ready for the day. The friend left. As I got ready to leave the house, I glanced in the mirror over the fireplace and distinctly saw someone behind my left shoulder. I gasped and then ran the hell outta there 🙂

  • >I tell my girls I don’t believe in ghosts, but your story scared the crap out of me and I cannot sleep! It’s after 1AM here in Texas, and I’m normally out by 10:30PM.Thanks for an awesome scare, Lindsay.

  • >I live about 20 minutes from one of America’s most haunted houses: The Myrtles Plantation ( The previous owners tried living in the house with their 2 young kids until the boys kept asking their mom why they never took their “sister” anywhere with them. The mom asked them what they were talking about since they didn’t have a sister. 2 small daughters of a previous owner were killed in the house. The family moved out shortly after the lady of the house and her husband decided to use one of the antique beds as their own. She heard a noise upstairs and went to investigate. When she came back down, she got in bed and cuddled up next to her husband. A few seconds later, he came walking out of the bathroom!!!They moved out directly! LOLWe’ve stayed overnight at the house (in one of the guest cottages- I won’t stay in the house). It was cool, the Halloween tour is cool!I also live close to where the movie The St. Francisville Experiment was filmed.My huby has seen things beore, I never have, and really I don’t want to.

  • >No celestial experiences here, but I am married to a man who believes in the existence of Bigfoot AND swears to have sighted The White River Monster as a child. Does that count?

  • >Where to start? The house I grew up in always had weird things happening. We’d hear footsteps when no one was upstairs. When no one was downstairs, we’d hear cabinents slamming and stairs creaking. We had been there several years when the new neighbors moved in. About a year after they moved in, my sister and I were left home alone at night (I was in high school at the time). Our dog wouldn’t stop barking – we looked out the patio door which faced the neighbors house. In their daughter’s window upstairs, we saw a lady in white looking out the window, she disappeared right before our eyes! Later we found out the daughter had been complaining of a lady in her room! In my house, my brother was spending the night. We were joking around and proceeded to arrange his clothes in the closet – when we opened the doors a little girl was there for a few brief seconds. My brother said “Did you see that???” I responded with “What did you see?”. After the fact, my husband told me he had also seen the same little girl.

  • >I’ve had so many ghostly encounters that it would take too long to write them all here.I didn’t believe in ghosts growing up….I do now.Not scared of them, tho’….they fascinate me. Ghost hunting is WAY fun! (Tho’ I’ve never broken my foot doing it…that might dampen my spirits some..)

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