HAUNTED HISTORY: Visitors wander through Powhatan for Ghost Walk

Thursday, October 22, 2009

— A Ghost Walk may reveal if the spirit of Andrew Springer really resides in the attic of the Powhatan courthouse or if it is just a legend.

Springer was a victim of a lynch mob in 1887 a week after he allegedly raped a Sharp County woman and was transported to Lawrence County for trail. According to reports from paranormal investigators, Springer, and someone who claims to be his sister, are seeking the truth.

Records show Springer is Lawrence County’s only lynching.

“They (paranormal investigators) claim he is still hanging around because he wants to be vindicated,” Powhatan Historic State Park program assistant Steve Saunders said. “He never got his day in court.”

Although Saunders is a skeptic when it comes to wandering spirits, four different paranormal groups concluded there is paranormal activity in the courthouse and the jail, which is nearby.

“I’ve worked here for four years and haven’t seen a ghost yet,” Saunders said.

The Powhatan Historic State Park sits on the edge of the Black River and consists of five historic structures that are on their original building site. The original courthouse burned in 1885 and was rebuilt on the same site in 1888 using some salvaged materials from the old one. The jail was built in 1873, the school was built in 1889, and the site also has a commercial building and a log home.

During the Ghost Walk, visitors will first enter the courtroom at the courthouse for a couple of ghostly stories involving a judge and jury.

Then every 20 minutes a group will visit each structure for more stories relevant to the specific structure.

Saunders revealed a preview of one story that comes from an escape at the jail when an inmate slipped into a coffin with a dead prisoner and was carted out of the jail to supposed freedom.

“The stories are half true and half not,” Saunders said. “It’ll be up to the listener to decide what’s true and what’s not.”

This is the second year for the Ghost Walk, and Saunders said last year, more than 200 people filtered through the park.

“Last year, we expected to stop at 10, but we were still telling stories at 11 p.m.,” Saunders said. “As long as we have people, we will stay.”

The park is open for tours daily, but the Ghost Walk is scheduled from 7-10 p.m. Friday. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for children ages 6 to 12 years.

Located two miles south of Black Rock, the courthouse is between Black Rock and Lake Charles on Arkansas. 25.

“I want visitors to know this is not a haunted house with chain saws, but it is a family-oriented evening with some good camp-fire-type ghost stories,” Saunders said.

For more information on the Ghost Walk or the Powhatan Historic State Park, call (870) 878-6765.

- jbrosius@arkansasonline.com

Three Rivers, Pages 51 on 10/22/2009