Scariest Ghosts in Kentucky

Written by Rachel Crick, UPK Marketing Intern

Happy Spooky Season! We at the University Press of Kentucky would like to help you get in the spooky spirit by spotlighting some of the scariest ghosts from two of our books, Tales of Kentucky Ghosts by William Lynwood Montell, and Ghosts of the Bluegrass by James McCormick and Macy Wyatt. These are extraordinary tales from ordinary people that recount frightening instances of all kinds. Seen or unseen, malicious or mischievous, these ghosts appear everywhere from private family homes to public roads and institutions. Whether you’re a believer or not, the ghosts that made this list are ones you would never want to meet.

5. The Pisgah Road Walking Companion
From Ghosts of the Bluegrass by James McCormick and Macy Wyatt

This story comes from a man in his eighties, who remembers a terrifying experience his brother had long ago as a child. He was walking home from school by himself on Pisgah Road. The night was very dark. He had almost made it to a clearing in the trees when he realized he was not alone.

“Suddenly there was a woman walking right along beside him dressed in a black, black dress, and a black hat with a veil over her face, and everything. She was just there! She didn’t say anything. She kept step with him. He kept stepping faster and faster, and she would keep stepping faster and faster.”

When the man’s brother broke into a run, she disappeared, but according to the storyteller, this mysterious woman shrouded in black was making frightening appearances in Georgetown, too. The woman in black is known for simply keeping pace and walking beside you, but it’s her silence and all-black garb that earn her a spot on the list of scariest ghosts.   

4. The Crawling Man
From Tales of Kentucky Ghosts by William Lynwood Montell

With this ghost, the name itself is enough to send a chill down your spine. The unique way this ghost terrified and tormented a Kentucky homeowner is what earns the Crawling Man his spot on the list of scariest ghosts. 

“As she went to bed she began to hear the most horrible groans and moans coming from the fireplace. Being scared to death afraid to move, the hair on her head would stand up, for out of the fireplace the dark figure of a man would come crawling to the foot of her bed. Then, it would return to the fireplace taking on something awful.”

According to the story, the Crawling Man eventually left the poor homeowner alone, but the idea of a ghostly visitor crawling toward your bed on a nightly basis is creepy beyond measure. That’s one ghost to hope and pray you never meet.

3. The Boy at 5427
From Tales of Kentucky Ghosts by William Lynwood Montell

This haunting tale takes place in the 1990s, in a nice family home that didn’t seem like your ordinary haunted house. Stories like these go to show that the most unsettling of ghostly encounters don’t always occur in dark, unfinished basements. The storyteller recalls one night he was asleep in his basement bedroom. He woke to find his door slowly creaking open, and the figure of a child coming toward him in the dark. The figure got closer and closer. He thought it was his brother, but when he reached out to grab his brother’s leg, there was nothing there. The storyteller slept upstairs for a few months and didn’t see the little ghost boy again until a friend witnessed the haunting as well.

“We had both fallen asleep. Josh had turned off the television…I woke up for no reason, then saw the little boy moving towards us. He wasn’t walking, just gliding closer and closer.”

His encounters with the gliding little boy don’t end there. Later that summer, he was watching a movie with a date when she saw something coming from the steps.

“I asked her what she was talking about, as I looked toward the stairs and saw a green bouncing ball coming toward us. It was bouncing and glowing. But as it bounced, it didn’t hit the ground…I got up, turned on the lights, and once more it was no longer there. The girl flew up the stairs quicker than I could ever imagine. She called me the next day and said she would never come in that house again, and she didn’t.” 

We can’t blame her for her hasty departure.

2. The Ghosts in Room 424
From Tales of Kentucky Ghosts by William Lynwood Montell

In an Eastern Kentucky hospital, there is a private room where strange things occur—Room 424. Patients would come out “shaken and disoriented in the morning, complaining of children dressed in white walking around the room’s bed, faces peering in the outside windows, lights flickering off and on, and bizarre whispers.” But the strangest occurrence of all happened one night after there had been a death. Normally, an attendant would’ve stayed with the body until the undertaker came, but on this night, the hospital was especially short-staffed, and the undertakers were delayed. The nurses respectfully covered the body with a sheet, drew the curtain around it, and closed the door to the room. However, once the undertaker arrived, they were unable to open the door. The charge nurse had to force the door open, and she said it felt like someone was on the other side of it, pushing. When she and the undertakers entered, they were greeted by a scene that shocked them:

“Something or someone had turned on the bathroom light, with the fluorescent tube flickering as if it had a bad electrical connection; the covers had been pulled off the body; the body itself was not lying on its back as she had left it, but on its face.”

Whether it was malicious or just a bit of mischief to them, the spirits that occupy Room 424 and their antics were witnessed by a group of people that night. The disturbing manner of their tricks that night is chilling enough to keep us as far away from Room 424.

1. The Ancestor…Or Not
From Ghosts of the Bluegrass by James McCormick and Macy Wyatt

This ghost comes from a storyteller who moved into and began renovating a home that had been built by her great-great-grandfather. The first few times she spent the night, she noticed odd occurrences, such as lights turning on and off by themselves, doors vibrating, footsteps, and construction materials being moved unexplainably. Her most frightening account is one experienced by both her and her dog several months later. She was woken from her sleep on the couch by the sound of her dog squealing “a wild, horrid sound that jolted me out of a peaceful sleep.” Both she and her dog seemed to be frozen at the sight of someone—or something—standing over them.

“I lay there, motionless, with my eyes fixed on the tall, dark figure. I could see a person’s outline wearing a cloak-type garment that was dark and reached the floor, but I couldn’t make out any features in its face. The figure began to move alongside the couch. It didn’t turn and walk like a person, but moved without effort. The figure seemed almost frozen itself, moving away from me without any human mechanics of leg and arm motion. When it reached the foot of the couch, I could see the brightness of the kitchen windows behind it. It appeared to be a shadow, darker than the night. It moved with a slow and easy speed that never changed. It passed by the window and I couldn’t see it anymore. I had the feeling that It had passed through the door…but the door never opened or closed. The figure just drifted out.”

The storyteller doesn’t know who or what that entity was; could it have been her ancestor or perhaps something else? She had countless other encounters in that house: babies crying that weren’t there, and the “Night Walker,” but the entity watching her sleep is by far the most chilling. We’ll be sleeping with the lights on after reading that, thank you very much.

We hope you enjoyed this countdown of some of the scariest ghosts in Kentucky. There are plenty more bone-chilling phantoms in Tales of Kentucky Ghosts and Ghosts of the Bluegrass, so be sure to check those out at kentuckypress.com!

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