By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal
In telling ghost stories, some folks like to regale listeners with tales that have been passed down from their parents or grandparents.
Not members of the Robison family.
“We lived it,” said James Gordon Robison, 69. “We didn’t have to be told nothing.”
Grace and Gordon Robison built their home in the Blair or Cedar Hill community outside Guntown in 1946. In the one-story, four-bedroom, one-bath home, they raised their six children: James Gordon and his brothers, Billy and Sammy; and his sisters, Betty Jean McClellan, Joan Herring and Carolyn Robison.
“When they were building the foundation, they found an Indian skeleton, probably about 18 years old,” James Gordon said. “It had a band around its head.”
“There was also a bunch of arrowheads and tomahawks and beads with it,” Betty Jean said. “We gave those to the Natchez Trace Parkway.”
James Gordon and his wife, Joyce, along with Billy and Betty Jean and her son, Scotty White, gathered recently at the old homeplace to tell their stories about what they call a haunted house.
“My daddy’s mother lived with us and she had a sister that never married that lived with us,” said Billy, 66.
“Both of them died in the house,” James Gordon said, finishing his brother’s sentence. “I don’t remember how early the ghost appeared, but it was real early. We moved in the house in the spring of 1947. Billy was a baby and Betty Jean was 16.”
“I remember we called him Sloughfoot because you could hear him dragging that foot coming down the hall,” James Gordon said.
“Mama would hear pots and pans rattling in the kitchen before she got in there to cook breakfast and she’d talk to him,” said Betty Jean, 75.
“You could feel his presence,” James Gordon said. “You never saw him. You could just feel him. We didn’t only hear him at the house, but at the barn and the silos, too. The silo would go out and we’d holler up the silo and he’d answer us back.”
“I was dating at the time and I’d come in the house in the evening and the dog would be in the house,” said Betty Jean. “Only it was an outside dog.”
“Many times their daddy would get up with a gun because he’d hear a big crash, but nothing would be out of place,” Joyce said.
“After Daddy died, one of the six of us would stay with Mother,” James Gordon said. “When it was our turn, I couldn’t get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom without Joyce going with me.”
It walks and talks
James Gordon walked into a room in the empty house and pointed to a wall.
“All the children’s senior pictures were hanging on that wall,” he said. “Mother and them heard a crash and came in here and my picture was laying way over here on the floor. I walked the line for a while after that.”
“Carolyn said she heard it cry once, kind of moan,” Joyce said. “She thought it was Scotty out there aggravating them, but it wasn’t.”
“One night, we had some friends to come over and it was 10 o’clock and the lights went out,” James Gordon said. “Ten o’clock was always when he came out.”
“My husband and I built the stone house just down the road,” Betty Jean said. “I had a princess phone in my bedroom. The telephone rang and just as I got to it to answer it, the handset lifted off the cradle and set down on the table. I think he moved to my house when Mother and Daddy’s house was empty.”
“Years ago, Joan came in the back door and someone said, ‘Who is it?’ and she said, ‘It’s Joan.’ And there was nobody in the house,” Billy said.
“I was about 16 years old and I’d go to Granny’s to stay,” said Betty Jean’s son, Scotty. “Granny had some cough medicine and I went to take some and I heard Granny say, ‘Don’t take too much of that cough medicine.’ She was standing right behind me and her voice was just as clear as a bell. But it wasn’t her. She was way in another room.”
“When Mother was dying, one of us was there every night and toward the end, there was two of us,” Billy said. “The night she died, me and Joan was up there in her room. She was in a hospital bed. Betty Jean was going to come later and clean up the kitchen. About 10 o’clock, we heard Betty Jean washing the dishes and Joan went to the kitchen to keep Betty Jean company. And when she came back she was as white as a sheet. She said there was no one in there.”
“Once Mother said she was wanting to go to sleep and she felt the bedsheet tugging at her neck and she told Daddy to leave her alone and she rolled over and Daddy was asleep with his back to her,” Betty Jean said.
“You know, we’ve got one in-law that don’t believe in any of this, but all the rest of us are full-fledged believers,” Joyce said. “That would be my brother-in-law, Lawson, Betty Jean’s husband.”
“Yeah, he don’t believe in them, but he won’t stay in that house,” James Gordon said, laughing.
“One night when James Gordon and I were staying here with his mother, we heard him,” said Joyce. “And James Gordon got up to see and I was right behind him. James Gordon was creeping through the house and he got in the kitchen and was easing around the swinging door and his mother really was up that night and she stood behind him and put her hands on his shoulders and said, ‘Son, what do you need?’ and James Gordon almost died!”
“Sloughfoot has scared us to death,” Billy said. “Shoot yes. At night especially when you’d hear him walking down that hall. But I figure it was more of a guardian angel than anything else. He was never mean. The last time I heard him for sure was the night Mother died. When she went, there was no reason for him to stay.”
After Grace Robison died in 1999, three of the children – James Gordon, Billy and Sammy, who is deceased – inherited the house. In the years since, they’ve rented it out to various tenants.
“The people who have rented the house, though, it never has bothered them,” James Gordon said.
“We’ve got some new renters about to move in the first of November,” Billy said. “That is, unless they read this story.”