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Haunted Madison

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Greene Publishing, Inc. Photo By Rick Patrick, October 21, 2016

The historic Wardlaw-Smith-Goza Conference Center (The Smith Mansion) has been the site of several paranormal occurrences. Built in 1860, the building was once used as a hospital after the Battle of Olustee during the American Civil War.

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Greene Publishing, Inc. Photo By Rick Patrick, October 21, 2016

There is a marble statue of a woman at Oak Ridge Cemetery. There have been some who have said that they have seen this woman breathing.

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Greene Publishing, Inc. Photo By Rick Patrick, October 21, 2016

The Bunker house is believed to still host the spirits of Elijah and Seth Bunker, the brothers who built the house in the early 1850's.

Rick Patrick - Greene Publishing, Inc.

With Halloween just around the corner, it may be fun to take a look at some of the old buildings and historic sites around Madison to see if there might be some things that go bump in the night. Madison is rich in history and there is no shortage at all of places where spirits may not be quite ready to bid this world farewell. There are many different beliefs where the supernatural is concerned. The purpose of this article is not to challenge anyones belief system in any way. This is just a fun look at some events in and around Madison that may not have a ready explanation.

Possibly one of the most recognizable buildings in Madison rumored to have paranormal activity is the Wardlaw-Smith-Goza Conference Center (The Smith Mansion). This building was built in 1860 for Benjamin F. Wardlaw by William A. Hammerly of Baltimore. During the American Civil War, the building was used as a hospital after the Battle of Olustee, which took place near Lake City in Feb. 1864. There have been reports from previous owners of the building of seeing a Confederate soldier walking up the staircase in the building. The current owner, Chef Art Smith said that he has not personally experienced any paranormal activity, but some carpenters from England who were hired to do some renovation work in the kitchen “experienced something” and left immediately without completing their work. Chef Smith jokingly said, “Perhaps the ghost just doesn't like Brits.”

Another historic Madison building is the Elijah J. and Seth H. Bunker house. Elijah and Seth Bunker were brothers who built the house around the early 1850's. The house and property were sold in 1894 for the sum of $685. Over the years, residents of the house have reported sightings of ghosts in the house. On one occasion, a woman's voice could be heard singing a lullaby over the baby's monitor. This spectral caregiver seemed to be watching over the child at night because whenever the crib side was left down, the family would find that it had been raised again by morning. About this same time, another small child asked if there were ghosts in the house and described a man and woman who were standing by her bed. They reassured the child they meant her no harm and they were there to look out for her. The child later saw a picture of the former owners of the house and she identified them as her ghostly protectors. The current owners of the house, Robert and Olivia Wieland have had paranormal investigators examine the house. The investigators had no prior knowledge of the house and after their investigation they determined that two of the spirits in the house are the two Bunker brothers who are still looking after the house and its residents. They have, on occasion, had to be asked to keep the noise level down, especially when they seem to be socializing. There has also been an unknown child seen at the foot of the bed of the current owners. The ghosts of the Bunker House do not frighten the current owners, although they are curious as to who this young child may be. “That's the one thing that concerns me. As a mother, it makes me a little sad that this child may feel 'trapped' and not able to move on,” said current resident Olivia Wieland.

Oak Ridge Cemetery, located near North Florida Community College has also been the site of several paranormal events. One surrounds the area of the cemetery where about 20-30 graves of Confederate soldiers killed during the Battle of Olustee in Feb. 1864 are located. These gravestones bear no names, only the marking of C.S.A. (Confederate States of America). Some have reported seeing these restless Confederate soldiers around this area of the cemetery.

These are just a few of the places where unexplained, eerie things have been sighted. Undoubtedly, there are many more. With such a rich history as Madison has, it not surprising at all to find some of her old buildings hold secrets that are not readily seen by the naked eye.

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