My older brother, Paul, would hide upstairs, just inside the closet in the front bedroom. He’d wait in the dark, as we would climb the stairs to bed.
I’d scream, probably refuse to go back into the room, and he’d laugh, having gotten me. Again.
But he wasn’t the real ‘Haint.”
That would be ‘Vince’, the previous owner…
Great-Grandfather Isaac Shiloh Hembree had purchased the house in late 1904 or early 1905, when my grandfather, John Brown Gordon Hembree was about two years old. The beautiful two story home had come on the market when the owner died. It was not unusual for property to have to be sold upon a death. Taxes, inheritances, family needs, couldn’t always be met by keeping the land and splitting it up amongst the heirs. It was the manner of death, the facts reported only briefly in The Bridgeport News, that left the lasting impression – the haunting – on the house.
“Be careful, or Vince will get you!”
My brother must’ve tormented me with that saying a million times! However, while I never personally saw any ghost, the story is one that we heard often at family gatherings. Here’s the version I remember, and that can be verified by newspaper accounts:
The horse came loping up to the front of the big white house. The man hanging onto the saddle for dear life was dripping blood. The woman at the door yelled for help, as the injured man stumbled across the threshold and collapsed in the front hall.
“Help me get him up to the bedroom,” said the woman, as she began to examine his wounds. “He’s been shot.” She removed his clothing, realizing grimly that he had very little chance of survival.
The newspaper report was a single note in the social column, that stated that he’d accidentally shot himself while hunting, was carried home by his horse, and died shortly after in the home that he loved at the foot of Sand Mountain. The same home that I love, that has been in my family now for over 100 years.
The twist to the story is that Vince D. Ladd, yes, the same Ladd involved in the Hembree Poisoning of 1892, is the ghost ‘Vince’ we have been scared by all of our childhood! Vince Ladd died on September 6, 1904, and is among the many generations of valley families buried in the Harris Chapel Cemetery.
As with all memories, they can get twisted around. If anyone has different, or more accurate information on this story, please comment and share!
My thanks to my dad, Sam Hembree, for the photographs, and my older brother, Paul for the scary memories!