Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

GHOSTS

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glers, wrapped his treasures in elephant skins and buried them in secret. Their ghosts now roam the countrysid­e searching for their lost gold.

Several accounts exist which claim the lights become agitated if you yell, “I’ve got your treasure!” The dare for young people then is to do just that. Several locals have claimed the lights chased them out of the woods.

Tim Poynter of Dover, who’s seen the lights several times, said, “It could be coon hunters, it could be campers, it could be ghosts, but it makes no sense at all. There are plenty of logging trails all over the place but not to where the lights are. People have been seeing them since at least the early 1800s.” The Poynter family has lived in those hills for 200 years, so they’ve heard them all.

For 25 years, retired ATU professor of biology Glyn Turnipseed offered a more scientific explanatio­n for the lights to his students. “We were out there all the time,” Turnipseed said. “The outdoors is where science is.” What he offered was an educated opinion. “Those lights are not easily explained,” he said. He should know. He has seen them dozens of times.

“Our whole life is based on a little chemical reaction known as photosynth­esis,” Turnipseed said. Chlorophyl­l found in deciduous trees and other nonevergre­en plants captures the light energy needed for photosynth­esis, and photosynth­esis, in my humble opinion, is the only remaining production naturally occurring on our planet,” he said.

“All life is based on chlorophyl­l,” he added, “and it doesn’t die instantly.”

Turnipseed continued the lecture by summoning images of fall. “We get to enjoy beautiful fall colors because of the changes in pigments. Some of the pigments hang on a long, long time and it’s not all that uncommon to see flashes of light. Old-timers called unexplaine­d lights in the ground fox fires. Some people pass the lights off one way, some another. Heck, it’s hard for me to explain. There are so many factors of time and space to consider.”

The professor encouraged folks to judge for themselves. “They’re easy to see especially during this time of the year when the leaves are gone. Even when you see the lights, it blows your mind.” Laura Starr Latta is buried beside her parents and grandparen­ts as well as other family members. This is the tombstone belonging to her father, Andrew J. Latta, who died Jan. 15, 1905. The ghost of Laura Starr Latta is said to roam the Price Cemetery, particular­ly during the rain and on the anniversar­y of her death, Aug. 22. Only the top of the headstone decorated with flowers and the footmarker bearing the initials LSL remain at Latta’s grave after vandals broke the monument. and seemed to live in squalor as was the norm in the Arkansas hills during those times. Only the man was occasional­ly seen in town. According to written by W.C. Jameson, the family kept to themselves.

One cold winter one of the Inman boys fell deathly ill, and Inman rode into Dover and fetched “Doc Martin” who stayed with the family for several days and nursed the boy out of death’s grip.

With cash scarce, Inman paid the doctor in bullets he mined himself from an abandoned cave. Martin thought little of the box and set it on a shelf only to discover it two years later.

Much to his surprise, the tips were fashioned from pure silver. Wanting to confront Inman, Martin found their cabin empty. The Inmans had moved on in pursuit of an easier lifestyle.

“Doc Martin spent the rest of his days and all of his fortune searching for the lost Inman mine.” Many locals, who have seen a lone light swinging and swaying in the Ozark hills above Dover, believe they are looking at Doc Martin’s lantern.

Even the hills are reluctant to give up their hold on treasures whether they are imagined or real.

Another story which has circulated over the years has been the tale of a young bride slain on her wedding day.

In western Pope county comes a century-old tale based partly in fact.

County records show that Laura Starr Latta was born Sept. 19, 1879, and died Aug. 22, 1899, one month shy of her 20th birthday. She was the daughter of Andrew J. Latta, born May 7, 1829, died Jan. 15, 1905, and of Sarah Ann Latta, born Jan. 13, 1845, died Feb. 1, 1926.

The Latta family resided in the Georgetown community west of London. Although local newspapers recorded the deaths of both parents (Andrew Latta died of what was considered to be “congestion of the brain”), listing them as prominent citizens, little is found on Laura.

Stories have circulated in the community over a ghost robed in white who is seen flagging down cars along the north rock wall of the cemetery on U.S. 64. She is presumed to be the ghost of Laura Starr Latta dressed in her wedding gown. According to legend, she met with a violent death, and several sightings include the fact her wedding gown is stained with blood.

Many peculiar experience­s are attributed to Latta, but the most common thread in recorded tales is that the ghost of Latta is a hitchhiker. Several accounts exist of folks giving her rides, but she always disappeare­d before they got too far away from the cemetery. One account describes a motorist seeing her in the middle of the road and driving right through her.

Another local resident noted that her grandmothe­r saw the ghost sitting along the side of an open grave dangling her legs over the edge. “There was a pair of new blue party shoes right beside her,” according to a newspaper account.

Cemetery caretaker Darwin Price grew up down the road from the cemetery and has never seen or heard anything out of the ordinary in his 74 years, with one exception. Every few days there is a pair of shoes on the rock wall where the ghost is said to walk. “It’s the strangest thing,” he said. “I’m cleaning the cemetery up, and I throw the shoes away, but, sure enough, another pair will show up in the exact same spot a couple days later. It’s been going on for years.”

Local teenagers have been enraptured with the rumors, and another cemetery caretaker expressed concern over vandalism. The marker was missing for two years and found in a dorm room at the University of the Ozarks. “That tombstone has been stolen so many times, and the last time it was broken in half when we recovered it at a car wash in Russellvil­le 10 years go,” she said.

Today, only the footstone with the engraved letters “LSL” and the top of Latta’s headstone bearing flowers is evident at her grave beside her parents, grandparen­ts, infant neice, sister and nephew under several tall old fir trees.

“Out of respect for Miss Latta’s remains, we decided to follow local law enforcemen­t’s suggestion to keep the tombstone in a safe place,” the caretaker said. It is being kept by a third caretaker. There may be another reason for the hiding place. According to persisting stories, reading the inscriptio­n aloud invokes doom. It reads:

Some haunts were never based on human flesh and bones. From Mt. Vernon comes the story of the Mo Mo.

The story of the Mo Mo, which lurked in the barns of Mount Vernon in 1959, followed a long line of Mo Mos that are described in greater detail in

A farmer was returning to his house at dusk after working in the fields all day and spotted what he thought was an “old farmer sitting in the unfenced field beside the road.” As he got closer to the figure, its true form materializ­ed, and the farmer saw that it was “too big and too hairy to be a human being.” The beast seemed to be resting on its haunches with its head lowered, but when it stood up it was 9 feet tall, according to the farmer’s account.

The farmer was apparently too stunned to move as the beast strode across the road within spitting distance of the shocked man. During that close encounter, the farmer noticed the beast had long, black matted hair and glowing orange eyes.

When the distraught farmer returned home he found many a trail of blood, entrails and feathers leading out to the field where the beast had been sitting. The man’s chicken house had been raided. The account included the fact that the beast killed and gutted the dogs as well but didn’t devour them.

To be protected from things that go bump in the Halloween night, recommenda­tions are made to avoid hitchhikin­g brides, antagonizi­ng ancient Spaniards and an old country doctor and, by all means, avoid Mount Vernon chicken houses.

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