The White Witch
Tallahassee like any charming Southern City has its fair share of ghost stories, and one of the most famous is that of the “White Witch.” The large burial monument of Elizabeth “Bessie” Budd-Graham is less than conspicuous in its westerly facing position within Tallahassee’s oldest public cemetery. The curious grave is as unique as the legend that memorializes the woman who lies there.
The Old City Cemetery, established in 1829, represent a cross-section of Tallahassee during the 19th century. Its inhabitants include governors, merchants, war veterans, victims of yellow fever, slaves and plantation owners. In 1889, Elizabeth Budd-Graham, a beautiful 23-year-old wife and mother, was buried beneath an elaborate headstone in the public cemetery. Immediately following her death, tounges began wagging and stories sprang up around the ornate memorial.
Elizabeth was born in the dark days of the month of October where the supernatural reigns supreme. Unlike the rest of the cemetery markers, and contrary to Christian tradition, the gravestone faces West.
Most mysterious of all is Elizabeth’s epitaph, an excerpt from Lenore, Edgar Allen Poe’s ode to a dearly departed young love: “Ah! Broken is the golden bowl. The spirit flown forever! Let the bell toll! A saintly soul Floats on the Stygian River; Come let the burial rite be read The funeral song be sung; An anthem for the queenliest dead That died so young A dirge for her the doubly dead In that she died so young.”
The Tallahassee gossip mill circulated rumors that young Elizabeth had put a spell on her wealthy husband, betwitching him into marrying her. Legend has it that the lovely young women was a “good witch” who only cast spells of love and protection. However, there is no documentation that Elizabeth practiced witchcraft.
To this day, many curious visitors, psychics, and witches visit her grave. Many of those who visit leave gifts for the white witch. It is said that if you visit, she will show up in your dreams that night.
A Protective Spirit
Few know that located in the Arbor Hills community adjacent to Killearn Estates are the remains of a once massive Prehistoric Native American Village. Known today as the Velda Mound, A chain length fence, a smattering of benches, and a thick covering of trees cloak the ancient mound.
Originally the site was home to the prehistoric peoples of the Fort Walton Culture. Later, the site became the location of a large Apalachee Village. Abandoned in approximately 1625, many say that the mound has a strong supernatural force that protects the mound. Once the site of the most important spiritual and political activities for the village, the mound would have been a sacred space.
The mound takes its name from the Velda Dairy. A once working Dairy Farm, the Velda Dairy was an expansive farm in the early to mid 1900s that overtook much of the area that is today known as Killearn. At one point, the Dairy farmer drove a bulldozer into the large mound (not knowning what it was.) They stopped almost immediately as they uncovered what looked to be important artifacts and remains.
After the dairy farmers uncovered the important historic site, Archelogists were called in to survey the area. While the project was underway, fortune seekers/ looters wandered onto the site hoping to steal some of the artifacts. Unfortunatly, one of the looters sunk into the earth as a chasm opened beneath her. Her companions attempted to save her, but were unable to.
There have been sightings of ghostly figures sitting by a fire at night, and a white, glowing wolf that prowls the premises (perhaps a spirit gaurding the mound?) Locals swear they hear it howling, night after night.