Scary Tales of Jefferson County, TN
Now it is the time of night; That the graves, all gaping wide; Every one lets forth his sprite; In the church-way paths to glide.
~ William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream
As All Hallows’ Eve approaches Jefferson County, TN we'd like to tell you of some of the haunted, forbidding, and downright mysterious places around the county where paranormal activity and inexplicable events have taken place. Many have claimed that Jefferson County has ghosts and spirits roaming not only the woods, but the streets and buildings of our historic towns. There have been documented hauntings in over a dozen sites across Jefferson County. Here are just a few of the frightening tales of a few of Jefferson County's most infamous haunts.
Hauntings and wandering spirits are much more common in historic towns with long existing structures. One of Jefferson County's oldest houses, the Glenmore Mansion, is the scene of multiple instances of strange happenings. Glenmore Mansion is perhaps one of the oddest and most puzzling buildings in East Tennessee. Many have said that the number of windows, when counted from the outside, doesn't match the number of windows when counted from the inside.
Thomas Roach was a local Jefferson County historian who wrote extensively on the history of the Glenmore Mansion. Prior to his death, he was often quoted as saying that he would return in the afterlife to haunt the property. Perhaps the strange lights in the attic appearing after the museum has closed or a misty apparition seen on the lower floors could be attributed to the late Roach? The ghostly shape of a female specter has also been seen lurking in the windows of the house at night. Others report strange, uneasy, or lightheadedness when entering the "Doll Town" portion of the mansion, which is a smaller replica of the main house.
The Shepard Inn
According to one spiritually in-tune clairvoyant, Dandridge, TN is the location of many lost souls who appear as ghostly apparitions. The Shepard Inn Bed and Breakfast lovingly referred to as Dandridge's Grande Dame was built by Shadrach Inman around 1823. As one of the early taverns established in Dandridge, the inn has hosted numerous guests over time. With so much history, it's no wonder that paranormal energies exist around the city and the Shepard Inn has often been associated with some unexplainable events. One event is related to a past resident of the home who was quite fond of smoking a pipe in the parlor during the evening. Visitors and staff have reported catching a strong, distinct whiff of pipe smoke in what was once the smoking parlor. Additionally, the Shepard Inn sits adjacent to a Revolutionary War graveyard, where some guests have seen strange shapes moving among the tombstones after dark.
The Historic Vance Building
The Vance Building, erected circa 1823 has experienced numerous incarnations over its nearly 200-year-old history. Standing in the heart of downtown Dandridge, it has been reported to be haunted by an eerie spirit. Townsfolk have complained of lights being left on while it was in the middle of a renovation and had absolutely no power turned on in the entire building.
There has been many sightings in Jefferson County of a mysterious creature known as the “Wampus Cat.” Tales this mysterious feline are not solely isolated to Jefferson County, but are apart of can have Appalachian folklore.
The story of the Wampus cat dates back as far as ancient Cherokee lore, but sightings of this terrifying being in the woods, coves, and even the backyards of the surrounding area, still abound today. The Wampus Cat derives its name from being sighted near murky waters or swampy land, and those lucky enough to have lived to describe the account have reported smelling a strong musky odor, almost a mixture of a skunk and a wet dog.
There has been many sightings of the Wampus Cat by farmers, campers, hunters, fishermen, and residents over the year, but the same characteristics are usually described. Many have seen the demon cat, fewer have lived to tell the tale. The cat is much larger than any normal house cat. It has been said to be the size of a large dog, and sometimes even larger. While this has caused skeptics to chime in, suggesting that these individuals have seen a mountain lion or a cougar, the behavior of the Wampus cat immediately defies these suggestions. In most cases individuals have only reported a set of glowing eyes in the darkness, however, an unlucky few have been close enough to see a truly haunting prospect. Perhaps the most disturbing characteristic of the cat from the underworld is that it walks and runs upright, on its hind legs.
The origins of the Wampus cat are as numerous as the descriptions, with some reporting that the beast is the spirit of a Cherokee heroine who saved her village from a demon by sporting a mask and sneaking up on it. Some claim it's the punished soul of a woman doomed to roam half-woman and half-mountain lion, and still other stories say that the Wampus cat is an unfortunate witch who was permanently caught half-way through a transformation from woman to cat. Reports of the Wampus cat slinking through backyards in town, killing livestock, and even stealing children have abounded for hundreds of years. We hope that these legends are just that...legends.
Explore East TN, If You Dare
Whether you believe it or not, ghost hunters flock i to explore and investigate the haunted and unexplained in Jefferson County, TN. Some even claim to have scientific evidence of paranormal activities in these locations and other historic graveyards in the area. Most of the locals refuse to visit some of the areas in broad daylight, let alone in the dark of night. For those bold individuals who attempt to find these spirits this Halloween, you've been warned.
Visitors wanting to learn more about the rich history of Jefferson County, TN make sure to visit each of these locations to find out for yourself if the legends are true. Drop by the Dandridge Visitors Center, or stop in for a visit to the Glenmore Mansion for a tour. You can reserve a room at the famous Shepard Inn and for the truly brave, arrange a guided lantern-led walking tour of Dandridge's most spooky and enchanted places at night.
Disclaimer: The stories posted here are unsubstantiated and are, in the nature of "ghost stories," largely unverifiable. Our organization makes no claims that any of the statements posted here are factually accurate. The vast majority of information provided on this website is anecdotal, and as such, should be viewed in the same light as local folklore and urban legends.