One of our goals as the owners of the Haunted Castle House is to provide the most accurate, trustworthy information we can, both historically and with respect to any paranormal evidence we collect. Along with that pledge comes the responsibility to correct any misinformation we discover, regardless of how wonderful the story may be. To that end, we have been in contact with a variety of people – local historians, genealogists, and past owners – trying to clarify some contradictions in the history we encountered from day one. Everyone we have contacted has been very gracious and helpful, and we greatly appreciate their assistance. We have no doubt each party believes their version of the history to be true, and we make no claims we can straighten it out to everyone’s satisfaction. We will follow the paper trail when possible, and believe recorded events such as deeds, birth certificates, etc… over memories when they contradict one another.
History is a funny thing. It happens one very specific way, yet it’s rare for any two people to agree on exactly what that way is (e.g. witnesses to JFK’s assassination or fans on opposite teams reacting to an official’s call). Time also tends to erode and morph our memories, so that the version of a story we remember now may change substantially 10 years down the road. Maybe it’s like the “observer effect” in quantum physics where the act of measuring (observing) something changes the thing being observed, or maybe it’s just imperfect memories mixed with a creative imagination. Whatever the case may be, the following is what we believe to be the most accurate account of the history of the Haunted Castle House (HCH).
I’ll get the painful part out first – it appears there never was a Walter and Martha Dixon – at least not ones associated with the HCH. There was a Walter and Grace Dickson who lived here from 1928-1930. He was born in 1873, was a doctor, and he did die in the house of a heart attack in 1930. His wife Grace did not die at the top of the stairs, she died in Iberia in 1947. Clearly since he was born after the Civil War, he did not treat any Civil War soldiers in the house. The previous pictures of Walter and Martha Dixon were actually pictures of Horatio Storer and Harriet Mordaunt. The house was not built in 1850, but instead somewhere between 1890-1910. The staircase didn’t come from England, it was built by James Hickman and Lemuel Payne, just like the one 3 miles up the road in the house built for Jacob Catron in 1899.
Now for the fun part, which we believe confirms the old saying “truth is stranger than fiction.” Here’s the most up-to-date chronology we’ve been able to find:
1812: Sarah Lee is the 1st recorded owner of the land, but never lived here.
1836-1875: Reverend Jacob Shaw McComb, Sr. was a farmer, teacher, and minister. He enlisted in Company D (Union) and served from 6/23/1861 – 12/06/1861.
He died in Oregon City, OR at the age of 92. He remained active in home missionary work until his death.
1875-1883: Dr. John L. Conner was a doctor, coroner, and teacher.
His wife was Elnora and they had 3 kids; Lura Belle, Bernice (died ~ 16 years old in 1896), and John Jr.
Elnora died 06/06/1911 and Dr. Conner died 01/14/1921.
1885-1893: John C. Martin was a merchant, farmer, and inn keeper.
He played the fiddle and his wife, Frannie, played the organ. They had 8 children including Love and Dove, twins who were stillborn 02/13/1895 and are buried within 1,000 feet of the property.
1893-1901: Clifford J. Thompson was the Postmaster in Miller County.
1901-1907: James Thompson was a merchant and co-owned a store with Dr. S.P. Hickman.
1907-1916: Joseph McWilliams was a miller (his grain mill eventually was turned into a power mill), foreman at post office, owner of electric company, and owner of the first car in Brumley.
1916-1919: Clyde “Fred” Pemberton was a farmer, salesman, and oil field worker. His wife was Sarah “Carrie” and they had 5 kids; Freddie, Clyde, Rae, Jared, and John (who was run over at age 6).
1920-1928: Charles Short was a teacher, banker, and politician. His wife Cora was a school teacher and they had 2 kids; Lela and Edith.
1928-1930: Dr. Walter Duncan Dickson was born in Ontario, Canada on 9/21/1873. His wife, Grace Maude was born 1877. They had 2 children; James and Mary. They had a hired hand, Grace Devore, living with them in 1930.
Grace Maude Dickson remarried Silas McCubin after Walter’s death. She died in Iberia, Mo in 1947.
1930-1935: James Dickson (son of Dr. Walter Dickson) was a mailman, prison guard, and timekeeper. His wife was Lela “Chloe.” They had 4 children; Bonnie, Walter “Dude,” James Jr. “Jimmie,” and Helen. He was an alcoholic and had anger issues.
He died of heart disease at age 66 in 1965.
1935-1947: Dr. Myron Jones was born in Washington state.
Dr. Jones died in 1989 in Washington state from heart failure.
1947-1956: Charles Bass was a merchant and a postmaster.
He married Lefty Mae and they had 5 children; Gladys, Lois Dean (died at 15 months from flu), Marble, Amil, and Mary Pauline. He died of heart disease and cirrhosis in Jefferson City, Missouri.
1956-1963: Willian “Burt” Sullivan was a barber.
1956-1983: Norma “Cecil” Conner Sullivan was a seamstress and cook and owned a hat shop.
1984: Walter and Hazel Pope & James and Ruth Thornsberry inherited the house upon Cecil’s death.
1984-1988: Emerson Allee was the owner of a cleaning service and a Korean War veteran. He was married to Myra Luttrell.
1988-1991: Amega Mobile Home Sales
1991-1997: Doug and Judith Thompson
1997-1998: Barbara and Ray Bartholomew
1998-2009: Steve and Angela O’Hare
2009-2013: Angela O’Hare
2013-2016: Nick Sacco and Marcy Hootner restored the Castle House, and originally planned on using it as a Bed & Breakfast. Once odd occurrences started happening, they used it as a “haunted" Bed & Breakfast and for a variety of special events. Though Nick was never uncomfortable in the house, Marcy could no longer stay there after seeing Nick's "doppelgänger" one night, prompting them to sell the home.
2016-2018: Mike and Vicki Rowland were gracious owners and hosts who continued the haunted Bed & Breakfast, Ghost Tours, and Festival of Witches & Warlocks Benefit for the HOPE Program at Lake Regional Cancer Center.
2018-Present: Dr. Steve and Judy Skinner are the current owners of HCH. Originally from Paducah, Kentucky, Steve has been a practicing dermatologist in Cullman, Alabama for over 25 years. He and Judy hope to continue preserving the Castle House and hosting paranormal investigations, tours, and special events.
As you can see from the above, both the house and the property have a very interesting, and at times tragic, history. It’s seen not only the death of patients within its walls, but also the death of at least five of its owners and several children. Three physicians saw their patients on this land, two in the current home, and at least one, Dr. Conner, prepared bodies here. Patients infected by the following epidemics were treated here: Influenza of 1936, Scarlett Fever of 1936 (Dr Jones contracted it himself), and Polio in 1946.
Camp Union was ~ 1 mile from the property, and Reverend McComb served in Company D of the Union Army from June to December of 1861.
The Native American site, Bone Cave, is ~ 3 miles from the property.
In July 1971, there was a murder suicide (husband killed his wife, then himself) ~ 500 yards from the property.
There are two reported graveyards in the backyard behind the Castle house; one a "pioneer" graveyard and the other a mass grave. We are still trying to get more information about this.
We want to say again, that we don’t doubt any of the previous owners’ beliefs in the old history. Nick and Marcy, as well as Mike and Vicki, have been nothing but kind and helpful to us. We do however feel it’s imperative to be as accurate with the history as possible. As we continue to learn more about the home, we may have to update things again. Our promise to you is that while we may not always be right about something, we will always tell you what we believe to be true and will be willing to correct any errors we discover.
We’d also like to give a special thanks to Greg Huddleston who’s been invaluable in the gathering of information.