7 Haunted Places In Jacksonville

October 29, 2015 0 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

If you're the type of person who believes in ghost, ghouls, and goblins, here are few sites in town you might want to avoid this month.

1. Old Red Eyes and the Ghosts of Kingsley Plantation

Kingsley Plantation, which features the state’s oldest plantation house, 23 slave residences, and associated buildings amid a pristine wetland, is one of Florida’s most important historical sites. As with many similar landmarks, local folklore holds that former residents still haunt the place. The plantation dates to 1797. From 1814 to 1837, it was owned by the South's most atypical slaveholders: Zephaniah Kingsley and his wife Anna Madgigine Jai, a Wolof slave he married and later freed. The property came into public hands in 1955 and became a national park in 1991.

According to Jaxlore: Folklore, Urban Legends, and Regionalisms, legends that Kingsley Plantation was haunted spread just after it became a park. The plantation’s historic architecture and sublime surroundings encourage ghost stories, and its status as a national park gives it a core of dedicated caretakers who foster its lore and pass it to visitors. Easily the most famous of the plantation ghosts is Old Red Eyes, who’s been spotted since 1978. The story goes that he was a slave who raped and killed girls in the slave quarters until the others caught him and lynched him from an oak tree beside the roadway. The villain’s ghost still appears as a pair of glowing eyes in the woods. The legend relies on some nasty old tropes – mobs used stories like this to rationalize lynching.   However, it’s worth noting that the legend portrays Red Eyes’ deeds as crimes against and avenged by slaves. This development may reflect the unusual social dynamic of the Kingsley days, a legacy the park’s staff fastidiously memorialize.

The legends and sightings extend well beyond Old Red Eyes. Staff have reported hearing a ghostly child crying in the well and encountering a turban-wearing African in the main house. Joyce Elson Moore, author of the Haunt Hunter’s Guide to Florida, snapped a photo she believes shows an ethereal “woman in white” – none other than Anna Kingsley herself. Zephaniah is also said to be present; the staff maintain a tradition of never saying “Goodnight, Mr. Kingsley,” as “something bad” may happen.

Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com

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