For the first round of urban legends we’ll be taking a trip through the southern United States! Let’s get started…
“Have you seen the ghost of Skinned Tom?
Bloody red bones with the skin all gone
Oh oh oh oh
Wouldn’t it be chilly with no skin on?”
And this gives “Ring Around the Rosie” a run for it’s money in terms of creepy tunes. I couldn’t find too much on the timeline, but one version I read had this incident taking place in the 20s. The was a young man named Tom who liked to date around; so much so it seemed that he started driving to another town to pick up dates. One woman he started seeing, Eleanor, didn’t tell him that she was married. One night, her husband followed them out to a lover’s lane where he dragged Tom from the car before skinning him alive. The next morning all the police were able to find was his skin, no body or knife.
Teenagers are warned to stay away from lover’s lanes as Skinned Tom is said to wander the back roads with the knife that was used to skin him, searching for a victim….
The Brown Mountain Lights
Western North Carolina is home to the mystery of the Brown Mountain Lights. There are many theories as to what causes them, though no one knows for sure. Science tries to explain them as natural gasses. There are several legends told locally that try to explain what the lights are.
1: After a battle between the Cherokee and Catawba, Cherokee maidens carried torches while they looked for their lost loved ones. The lights continue to this day as a ghostly reminder.
2: One specific woman is looking for her fiancee who didn’t come back for their wedding.
3: A young pregnant woman was murdered by her husband and the lights helped the town find her body. The lights reappear to remind people that whatever they’ve done wrong will be found out.
The Grey Man of Pawleys Island
This man appears as an omen before hurricanes. If he tells you to leave the island and you do, your home is spared from the damage. But, if you ignore him and choose to stay, you and your home won’t be as lucky.
There are a few different origin stories (like most urban legends) but the one that stuck out to me was the story of a young man that passed away on his way home to his fiancee. One day she was out on the beach and saw his spirit, warning her that she was in danger and had to leave. She rushed home to tell her parents and they left immediately. While they stayed on the mainland they learned that a hurricane was coming quickly and tore through the island; when they got back, their home was untouched.
After saving her it seems he continues to try to save others.
While you are in Savannah you are likely to hear the urban legend of Rene Rondolier while on a ghost tour. I say urban legend because while your guide will tell you many supposed ghost stories, they will acknowledge that this one is not true. We once had a guide tell us that Rene was the boogeyman of Savannah, used to scare kids to behave, to be home before dark.
The legend goes that Rene was an actual giant back in the 1800s, growing over 7 feet tall! With this incredible size also came strength that he didn’t always know how to control. He would often break the necks of animals that he attempted to play with; so, when young women started turning up in colonial park cemetery with their necks broken, guess who was blamed.
Rene was found by an angry mob and hanged; when I was told the legend it was in Warren Square but I’ve seen other versions online that say it was a tree in colonial park. The story also has two different versions from here:
Version 1 (which I was told on a tour): Rene didn’t kill those girls, which they discovered after more bodies turned up after his death. His spirit now walks the streets of Savannah, looking for revenge for his death.
Version 2: He was a killer even in death. More bodies turned up after his death, which many took to believe he was back for revenge after being rightfully caught. He’s still said to wander warren square/colonial park to this day.
The Haunted Mansion
We couldn’t talk about urban legends in Florida without taking a trip to the happiest place on earth! Walt Disney World seems to have as many legends as it has magic, but one that’s always stood out to me is the rumor surrounding the Haunted Mansion. Apparently, there’s a lot of people that want to be the 1000th happy haunt on this popular ride; there’s regularly said to be people attempting to spread the ashes of their loved ones while inside the attraction.
Witch in the Woods of Gadsden
In Northern Alabama lies Hinds Road where a witch was rumored to live in the woods. She’s said to have sold her soul in order to remain young. Many children from the local village are said to have gone missing, with the town speculating they were killed in order for her to remain young. Basically, this is a really dark version of Hocus Pocus. When the town went to investigate they found the pond to be stained red with blood; a nearby cave smelled like death and the only person brave enough to enter never spoke again. When they found the witch in her cabin they set the place on fire with her inside. She’s said to still haunt these woods to this day. And, even if you don’t believe in ghosts, this place is also said to be a favorite spot of Satanic cults.
The Three Legged Lady of Nash Road
Mississippi’s legend is one of those creepy ghost games you couldn’t pay me to play! Apparently if you stop on Nash Road outside of Columbus and honk three times the three legged lady will come to race your car to the end of the road, hitting your car the entire time. The legend doesn’t say what happens if you beat her, but not being murdered is probably the answer. As with all legends, there are a few back stories to this woman.
Backstory 1: The third leg once belonged to a dead lover that she sew to her own body.
Backstory 2: She’s a mother looking for her daughter and the leg was all she could find.
Backstory 3: She’s the result of Satanic cult activity.
No one is quite sure what the Grunch are. It’s said back when New Orleans was first founded they lived in the woods on the edge of town, that they were half human half monster. As time went on and generations furthered, they were less human and more monster. And, as time went on, the disappearances started. First, it was goats from local farms; then, they started going after people.
They are said to even used injured goats to get people to stop their cars, using it as a trap. Once the person leaves the car they are never seen again…
The Kidney Thieves
Anyone that’s ever heard an urban legend (or even seen the movie Urban Legend) has heard this one. In all the times I’ve heard it though, I’ve never heard the specific place it’s said to have happened. Apparently, it happened at the University of Texas! A young man wakes up after a black out night of drinking and he’s in a bathtub full of ice; there’s also a note saying he needs to call 911. Confused but also concerned with how he’s feeling he does call for help. After seeing a doctor they find that his kidneys have been removed to be sold on the black market!