Haunted or not? We check it out, at www.ParanormalSpectrum.com, we chase the ghost stories and test the legends.
The Wheat Community & George Jones Memorial Baptist Church
The George Jones Memorial Baptist Church has long been a site where people have either witnessed spirits or conjured them after the church was closed to services. I have worked in Oak Ridge since 2000 and have heard numerous tales about the bizarre experiences of those who have ventured into the area of the cemetery and the church. Let’s step back in time for a moment and recap the past, because no ghost tale is complete without first knowing the history of any site that is rumored to be haunted.
The Wheat Community was settled during the mid 19th century and took its name from the first postmaster. A liberal arts college operated from 1886-1908. Wheat was one of the 4 area communities acquired by the federal government in 1942 for the Manhattan Project, leaving the church and the cemetery isolated. They are located on a road closed to the public, but the gates are open during hunting season, though you may want to proceed with caution anytime you visit such a rural location, and this one is posted no trespassing except for during hunting season.
The stories about the church and the graveyard have circulated since the 1970’s, maybe earlier. There is one story that claims there were several murders in the area near the church, and that an evil spirit roams the site, scaring those who dare visit especially after dark. Could it be one of the people forced from the land when the government stepped in and took this rural community, still angry and scornful? Or is it one of the murder victims, looking for his killer?
Of course there is the unlikely story of a preacher who committed suicide in the bell tower, and on certain nights people have seen his body hanging from a bloody noose, swinging back & forth. This story is common to almost every isolated and abandoned church. Until I have documents that validate this claim, I must dismiss it as local lore.
Still yet, there are beliefs that some spirits from the Wheat area follow visitors home, bringing harm and bad luck with them. It sounds like plenty of curiosity seekers have got more than they bargained for at the church and graveyard. The other phenomena are similar to other cemetery legends, as this graveyard often presents disembodied voices and unexplained lights. True, we have encountered similar phenomena in cemeteries, sometimes with no reasonable explanation. Did we have such luck on our visit to this historic location in Oak Ridge? You will have to continue reading to find out.
Let’s return briefly to the stories I have personally been told, some even before I was a paranormal researcher. You see, as a person who works closely with the public I am privy to may tales & legends. More than a few people I’ve spoken with have actually been party to séances and gatherings at this location, (abandoned churches seem to attract these sorts of gatherings) and many times the intended purpose is to communicate with the deceased and invite restless spirits into the presence of those gathered. Unfortunately most of the people who attempt to communicate with spirits have no clue what to do once they’ve achieved their goal, and many restless and unhappy spirits are left to their own devices. I am not saying this is what happened to those who confided in me, only that this is the beginning for many haunts – if this site is actually haunted – I am only saying that I’ve been told by more than once source about such séances & rituals at this location.
Another person I spoke with also mentioned the unexplainable sensation of feeling like she was in a time warp after visiting the church and cemetery. When returning to the car and looking back at the church, the building was gone. The mind numbing experience brought great concern and she sped away. But driving down Highway 58 she looked over at the church and the building was there again, leaving her shaken, confused and troubled.
Let’s not forget the African Burial Ground, also a part of the Wheat community. With more than 90 graves and at least some buried in the African Burial Ground believed to have been part of the Gallaher-Stone Plantation with a monument to those held in slavery on the cemetery grounds. Some who enter claim to be able to hear the old slave songs in the distance, while others feel the presence of being watched by mistrustful eyes.
One of our experiences in the cemetery did leave me kind of spooked. As we were about to call it a night we all heard the sound of a stone being thrown in the gravel, soon followed by the crunching of gravel beneath someone’s or something’s weight. We directed our flashlights towards the sound, but saw nothing. As we regained our confidence and took some departing photographs we captured plenty of multi colored orbs.
Is this enough to confirm a haunting? You can judge for yourself by visiting our Video Vault and Haunted Places page of www.ParanormalSpectrum.com