Ghosts of the Triad : From a Darker Place
Written By: Michael Reneger, Amy Spease
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From A Darker Place
Waughtown is one many historic areas in Winston-Salem. The community is rich in history, steeped in the past of industrial growth in the late 1890’s and the early Twentieth Century. One of the largest and most successful of the businesses that arose in the area was the J.I. Nissen Wagon Works. Established in 1834, by 1870, the complex had spread to cover a 600 acre tract.
The Nissen business flourished into the 1900’s when the rise of the automobile put an end to the use of horse drawn wagons. Over the years, thousands of men and boys worked, sweated, and bled, producing sturdy wagons. There is little wonder that, to this day, echoes of their work can still be heard. Though the wagon works are long gone, replaced by homes and various small businesses, some say the spirits of those long ago laborers continue going about their routines!
In the early mornings, as people rise for breakfast, and shopkeepers prepare to open their stores, the sound of a blacksmith’s hammer can be heard, clanging and ringing out, echoing amongst the homes and businesses along Waughtown Street, Pleasant Street, and other streets in the area. One may also hear the neighing of horses, and the clop of their hooves. And in the mists of early morning, the indistinct grey forms of men and boys can be glimpsed, working on wagons, and doing jobs that haven’t existed for a 100 years!
In 1986, Amy’s mom and stepdad bought a home on Pleasant Street, in the midst of Historic Waughtown District. As a child, Amy always enjoyed hearing stories of history, and folk tales. Her granny loved to regale Amy with as many stories as she could find.
Amy’s granny told her about the old days, and other things. She told of a certain Ms. Elliot, who built the house on Pleasant St., and lived there until she passed away. She told Amy that the sweet old lady died in the front bedroom… which Amy shared with her sisters, Amanda and Amber!
Amy wasn’t frightened at all by these stories. She slept quite peacefully in the room, even though she knew Ms. Elliot was still there! She’d sensed the good natured spirit many times. Her sisters wanted nothing to do with that! They would barely stay in there!
Amy was always comforted by the shade of the departed woman. She felt Ms. Elliot was watching over her and the others, like a guardian angel. The old woman had kept a big old grandfather clock, which was long gone by the time Amy’s family moved in.
“One of my fondest memories from childhood,” Amy says, “Was the tic-tock of an old Grandfather Clock. And it would chime on the hour. I’m still not sure why I heard this clock… there wasn’t one in the house… But maybe it was Ms. Elliot, sharing her love in this way.”
Amy was witness to other ghostly goings on there as a child. When she was outside, sometimes she would hear horses nearby, though none were anywhere in the area. And she would sometimes see men and young boys in strange, unfamiliar clothing. It wasn’t until her granny told her about the wagon works and ghost stories that Amy realized who they were!
Eventually, the family moved, though they did not sell the home. In July, 2002, Amy moved back into the house on Pleasant Street, this time with her husband David and 2 year old son, Rocky. She was 6 ½ months pregnant at the time with her daughter, Jade.
Amy spent many hours alone in the house. She cleaned, painted, and did various small repairs, getting the place ready for the family. She’d had many experiences as a child with Ms. Elliot’s ghost, so she wasn’t afraid. She simply didn’t pay much attention to the various odd noises, or randomly misplaced tool or object. But one evening, something happened that got her direct attention.
Amy was once again alone in the house. She was painting in the kitchen. As she worked, she began to notice odd shadows moving in her peripheral vision. She tried to ignore them, but they began to become more frequent. She’d see movement out of the corners of her eyes. But when she would turn to look in their direction, the shadowy figures were gone! Hmmm… Amy thought… This didn’t feel like Ms. Elliot. Finally, she put down her paint brush and, hands planted firmly on her hips, she growled at thin air, “Look! If you think you are scaring me, you’re NOT!” This seemed to calm the activity… for a while.
But the atmosphere of the home was changing. David would also notice the unusual energy of the place, and knew something unnatural was going on. Though they could still feel the presence of the ever watchful Ms. Elliot, there was something else. Even after the arrival of Baby Jade in October, the feeling of the house continued to grow heavier and darker. At times, the feeling was downright oppressive. Amy began to wonder if she might should have the house cleansed.
At the time, the growing family attended regular church services, and had become members of a local congregation. Amy was especially active in the church, and decided to go to the assistant pastor to seek guidance and help. Instead of being attentive and helpful, as any clergy should be in such a situation, the assistant pastor laughed at her! He then said that maybe they could get some of the deacons to come by and pray at the home… at their convenience!
The minister, charged with listening to his congregation, and helping in any way possible, just seemed to be brushing her off! Amy asked for help THREE more times, and waited for someone to help. She guesses she’d still be waiting until this day for them! Finally, after months of her calls for help going unanswered, Amy and her family left the church.
Amy knew she had a deep faith in a Divine Power. After leaving this church, Amy still felt this faith, despite the way she was treated. Her Native American roots called to her, and she continued on a very spiritual path. She began going to the library, researching reports and theories on paranormal activity.
Amy was becoming increasingly alarmed that her home had become a harbor for some dark, negative force. In March, 2006, Amy met her best friend and erstwhile big brother, Co Author, Michael Renegar. He visited the Spease home a month later, and knew instantly that something was amiss. There was something that just felt off about the house, and, even with all the lights on in it, it seemed darker than it should have.
In her reading and studies, Amy had learned many theories about the dark shadow people she’d been seeing. Many of these theories held that the shadow figures were not human in nature. Amy was unnerved, and concerned that this dark energy was becoming stronger and worse as time went by.
Nothing seemed to make it stop. Amy and David burned white candles, burned sage smudge sticks, sprinkled Holy Water, and even used anointing oil to bless the house. Crosses hung on the walls. Though the activity would lessen at times, nothing seemed to work completely. Things would calm down for days, weeks, even months at a time. But the shadows and heaviness would always return, seemingly stranger and more angry each time!
Amy was at her wits’ end. Chaos seemed to reign, and nightmares vexed and plagued the young family. The final straw was a nightmare which left Amy afraid to sleep, fearing Death would come to claim them all!
In the dream, Amy found herself in a funeral parlor. All their loved ones were standing there in tears, wracked with grief. There were four closed caskets in the room. There were flowers and pictures arranged on each casket… photos of Amy, David, Rocky, and Jade! A loud voice told her, “It is time to leave this house!”
Amy awoke in a cold sweat. She believed this to be a warning, perhaps from a guardian angel; perhaps even Ms. Elliot, that they needed to move before something tragic befell them! On March 1, 2010, Amy and her family moved out of the house on Pleasant Street to their new home. The new house is much brighter and friendlier than the old one, and all are much happier. They have much more peace there, and there has been no sign of the shadow figures, or the feelings of darkness and doom.
As for the house on Pleasant Street? Amy’s stepdad still owns it. The property has been cleaned up, and the house has been painted, But… IF you drive by there, you can still feel heaviness radiating from it. The house seems to watch you as you go by…Like a spider, waiting patiently for an unfortunate fly…
(c) 2011 Michael Reneger and Amy Spease -- Published by The History Press, Charleston, SC.