Sturdivant Hall is a beautiful mansion in Selma, Alabama. Considered one of the finest examples of Greek Revival neoclassic architecture, it is said that a ghost appears regularly throughout the house. People often report hearing windows and doors being opened and shut when no one else is in the house, objects moving on their own, footsteps creaking upstairs, as well as doors that lock on their own. Someone also claim seeing the ghost of two little girls, though their identities are unknown.
But what is the story of Sturdivant Hall? Who could these seen ghosts be?
The mansion was built from 1852 to 1856 by artisans that came directly from Italy to do the marble work throughout the house, and it first was the property of Edward Watts, that sold the house to the President of the first National Bank of Selma, John Mc Gee Parkman, after moving to Texas with his family. Due to cotton speculation and money loss, Parkman was then arrested, despite the people of Selma was not happy with that; he was considered a good and loyal man, and everyone knew he couldn’t do anything like that. People also did a great manifestation in front of the jail, to convince everyone he was not guilty and that he had been unjustly accused. He actually managed to escape from jail, but died in mysterious ways: someone says he was shot, others claim he drowned into the Alabama river. The resident ghost could be that of John Parkman, that has no peace; strangely, before dying he said that he would never leave the property until his name is redeemed.
The house was afterwards sold at auction and was bought by a prominent Selma merchant, Emily Gillman. The Gillman family, after living there for a period, sold the house to the City of Selma in 1957. A large share of the money for buying the house came from the estate of Robert Daniel Sturdivant, that turned the mansion into a historical house museum that continues to be maintained today. The house now contains period antique furnishings, porcelain and doll collections, as well as an impressive collection of art. If you want you can get a tour of the house, including the detached kitchen, gift shop and formal garden.
That’s strange how haunted houses always have a story, often painful. Parkman did not seem to deserve what he has been through in his life.
I’ve made some research to know more about the two little girls people claim seeing today in the house, and it turns out Parkman had two little girls himself, that he loved watching play outside, in the garden.
Kathryn Tucker Windham (1918 – 2011), an amazing storyteller, author and folklorist born in Selma, also focused during her life on this sad story.