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Tourists hunt the ghostly haunts of Dahlonega
Walking tours take visitors around square and tell spooky stories
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The Historic Vickory House is just one of the stops on the Dahlonega Walking Tour. This home is said to be haunted by an old woman who can be seen peering out of the ground floor windows late at night. - photo by CHARLIE WILLIAMS

Dahlonega Ghost Walk: Historic Walking Tour

When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, August through November

Where: The Attic Upstairs, 19 E. Main St., Dahlonega

How much: Adults $15, children $5

More info: www.dahlonegawalkingtours.com or 706-482-8795

Dahlonega is known for many things — gold, history and wine among them — but the historic city hasn’t gone almost 200 years without gathering a spooky legend or two. 

The many historic buildings on Dahlonega’s square are supposedly home to some haunting sights, and the town’s Mount Hope Cemetery, a pre-Civil War burial ground home to more than 1,000 gravesites, boasts several legends best not told after dark.

“I’d say mostly older buildings in the square have some sort of tradition of paranormal activity going on,” said Jeremy Sharp, owner and operator of Dahlonega Walking Tours, a business that takes patrons on a tour of Dahlonega’s haunted past.

Sharp said most of the ghost stories he tells his customers — and then takes them to investigate — come from merchants who have worked and lived on the historic square.

“They have all types of stories of the strange things that have happened to them,” Sharp said. “I guess the most common things that happen would be knocking, stomping, shadowy figures.”

The Dahlonega Gold Museum, which was built in 1836 and originally served as the Lumpkin County Courthouse, is supposedly home to a ghost the courthouse staff referred to only as “Tommy.”

Tommy, described as a “tall figure in a hooded robe,” has been seen in the courthouse windows and on the balcony. He is cited for causing a knocking sound inside the courthouse walls, as well as once causing a stamp press to come on by itself.

The Fred Jones Building is another part of the square rumored to be haunted by spirits from beyond the grave. Fred Jones, who once served as Dahlonega’s mayor and a state legislator, died under suspicious circumstances in the building, which was once his Chevrolet dealership. The building now holds several shops and cafes.

A waitress at one of the cafés reported seeing a “shadowy figure” seated at a table in the cafe near where Jones’ office used to be. Reports also have surfaced of locked doors being discovered wide open and displays being rearranged overnight.

Perhaps the most popular Dahlonega ghost story took place more than 150 years ago.

“The Mount Hope Cemetery is where all the crazy stuff happens,” Sharp said.

The Walking Tours owner said many people don’t realize pro-Union sentiment existed during the Civil War in North Georgia. When Sherman began his eponymous March to the Sea, he sent three Union agents into North Georgia to gather support and potential recruits. Confederate forces captured the Union agents in Fannin County. The agents were tortured for three days and then brought to what is now the Oar House restaurant, where they were executed by firing squad.  

“(The Union agents’) bodies were so badly mutilated that their wives had to identify their husbands by the stitchings in their socks,” Sharp said.

While Civil War soldiers have supposedly been spotted in the attic of the Dahlonega Gold Museum, several of them were buried — Union and Confederate alike — in the Mount Hope Cemetery. They have been spotted more frequently at that site.

“Some people say at night you can see the soldiers sitting around a table, playing poker,” Sharp said.

The Mount Hope Cemetery also has been the site of the most concrete supernatural experiences among Sharp’s walking tourists.

“I had a woman come up to me after one of the tours and said somebody grabbed her necklace and broke it,” Sharp said. “She showed me where it was broken.”

The Hall House Hotel, the only hotel directly on Dahlonega’s square, was also the site of a paranormal occurrence.

While the hotel’s owner, Mike Miller, reports he has received few to no complaints of the supernatural from his guests over the years, the one comment he did receive sticks with him to this day.

Miller was renovating a room in the historic building — which has served as a private residence, a boarding house and apartments for University of North Georgia students since it was built in 1881 — when he found a walking stick with the name “Sara” lodged into the wall. Miller broke the walking stick in the course of renovating the room and took it to his workshop to repair.

The first visitor to stay in the renovated room was an old woman, who specifically told Miller something had been taken from the room and needed to be returned.

“She would not have had any knowledge of that stick at all,” Miller said. “When I broke it I immediately took it out of the building, so nobody knew about it. It was kind of strange that she mentioned that to me.”

Miller repaired the walking stick and it is now displayed in a shadow box in the room, which has been renamed “Sara’s Room.”

Whether the paranormal experiences of Dahlonega’s townspeople are convincing or just coincidence, the town’s so-called haunted history is just one facet of an intricate narrative that spans centuries and generations. It may even convince previous nonbelievers.  

“There are so many stories and such a rich history and tradition of paranormal experiences in the town that originally I was really skeptical, but now I’m starting to believe in this stuff,” Sharp said.

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