1921ghostA tale out of Letcher County, Kentucky, is about an unusual haunting. Preacher Wesley “Little Wes” Collins experienced one of the strangest ghosts in Appalachian history.

Collins married his first wife in the 1880s. Sadly, she died shortly after childbirth. The child survived and was named Lawrence. Sometime later, Collins remarried a lady named Vina. After they had their first child, Collins built the family a lovely two-story home near Collins branch. The front door was an impressive Dutch door. Dutch doors are divided, with an independent swinging top and bottom panel. The door was installed on wooden pegs.

Lawrence was around five when the home was constructed. He discovered the joys of riding the bottom part of the door. It soon led to a loud squeaking sound that annoyed his father. Collins scolded his son repeatedly, but his son continued squeaking.

He became so angered by the noise he retrieved a willow branch from outside and harshly spanked his son. Lawrence never made the door squeak again. To make matters worse, the child soon came down with a severe illness. Several days later, Wesley buried his son.

Collins was never the same. He loved to laugh before, but he had no desire to any longer. He was a heavy drinker and known to start his share of brawls, but he never drank again. The only joy he found was attending the monthly church service in his area. He found faith, got baptized, and less than a year later was a traveling minister.

Vina noticed other oddities. She was pleased by his spiritual interests and the fact that he stopped drinking, but something still plagued him. She pressed him for the source of his melancholy and he said he still heard Lawrence squeak the door. It surprised her, because neither she nor the other children heard anything.

She told a trusted neighbor, but that neighbor spread the tale. Soon, another neighbor pressed Collins for the truth. He admitted it. His closest friends suggested he move and start fresh in another house. Collins took his family to another house and sold the house he built.

John Adams bought the house and moved his family in. John and his wife hadn’t been married for long. They were apprehensive because they’d heard the tales of the squeaking door, but Vina assured them it was something only Wesley heard.

Vina’s assurances vanished the first night. They heard the squeaking door all night long. It went on every night. They also noticed the door would not stay closed. They tied the door with string, but the string broke. They tried to chain the door closed, but even the chains were torn away. They then tried leaning heavy timbers against the panels to secure the door, but the timbers were either hurled back into the room or out into the yard during the night.

The family was desperate by this point, so John constructed a second home nearby and the family used the original house as a barn. The door was still a problem. They couldn’t keep their animals in the barn because the door always came open. John had enough. He dismantled the Dutch door and carried it around half a mile away. He placed the bothersome door on an ancient tree stump and weighted it with large rocks.

The removal of the door ended the problem for the Adams, but legend says that poor Wesley never recovered. He always heard the door’s incessant squeak, even when out on tour. Some claimed they heard him later in life begging his son’s spirit to stop the squeaking door.

 

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This story appears in Appalachian Curiosities.

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