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The Old Haunted Stone House
Nobody knew for sure who built the old country stone house or how long it had been there. The oldest community residents of Lancaster Township in Crawford County, Arkansas said it had been there for as long as they or their ancestors could recollect.
It wasn’t the most beautiful piece of work I’d ever seen but it had been built for functionality and durability. Seeing how long it had been there I’d say they did a good job. Like many of the older structures in the area it had been constructed using stones and lumber which were abundant natural resources in those mountains.
The house was built next to a creek down at the bottom of our mountain. It was a simple single story affair with two large fireplaces. There was one on each end of the house. Inside, the walls had no paneling…just bare rock like the floor. The smooth stones lay everywhere down on the creek, so whoever built it didn’t have far to haul them.
I had spent part of my childhood growing up in the beautiful Northwest Boston Mountains. That property on the creek belonged to old man Brammer. His name was Harlan and he and his folks owned most of the land down along the bottoms where they kept some of their cows.
My grandparents had seemed to like Harlan as he would come by and visit frequently to check up on them. It wasn’t until I became a grown man I found out what kind of stingy, greedy person he really was. He was only hoping to get his hands on grandma’s property someday. Nevertheless, we needed to get permission from him occasionally if I and my brothers wanted to go fishing or swimming down there.
By Hook Or Crook
Harlan was the type of person determined to make a buck by hook or crook. For instance he regularly hired a few of the local foster kids community residents had taken in as farm hands…at bargain basement prices mind you!
I once had to borrow his pickup truck to get to work when my car broke down. He came over one Saturday morning and reminded me of his act of kindness and not so subtly hinted he needed help down on his creek property down close by the old stone house. I ended up digging post holes for the day. I never asked him for any more favors after that. Geez, what a penny pincher!
I can remember folks who lived in that house many years ago. My grandparents would take us down there to visit occasionally. They had some kids close to our age and we liked to play in the creek with them. Once they moved out, however, the house remained vacant for a long time.
I always wondered why those people moved out. Their kids had told us stories about seeing a ghost in the house. Maybe they had. Other people in the country community claimed the old house was haunted. There was a small family cemetery plot not far from the house where there were a few graves. I remember one as being that of a Captain in the Confederate Army.
Anyway, grandma said nobody ever stayed there long. The last people I knew lived there were a young newlywed couple. The husband was a son of one of my grandparent’s friends.
He worked for a railroad and was gone a lot, leaving his wife alone down there. My wife and I would drop by sometimes as we knew she had to get lonely down there all by herself. It could be an awful lonely place since there were no close neighbors. I remember they didn’t stay there long either.
The old stone structure was well known in the area because of the reported ghostly sightings. And from time to time a few local teenagers from outlying small towns would go there and try to spend a night camping out next to the house. Harlan would frequently have to go down with a shotgun and run them off his property.
But the place was also famous for other reasons. It was said several infamous outlaws had spent the night there. The Cole Younger and Belle Starr gangs were rumored to have passed through several times. That could have been very likely as the creek ran up from nearby Fort Smith and the Indian territories which used to be a common haunt for such criminals on the run. The rock houses’ location would have been a perfect hideout. I also remember granddad pointing out the initials “CY” etched into one of the fireplace walls on one of our visits.
There were a few more grisly tales concerning that property. A train trestle had been built across the creek a short distance away at the turn of the century. Grandma had told me her father had been witness to several hangings off of that trestle. Back in those days horse thieves were hung and local residents usually made their own law since there was none to speak of. No one had the time to ride into Fort Smith to deliver rustlers. So it was a common practice in the old West to just hang them.
The old stone house is still standing according to friends I’ve kept in contact with. But Harlan Brammer can’t seem to find anybody to rent it…at any price! I wonder why, it’s such a nice old house.