The Surrency Poltergeist
Around 1852 Allen Powell Surrency built his family a home on a small strip of land next to the Macon and Brunswick railway line. The small town that develops becomes known as Surrency which is in Appling County in the state of Georgia. The town still stands today and is 0.8 square miles, and as of the 2000 census, it contains 237 persons and 98 households.
Mr Surrency had two properties, but his main residence was the house in Surrency which was described as two stories high and weather-boarded. An L-shaped runs back, containing two rooms, one of which is used as a kitchen and one a dining room. In the main body of the house, there are four bedrooms and as many rooms underneath.
Allen and Wealthy Surrency had eight children in total Millard, Sarah, John, Samuel, Clementine, Biggio, Robert and Laula as of the 1870’s census only six of the children lived at the house that being Millard 20, Samuel 15, Biggio 6, Robert 4, Clementine 13, Laula 8.
By all accounts, Surrency was a decent fellow, hardworking and well respected by his peers. His wife Wealthy was also a hardworking woman and was often found in the kitchen supervising dinner for their guests. Although I cannot confirm, it appears that they also provided rooms for board for any visiting guests.
The family had lived unmolested for twenty years in the house before the troubles began but on the 17th November 1872, Surrency’s daughter Clementine was waiting by the train line for her father to return home. The train was running lates and she stood out the front of the house waiting to see the headlights appear. It was twilight, and as she stood, she noticed the dark figure of a man approaching. Something had made her feel uneasy, so she decided to walk back to the porch of the property. As she reached the steps, a stone or some object landed near to her. Not wishing to appear a coward (her words) she sat back on the steps and looked at the direction from which she had come.
Now we’re not talking about a built-up area; this place is pretty desolate so there was no way this ‘man’ could have disappeared. A few more objects landed around her, although none struck her, they were very close. She decided to go into the house. There were a few of her father's friends in the house including Rev Benjamin Blitch, Col Roberts, Mr Surrency’s brother and a few other men. Clemency did not tell them what had happened but walked through the house to find her mother. As she walked through the passage that led to the kitchen, she could hear items landing on the property. As she entered, brickbats (small brick ends) began to rain down from all sides. The gentlemen were called into the kitchen to see if they could find the culprit but to no avail. Pots and pans were overturning, and crockery flew about the room. The coffee pot overturned and cutlery skidded along the floor. The disturbances then entered the rest of the property. Sticks started to fall from the ceiling and vases, and photos fell to the floor.
Mr Surrency arrived home at about nine o’clock in the evening, and his family are there along with the men he considers to be truthful and honest. They are all excited and inform him of what they have witnessed; They said it started with sticks falling from God knows where. The sticks would appear and fall to the floor before you had a chance to witness where they came from.
It wasn’t long before he was experiencing it for himself. He watches as glass tumblers slide off the side and crockery fall to the floor and smash. The books begin to tumble off the shelves and brickbats, billets of wood, smoothing irons, biscuits, potatoes, water buckets, pitchers began to fall in different parts of the house. They all stayed up for the night to witness the events except Rev Blitch who got on his horse and left!
At one point Mr Surrency was concerned that some bottles of kerosene that were in the parlour would get smashed, so he got some of the servants to take them outside. No sooner had they been removed then one container fell from the ceiling and smashed on the floor. It continued through the night until there wasn’t much else to smash and seemed to stop on the morning of the 19th October.
Mr Surrency’s younger brother had been called to witness the events, and on one occasion he noted that he had watched as a book slid out of a pile of about seven or eight books, arch across the room at about six foot and landed softly on the floor. He returns it to the shelf, and again it comes out and lands on the floor. He calls Mrs Surrency and tells her, and she admits to him that she had put it back from that same position three times already, it was always the same book a quarto volume of Walker's dictionary.
The incidents restarted that afternoon and by this time neighbours were coming to witness the destruction. So much stuff was being thrown about that people didn’t know where to look first. Chairs, shoes, clothes were tumbled around the house the incidents were described as a ‘veritable witch or unseen devils hand throwing the items about’. In fact, things were flying about so much you couldn’t see where they had come from except for a pan of water which was seen to lift.
Even items from a locked bureau were seen to be thrown about even though the drawer remained locked.
The Newspapers start to hear the stories and send a reporter to investigate. Mr Surrency was working outside and sent them to the house. His daughter takes them into the house and tells them to wait around as the incidents are sure to occur soon. She shows them the remains of crockery scattered about the house which she assured them had been vases and other ornamental items.
As they are talking to Mr Surrency’s daughter, they hear a lumbering noise in the next room, and she informed them that it was a brick that had been thrown, one of many that day. They decide to investigate, and as they approach the room a heavy pint glass, the saloon type goes flying past their heads with force and smashes against the floor. It landed with such force that it took a considerable amount of strength to wrench it out. The heavy cast iron, iron was also thrown into the room. They were told that Mr Surrency had attempted to go to bed at 3 o’clock the previous morning only to have bricks fall so thick and fast around him that sleep was impossible.
Out of two sets of crockery in the house, only two pieces remain whole. The incidents were non-stop, every five minutes or so something happens, and therefore the family have not been able to sleep.
They left the family and so the news began to spread.
Another reporter Mr Lindustruth was sent to investigate, and he and two other gentlemen Mr Mason and Mr James Campbell arrived in Surrency before sunrise and went to the house. They found it in darkness, but the front door was unlocked, so they let themselves in and found a room that had a smouldering fire in the grate. They got the fire going and waited for the family to wake. Nothing much happened while the family slept though there were a few rappings on the walls and a couple of times they heard heavy thuds as though someone had fallen out of bed.
Mr Surrency awoke and greeted them heartily and confirmed all the stories that the reporter and gentlemen have heard. And tells them the story. As he is recounting it, he mentions about the clock and the hands spinning wildly when it starts again at an immense speed. In fact, they claim it is five hours every minute.
It was a thirty-hour weight clock, and by chance, the reporter was also a watchmaker by profession, and he proceeded to take the clock apart to check for faults of which he found none and nothing to indicate what could have caused it. They even checked for magnets, but when he looked at his own pocket watch, he found it to be running correctly.
He set the time, and It kept the correct time then until they left.
Nothing else occurred until seventeen minute’s to twelve when a pair of scissors jumped from the table to the chair.
The reporter was sat in a chair when a brickbat fell right beside him such force it broke in two. He picked it up, and it was hot. Both Lindustruth and Mason then attempted to break the brick by throwing it on the floor, but neither were able to recreate the necessary force. Lindustruth put the piece on the windowsill to take it home only to have it fall right in front of him and break in two again. He didn’t try and take it home.
At twelve o’clock a smoothing iron leapt six feet across the room and landed on the floor, they replaced it, and it did it again. Mr Lindustruth noted it was hot but thought it could have been warmed by the fire.
They all went to dinner, and as they were sat there, an ear of corn fell between Mr Campbell and Mrs Surrency splitting it in half and scattering corn all about the room.
Later in the day, another ear of corn fell striking a Mrs Burns who had a baby in her arms!
After dinner, more turned up, and there were at the very least ten people in the front room. They were all trying to keep an eye on items to see if they would move, then falling from the ceiling a chamber glass smashed to pieces in the middle of the room.
While all the fun was going on in the parlour, the cook had to contend with knives being thrown about along with pots and pans.
So keen were people to come and see the ghost that the railways put on another train and seventy-five people turned up that afternoon. But the ghost did not want to play and refused to perform. The train took most back, but quite a few stayed. The reporter stated that on Sunday alone 500 people had visited.
Another mysterious thing that the reporter noticed was piles of sugar around the house with a few pins and a steel pen in them. The sugar wasn’t even a type used by the house.
Any suggestion that this might have been a ploy to pry money from spectators could be ruled out as the well noted Southern hospitality ran true in Mr Surrency’s house, he took no money from viewers or the journalists, mediums and conjurers that stayed at his house at considerable cost to himself.
Come November the haunting is still going on. Clementine states that when she was making a bed upstairs, she shut the door and heard a commotion inside only to find all the bedding on the freshly made bed had been bundled in a pile along with every item of clothing. This had happened on another occasion, but on that time, a set of candlestick moulds that Mrs Surrency had just stuck into a pot of water appeared on the bed too. The moulds were in the kitchen, so there was no way someone could have taken them out and put them on the bed without being seen or so quickly.
The window panes would also break without any contact, and half a pane had been seen to slide up and down in the frame.
One night a straightening iron struck one of the young sons in his back while he was sleeping inflicting a painful wound, the iron wasn’t even originally in the room but downstairs. One of the servants also got hit by a bottle, it was a glancing blow and struck the wall, but the nurse was holding the baby at the time. Mr Surrency witnessed this and stated it hit the wall a lot harder than it hit the girl.
Mr Surrency relayed the stories to another reporter regarding the disturbances with the clock. They reset it, and it kept time correctly for three hours. At One o’clock the hour hand stood still while the minute had went round. They re-set the clock and at half seven instead of standing still this time it started out at twelve times its normal speed. The reporter, although not a professional horologist, looked at the innards, but all appeared in order. The clock kept its time for the remainder of the visit.
After a while, Mrs Surrency and Clementine left the house to stay with neighbours; the Pattersons. No sooner than they had left, then the phenomena stopped at the Surrencys but then started at the Pattersons.
Nov 20th, 1872 The Greenville Enterprise
Mrs Surrency. And her daughter did leave home during the week, and went to Mrs Patterson's with the intention of remaining there, and as soon as they arrived at his house.
The identical proceedings enacted at Mr Surrency's began at Mr Patterson's and ceased at Surrencys as soon as the ladies left. They remained at Patterson for a few hours, and not wishing to have his household goods so badly destroyed, determined to return home. Miss Surrency remained at Mr Patterson's, and her mother returned, and as soon as she arrived home (about sunset), the very same freaks began again. They ceased at Patterson's when she left there and had never returned, though the young lady remained, and was seen there by your correspondent and friends. These strange things have never happened except where Mrs Surrency was present, and always ceased when she left; and it is very clear, assuming it to be from a supernatural source, that she is the medium through which it acted. She stated to Us that she had never been mesmerized, never saw a mesmerist or spiritualist that she knows of, read a work of spiritualism, and has never thought of it.
Some newspapers had reported that a pig had walked into the parlour and when followed out of the room it disappeared and also that a Capt Burns had attended and was staring at the iron waiting for it to move. He complained that he could do with some whiskey and it had appeared next to him, he had filled his glass, and it the bottle had disappeared, and he hadn’t noticed as he was so intent on the object on the floor. These were untrue reports, and Mr Surrency was annoyed at the reports.
1905 a reporter tracked down one of the sons possibly John Surrency who is now approximately 51yrs old (working from the 1860 census). He tells the reporter that the troubles started with his mother. She was sat sewing in her room, and she could hear a noise in the room, she didn’t take much notice of it and carried on sewing. It made a louder noise, and when she looked up, she could see the pitcher in the bowl on the washstand rocking backwards and forwards. Mrs Surrency went over and checked for string or wire thinking of her mischevious boys but could not find anything. She checked the house and found it empty. She settled back down, and to her surprise, she watched as the pitcher lifted a couple of inches and banged back down, this happened a couple of times. Then the pitcher lifted up and was placed carefully on the nightstand, and the bowl lifted and smashed to the floor at her feet. The smaller pieces of the toiletry set were then flung at her feet. The pitcher was then picked up, and the water poured onto the carpet before it was violently thrown to the floor. He goes on to say that they were sat at the dinner table when the door to the dining room slowly closed.
“That was done,” said mother quietly “By the wind.”
No sooner had she said that when the door was flung open to its previous position. Two windows that had been opened suddenly started to raise and lower in quick succession, it was so violent that when it stopped a number of the small panes were broken. He said things got worse from there. They would often be splashed in the face by tea, coffee or soup sometimes scolding them, their knives and forks would get twisted out of shape while in their hands. The tablecloth had even been pulled from the table scattering dishes and cutlery across the floor. He seemed to think that the incidents were restricted to his mother's bedroom and the dining room but within a couple of days it had spread throughout the house, and not one room was free of the activity. The heavy furniture would move with ease across the floor then return to their previous positions. Some of the younger children had been hit by falling furniture, pictures and mirrors even causing broken bones.
The Sun New York May 21st, 1905
He remembered an incident in February when he walked into the hall and saw his elder brother sat at the table. A fire was flickering in the fireplace, and to his surprise, one of the huge andirons (a metal stand, typically one of a pair, for supporting wood burning in a fireplace.) raised in the air and gathered momentum before striking his brother on the temple. He sprung to his feet his head profusely bleeding while John grabbed the andiron and attempted to shield his brother. The andiron wrenched itself free and again struck his brother.
(The clip in the paper claims it was his older brother Robert but Robert was the youngest Surrency son, so there is a mistake somewhere. Going for ages, I believe it was John)
“Run” I called to my brother “run for your life! If you stay here, you will be killed, and I cannot help you.”
He ran, but the Airdron followed him striking him until he was unconscious at his mother's feet, the airdron returned to the hearth.
They moved the next day to the other farm, taking only their clothes, though to be honest there was not a lot left of the house to take. The injuries to his brother took a long time to heal and produced a fever which very nearly killed him.
For about a week to ten days they had a peaceful time at the other farm then it all started up again with even more vigour. They eventually left both properties and Surrency built another house for them to live in. The two houses stood empty even though they were really good properties no member of the Surrency family would go back there
Allen Surrency died in 1877 and Wealthy died in 1899
The Sun New York May 21st, 1905
At no time were any apparitions seen at the property nor voices heard
As us humans are apt to do a couple of suggestions arose regarding the reason for the haunting, one being from Mosquito’s!!
There was a further haunting in Atlanta in 1875 a couple of years after the Surrency haunting and a Mr John Mcmillan declares that he has solved the mystery. He finds out that one of the servants was also a servant at the Surrency house, he claims that he watched her and saw her conceal a brickbat about her person and throw it. She was immediately apprehended and on fear of being dealt with by the law she confessed to being that she was the author of the mischief.
The original house burnt down allegedly in 1925 and there are reports of strange ghost lights around the area. Could it be the man that Clementine saw at the beginning of our story looking to wreak havoc in your home?
This is thought to be the location of the old Surrency homestead
If anybody has any further information on the story, please contact us or leave a comment, that’s the great thing about these stories we never know all the details, but it’s a lot of fun finding them out