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The Tatum Haunting: Ghosts of Civil War

The story of this haunting first aired in October of 1988 on the television show Unsolved Mysteries. I remember it distinctly because of a statement James Tatum made when he was interviewed about the haunting he and his wife, Katherine had experienced in their new 2-story home outside Atlanta, Georgia.

James Tatum was a retired army officer who appeared visibly upset as he stated, “If that bell rings again, I won’t answer it.”

The bell he referred to was a little angel bell his wife kept upstairs. James was an early riser, he would go downstairs to the living room, drink coffee and read the newspaper as his wife still slept. When Katherine awoke she could not always get his attention by calling out his name so she rang this little bell if she needed her husband’s assistance.

One morning James heard the bell ring so he headed upstairs but Katherine was still in bed asleep. Later the couple joked that it must be the “ghost.” This was half in jest and half serious for Katherine had experienced several odd things in their home in the previous months.

A few days later the bell rang again but Katherine was asleep. The couple decided to instate a code where James would only respond to the bell if he heard 3 rings.

the tatum haunting ghosts of civil war 01The ghost heard their bargain for James was summoned upstairs yet again to find Katherine asleep. He found the bell in their guest bedroom sitting in its usual place on a table. As James left the room he heard the bell once more ring 3 times.

James then emotionally told Katherine, “That he wasn’t going to answer that bell ever again.” After this the bell remained silent.

In the months leading up to James’ encounter with the ghost Katherine was the ghost’s primary target. A year after they moved into their home in Marietta she was up at 2:00 a.m. using the restroom when she saw a man pass by the door. She assumed it was James and called out but he didn’t respond.

She followed this figure in the dark as it headed toward the staircase. She called out again--no response. She returned to the master bedroom to find James in bed. She told him what she had seen--he grabbed his gun and searched the house but everything was locked and he found no one.

Later, Katherine remembered that the figure wore a long coat and floppy hat that was drawn down over his face. She also realized what she had seen was a ghost. James at first didn’t know what to make of her experience.

This ghost continued to tease and scare Katherine. One afternoon James who was doing on an odd job upstairs left his drill propped against a wall and went down to watch T.V. Katherine heard this drill being turned on and off repeatedly and wondered what James was doing. But she discovered James was downstairs.

One afternoon as she watched T.V. in the bedroom she heard a popping sound in the middle of the room-- she turned the set off so she could hear. She got up and discovered a field of static electricity in the middle of the room she backed off into a corner at which point this field followed her and popped right near her face.

The ghost also moved items in the master bedroom as Katherine lay in bed reading. James kept a small wooden bowl near the closet where he put loose change from his pocket. One afternoon, Katherine heard coins dropping so she looked up expecting to see James. Instead, she saw the coins dropping one by one into the bowl from an unseen hand.

Another time the ghost moved a tray that had a glass of water and TUMS that Katherine kept by the bed. She heard the wafers drop one by one down onto the tray and then the whole thing hit the floor.

One evening as Katherine bent down to slip a casserole into the microwave she felt two hands tug at the hem of her shirt. She looked up only to see James through a window outside.

After the bell incident Katherine checked into the history of the land their new house sat upon. She discovered that a Civil War battle--The battle of Kolb’s Farm-- was fought in June of 1864 near their subdivision.

the tatum haunting ghosts of civil war 02

Since, other homeowners in this same subdivision have experienced hauntings.

In October of 2007 a male resident out for a drive one night with his teenage son spotted a horse and a Union cavalry officer in his car headlights.* The father quickly braked and the horse passed right in front of their car. The two males watched in awe as the figure moved across the road and right through a fence--the horse and rider then just faded away.

* They were crossing the Kennesaw Mountain where a much bloodier battle occurred right after the Kolb Farm skirmish.



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