October has started and it is officially spooky season! Over the next few weeks, we are going to bring you tales of the most haunted properties in Milledgeville and the spirits that inhabit them. The first on our list is the infamous Tate House and those that lived there.
The Walker-Breedlove-Scott-Tate-Thompson house is located at 201 N. Jefferson Street and was built c.1828. The hauntings began just a few decades later when Sam Walker, once mayor of Milledgeville, purchased the house in 1870. Walker lived there with Molly, his third wife; her niece Alice Dillard; and Joe, his second son by his first wife. Remember Joe; he comes back into the story later. There are many stories surrounding Sam Walker and the treatment of his spouses. Some claim that he verbally abused and beat his four wives, speculation says possibly even causing their deaths. These stories earned him the title of “meanest man in Milledgeville” and it’s easy to see why. Walker’s uncaring demeanor contributed to the death of his son, the ghost most often seen and heard on the property.
Joe, Sam Walker’s son, attended Mercer University in Macon in 1873. There was an epidemic of meningitis at Mercer that year and students were sent home while the school temporarily closed. Joe came home to Milledgeville and, a few days later, said he began to feel sick. His father insisted that the boy wasn’t sick and wouldn’t even allow a doctor to see him. After three days, Joe fainted at the top of the stairs and tumbled down to his death. The local rumor mill has speculated whether he fell or was pushed by his cruel father. Within the same week, Molly and Alice had also died of meningitis.
Former residents of the house claim to hear thuds on the stairs, as if Joe’s body is falling down the stairs at all hours of the night. Some even claim to hear Sam Walker’s footfalls as he walks the house for eternity, finally feeling guilt for his treatment of his family. Most of the sightings were reported by Katherine Scott, who owned the house for 75 years after Walker died. She most often speaks of hearing Joe and Sam on the stairs, along with an “aura of pain” in the room where Molly and Alice died.
The property has long passed its days of being a private residence and is now home to college students who have reporting hearing things go bump in the night. Former Union Recorder reporter Matt Tanner chose to live in the Northwest Bedroom. On his first night in his new place, the closet light flicked on by itself, and each following night he heard laughter and footsteps on the stairs. However, he never saw anything when he went to investigate. The spirits of this house will not be leaving anytime soon and will haunt 201 N. Jefferson until it no longer stands.
If you wish to hear more about the property and the people who inhabited it, make sure you take our Haunted Trolley Tour this month. You may even come into contact with Sam and Molly Walker themselves…
Stories adapted from True Ghost Stories of Georgia (Barbara Duffey), Weird Georgia (Jim Miles, Mark Sceurman) and Haunted Central Georgia (Jim Miles).