The Tate House
Home to the meanest man in Milledgeville
The Walker-Breedlove-Scott-Tate-Thompson house was built c.1828 and 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. There are many stories surrounding Sam Walker and the treatment of his spouses. Some claim that he verbally abused and beat his three wives, speculation says possibly even causing their deaths. After each wife's passing he inherited a considerable estate from each. 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, was sent to 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 as Walker considered illness to be merely a character flaw. He wouldn’t even allow a doctor to see his son. After three days, Joe struggled to the top of the stairs to beg his father for help. 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 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 a Georgia College professor for thirty-four years who owned the house for decades after Walker died. She most often speaks of hearing someone going up and down the stairs at night as well as an audible thud such as the sound a boy's head may make striking the stairs. Scott also reported an “aura of pain” in the northwest bedroom where Molly and Alice were ill and ultimately both died.
In the 1990's the home was owned by Mary Barbara Tate. One evening she and her son were awakened by the sound of thuds, much like bowling balls rolling down the stairs. Frightened, she and her son ran upstairs to find the source of the thunderous sounds, but saw no one and found nothing out of place.
A Georgia magazine reporter once stayed the night in the house for an upcoming article. Sometime in the night the reporter woke and witnessed the tassels of the bed's canopy sway as though in a breeze. The reporter then heard a loud crash on the staircase followed by another crash. The next morning a portrait had been thrown off the wall and smashed on the floor.
On another evening, a neighbor was walking his dog on the side of the property when a woman stepped through the garden. She was in period clothing and wore high button-up shoes, after pausing at the steps for a few minutes, she turned around and vanished.
The property has long passed its days of being a single family residence and is now home to college students who have reported 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 the home until it no longer stands.
The Walker-Breedlove-Scott-Tate-Thompson is a private residence and located at 201 N. Jefferson Street.
Stories adapted from local sources and:
Duffy, Barbara. True Ghost Stories of Georgia: Banshees, Bugles and Belles. Rockbridge Publishing Company, 1995.
Miles, Jim & Mark, Sceurman. Weird Georgia
Miles, Jim. Haunted Central Georgia