Top 13 Haunted Places in Alabama: #12 Sturdivant Hall

October 4, 2019

For #12 we’re heading south to Sturdivant Hall located in Selma. Sturdivant Hall (also known as the Watts-Parkman-Gillman Home) is a Greek Revival mansion built in 1852-1856 for Colonel Edward Watts.  Sturdivant hall has 10 rooms and 6,000 square feet. It has been called “One of the finest Greek Revival antebellum mansions in the Southeast” and its easy to see why!

The home was purchased on February 12, 1864 for the sum of $65,000 by a local banker named John McGee Parkman. Parkman was 29 years old and following the Civil War, had just been promoted to president of First National Bank in Selma. After engaging in cotton speculation, the bank accumulated huge losses and was eventually taken possession of by the military governor of Alabama, Wager Swayne. John McGee Parkman was arrested and imprisoned for embezzlement at Castle Morgan (the local county jail) in Cahaba, AL. Townspeople and friends of the failed banker felt that he had been unjustly accused so they hatched an elaborate plan to break him out of jail by throwing a Mardi Gras like party in front of the jail.  This provided a distraction to the jailers and with the help of his friends, Parkman was able to escape prison on May 23, 1867.  The plan was for Parkman to be taken to a boat on the river and sail away but he was shot on the banks of the river by prison guards before he could make it to the boat.

It has been said that instead of sailing away as planned, Parkman’s ghost decided to return home to redeem his name and return to the life he once lived.  Having returned to Sturdivant Hall in 1867, John McGee Parkman is still often seen in the same window where he would always sit and watch his two daughters play outside.  There have also been reports of howling winds, sightings of an ethereal male figure moving about the house, footsteps creaking upstairs and the bedroom door opening and closing on it’s own. In recent years his daughters have also been seen at Sturdivant Hall. The mischievous Parkman girls are known to leave toys and clothes strewn about as if they had been playing, but that might be a story for 2020’s Halloween countdown…

With both our #13 Ghost Eliza Lucas and our #12 Ghost John McGee Parkman returning to their homes, I guess it’s safe to say home is truly where the heart is.

Title Photo Courtesy of Rural Southwest Alabama and Black&White Historic Photos Courtesy of Alabama Pioneers.