Ghost hunters: Paranormal team investigates UM’s King House

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Is something strange going on in your neighborhood?

Are there things going bump in the night?

Who are you going to call?

The Gulf States Paranormal Society hopes you give them a try. For the eight-member team, investigating the supernatural comes naturally.

While they don&8217;t promise to do any &8220;ghost busting,&8221; they can tell you if that cupboard slamming shut or light turning on and off is something easily explained, or maybe otherworldly.

&8220;People seem to be really shy about paranormal activity,&8221; said Sherie Cash, a lead investigator. &8220;But we are here to try to help people if we can, or at least try to apply some scientific measurement to this.&8221;

The society,

with a motto of &8220;Nothing disappears without a trace,&8221; came to the University of Montevallo&8217;s King House on Saturday, looking for an encounter with Edmund King.

King House

King was a wealthy businessman who came to Montevallo from Georgia during the early 1800s. Using slave labor, he built his mansion &045; one of the first brick homes in the state and also one of the few homes that had glass windows.

According to legend, King hid his money from advancing Yankee soldiers during the Civil War. Some say he hid it in the house; others believe he buried it in a peach orchard near the home.

Many University students have reported hearing someone walking in an upstairs room, according to UM Public Relations Director Cynthia Shackelford.

Shackelford also said some students have seen a figure of an old man carrying a lantern and shovel. The figure, which wanders through the yard, is believed to be the spirit of King, either guarding or searching for his buried treasure.


The Gulf State Paranormal Society is mostly made up of Jefferson and Shelby County residents, who investigate &8220;haunted&8221; places like King House twice a month. In the last year, the group has visited Sloss Furnaces, Moundville Archeological Park, and the civil war prisoner of war camp in Andersonville, Ga.

A ghost hunt starts with a simple walkthrough, as members collect the &8220;normal&8221; temperatures and electromagnetic field levels of the area to be investigated.

&8220;We do a sweep to set a baseline reading,&8221; said Cinnamon Tatum, GSPS founder. &8220;It has been theorized when spirits manifest they can cause a spike in energy or take heat away, by getting the norms we can observe if anything is out of place.&8221;

Technical Manager Brian Mealer also sets up infrared cameras and voice recorders to try and capture a ghost&8217;s presence or sound.

The ghost hunters then wait in complete darkness hoping to get an orb on film or a whisper on tape. They pose questions to specific people known to have lived or worked in the area investigated.

Cash asked King&8217;s spirit what he was doing the day he sat for a portrait that hung above the fireplace, even though she said it&8217;s the scariest part of the hunt.

&8220;I don&8217;t want to conjure up some evil spirit to scare me, because I anger enough of the living,&8221; she joked.

The members also put coins and gold earrings on King&8217;s desk, hoping the &8220;trigger objects&8221; would tempt the wealthy man to make an appearance.

In the past, the hunters have had some interesting readings, especially concerning spikes in electromagnetic fields and sudden drops in temperature. At Sloss Furnance, they caught what sounds like &8220;down-low&8221; on tape, after asking where they should place the cameras.

However, not all of the hunters are quite so ready to believe.

Mealer, a self-labeled skeptic, said until they capture irrefutable video evidence, he can understand why someone would have doubts.

&8220;Skeptics will be skeptics, and I agree in some ways,&8221; said Mealer. &8220;I actually try to debunk instead of prove, but when you&8217;ve studied every possible reason, you have to wonder.&8221;

The society

Tatum became interested in the paranormal when she was 10-years-old, after an unexplainable experiencehappened to her.

&8220;To this day, I&8217;m still not sure if it was truly paranormal or the traumatic events that had occurred in my life up to that point and the stress I was under at the time. Nevertheless, I was determined to search for answers either way.&8221;

Since then, she&8217;s been consumed with everything and anything paranormal. In September of 2005, she and her best friend John Martin formed The Gulf States Paranormal Society.

&8220;When John and I first started out and the word spread, people I had known and worked with for years who I didn&8217;t think would be remotely interested in the paranormal were joining us. We ended up with a really amazing team. We&8217;re all very close friends, have great chemistry and work well together. I couldn&8217;t have asked for a better group of people. We&8217;re a family.&8221;

For more information on the group, visit