Conspiracy Column: Halloween Horrors in Raleigh: Tales or Truth?


Spooky sights in Downtown Raleigh on Tobacco Road Haunted Walking Tour!

Emsley Jackson, Section Editor

  Halloween is the only time of year where ghost hunting, wearing costumes in public, and eating your weight in candy is socially acceptable. Telling someone you’re going on a hunt for ghouls in a Batman costume mid-July may get you some strange looks, and/or a visit to a psychiatrist. Luckily, “Spooky Season” is upon us, making it a perfectly acceptable time to indulge in the more mysterious sides to life. 

  Believing in the supernatural is subjective. Some people are skeptics, some are hard-core spiritualists, while others are more the “must see in order to believe ”type. After being asked if they believed in ghosts, 24 out of 35 Millbrook students polled said they would have to come face to face with the paranormal before being convinced. Senior Hadley Brickman even expressed, “If a ghost said ‘Hi, I’m a ghost’, I think I would believe it. But if I hear some spooky noise, I’m not automatically going to assume it’s a ghost.” 

  These beliefs are often molded by environment, upbringing, and even media influences. For example: the city of New Orleans, Louisiana is believed to be one of the most haunted cities in America. Voodoo and Cajun magic runs strong in those areas, leading to infamous ghosts and rich spiritual histories. What about Raleigh? The “City of the Oaks” hasn’t particularly been known for its eerie events or spooky stories. We here at the Cattalk wanted a deeper dive into whatever spine-chillers Raleigh has to offer. Reporters Caroline Garcia, Evan Kate Page, and myself used this opportunity to scope out the supernatural on a haunted ghost tour. 

  On the chilly Sunday evening of Oct. 9, ghost-guide Brian met us on Fayetteville Street in Downtown Raleigh. Our journey began with the Yarborough Hotels’ elusive “Silent Gentleman Ghost.” The Yarborough was built in 1851, and lasted until 1923. Early after it opened, night staff began reporting seeing a Victorian-looking man in a top hat and suit who couldn’t be touched, moved, or spoken to. He moved in darkness and “cocked his head in a bird-like fashion whenever someone made eye contact with him,” according to Brian. The Silent Gentleman went ghost (literally) for a number of years as the Yarborough’s popularity declined. In 1923, the hotel burned to the ground suddenly, allegedly for a shady insurance payback. The day of the fire, front-row guests to the burning reported seeing a man with a top hat glaring at them from the singed windows above, with a cocked head and crooked smile.  

  We then traveled to Moore Square, which has a much darker past than its modern “park and burger-joint” look lets on. In American history, we as a culture supported and were fascinated by public punishment. Hangings, beatings, whippings, basically anything of substantial consequence. Moore Square was one of the locations used for these public punishments. The Downtown Raleigh Alliance explains, “Since 1792, Moore Square has been a place of gathering, reflection, entertainment, and recreation for the citizens of Raleigh.” It’s true, citizens of Raleigh would gather their families, including children, to watch people meet their consequences. People who claim to have special connections with the paranormal say they can walk through the park and hear sounds of screaming and crying coming from spirits past. Brian added on, “Imagine walking through this park tonight, and having that sensitivity to the paranormal. Imagine how horrible that might sound.” Today, the only thing that gets served on the grounds of Moore Square are burgers at their restaurant, “Square Burger.”

  The final spooky stop on our tour was the White-Holman House to learn about its “Peg-Leg Ghost.” This house was originally built in 1798 by former NC Secretary of State William White, and still stands today on New Bern Avenue. The huge property was used as a medical facility for confederate soldiers during the Civil War when medical technology was limited and resources were slim. One night White’s youngest daughter, who lived in the secluded attic loft, heard what sounded like a man dragging a wooden leg up the winding stairs to her isolated room. From that point on, residents of the home have reported hearing and seeing things they could only label as unnatural. The thuds and groans of the possibly post-war amputee seem to plague the house, as it never stays with one family too long, and was even boasting a “For Sale” sign the night of the tour. Could it be because of the Peg-Leg Ghost, or the current housing market? Both equally as teeth-chattering. 

  All in all, Raleigh can be a spooky place, believer in the beyond or not. Spooky is subjective, but Halloween forever rules.