Real Haunted Houses

Real Haunted House

Sally Carter, Cedarhurst Mansion

Huntsville, Alabama
By Shannon Reinbold-Gee

Huntsville, Alabama has many distinctions. It is the home of impressive companies such as Boeing, NASA, and Raytheon; has more Ph D’s per square mile than any other city in the south; and also happens to be the most haunted city in Alabama.

One of the more famous hauntings is of the Cedarhurst Mansion located at what is now the clubhouse of a town home community. The mansion was established by Stephen Ewing in 1823. Sally Carter, visiting her sister Mary Ewing at the mansion, was struck by a quick and fatal illness and died on November 28, 1837, just three weeks short of her 16th birthday. Young Sally had loved the estate, and that is why, some say, you can still feel her presence there today.

Sightings of Sally go back to 1919, when a 17 year-old boy from Dothan, Alabama slept outside Sally’s bedroom. That stormy night, he had a dream that Sally visited him, asking him to prop up her tombstone. When he awoke the next morning, he explained the strange dream and told his family that he was going to Sally’s grave. They laughed at him, but when he arrived, her stone had, indeed, fallen over in the storm. This popular local legend ends with the boy going back to his home town of Dothan, never to return to Huntsville again.

Previous to 1982, Sally’s grave was in the family plot on the estate. She had so many visitors, there was a well-worn path from the road. She did, unfortunately, also have many teenagers vandalize her grave. That is why, in December of 1982, Sally, her sister, and her sister’s three children were relocated to an undisclosed location in the Maple Hill Cemetery. That is… Her casket was relocated. Some claim that when her grave was excavated, the casket Sally was supposed to spend eternity in was empty.

Besides tombstones falling over and caskets being empty of mortal remains, Sally has also stirred up local folks, being sighted walking the grounds of the estate she loved so much. A past guard at Cedarhurst heard Sally walking upstairs while working one night. After the woman’s shift ended, she realized she had lost some money while doing rounds. After searching the grounds, hearing footsteps following her and the unnerving flickering of her flashlight as if its batteries were ready to die, the guard gave up the money for lost. But once she returned to the guard shack, her flashlight flickered brightly, shining directly on the cash she had given up for gone. It was then she chose to thank Sally, and claims to have heard a young woman’s laugh in return.

Someone who knew both the Thorton and the Grace families who lived in the house, had a friend who slept in Sally’s room. When asked what it was like, the friend told him about doors opening and closing by themselves, covers getting snatched off the bed and light switches being tripped. The girl thought it was all rather annoying, but after awhile got used to it and ignored the strange goings-on.

Many woman claim that their jewelry has been broken in the area, beads on beaded necklaces scattering everywhere.

Because Cedarhurst is now a gated community, visiting the clubhouse is not all that likely. Some locals have been able to see the place where Sally died, but visitors are strongly discouraged. Even so, Sally’s bedroom in the mansion has been preserved. If you really want to experience the ghostly Sally, there are always a few condominiums in the local gated community up for sale.

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Bergan Crane says:

September 29, 2005, 7:18 pm

My father, who grew up in Huntsville (I live here now as well), has always told the story that Sally Carter died on her wedding day by falling down the steps of the estate where she was married. Her new husband grabbed for her but only caught her pearl necklace in his hand as she fell down – a fall that killed her. Her pearls broke and went everywhere. Many women (teenagers) reported losing jewelery while sneaking around this property when it was a vacant estate and now as residents in the prviate, gated community that sits upon Sally’s grave.

Chris says:

October 4, 2005, 1:38 pm

Dear Bergan Crane, why don’t you just write a f**king book?! My damn coffee got cold reading your comment!

Kelli says:

October 5, 2005, 5:56 am

well for starters…i never heard about the first story…well comment. the story that i was told by my mother is that sally carter was a girl that came to stay with her cousins and fell sick and died. they buried her in the family lot behind the house. and chris..dont be a ****.

sherry says:

October 9, 2005, 12:13 am

My father as one of the workers who built the houses that stand where the grave is and I went with him when they opened her bedroom and started tearing out the walls they found a hidden room that contained all types of knives and swords.And when they dug up the family plot to move it sally’s grave was empty.I seen this with my own eyes.

sherry says:

October 9, 2005, 12:14 am

My father was one of the workers who built the houses that stand where the grave is and I went with him when they opened her bedroom and started tearing out the walls they found a hidden room that contained all types of knives and swords.And when they dug up the family plot to move it sally’s grave was empty.I seen this with my own eyes.

Becky says:

October 12, 2005, 11:21 am

You guys are too funny. Seratoma Park did not close because of Sally Carter’s ghost. It wasn’t making any money and was a liablilty to keep open. But nice story anyhow! LOL

Sarah says:

October 14, 2005, 9:07 pm

My drama teacher told a very different story. He said Sally Carter died in a fire at her house (which is now the Cedar Hurst Clubhouse) and it is said she now haunts the clubhouse. I don’t know which story is right, but it will make my article on her awesome! Thanks for the different stories guys!!!!

P.S. Chris- drink the coffee before you get on the computer or take a reading skills class and learn how to read quicker.

Clay says:

October 15, 2005, 1:25 am

Hey guys, you are all wrong. The house was lived in by the Mrs. Thornton (Sally Carter’s relative) and the Grace family, who attended Covenant Presbyterian Church which is located adjacent to Cedar Hurst development. I knew the Grace family from church and school and Mary, who was a little older than me, used to sleep in Sally Carter’s old bedroom. I have been in the house and one of my favorite scary memories was when I was in Cub Scouts about 6 years old and we were in the Thornton mansion listening to Mrs. Thornton tell ghost stories about Sally and her relatives. She was recounting to us that Sally had fallen ill and died at a young age. Her Aunt had not seen her in some time prior to her death and had come to Huntsville to visit. She was anxious to “see Sally” as everyone in the family had some story to tell about an encounter with her ghost. The house was amazing with two huge staircases in the front foyer that led to the second level where the bedrooms were. As the Aunt was talking about seeing Sally again, there was the sound of footsteps coming down the hall towards her bedroom. As the sounds grew louder and closer, she decided that perhaps she really didn’t want to see Sally after all and she ran down the hall to the staircase and fled to the lower level where other family members were. Just then, as Mrs. Thornton had finished telling that part of the story, we all heard footsteps upstairs, creaking down the hallway and moving towards the bedroom. There were about a dozen little boys sitting breathlessly, listening to the noises. One of us finally got the courage to ask “What’s that?” I will never forget Mrs. Thornton’s dry, casual answer as she looked up and said “Oh, that’s just Sally.” Every hair on my body stood on end. Mary Grace told me about living in Sally’s room. I had all of the usual questions; What’s it like? Anything ever happen? and that sort of thing. She said that it was somewhat annoying at times. She would go to sleep and shut her door. She would awake when it would open. If she left it open, it would close. She had her covers snatched off more than once and the light would flip on at times. She did confirm a story about a female visitor to the house who had a pearl necklace. The next morning they couldn’t find it anywhere and several days later, located it hanging on the end of the curtain rod above the drapes in the room. Others had their necklaces or jewelry broken and beads scattered all over. Mary said that after awhile, “you just get used to it and ignore it.” I will say that before the area around the grave site was cleared, it was a really freaky place, especially in the fading afternoon sunlight as the brush and trees created a shadowy world where your imagination could run wild in conjunction with the creepy, spooky reality of your surroundings. Many a time we would dare ourselves to go over to the grave site after church meetings….especially after dark. The grave yard itself was in a clearing which was almost completely surrounded by brush above and on all sides. The net effect was like being in a cave made entirely of brush and branches. The paths leading down to the graves were like walking through tunnels. This was really creepy and lent itself to mass hysteria. Particularly at night. Rumors and stories abounded after each visit. Sadly, the grave stones were desecrated by visitors, and daring teens were said to have taken a piece of her head stone. I can’t imagine that myself. I wouldn’t want to chance having Sally mad at me.

Leslie says:

October 20, 2005, 4:28 pm

Wow. Thanks for the info Clay.

Lynn says:

October 31, 2005, 1:15 pm

Clay, I too took the tour with Mrs. Thorton, but unfortunately I didn’t get to meet Sally. Gee, we must have gone to church together…

Sherry, you’re right about the grave being empty… I did a real estate project for college on Cedarhurst. I spoke to the general contractor who told me that when they went to move the grave it was empty. He speculated that the headstone had been moved so many times by teens that they no longer knew exactly where the grave was located. However, there may be another explaination… I’m not sure if this is true, but I had heard that Sally’s grave was actually moved to a private location at Maple Hill because so many destructive teens were going up to her grave at night.

mp angel says:

December 17, 2005, 1:02 am

Sally Carter wasn’t murdered she was sick,please get your facts straight before publishing them. Thats how rumors start. I am not trying to be rude but I am concerned because I have relatives that live near by and they know because the people working in the house have files about her. Thank you very much !

mp angel says:

December 17, 2005, 1:06 am

Dear Sarah,
You are totally wrong my family lives in the community and they have done re-search at the library and in the files on her. I sure hope you get your stories right next time so go do some good re-search at the library with the drama club!
Love, mp angel

Stan says:

February 21, 2006, 4:41 pm

Hi there, Clay. So funny that I was talking with some folks about the Carter stories just this weekend and wish I had read your note beforehand. I have been attending Covenant Presbyterian for over nine years now and loosely know the Grace family. I remember visiting the gravesite back in the late 60s – early seventies. We were not aware the first time out that the parking lot at Covenant ran right up to the trail which ran down to the grave. We wiped ourselves out by coming in from the north side of the proprerty and passing through the backyard of the Carter house. The atmosphere at the grave DID lend itself to all sorts of impressions. We arrived right at the stroke of midnight and imagined all sorts of sounds and sights. There were about ten of us in all – we didn’t molest the site at all – when one of our group lit a cigarette, we thought we saw the headstone glow or brighten. God bless, Stan

Ed says:

March 26, 2006, 1:21 am

I can confirm Clay’s story…bigtime! My mother’s best friend was Mrs. Thornto who we affectionately called her Aunt Khaki. And every time we visited, she would tell us ghost stories of Sally. Another one about Sally’s bedroom… those who slept in the bedroom would awake in the middle of the night to the sight of a rocking chair rocking by itself. We would also play with the Grace children who showed us the family graveyard which was on the right side as you face the front. The graves were indeed vandalized by teenagers who were curious about Sally. Aunt Khaki always told us that Sally died of pneumonia as a young girl. Her remains were moved to another cemetary at an unmarked grave for privacy. As far as I know there are no reports of Sally haunting the clubhouse.

Hope that fills in a few blanks…


Alia says:

April 26, 2006, 8:37 am

Hi All, im from England & love reading about this stuff, but from all the stories on here,im not sure which to believe & to be honest us “English” find Americans can exaggerate from time to time – which personally i love – But when it comes to stories relating to real life situations the exaggeration is not needed.
Love ya’ll any how xx

ash says:

May 15, 2006, 9:41 am

i dont know anything about this storie but it sounds realy freaky and who ever snell is your just bieng stupid even though im not american doesnt mean you can take the mick out of them and they know more than you

ali says:

May 31, 2006, 3:50 pm

one time i was fixing to get into the shower when i saw my uncel william flying across the celling.and saying somethin to me but i couldn’t quit hear it out.
by ali

skydog says:

June 4, 2006, 2:54 am

Snell, you’re a pompous ****. What are you…British? You think you’re smarter, more sophisticated than we Americans? Guess who runs things, mate! …oh ya, and the whole “haunted” stuff is really interesting, too….

Snake says:

June 22, 2006, 10:39 am

Interesting story. Typical, but interesting. Ali, you say you saw your uncle flying around in the bathroom? Was it your uncle’s ghost or your UNCLE?!

Lassie says:

July 15, 2006, 7:31 pm

Snell I hope to god you aren’t British. Your remarks are derogatory and the same applies to Skydog to assume that Snell is British. Snell may be British, I don’t care. He’s more than likely to be an immigrant nowadays. We shouldn’t all be tarnished with the same brush. May I remind you that you, Skydog,are probably a decendant of what was once the Great British Empire and it is through us that you have been educated and developed to become the America as we now know it. Do you know what Independence day is all about? I can’t say I’m proud of everything the British have done in the past but then I’m sure you could say the same about the Americans. We should all try to live in harmony with one another and respect each other. Don’y forget Skydog,you still speak the British language Ha! Ha! I wonder how long it will be before that changes. You’ve already tried changing it by shortening the spelling of words, perhaps because Americans aren’t very good at remembering things L.O.L

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