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Ghost Enthusiasts Visit Cotesworth

On a humid and foggy Friday night in Carroll County, about 30 people went looking for the

spirits that roam the grounds of Cotesworth mansion.

The Cotesworth Culture & Heritage Center — a nonprofit foundation dedicated to preserving the

site — hosted its second ghost tour to help raise money and get the community involved with the

storied home. The Spirited Tours at Cotesworth, a biannual event held in the fall and spring, is

presented in partnership with the Southern Paranormal Investigations group from Kosciusko.

As dusk settled Friday, many attending the event walked around the home before the tour started.

Kizzie Edwards, a McCarley resident who was exploring the home’s parlor, said she was excited

about the possibility of experiencing something supernatural.

“I do believe in spirits,” she said. “I never had any supernatural things happen to me in my life,

but I do believe.”

Also walking around the grounds before the tour began was state Sen. Lydia Chassaniol of

Winona. A longtime fan of the home and its history, she said she visited the property as a girl

while on school field trips. Chassaniol said that she was excited to see a new side of the

historical home.

“I’m not expecting anything, but I’m prepared,” she said with a laugh while holding up some

freshly picked herbs in case of a ghostly encounter.

In 1847, U.S. Sen. James Zachariah “J.Z.” George purchased several hundred acres and a

roadside inn in Carroll County. George later grew the structure on the property into a Greek

revival-style mansion and named it “Cotesworth” after Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice

Cotesworth Pinckney Smith, who was also George’s friend. This expansion included the addition

of a hexagonal library on the south lawn to hold George’s vast collection of law books.

Cotesworth now serves as an events venue for weddings, parties and educational gatherings. In

recent years, it served as a filming location for the movies “The Help” and “The Sound and the


The two primary spirits that supposedly haunt the mansion are J.Z. George himself and a young

girl who died while visiting the mansion during its days as a carriage house.

“The plan is to go over the whole house and see what we can find,” said Southern Paranormal’s

lead investigator, Rebekah Martin, who had been scoping out the mansion before the tour. “We

have been told of a few instances that have happened.”

One of the more well-known Cotesworth ghost stories, Martin said, includes a woman who was

doing some research in George’s library. She was alone in the library when she heard a stern

male voice telling her to leave. The experience frightened the woman so much that she promptly

packed up her belongings, left and hasn’t returned since.

“We’re trying to feed off of that because that was the main area where J.Z. George did all of his

research and did his work. So, we’d like to hit on that,” Martin said of the library.

Martin warned the participants that paranormal investigations in real life are not like what you

see on TV.

“I’m not Zak Bagans,” she said, referring to the host of the Travel Channel paranormal

investigative series “Ghost Adventures,” earning a laugh from ghost-hunting enthusiasts.

But still, she and her co-investigator, Ilene Jones, who is part of the Backroads Paranormal group

from Brandon, came prepared with boxes of equipment including flashlights, body cameras,

voice recorders and electromotive force (EMF) meters, which detect spikes in electrical energy.

As Martin and Jones began their paranormal investigation of Cotesworth, some spirits were slow

to manifest, with just a few indications from many ghost-hunting devices or from people on the

tour who said they felt or heard something.

This was a lot different from the last time the paranormal team was at Cotesworth, the team and

past participants acknowledged.

Carroll County residents Alanna Mosley and her mother, Judy Mosley, said they experienced

significant paranormal phenomena during the last tour.

“She and I had the tingles, and at that same time, we were getting hits on the equipment,” Alanna

Mosley said of the October tour.

Jones said, though, exploring the spirit realm is a game of patience and persistence.

“Ghost hunting is a lot like deer hunting,” she said. “You can sit in the same spot at the same

time, and one night there’s a whole bunch of deer, and the next night there’s nothing.”

The slow start, however, seemingly changed as midnight neared. After many of the participants

left, about nine people remained.

They sat in the parlor, and Martin was seated across the hall wearing headphones connected to a

“spirit box,” which randomly scans through FM and AM radio frequencies to pick up a possible

spirit presence through white noise. Jones asked questions.

At first came the voice of a little girl, who gave brief responses such as “books,” “her” and

“yes,” Martin said.

But then, after a short break, Jones and Martin switched roles, and Jones said a male voice

became more present.

“What is your name?” Martin asked.

“Thomas,” Jones said the voice replied.

“How old are you?” Martin asked.

“Eight,” Jones said the voice replied.

After a pause, Jones said the voice on the device asked for help.

Les Holman, a participant, asked, “Help with what?”

Jones said the box replied, “Crippled.”

Another participant asked, “Crippled with what? Hand? Foot?”

“Foot,” the voice supposedly replied almost instantly.

Joe Nokes, a Cotesworth Culture & Heritage Center board member, said the next ghost tour is

tentatively scheduled to be held around Halloween.

by Adam Bakst FATE 2021


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