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Do ghosts roam the historic streets of Spring Mill State Park’s pioneer village?

From THE PERSIMMON TREE, Summer 2000 issue, Page 9
Re-printed by permission of The Mitchell Tribune
(A division of Twenty Paces Publishing, Inc.)

The Sheeks cabin, located in the pioneer village at Spring Mill State Park

As you walk the streets of the pioneer village at Spring Mill State Park, you walk back into the past, into the time of your ancestors, and the time of the early pioneer. Many stories are also told of “others” who walk the streets, and they aren’t the type you want to meet in the dark, or for that matter, in the daylight.

Another notorious resident of the Mitchell area was the outlaw Sam Bass. Bass was raised by members of the Sheeks family of nearby Mitchell, and the log cabin they lived in is the first cabin at the entrance of the village. Now used as, and often called, the loom house, this was the original Sheeks home.

Ghosts are associated with the Sheeks house in local lore. Like others in the park, the Sheeks house was moved into the village during the restoration. It originally stood outside the present park area, and it was there that the infamous outlaw was reared by his relatives.

According to legend, a year before Bass was shot down in Texas, he returned to the home to repay his relatives for caring for him as a child. He wanted to show them his gratitude by giving them money — money which he obtained from some of his bank-robbing sprees — but his relatives refused to have anything to do with the stolen loot.

Bass supposedly buried the money somewhere in Lawrence County and some local residents believe the site could be in Spring Mill. It is said, by some, that ghosts from Bass’ past search the park at night trying to find the buried treasure.

There are many ghostly stories concerning the park; some have been embellished over the years, while others seem to have remained nearly the same from telling to telling. Many have claimed to have heard — or seen — the mysteries of the park.

The Granny White House and the mill are only two locations included in the ghostly tales; other haunting stories abound about the village as well.

However, ghosts aside, the historic village at Spring Mill State Park draws visitors from far and near all through the year. One of the most memorable occasions is during the annual candlelight tour held to kick-off the Persimmon Festival each year.

Tri Kappa Sorority sponsors the tour, and the members recruit their families, friends and neighbors to bring the village to life on the first Saturday of festival week.

In addition to having families in the houses, going about their daily lives as pioneers of the 1800s, the sorority brings in entertainers who provide music in several locations.

This event is so popular that parking is a major problem, and the park offers shuttle service so visitors can get down to the historic village and back out to their vehicles.

As the festival theme is Soaring into a New Century, it would be fitting to take a trip out to Spring Mill State Park for the candlelight tour this year and step back into the past century as well. The five hours that the village is open lets visitors step back into the days of their ancestors, and gives young children a living history lesson.

Spring Mill State Park and Spring Mill Village are both closely related to Mitchell, and Mitchell residents. Many of the volunteers who work at the park as part of the Friends of the Mill group are Mitchell residents, and many are descendants of the pioneer families who first settled at Spring Mill in the early 1800s.

Many thanks to the Mitchell Tribune for allowing us to share this fascinating story. -- Lynn Taylor

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Updated: February 05, 2006
AAARC and The Sentinel Files Copyright 1999