There are many cemeteries within Athens, but none draws a crowd like Simms cemetery. Simms Cemetery can be found off of Peach Ridge road, in a secluded wooded area. The Athens County Courthouse archives reveal no records of the deaths or the burials of the five people in Simms Cemetery.The graveyard is named for John W. Simms (and his wife Nancy (1803-1886). Local Historians theorize that John W. Simms was a town official who sentenced many people, most specifically freed slaves and other African Americans, to death over common offenses. It is believed that an evergreen tree that rests in the cemetery is the spot in which Simms watched his victims hang. While this cannot be proven, there are visible spots where ropes once hung on the tree.
Simms Cemetery has been a popular place for students to perform seances, which is a meeting at which people attempt to make contact with the dead. One seance, in particular, has gained fame in Athens. This seance was performed in April of 1970, following the death of David Tishman. The medium and her friends set up an Ouija...
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...story tells the tale of a girl who was into the black arts. It was claimed that she caused many other strange occurrences, such as the moving objects and other spooky happenings. One night the girl was discovered dead from a suicide. Room 428 has since been closed and is not open for students to access. This story clearly takes creative license with the experiences of Herrington, Goertschius, and Southall, but nonetheless it attracts students to the dorm in hopes of seeing “Satan’s Dormitory”.
Athens is filled with hundreds of ghost stories and paranormal sites. Cemeteries have an essence that draws people, whether it is the unexplainable or something a little less ominous. The folklore that Athens has accumulated over the years comes from such an interesting history and the creative license to take strange stories and create them to become something much greater.
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