Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Supernatural events ‘haunt’ local museum

At the start of the last week’s Quilt Walk, some curtains appeared to have been moved at the Lake City-Columbia County Museum, 157 SE Hernando Ave.

This is not earth-shattering news, but it harkens back to stories of a ghost in the house. Some past and present museum docents give credit to such incidents to a former resident of the house.

“Cora has been here,” said Museum President Pat McAlhany said as she pointed to the curtains. She then told the story of the museum’s ghost.

Whether moving curtains, plates or an extremely heavy bookcase is supernatural or just physics of an old structure can be debated until the end of time.

For some individuals, however, these occurrences are the work of a particular spirit.

The majority of the house where the museum sits today was built in the late 1870s, McAlhany said. There was a young lady named Cora Vinzant who was from High Springs. She stayed with family members in the house while she attended Lake City Institute.

“The night before she was to graduate,” McAlhany said, “Cora died from yellow fever.”

Vinzant died on May 26, 1892, according to an original hand-carried announcement of the day, which is at the museum in a scrapbook.

Opening curtains in one room on the second floor of the museum at some time between the night of March 26 and the morning of March 27 is among the less spectacular feats attributed to Cora.

The ghost is given credit for moving very heavy furniture too.

Four people left the museum at 9 p.m. on the Thursday before the 2008 Quilt Walk, McAlhany said. They returned at 8 a.m. on Friday.

In those 11 hours, a bookshelf with 300 books on it somehow had moved to another room and was sitting at a 45-degree angle, Karen Cross said. She was among those who discovered it.

“And there were no scratches on the (wooden) floor from it being moved,” Cross said, “until two of us moved it back.”

Jerry Horton said Cora gave him a start a few weeks ago.

“I was showing a visitor this display case,” Horton said. “This Bible here went in slow motion and fell face down. It was May Vinzant’s Bible. She lived here from 1881 until 1981. She died at the age of 102 or 103.”

That Bible was sitting on a carrier similar to those used for placing collectible baseballs, so they will sit on a shelf.

That same glass display case offered another opportunity for Cora to exhibit a prank, McAlhany said.

One day, there were four people sitting in the same room as the dispay case, she said. Its door four times, with a person having closed it each time. There was no person walking on the outside porch or making enough movement in the room or the house to shake the floor.

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