Image may have been real

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 5, 2003

The ghost that the Chamber of Commerce president encountered in Bluff Hall may have a name. According to research by Kirk Brooker, director of the Marengo County Historical Society, the ghostly image which Kathy Leverett saw Friday morning may belong to Leonidas Mecklenburg Polk, born February 24, 1869. According to records, he died April 29, 1877.

He is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Demopolis.

Leverett described the image as that of a young girl asking for her mother. Brooker said it was possible the child was a boy with longer hair of the time and dressed in a period night gown.

Polk was the son of William M. Polk and Mrs. Ida Lyon Polk and the grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Francis Strother Lyon of Bluff Hall and General Leonidas Polk.

Referred to as “Meck,” the boy lived in New York, but he came to Demopolis at age seven in 1876 to spend Christmas with his grandparents, Brooker said.

Unfortunately he contracted scarlet fever in late winter and suffered before passing away in Bluff Hall the following April.

His mother had just given birth to his sister Serena in March 1877 and was unable to make it to Demopolis before the boy died.

Meck’s two younger sisters are buried together alongside his grave in the F.S. Lyon family plot. They died in New York a year after his death.

Leverett’s sleep over Thursday night was the first time anyone has stayed all night in Bluff Hall since it came under the supervision of the historical society in 1967, Brooker said.

There have been ghosts recounted in other Demopolis historical properties. Author Kathyrn Tucker Windham has made the ghost in the Gaineswood Mansion famous. Lyon Hall, which is currently under renovation, also has been known for ghosts.

According to historical accounts, nine coffins were laid out on the front porch of Lyon Hall after a fire on a steamboat owned by the Lyon family, Brooker said. “Two daughters, a son-in-law and a few grandchildren died,” he said.