Established in 1839, Oxford, Georgia has a long and scholarly history. This tiny town in Newton County is, after all, home to Oxford College and Emory University, two of the finest institutions in the state. Not to mention, it’s affiliation with the Methodist Episcopal Church, whose officials chartered the town and who declared Oxford a shrine. Perhaps, it’s this divine connection to the afterlife that would account for Oxford’s other residents of the ghostly variety. Crack open your textbooks, students, because we’re taking you on a studiously spooky tour of Oxford's top 5 most haunted spots. Join us, if you dare.
Our first stop is the Oxford Cemetery. Established in 1837, the cemetery is the final resting place for Oxford town’s illustrious residents. Buried at the cemetery are many historical figures including eight of Emory College’s presidents and numerous southern Methodist leaders. However, during the Civil War, many soldiers from both sides found their final home on the cemetery grounds. After Oxford College suspended classes, the college became a military hospital. And the Oxford Cemetery served as a public grave for the fallen. Visitors have reported smelling gun powder, iodine, and sulfur on the grounds. Some have even seen the white figure of a man between the headstones.
Orna Villa, also known as the Alexander Means House, is a historic Greek Revival house. Built in 1825, it is the oldest house in town and the crown jewel of Emory Street. Yet, this stately home houses a secret; a feud between father and son that tore a family apart. The home was owned for a time by Alexander Means, a founder and president of Emory College. The house has been featured in works on haunted houses because of its alleged association with the ghost of Tobe Means, the rebellious, headstrong and youngest son. To say that Tobe was a problem-child is a bit of an understatement. Following an argument with his father over money, Tobe stormed away from Orna Villa, never to been seen again.
The first extensive reports of haunting at Orna Villa began in 1945 when E.H. “Buddy” Rheberg and his wife bought the house. Owners have reported seeing ghostly green lights and hearing the incessant squeak of a rocking chair. They claim it’s Dr. Means, pacing the halls and porches, awaiting his prodigal son’s return. We have also heard reports that a bullet from the Civil War is still visible within the walls of the home.
Dooley at Oxford College
Our third pick for Oxford’s haunted history, is more of an entity than a haunting. Yet, Dooley represents a quirky tradition from Oxford College and would not stand to be overlooked. Springing from the lore of a biology lab skeleton run amoke, Dooley the Lord of Misrule safeguards the official Spirit of Emory.
Each spring, Dooley rises from the grave (or should we say slab in the lab?) to celebrate a week of fun, foolishness, and tradition. We’re dead serious. You don’t want to miss Dooley’s spectral celebration on Oxford College’s campus.
Speaking of Oxford College’s campus, let’s venture over to Phi Gamma Hall, the oldest academic building that Emory owns. The Phi Gamma Hall building now houses the college’s 24-hour library. But, not too long ago, students reported that when they left the library at night they saw a woman dressed in white.
They all described her as frantic, seemingly distraught and would pace back and forth in front of the windows. Some have even claimed she was wearing the uniform of a nurse. Reports of the wailing nurse have ceased since the building has been in use around-the-clock as a study area. But, who knows? You might be just the patient she’s looking for.
Several staff members have also reported odd noises around Seney Hall, which dates from 1881. The Hall itself was built using materials from a monolith known as “Old Main”. Like other buildings on campus, Old Main had been used as a hospital during the Great War. And some old soldiers seemed to never have left. One former professor swore that when he worked late at night he would become aware of a presence in his office. He described it as a young boy, about 17 or 18, dressed as a Confederate soldier. The boy would fade away before any evidence could be captured.
Are you creeped out yet? Why not study some more of Oxford’s historical haunts by visiting the Oxford Historical Society’s website? Or, you can visit our Top 5 sites yourself. See if you can catch the wailing nurse of Phi Gamma Hall, or dismiss classes at Oxford College with Dooley. Or, try to mend a family feud at Orna Villa. Either way, visit Newton County and experience the hauntings in Oxford GA today!