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Oak Hill Plantation

January 2009

In the early 1980's, I attended Berry College in Mt. Berry, Georgia. Berry has a beautiful, huge campus, and one of it's most visited places is Oak Hill, the antebellum home of Martha Berry, founder of the school.

I was fortunate enough to work as a tour guide at the home while attending school (Berry is well known for their wonderful student work program) and enjoyed my job very much. When I had first begun working, the senior girl (whose place as a tour guide I would be taking) that trained me to give the tours told me that "Sometimes we smell food cooking in the kitchen, but no one is there." She also related other incidents that some of the girls had experienced. I found these revelations interesting, but gave them no real thought.

I worked at the house the entire time I attended the college. I roamed about all the floors- from the cellar, where we found Captain Berry's sword hidden away (He was active during the Civil War- the sword is now displayed in the Oak Hill Museum, on the plantation's grounds) to the attic, where the servants had slept. There were stairways within the walls that led from the cellar upward to the attic, so that the servants could service the family without traversing through the main part of the house.

Soon, it was nearing time for my own graduation, and as a senior, it was my turn to train the girl who would be taking my place. I had no intention of sharing with her the ghostly parts of my own orientation, but did spend much time relating the history of the house and of Miss Berry, which we shared with visitors during each tour.

On my last day, Anna, my trainee and I were the only ones left in the house. We were closing up for the day, and as my last bit of instruction, I was going to show her how to set the alarm; located near the front door in the main hallway. As we started down the hall, Anna was perhaps 3 feet behind me. The hallway is large, with a balcony above, and a stairway that curves down from the second story hallway. Miss Berry's room is located just beyond the top of the stairs. At the bottom, in the hall where we were, there is a beautiful harpsichord, where we always kept fresh flowers that were in season from the gardens.

As I walked past the harpsichord and the foot of the stairs, I smelled roses so intensely, I remarked "Wow, don't those roses smell wonderful?" Just as the words left my mouth, I was suddenly freezing, as if an arctic blast had surrounded me, and then the cold was gone. I'd not had time to say anything about the cold burst to Anna, who was replying back to me "I don't smell anything- Oh yes! I do smell them" and then she added, "I'm cold!" As I turned to look at her, I could see no one, but my eyes did fall upon the flowers on the harpsichord. Sitting there was an artificial silk arrangement. I can only assume that someone, perhaps Miss Berry herself had walked past myself and then Anna. Something was definitely there; we both experienced it. Was this her way of telling me goodbye? Even after all these years, it still causes actual goose bumps on my arms when I think of this experience.

I don't have any pictures of the house that I've taken.

Note- to authenticate what I'm telling you, I want to share that Martha Berry died as a result of Liver disease (actually Cirrhosis) - which they didn't want us to tell people on the tours- they feared it would make it seem that Ms. Berry had an alcohol problem. This is verifiable, but not commonly known.

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