Ghost stories to haunt Shelby County library

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Storytellers bring mix of history and mystery to children’s program

By Nathan L. McBroom

Like any good ghost storyteller, Thomas Freese has learned to tell a tale with such strong description and emotion, that the listener often wonders if the story might actually be true.

“In every good ghost story, there has to be a creative mix of history and mystery,” he said. “That’s what makes it interesting.”

Freese and fellow writer and storyteller Brian Bush will bring their spooky tales to the Shelby County Library on Thursday, when from 6 to 7 p.m. they will retell first-person accounts of ghosts encountered on the battlefields during the Civil War.

Along with the mystery, Freese and Bush will also tell about the history of battlefield backgrounds and historical people involved.

The event will be held on the front lawn and is free of charge. 

Linda Mahone, the administrative assistant and head of marketing at the library, said this is the fourth time the library has invited Freese’s program to the community.

“We keep inviting him back because he does a such a great job of making the stories come to life,” she said. “It can get a little spooky, but it’s a lot of fun for all ages.”

Freese said he loves the experience of telling these stories to kids.

“I make sure to keep the stories appropriate for the age level of the audience,” he said. “But all kids love to hear a ghost story. If you want to get kids to pay attention for 60 minutes, tell them a ghost story.”

Although Freese enjoys the creative retelling of these stories, to him, many of the stories are more fact than fiction. 

He said that after he collected more than 500 accounts of personal encounters with ghosts, spirits or angels, he doesn’t discount the activity of the supernatural.

“I tend to believe that in the western world that gotten away from understanding things as they actually really are. We take it that only what we can see with our eyes is real and that there isn’t another, supernatural world, around us,” he said.  “It’s actually the reverse. The evidence points to something more.”

Freese has authored seven books. Six are ghost stories, with two being fiction and four non-fiction. In his last non-fiction work, Freese writes about five personal, unexplainable encounters.

“When I was 12, I heard a bump in the night, like someone had slammed on the wall,” he said.

His brother heard the sound as well. His mother, however, rejected the notion of anything supernatural occurring.

“She was very logical and didn’t think anything like that could ever happen,” he said.

However, Freese’s mother had an experience that made her change her convictions.

Three weeks after Freese heard the loud sound during the night, his mother was out riding her horse.

As she rode past a family grave yard, she plainly saw a very old man with a gray beard, wearing old and tattered clothes and sitting by a grave.

While she looked at him, her horse stumbled, and she fell off, and when she got up from the ground, the man was gone.

Freese said experiences like that have lead him to believe that sometimes, ghost stories are real.



WHAT:First-person stories from the Civil War

WHO:Storytellers Thomas Freese and Brian Bush

WHEN:6-7 p.m. Thursday

WHERE:Lawn of Shelby County Public Library


MORE INFO:Call 633-3803 or visit www.thomaslfreese.com.