The Pickens County Courthouse

April 29, 2008

Carrollton, Alabama

9:00pm – 2:30pm

















The Pickens County Courthouse in Carrollton, Alabama is a courthouse, constructed between 1877 and 1888, in West Alabama. The Courthouse is famous for a ghostly image that can be seen in one of its windows. The image is said to be the face of Henry Wells, who, as legend has it, was falsely accused of burning down the town’s previous courthouse, and lynched on a stormy night in 1878. The story of the appearance of the face in the courthouse window seems to be a combination of two actual events: that of the lynching of Nathaniel Pierce, and that of the capture of Henry Wells.

According to the West Alabamian, which was Carrollton’s only newspaper at the time of the events, Nathaniel Pierce was being held for murder when, on September 26, 1877, an armed mob forced their way into the jail where Pierce was being held, took him outside the city, and killed him. There was no indication that Pierce’s lynching had anything to do with the burning of the courthouse.

The town suspected Henry Wells and an accomplice, Bill Buckhalter, of the crime. A story in the West Alabamian on December 13, 1876 said that Henry Wells and Bill Buckhalter were suspected of robbing a store on the night the courtroom was burned. The story also reported that stolen merchandise from the store was found in their homes.

Wells’ accomplice, Buckhalter, was finally arrested in January of 1878. Buckhalter confessed to the burglary, and blamed Wells for the burning of the courthouse. Wells was caught a few days later. When confronted by the police, he tried to flee, and was shot twice. He confessed to burning the courthouse, and died from his wounds five days later.

Although it is clear that these two events were combined into the commonly told story of how the face appeared in the courthouse window, neither of the two men could be the “face in the window.” In fact, both Pierce and Wells died before the windows were ever installed in the new courthouse. The West Alabamian reported that windows were being installed in the courthouse on February 20, 1878. These windows were the windows in the main courtroom, which were the first windows installed due to a court session due to take place in the middle of March. The garret windows, including the one with the ghostly face, were not installed until weeks after Wells’ death.


Variations of the story are featured in Kathryn Tucker Windham’s “13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey”,“Phantom Army of the Civil War and Other Southern Ghost Stories,” edited by Frank Spaeth, and “Ghost Stories from the American South,” edited by W.K. McNeil.

Reports of Paranormal activity at the Courthouse include disembodied voices, shadow people, and unexplained noises.


Digital cameras, Digital Voice Recorders, Sony Handycams with the Nightshot feature, EMF Meter, Infrared Digital Temperature Scanner, 4-channel DVR system with Infrared Cameras.


Taken with digital cameras.











Taken With Digital Voice Recorders






Recorded by: David Higdon Location: Hallway


Recorded by: Mike Corley Location: Courtroom

“Get Out” 

Recorded by: Mike Corley Location: Courtroom

“Helps A Lot” 

Recorded by: Mike Corley Location: Courtroom

“That Was Weird” 

Recorded by: Mike Corley Location: Courtroom

“Camera Feed Camera Camera” 

Recorded by: Mike Corley Location: Courtroom


Recorded by: Mike Corley Location: Courtroom


Recorded by: Mike Corley Location: Courtroom


Recorded by: Mike Corley Location: Courtroom

“Humans are Coming-Get Out of Here” 

Recorded by: Mike Corley Location: Courtroom

“I Was Blinded” 

Recorded by: Mike Corley Location: Courtroom


Recorded by: Mike Corley Location: Courtroom

“Taylor-Taylor At Home” (2 Voices) 

Recorded by: Mike Corley Location: Courtroom

“I’m Here Too” 

Recorded by: Mike Corley Location: Courtroom


Recorded by: Mike Corley Location: Courtroom



4-channel DVR system with Infrared Cameras