I’m serious. No, really. I am.
I have recently secured top secret information that my 4th Great-Grandfather is haunting the residents of Jackson County, Florida, and is known as “The Ghost of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church”.
Ok, it’s not really top secret, any google search for Francis Tyler Allen, aged 76, who died at the Battle of Marianna, in Jackson Co., Florida on the 27th day of September, in the year of our Lord 1864, will tell you that he was burned alive in a church by Union soldiers and that he still haunts the area.
I wrote a while back about my unusual attachment to the dead, I never dreamed when I wrote that a couple of years ago that I would actually, maybe, not really, but I should, call in some people to send gramps to the other side.
I mean, really, how can I leave him out there floating around in despair?
I’m sure you would really like some clarification of the actual events, and I will do my best to relay what I have found. First, here is my link to Frank Allen.
First, I had this bible record, of my 3rd great-grandfather, John James Triggs. He was married to Nancy Allen, my 3rd great-grandmother and the daughter of Frank Allen. In this bible record, recording the date of his wife’s birth, John Triggs writes, “Nancy Allen was born in Columbia County, Georgia September 21, 1821. She was the daughter of Francis T. Allen and Jane Allen”
Then I found Frank’s headstone on Find A Grave.
So I thought, ‘Battle of Marianna? Let me just see what I can find out about that.’ Which led me to the website of “The West Florida War” by Dale A. Cox. He states the following regarding Frank Allen:
Allen, Francis “Frank.” A senior deacon and Sunday School leader at the Greenwood Baptist Church, the 76-year-old Allen was the oldest man killed in the Battle of Marianna. His body was burned beyond recognition in St. Luke’s Church.
NO WAY!!!!! I’m not going to lie, I cried. What a horrible way to go. My gramps must have suffered something horrible. To further my pain in this situation, I ordered Dale’s book, “The Battle of Marianna, Florida” to which I found this account by Armstrong Purdee, an eight year old boy who watched the scene from horseback.
All of the soldiers were off their horses. Orders were given to fire the church. Three men, two with long poles, and one with what seemed to me to be a can, threw something up on the church and the other two having something on the end of their poles, seemed to rub it high as the poles would reach, after which something like twisted paper was lighted and placed to whatever was put on the church and it blazed up. Men were shot down as they came out of the building.
Only Frank Allen didn’t run out of the building, he stayed inside. Along with three other men, John Carter, Littleton Myrick, and Woodbury Nickels.
According to the West Florida News, on October 3, 1864, Frank and John Carter were “only recognized by articles on their persons, or the parts of their bodies not entirely consumed.”
How horrific!!! There is greater detail of this battle and of the firing of the church inside Dale Cox’s book. It’s an interesting read, but tragic for me. My poor gramps. What a hero! The sacrifice he made that day, is the reason I am here today, and I will forever be grateful for that. I’ve reached out to Dale Cox, and I hope I hear back from him. I would love to know if Mr. Cox can shed more light on this whole situation for me, and give me more information on Frank.
Now let’s get to the root of this blog post, according to another one of Dale Cox’s books, “The Ghost of Bellamy Bridge“, Frank is still hanging around as the “Ghost of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church”. Here’s a small clip from Dale’s very interesting book:
According to accounts given by several elderly members of the church in the 1980’s, St. Luke’s was said to be haunted by the shadowy figure of a Confederate soldier. He supposedly frequented the lower levels of the church and could be seen there at night, drifting along and apparently oblivious to those who witnessed him. The figure was invariably described as an “old man, with a long beard.” He carried a musket and never spoke or otherwise recognized that he was appearing to the people in a time other than his own.
Of the two men found inside the ruins of the church (after the burning in 1864, John Carter age 22 and Frank Allen age 76), only Francis Allen would match the description of the elderly ghost. At age 76, he was one of the oldest men to fight in the battle. Since the ghost is described as an elderly man with a long beard, it seems likely that it represents Mr. Allen, although no photograph or portrait of him is known to survive.
Nooooooo. Say it isn’t so. Now I’m going to have to find Steve Di Schiavi and Amy Allen (Wait, what? What if Frank is her ancestor too??) and see if they can put gramps to rest. I don’t know how much I believe in all that ghost stuff for real, but if there is any chance my gramps is hanging around reliving the most horrible day of his life, and his death, that’s got to stop.
If this doesn’t work, who you gonna call? Ghost Busters!! Sorry, I had too. I’m an 80’s girl and with the recent remake of the movie, which I LOVED, I just had to go there.
Either way, maybe next summer I’ll have an opportunity to take a road trip down to Jackson County, Florida and see if I can get gramps put to rest. I would say after 152 years, it’s time he got a well deserved break.