Chilling ghost story from Alabama of two young girls who discover the tragic secrets behind a Civil War-era haunted house.

Listen to storyteller Anne Gilstrap narrate “Little Cottage in the Woods”

I would like to share a story with you that my two best friends related to me. Kathy, who had just had her fourteenth birthday, and Nan, her sister, went with their parents to their grandparents’ farm right outside Montgomery, Alabama. It had been a long, hot, boring ride from Atlanta, and having arrived at their grandparents’ farm, they were restless to do something besides watch Mom and Dad busy working to settle the estate.

As they wandered off into the cooler woods gathering wildflowers, they came to a clearing. There, in the middle of the clearing, was a small cottage, run down so badly even the shutters hung at an angle – never again to cover the windows that had lost most of their window panes – and a porch with tall grass, growing where there were no boards.

Spooky Abandoned Cottage in North Georgia Woods

With a sudden burst of recklessness, the girls raced to the cottage. As they reached the half open front door, Kathy called out, “Is there anybody home?” And then they laughed, for of course, there was no one there.

As they came into the front room that at one time may have been pretty, they found it was full of dust and cobwebs, and stuffing falling out of the sofa cushions. Hurrying along to the next room, they found a kitchen with a table set for a meal, looking as if someone had hurriedly left the room, the chair being pushed half way aside at the table.

A growing sense of being watched overwhelmed the girls. They bolted from the room and down the hall.

As they reached the stairs, curiosity overcame their fear, and they climbed the stairs to the second floor. Kathy opened the door to the left of the hallway. “Whew!” she said as she viewed the pretty brass bed with a dirty old quilt that had become home for many different wild animals.

Closing the door, Kathy crossed the hall and gasped as she opened the door. Nan looked over her shoulder and saw a room as neat as a pin, no dust anywhere – a shining floor with an old worn rug, tattered curtains hanging listlessly at the open windows. And there in the middle of the room was a rocking horse, rocking back and forth very fast as if a child had just jumped off.

They watched with fascination as the horse slowed and stopped. As they looked around the room, they saw a child’s bed with a rocking chair beside it, and against the wall on the other side of the room was an old trunk. Quickly the girls moved to the trunk, knelt beside it and opened the lid. Kathy reached in and found a letter that gave her a hint of the occupants of the little cottage. The letter was from a soldier husband fighting in Virginia. He wrote, “I miss you and our little son so very much. It frightens me to think I might not be able to come back home to be with you.”

Putting the letter back, Kathy picked up another and started reading it out loud. Suddenly she grew silent, and Nan saw tears running down her checks. Taking the letter, Nan saw it was from the mother, and it read, “My dearest love, our precious son had pneumonia, and because the doctor was away with the troops, there was no one to save him.”

Nan put the letter back in the trunk, and as she did, her hand touched a piece of parchment. Drawing it out of the trunk, careful not to let the pieces fall away, she read a telegram that had been sent to the soldier in Virginia: “We regret to inform you your wife has taken her life.”

As the girls sat looking at each other through tears, there suddenly seemed to be a presence in the room, and the soft sound of a lullaby could be heard above the hum of the bees. Quickly and carefully, they put the paper back in the trunk, closed the lid, and hurriedly crossed the room. As Nan passed the closet, she felt something brush against her arm. Whirling around, she saw to her horror the rocking chair begin to slowly rock back and forth, and the sound of a lullaby became louder.

The girls frantically dashed down the stairs, out into the yard, and into the safety of the woods. Turning back to look at the little old cottege once again, they saw in the upstairs window a little blond boy watching them. Panicked, they ran through the woods, falling over broken limbs and being scratched by the briars.

When they arrived at the farm, they rushed to tell their father what they had seen. Father listened and then said, “Girls, the story is told that in anguish and grief, the soldier, upon returning home, burned the cottage to the ground. The woods have long ago grown over the clearing where the little cottage once stood. There is no house.”


Little Cottage in the Woods – Story Credits

Written and Told by Anne Gilstrap

Taken from the CD “A Tour of Southern Ghosts”
Copyright 2000 Art Station
Used by permission

Sound Design by Henry Howard

Leave a Reply

This Post Has 73 Comments

  1. This site and the book are the best thing that have ever happened to me because i can just go on this site if i dont wanna get a book book i do require this site .

  2. To Anne Gilstrap, I am a very emotional person and I had to stop and wipe my tears away so I could finish reading this story. Whether or not it be true, it was a very emotional story and I absolutely loved it. I look at all the abandoned houses and cottages and it makes me sad. I wonder what ever happened that people just walk away and abandon their homes. I want to go and feel the sadness and loneliness of what would make someone do that. It breaks my heart to see all the homes sitting and deteriorating. They just look Sad, Pathetic, and sooooo lonely. I always think I would love to go and refurbish it for someone to have a nice home to live in. We have to many homeless people in this world. If more people would think about giving and helping instead of what is in it for them. Oh what a wonderful world. Judi

  3. Janet

    To me, it was more a sad story than scary. It would have been eerie to have walked in and have that happen. I always wonder about that time period – going for months without knowing how your family is, on both sides.

  4. Brandy

    Thanks to my father who told me about this blog, this weblog is actually remarkable.

  5. Somer

    Nice Story And Nice Plotted

    i love this story so much it is really scary too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. taylor

    i loved this story so much!!!!! and really scary too!!!!! I sreamed and fell out of my chair but it was still good!!!!

  7. Lil Bro P.M

    Nice story and nicely plotted


    I loved this story, a little creepy after finding out the cottage was burnt many years prior. An I agree with Bernadette, the narrator added flavor to the story.

  9. BAMAHaintHunter

    so is this a fiction or non-fiction account?? curious as I’m researching Haunted location in and near Montgomery, Alabama.

  10. Eula

    I have had an similar experience, in 1988. However, it did had something to do with an cornor house which disappeared.

    Of course, its the truth and I will take what happen to me, to my grave.

    Nevertheless, I did enjoyed reading that sad story.

  11. Bernadette Williamson

    The narrator on this particular story is PHENOMENAL!! Second only to Kim Stanley of “To Kill A Mockingbird”. Just a beautiful quality and marvelous delivery!

    By the way, I’ve been a scriptwriter/producer for over 30 years…I’ve hired narrators for decades, and I know a great talent when I hear one! Lovely!

  12. maddi

    dude, oissoie that is a creepy comment

  13. Oissie

    lmfao lol 2 funny he died 🙁

  14. Cassandra

    Thats just creepy, but it was a good story!

  15. austinpetty

    hey moonlite road i love your storys everybody in my 5th gade class goes on hear!!!! try putting the witght wolf story on hrar it a good story ok

  16. Cutie Queen ?

    Sorry I mean favorites!!!!!!

  17. Cutie Queen ?

    Awesome very good one of my favorites ?

  18. Katelynn Rosenbaum

    i love this website its so fasinating

  19. mu naw pai

    i really like this story..

  20. nightingale

    Wow..!! good story..

    this story was scary me lol….

    i love it

  21. aeler

    is was good story..

  22. HAWA

    Was there a house for real or was it the girls imagination? since their dad told them that there was no any house in the woods.

  23. HAWA

    i think that this stroy was a little bit scary and wired.

  24. paw

    i don’t really like the story because it creepy and i hate ghost sotry

  25. Dorothy Adams Dupree

    There is nothing sadder than a story like this one, and YES, ghosts do exist, when I was just a little girl, and that was many many years ago, my great-grandfather came to my bedroom window just about dusky dark and said he came to tell me good bye, I cried out for my Mama and grandma, who was his daughter to come and stop him from leaving, but by the time they got in the room he was gone, I cried and cried for hours, and then during the night there was a knock on our door, he had been hit by a train while walking beside the RR tracks, he couldnt leave me without saying goodbye since I was his only great grandchild…oh and by the way, they said the conductor gave them the time of the accident, it was at dusky dark

  26. Emelenne

    I loved it, just creepy enough to be scary. But to Callie, I think the cottage was decrepit and dilapidated to give the sense of the sadness that happened there so the house reflected the feelings of its old occupants.

  27. Dieselden

    Fun to read these “down home” stories. I like the sound effects when added in too. As for them being scary though…….. sorry, not even close.

  28. I agree with carolina it was a great story and i enjoyed it but i am not a big fan of ghost stories myself it was good though thank you for sharing it with everybody 😉

  29. LaughingDove

    Awesome writing Moonlit. Do you have anymore?

  30. LaughingDove

    I loved it! Definitely makes you think about things.

  31. dakota

    It’s very scary

  32. annmarie plair

    it was a g00d st0ry

  33. annmarie plair

    it was very c00l t0 read such g00d st0ry

  34. Sophie

    I thought this was a really good short story. I’m an aspiring author and I think it’s great to read an original work from a creative author. Good Job!

  35. Geneva

    I wonder what the girls did after their father told them that. I would’ve probably, fainted or… I don’t know. It’s strange how things that were torn or burned down, come back for some people, but to others it’s not there. How do things do that? It’s a terrifying wonder. Also I just noticed I typed words that aren’t in my vacablelary…

  36. Eccentric Lady

    Callie –

    It seems (as there are a ton of stories of this phenomenon occurring) that the very earth itself seems to keep a place seeped in sadness, terror, or other very strong emotions intact to be replayed on the date it happened. For instance, there are a lot of reports of old battlefields still waging a war long past in many places; the Tower of London still has the grisly execution of some of its royal victims still being echoed at night; and I’ve heard of a happy occasion still being celebrated even though that day has passed for centuries.

    Just because the physical part of a place may be long gone, doesn’t mean the spiritual essence has dissipated – Time keeps a memory of it it seems!

  37. sk8rat1411

    whoah this is really one of the best stories I have read in a while. whoever wrote this must be a genious

  38. Toby

    Sorry MR, pointing out another typo. It’s “soldier”, not “solider”. Thanks for presenting these great stories!

  39. Kaley White

    It was good, but it didn’t scare me.

  40. Ellen

    Love the story–I’m going to read it to my middle-schoolers today. One small thing–another typo. Cottage, not cottege. Thanks!

  41. Michael

    creepy but sad too!

  42. i really like your stories they are good

  43. Robbie Scifres

    Calli, some of these men were gone so long during the Civil War that when they returned they did find their families dead or gone, never to be seen again. It could have been that when he finally got home (some were a year trying to get home) the house may have very well been in dire need of repair. Other soldiers on the way home may have ripped up the front port to build camp fires. or even slept in the house. It most probably broke his heart and he decided to burn it down. So it is very likely that when it “reappeared” in the story it would look as it did when the father came home from the war. Gosh, I think the “facts” just made this story sadder! What if the letters telling him about the fate of his family had not found him and he didn’t know until he returned home what had happened? And what if by some wierd mistake the wife might have heard that her soldier husband had been in a battle and there were no survivors in his unit? It has been known to happen before. I gotta stop before I cry.

  44. dk rizzs

    Very good story

  45. lily

    This was a very intresting story that had me at the edge of my seat, holding my breath.

  46. Javier M


  47. Misty

    I had to read the story twice. I would love to share this story with my students. I am always looking for short stories that have surprise endings.

  48. chloe

    i love the ending

  49. chloe

    omg i loved the story

  50. dorthy

    it was a good book!!!

  51. Nic

    The ending totally had me!!!! Good one!

  52. t-bone

    Sorry…just wanted to point out the typo…..Cathy vs. Kathy.

    Continuity is very important to keep the suspense

  53. This story was great, it grabs you and doesn’t want to let you go until it is finnished.

  54. tim

    and kind of sad

  55. tim

    wow that was pretty cool not so scary though

  56. nina

    what a sad tale of love lost

  57. Blades of the Moon

    This story was amazing…though i have never heard of such places myself that appear and disappear into nothingness other than a few legends and such…even in folklore such places are rare. I believe they do exist…and there is no way to prove that something doesn’t exist regardless of how much you try.

  58. Michelle

    It was not so much scary as it was sad, so very sad.

  59. wow so creepy i wonder what i would do if it happend to me

  60. Oliver Santos

    well, it could have been more scarier if the ghost chased the girls down the woods… but regardless of that, this story is still good!

  61. Brian

    Wow. That is one of the best ghost stories I’ve ever heard.Lots of detail and just enough creepiness to it. Excellent story.

  62. Callie

    ok but if the guy burned down the house, why did it look like it was all falling apart? Shouldn’t it just have appeared like it was when he burned it?