The Galloway Ghost – 1950
White County Historical Society member Fayetta Murray confirms that the story of the Galloway Ghost existed on campus when she came in 1934. She didn’t give the eery tale much credence, though, saying she thought it “was created by the boys to make the girls scoot a little closer.” However, the Galloway legend was fully developed and still alive on November 4, 1950, when student editor Chris Elliott wrote the following for the Harding Bison newspaper.
am told, in hush-hush tones, a story that unfolded years ago in the creaky corners of Godden Hall that plunges my blood to its depths and speeds my pulse to rapidity
The epic began when Galloway College for girls was in full bloom, holding the position of one of the finest educational institutions in the South. The school was young and actively centered around a sweet dame called Gertrude – then one November evening while most of the women were fast asleep, tragedy struck a bitter terrifying blow.
Gertrude came in from a small party with some friends in town, said goodnight to her date, and climbed the stairs to her room. The white, frilly evening gown she wore swishes merrily as she tip-toed down the long corridor. Suddenly she halted – listened for a moment as though she heard a sound – changed her course and began walking cautiously toward the now abandoned three-story elevator shaft. Her long platinum blonde hair rolled across a white neck as she cocked her head to listen again.
A blood-curdling scream rippled through the halls arousing the other girls from slumber, and chaos took command of the dorm. One young lady saw a huge, dark form hurdle by her and disappear down the flight of stairs. An hysterical house mother finally found wits enough to call the police and they found Gertrude at the bottom of the elevator shaft – dead!
The blow had a devastating effect on the students. “Why, Gertie would never get old, much less die,” they had said. “She would always be beautiful, young and vibrant.” And even in death, associates agreed that Gertrude still looked alive. They buried her in her white evening gown.
People began to say things about the college; parents withdrew their daughters; the school began to collapse and in the meantime police found nothing of the supposed killer. Finally the case was dropped under the caption “Accident.”
Several years later, just before Galloway closed down, a freshman awoke at midnight and ambled down the hall for a drink. A harvest moon cut ribbons of light across the walkway. The freshman paused at the elevator shaft and peered through the partly boarded door. She stifled a scream, somehow managed to make it back to her room and awakened her roommate. Just before she dropped into a dead faint she told her roomy, “I could see her in the moonlight, sitting there in a white evening gown, combing her platinum-blonde hair!” Her buddy mustered enough nerve to go down the hall and look. The chick across the hall, brought out of slumber land by the commotion outside, found freshman number two standing speechless, wide-eyed against the opposite wall. “She – she – walked right through the wall to the first floor,” the terrorized freshman gasped.
Again the Dean of Women was called and they peered into the depths of the shaft. “Why,” she consoled them, “there’s nothing down there, silly, except an old comb someone dropped.”
Soon the school shut down, due to financial difficulties.
So now the story goes that Gertrude still walks the halls of Godden on full-moon nights, her frilly white gown rustling as she moves – and it is ridiculous, of course.
It is told that she had said to her friends, “I love this place and never intend to leave it – never.” But, what are Ghostly Gertie’s plans concerning the immediate housing shortage that goes into effect when Godden Hall is wrecked? Will she move to Pattie Cobb? I doubt it. For, with destruction of Godden, so goes the ghost story.
And in the meantime make the most of her, girls – a foursome for Rook is hard to find late at night around these parts.
(Contrary to the writer’s prediction, many say the Galloway Ghost took up residence in the Music Building when Godden Hall was destroyed, shortly after this was written nearly half a century ago.)