Articles & Stories

FOR YOUR INFORMATION

In addition to historical material gathered by our editor, The Kentucky Explorer is a unique magazine in that many of our articles and stories are submitted by readers, just like you. "Budding" authors have had their first stories published here at absolutely no charge, but the good news is that you don't have to be a professional writer to contribute.

There are a few basic guidelines and requirements, but they are rather simple:

(1) The material must be original and non-copyrighted;

(2) It must have a general interest to all Kentuckians;

(3) All stories and articles should be factual. Don't worry about spelling or grammar. We'll take care of that;

(4) Your stories should be accompanied by appropriate photographs and/or illustrations. Since the backlog of material is generally quite large, stories with the best photos and illustrations stand a better chance of being published; and

(5) Stories should be submitted in typewritten form, whenever possible, but may also be handwritten or printed. If submitting typewritten material, please use double-spaced lines and upper/lower case lettering. Do not use all caps or fancy fonts!

The Kentucky Explorer prides itself in the quality of articles and stories found in our magazine each month. The pages of the May 2001 issue has 22 of them, all interesting and unique. We invite you to view the "Table of Contents" this month, if you haven't already done so.


Here is a complete story found in our November 2001 issue:
The Old Starch House Ghosts

Author's Note: This is a true story about a two-story brick plantation mansion on Lowes Cross Road, between Paducah and Mayfield in McCracken County, Kentucky. This house has been owned by only two families since the time it was built by slave labor in 1856. The original owners, my Breckenridge ancestors, lost most of their wealth as a result of the Civil War and sold the mansion and adjoining farm land to the Starch family. These were German immigrants who fled their homeland as the result of political oppression from Adolph Hitler.

By Robert G. Breckenridge - 2001

Like any good hardworking farm family, the Starch family lived a relatively quiet existence, until around 1939. Germany was feeling another political takeover, this time by Adolf Hitler.

In an effort to flee this uprising, many of the Starch family escaped and came to America. All went to live with friends and relatives upon arrival in this country; including one man, known only as Martin, and his young wife, who found their way to the Starch farm.

Everything went well for the first few weeks, until agents from Germany, all members of Hitler's SS corps, began slipping into this country. Their purpose, along with stealing information from Uncle Sam, was to seek out and cruelly murder certain German escapees, making examples of them.

As history goes, some of the SS agents found the Starch farm one snowy January night in 1940. What followed can only be imagined, knowing now what the SS was guilty of during those times. When the visit was over, a section at the end of the hall on the second floor was walled up, concealing what was left of four adults.


This 1894 photo (below, right), taken around Halloween, shows newlyweds Joseph Sidney and Ivy Virginia Housman Breckenridge standing in front of the old Breckenridge homeplace on Lowes Cross Road, between Paducah and Mayfield in McCracken County, Kentucky. The house was originally built by a relative, John Cook, in 1856. The family later sold the house and property to the Starch family, who were immigrants from Germany. (Photo courtesy of the author, Robert G. Breckenridge.)
In the spring of 1946 heirs from the East Coast claimed the house and moved in after general repairs; with the exception of the walled-up hall on the second floor, which appeared to be a part of the house.

During the first snowfall that following winter, in the dead of night, there came a banging on the front door. Before the occupants could get downstairs, the front door flew open. There in the doorway were shadows of three figures dressed in black topcoats and hats to match.

Next, these black figures seemed to be moving around wildly in the front room. Screams of men and women were heard, like an echo. In a few moments, all was quiet; except for the front door, which slammed back and forth, assisted by the wind.

Closer inspection of the house revealed nothing, except bloodstains on the stairway leading down the hall to the section that had been walled-up years before. The bloodstains were as fresh as they had been six years before; yet, by the next morning, they were gone without a trace.

This happened again several times during the winter of 1946, but only on the nights of a fresh snow.

The family inquired of neighboring families, the closest being nearly a mile away, who said there had been many strange things about that house, since the family disappeared in 1940 without a trace. They all reported that several foreign people, who spoke very poor English, had been asking directions on how to find the Starch farm one snowy, winter night in January 1940. Afterwards the family was never seen or heard from again.

That spring the heirs tore down the second floor of this century-old mansion. They were told by an old fortuneteller in Paducah, Kentucky, what they would find in the wall of the hallway at the north end of the second floor. Sure enough, human remains were discovered and were then buried in unmarked graves at the back of the old farm.

Until the early 1960s the old homeplace stood as a one-story house. The bricks taken from the house were neatly stacked for anyone who would haul them away, but no one would take the bricks, or even remove them for pay.

Some used to say that when snow covered the bricks in the wintertime, passersby along the winding, country road in front of the old house could hear an eerie sound, like a scream from the past.

On my last trip into the area in the mid-1960s, I drove back to see the remains of the old house, to see if anyone still lived there. The old wooden bridge had washed out, and I was told that the house had burned to the ground the January before. Yes, it was snowing that night!

To my knowledge, today, all that remains of this once-upon-a-time happy plantation home is one brick, two square nails, and a family photo taken when my grandmother was married in the 1890s in front of the old house.
I have held that one brick up to my ears on snowy nights, and sometimes I can almost hear something from the past. However, I don't think I would ever admit to having heard any screams.

Since I've never seen a ghost, personally, I don't really believe in them.

R. G. Breckenridge, 3202 Maple Road, Louisville, KY 40299, shares this story and photograph with our readers.



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