Shocked what I learned about Jax and it is a place I would never visit

I did not know the reputation of Jacksonville FL included various satanic cults. I swear at times the manner in which evil seems to breed in White Springs among certain people that the vibrations have moved to White Springs.  The only other city mentioned for these rituals was Orlando.

I know that many people get a kick out of checking out haunted buildings but in my lifetime, it is not something I would wish to do knowingly.  People who are sensitive to things such as that may not only see apparitions but may get severe headaches and pain.  At least, I know this is not a place I wish to visit.

What I have learned came from an article of Channel 4 News:

The former Annie Lytle Elementary School, alias Public School Four, has been called the “most haunted place in Jacksonville,” a reputation has covered before. With urban myths abounding, the abandoned landmark is the premier local site for “legend-tripping”: the right of passage in which young adults brave locations associated with frightening legends for purposes of initiation, rebellion, or simple entertainment. 

Legend-trippers started flocking in soon after, attracted by two key qualities: the formidable edifice is foreboding, and yet highly visible. It can be seen from I-95, firing many a youthful imagination and ensuring that well-placed graffiti will be seen by thousands. Around the 1980s, the age of heavy metal and moral panics about satanic cults, the building gained a reputation as a haven of diabolical activity, increasing its legend-tripping cachet and earning it the nickname “The Devil’s School.”

Legend-trips begin with an “introduction”, where trippers recount legends about the destination. The “Devil’s School” is reputed to be haunted, and has accumulated several outrageous legends accounting for this. Common variants tell of schoolchildren killed by a boiler explosion; by a psychotic janitor; or, most absurdly, by a cannibal principal who devoured students sent to the office. As with most tripping situations, the stories have no basis in reality and vary from telling to telling; their true function is to set the appropriate mood for a trip into the tenebrous unknown.

Next comes the “enactment”, or what actually happens on the trip. This may involve “sensing” the resident spirits or performing some designated activity. As nearly any photo of the building shows, enactment at the Devil’s School often involves graffiti tagging. Finally, departing trippers craft “retrospective personal narratives” about their experience to include next time around.

Folklore is the unofficial culture of a community, passed along through word of mouth and other back channels. Folklore is often indelibly tied to place, and is a large part of what makes home feel like home. Here are a few common bits of lore from Jacksonville and the First Coast. How many do you recognize?

Kingsley Plantation, which features the state’s oldest plantation house, 23 slave residences, and associated buildings amid a pristine wetland, is one of Florida’s most important historical sites. As with many similar landmarks, local folklore holds that former residents still haunt the place.

The plantation dates to 1797. From 1814 to 1837, it was owned by the South’s most atypical slaveholders: Zephaniah Kingsley and his wife Anna Madgigine Jai, a Wolof slave he married and later freed. Their family included three other wives and nine mixed-race children. A comparatively humane slave master, Kingsley lobbied against increasingly restrictive slavery laws adopted after the U.S. acquired Florida in 1822. When these efforts failed, the Kingsleys moved to Haiti. The property came into public hands in 1955 and became a national park in 1991. 

Legends that Kingsley Plantation was haunted spread just after it became a park.  The plantation’s historic architecture and sublime surroundings encourage ghost stories, and its status as a national park gives it a core of dedicated caretakers who foster its lore and pass it to visitors. Easily the most famous of the plantation ghosts is Old Red Eyes, who’s been spotted since 1978. The story goes that he was a slave who raped and killed girls in the slave quarters until the others caught him and lynched him from an oak tree beside the roadway. The villain’s ghost still appears as a pair of glowing eyes in the woods.  The legend relies on some nasty old tropes – mobs used stories like this to rationalize lynching.   However, it’s worth noting that the legend portrays Red Eyes’ deeds as crimes against and avenged by slaves. This development may reflect the unusual social dynamic of the Kingsley days, a legacy the park’s staff fastidiously memorialize.

Leave a Reply