Today I have a guest blogger: my brother Paul. He was only about six or seven years old when he saw the holy grail of paranormal phenomena: apparitions.
In passing let me note that this experience dates back to about 1970, before the Little Tennessee River was dammed up to form what is now Tellico Lake; the Tellico River came down from the mountains and emptied into the Little T, as did the creek. Citico is a little mountain community at the back of beyond.
And Paul wasn’t the only one to see the apparitions; our dad and maternal uncle were also witnesses.
I have done only one bit of editing; otherwise, this story is told just as Paul sent it to me in a recent email.
Sometime back in the early 1970s , me and Dad run trot lines across the mouth of the Tellico River. At that time, before Tellico Lake was built, the mouth of the river was where the old highway bridge sticks up out of the lake there at the new marina.
Anyways, one day me, Dad, and my Uncle George got in a little ole 14 foot flat bottom boat and went out to check the trot lines. After we finished with that Dad fired the boat up and we headed up the river towards Citico. I don’t remember how far up we got but we went as far as that little 8 horsepower West Bend motor would push the boat. So Dad turned the boat around, raised the motor out of the water and we started floating back down the river.
Well, we got down there a ways til we come to the mouth of a creek (Dad said it was 9 Mile Creek, I don’t know) and for some reason or another Dad decided to see how far up the creek we could get the boat. There was two paddles and Dad got one of them and Uncle George, who was in the front, got the other and we began to make our way up the creek.
We got up in there a ways and the creek made a turn to the left. We started around the turn, and all the sudden, right in front of us, was a canoe with what appeared to be two Indians in it. We got so close to them the boats almost hit.
Dad and Uncle George began to back paddle to keep from hitting this canoe. From my seat in the middle, I could see that there was two people in the canoe, both with long, black hair, both with no shirt on, and the one in the back had a feather in his hair. The canoe looked like it could’ve been a dugout–it wasn’t a modern metal canoe by a long shot.
Now—if you was riding in a canoe and all of a sudden you nearly got run over by a boat, you’d probably get a little bit mad, wouldn’t you? Well, these two fellers in this canoe didn’t. They never said a word, they never looked back at us, in fact, they never give any sign that they heard us coming. The one in the back was paddling from the left side, and he didn’t slow down or anything as they went around the curve. In the meantime, Dad and Uncle George got the boat backed away from them. I stood up to see where they went but Dad told me to set down and not be standing up in the boat.
After a few seconds, we moved on back in the direction the canoe was going. I guess Dad meant to apologize for nearly runnin’ over them. We went around the corner—–and there wasn’t nothing there… No wake where a boat had went, in fact, the creek was straight so we coulda seen them. The bank was high, so there was no way they coulda pulled the canoe out and up the bank without us seeing them.
We set there for a minute, looking around. No sign of them, no sign of anything being drug up the bank, no nothing but the creek and the bank and the birds singing. Otherwise, total silence.
“Where’d they go?” I finally said. No answer. Dad and Uncle George just set there looking around.
Without a word, Dad and Uncle George began to ease back down the creek toward the river, both looking in the direction of the river. I set there in the middle, facing the way we was leaving, and watched till we were back in the main channel of the river.
Dad dropped the motor back in the water and fired ‘er up and we started off down the river. I remember not a word was spoken all the way back to the car. I reckon when we got home Dad told Mama we’d seen some Indians, but he never said a word about it to anyone for the rest of his life. I only found out a year or so ago that he’d told Mama about it.
Since that day, every time I find myself around Fort Loudoun, I find myself looking back up the river the direction we’d went that day so many years ago. In fact, I never said anything myself about it till one day at the fort my daughter Amanda asked me what was I looking at when she noticed me looking that way, and that was the first time in 40 years I said anything, when I told this story to her.
To this day, I still look up the river and think back to that day. I can still in my mind’s eye, see the canoe and the two Indians as plain as if it was yesterday. I would love to get a boat and ride back up in that direction, but unfortunately, Tellico Lake has covered up the whole area and I wouldn’t have the slightest idea where to look for the creek we went up now.
Now some folks might not believe in haints, but when I tell people this story today, I make sure to assure them that if I’m lying about any of it that we’ll get struck down. I’m still here and the folks I’ve told this to is still here, so we ain’t got struck down. I believe in haints to a good degree, but simply because I’ve seen them.
In this part of the country, the men in the canoe would have been Cherokee. More than likely, this was/is a “stone tape” type of haunting: two spirits repeating an action they may have performed many times in life. This one time, they were seen.
Paul is wrong about one small detail. Dad did tell this story–to me at least–many times. In his telling, though, the canoe and its oarsmen came up from behind the boat, barreled past it, and turned up the creek before Dad and George could recover from their surprise and follow them.
Dad was never especially comfortable with things he couldn’t explain. . .
We’ve never asked Uncle George if he remembers that day, but we aim to sometime.
And before you ask: yes, I am envious as hell–because for all that I live in a house haunted by voices, footsteps, and phantom smells, and have been a collector and re-teller of ghost stories for most of my life, I have yet to see an apparition.
Many thanks to Paul for this exceptionally vivid true account.
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