“Gee [grandma]’s house is lowkey haunted, it’s messed up. The man who Gee got the deed to their land from, we call him Old Man Hattfield. When my mom and my aunt were growing up they would come home from basketball games really late at night, and one night they came from the back door. They came around the corner and my mom swears that she saw a man at the top of the stairs, and then by the time that my aunt and Gee got over there the man was gone, they didn’t see him. Obviously my mom was freaking out, she was scared to death. So they all went upstairs, there was nobody up there, the windows weren’t open, there was no way anyone could’ve gotten there. They think it was Old Man Hattfield, my friends still refuse to go upstairs at Gee’s house because they think it’s haunted by Old Man Hattfield. . That’s one story. Gee has another story about this dress. So when they bought the land it was from debt, so I think with the deed to the land came other things like this pocket watch and this wedding dress. It’s this white wedding dress, and I don’t know who’s it was, but Gee had this dress up until maybe 10 years ago until she finally got rid of it. She’d wake up in the middle of the night and swear she saw a woman wearing this dress at the foot of her bed. So eventually she was like, “I’m tired of this, I’m gonna burn this dress.” So she sets it out in the burn pile. But then she’s going through their stuff at least five years later, and the dreams had not stopped. So she didn’t know what happened, she thought the dress had been burned. Then she found the dress inside the house in a drawer, and she’s like “what is this? How is this dress here?” And she asked Papa and he said “Yeah I saw you put it in the burn pile but I put it back in the house.” They burned it after that and the dreams stopped.
GR is a 19-year-old college student from a small town in Arkansas. His grandma, Gee, has told him this story, and many members of the family believe that Gee’s house is haunted.
The figure of a ghost woman in a wedding dress is a pretty common one. She’s seen in La Llorona, a ghost women who walks around in a white dress, and there are many other versions of the “White Lady,” female ghosts in white dresses. The white dress is commonly associated with wedding dresses, and in this story the ghost is in a wedding dress. The wedding is a huge important ritual for a community, and it’s a large moment of shifting identity for women. They go from being part of one family to another, from being in the pre-reproduction phase of their life to being ready for reproduction. From a maiden to a wife, soon to be a mother. Weddings are a moment of liminality, where magic often happens. Ghosts are another figure of liminality, where they’re not quite alive and not quite dead. They’re not in this world, but they’re not in the next. The ghost bride can represent anxieties of when the marriage ritual goes wrong, just like how the ghost comes about from the death rituals going wrong. The wedding ritual is very important to a community, because it brings about new members of the community, but it’s also very anxiety inducing for the bride, because a lot can go wrong in this new identity and in the moment between the two identities. It’s also frightening for people to see these ghost brides because weddings are often supposed to be a large celebration of happiness, and people don’t like to acknowledge when they are not. However, oftentimes throughout different cultures weddings are not a moment of happiness for the bride. They could be just an economic situation, they could’ve been forced into the marriage, they could be a child, the marriage could tie them potentially forever to a bad person. There are a lot of negative things that can be associated with marriages, but people like to turn away from those. That’s why the ghost bride comes out, as a representation of all the anxieties that moment of liminality can bring. Studying a specific ghost bride figure can also tell you a lot about women’s place in that specific culture.