Today we have another “tanential” post… hey, you all like ghosts, right? Doomed romance? Maybe this isn’t so tangential after all.
One of Tennessee’s most legendary haunted locations is on the grounds of Tennessee Wesleyan University in Athens. I drive through Athens all the time, but have never stopped at the site of the Nocatula legend. I finally decided to check it out, and the spot is marked by the beautiful statues that you see in the photos.
From the sign:
“A wounded English soldier from Fort Loudon was befriended by an Indian chief and nursed back to health by Nocatula, daughter of the Chief. The soldier, given the name of Connestoga, “The Oak,” was accepted into the tribe and married Nocatula. A jealous suitor attacked Connestoga with a knife. As he lay dying Nocatula confessed her eternal love and plunged a knife into her breast. Buried together, the Chief placed an acorn in Connestoga’s hand and a hackberry in Nocatula’s hand, symbolizing undying love. From these there developed two trees which stood on this spot for 150 years.”
The hackberry tree became diseased in 1945 with the oak withering not long afterwards. Legend (and regional “true ghost stories” books) has it that this tranquil area is now haunted by shadowy figures and mysterious whispers.
Do I believe in these ghostly rumors? No, not really. But as I like to say, sometimes a good legend is interesting enough.