Mysteries Make For Good Stories But At What Cost?

aerial view of islands and coves
Via Flickr
Adé Hennis
May 22, 2024

It’s a battle that’s lasted forever: mystery vs. reality. Which side wins?

#1: Lake Lanier 

 Stories about Georgia’s Lake Lanier being haunted are often linked to tales of a cemetery in the lake. The truth is that the Black residents of Oscarville were chased out of town by a racist mob in 1912. Some residents drowned in the Chattahoochee River while fleeing for their lives.

#2: Madame LaLaurie 

 Before Jeffrey Dahmer, there was Madame LaLaurie of New Orleans, a serial killer in the 1830s who tortured enslaved people, sometimes gouging out their eyes or filling their mouths with excrement before sewing them shut. But the only mystery people care about now is where she’s buried.

#3: Hog Alley, Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia

 Dangerfield Newby only wanted to free his wife and children from enslavement.  When his former enslaver double-crossed him, he vowed revenge. Newby helped plan the raid on Harper’s Ferry alongside John Brown. But while the raid was centuries ago, many claim a mysterious form roaming the streets still exists today.

Mysteries can make for good stories, but they still don’t overshadow the truth of our history. When it comes to whitewashing the truth, there’s no doubt we must be responsible for telling and honoring our own stories.