BUILT: c. 1860
STATUS: Still standing
Located in Kinston, one of the state’s smallest towns, Harrison Cemetery holds 159 burial sites.
William “Grancer” Harrison
William Harrison, Jr. was born in Old District 96, Edgefield Co, South Carolina around 1789. His father, William Harrison, Sr. was a veteran of the Revolutionary War and was buried in the cemetery. Harrison, Jr. came to Alabama from Virginia and built a house near the Pea River during the 1840s. He was a successful cotton planter, plantation owner, and businessman, known for his hospitable disposition. His nickname “Grancer” originated from the term “grand sire,” meaning grandfather. Most tellings of the urban legend incorrectly attribute the name to a mispronunciation of “grand sir” made by local slaves. Grancer was notorious for his spectacular parties. His slaves erected a dance hall to accommodate his lavish barbecues, square dances, and horse races.
After decades of success, the aging square dancer began to face his mortality by preparing his funeral arrangements. His slaves began construction on an above-ground brick tomb within earshot of the hall, as he desired to be a part of the action even after death. Grancer had specific burial instructions: he wanted to be buried wearing his dancing clothes and shoes and to be laid to rest atop his feather bed. In 1860, Grancer Harrison passed away and his wishes were carried out to his exact request. Saturday night dances continued for a while following his death, but they soon fell to ruin without Grancer’s lively leadership.
Grancer Harrison has been affectionately dubbed “the Dancing Ghost.” Passersby of the tomb have reported hearing a strained fiddle, dancing, laughter, and the tapping of clogs, usually on Saturday nights. Some have heard a male voice calling square dance moves. Grancer has also been sighted dancing by his gravesite.
Over the years, Grancer Harrison’s grave has been vandalized and reconstructed a number of cases. In 1964, the tomb was blown up with dynamite, scattering remains across the cemetery. The latest incident took place on July 30, 2010, which left the entire Harrison Cemetery damaged.
In Pop Culture
- The story of Grancer Harrison was featured in Kathryn Tucker Windham’s 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffreyin the story titled “The Dancing Ghost of Grancer Harrison.” It claims he was buried with or his hall was built atop a considerable amount of gold.
- Alabama. “9 of Alabama’s Spookiest Cemeteries,” www.AL.com
- Hauck, Dennis William. Haunted Places: The National Directory
- Mystery 411. “Harrison Cemetery,” www.Mystery411.com
- Only In Your State. “Harrison Cemetery Is One Of Alabama’s Spookiest Cemeteries,” www.OnlyInYourState.com
- Way Marking. “Harrison Cemetery,” www.WayMarking.com
- Wikipedia. “Grancer Harrison,” www.Wikipedia.org
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