This is another place I have been to numerous times. The history of these places is truly fascinating so I will share the true stories before I discuss the local legends.
Purdy was once the county seat of McNairy County and home to Purdy University. The area surrounding Purdy Cemetery and Hurst Mansion was once referred to as “Hurst Nation”. A prominent man by the name of Fielding Hurst owned Hurst Mansion and much of the land surrounding it.
During the Civil War, Hurst became a Union sympathizer and joined the Union Army as colonel of the 6th Tennessee Cavalry. He murdered many of his neighbors and burnt town the entire town of Purdy, excluding only his own home. Of course, this makes Hurst Mansion the oldest existing structure in the town. He also burnt down parts of Jackson, TN after extorting over $5,000 from them.
In the last years of his life, Hurst was forced to sell his home and he and his wife, Melocky, moved to the Mount Gilead area. It was there that he died (in his 70′s) and is buried in Mount Gilead Cemetery. His grave has been vandalized several times.
The Hurst Mansion was purchased by the Dodds, who owned the home until 1993. This home is posted and trespassing is strongly discouraged. Please be respectful.
Local legend says that you can hear soldiers and slaves in Purdy Cemetery. Some people say they have seen a horse drawn carriage. Others say that if you park on the left side of the circle your car will not start until dawn.
After many visits, I can only say this: I have never heard soldiers or slaves. We did hear a scream from the woods which could very possibly have been a local prankster. We did have a vehicle stall for five minutes on the left side of the circle but I believe it was a starter going bad. Aside from that, it is still interesting to visit as it is one of the oldest cemeteries in Tennessee dating back to the early 1800′s. I will be visiting Purdy Cemetery very soon as it has been years since my last visit and many of my friends are interested in going. I will provide an update after my visit.
Hurst Mansion was always a place we overlooked, really. It was not until recently that I read the history of this house. Local legend says one of Hurst’s many enemies shot at him from the bottom of the stair case and he died in his bedroom. (Hurst DID NOT die in this house. He died in Mount Gilead.) They say sometimes the blood spot will reappear and you can hear him scream. This is highly unlikely since he did not die there. However, I have seen several photographs of Hurst House with a ghostly face in one of the upstairs windows. When I compared the image to photos of Hurst, you can see a resemblance. (You can see these images for yourself on http://www.hurstnation.com.)
I will be taking a closer look at Hurst Mansion and taking my own photographs to see if this phenomena repeats itself. Please note: I will NOT be trespassing on the property. I will take my photos from the roadway. If you decide to visit, please respect the owner’s wishes and do the same.
I will post pictures and updates after my visit.