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Monteagel Mountain, Sewanee TN

University of the South

The University of the South is a small college located atop Monteagle Mountain in Sewanee, TN. Considered by many to be one of the best colleges in the South, it is well known for it’s Episcopal Seminary, as well as it’s very beautiful campus. In all the country, you would have a difficult time finding a more lovely campus.

The University of the South was founded in the late 1860s by Leonidas Polk, a former Confederate General, and an Episcopal Bishop. The school’s rigorous academics and high quality of teachers and students soon made it known across the country as one of the finest schools available. Today, it is still considered that by most.

With it’s rich history, it’s not surprising that this college is said to have a few resident spooks. By far, the most well known is the headless gownsman. The tale is that a former student there died tragically, and now his ghost haunts the campus. The spirit seems to show up the most during homecoming or finals periods. It wears the traditional robe reserved for members of the Order of the Gownsman. His shadowy figure is seen walking around campus, or his head is seen floating around! The head and the body are never attached, however.

There are two different stories of the ghost’s origin. One states that many years ago, there was a young student at the university who loved it there very much. One night, he was driving along one of the narrow and winding roads of Monteagle Mountain when he lost control of his car, and wrecked. The car and his body were mangled very badly, and he was decapitated. Now his body and head haunt the campus. The second story seems the less plausible. According to it, a young seminary student was so fascinated by the books in the library that he spent all his time there, reading and learning. Eventually, his head became so filled with knowledge that his head became to heavy for his body to support, and his head fell off!

These are the most common theories of the origin. Both seem to have problems. The second story’s problems are obvious: a head would not fall off a body because it was filled with knowledge. The first one sounds more reasonable, however, the sightings of the gownsman go back very far in history, possibly all the way back to the 1880s. If this is the case, since no one died in a car wreck in the 1880s, so the first story must also be untrue. Of course, there is no way to prove the story went back that far, so the first tale could be fact. The Gownsman is most commonly spotted in Wyndcliff Hall or Saint Luke’s Hall, though it has been seen all over campus.

Aside from the Headless Gownsman, there is a more disturbing tale on campus. This involves Tuckaway Hall, and a room on the third floor. Campus legend tells that three students who have lived in this room have committed suicide. Now their ghosts haunt Tuckaway Hall, causing mayhem for residents today. Almost anyone who knows the tale will reject any assignment to this room, but there is the occasional student who does not know the history of this room. If you ever attend the University of the South, and are assigned to a room on the third floor of Tuckaway Hall, be careful. You might meet the same fate as three other former residents.



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