In early March of 1871, news of a ghost haunting Memphis’s Brinkley Female College made headlines. The Avalanche and the Public Ledger reported that the ghost wandered and spoke, even mentioning that its name was Lizzie. More dramatically, the chatty phantom claimed to own the property on which the college had been built. The deed and other valuable items, declared the ghost, were buried beside a particular tree stump on campus.
All of this was said to a thirteen-year-old girl named Clara Robertson. Clara was the only witness to the ghostly proclamation, according to the Public Ledger, and her history of suffering from a nervous temperament cast some suspicions on her experience. Nonetheless, her story excited enough interest that a deep hole was dug by that stump. Curious onlookers had to be dispersed by the police. Disappointingly, nothing spectacular was unearthed. The reporter, though, shrewdly predicted, “The ghost of Lizzie is not yet at rest, and we look for further manifestations from this disembodied spirit.”