Do you believe in ghosts?
For over six decades, employees past and present at WATE-TV have been asking themselves that very question. The unexplained sounds, the flickering of lights, and strange smells have been detected and observed by many who have walked the station’s hallways.
“I could guarantee you, there was somebody frying bacon down in the kitchen,” said former WATE Meteorologist Matt Hinkin. “I walked around the kitchen, up and down and there was nobody else around. I know it was bacon. If not, some ghost has some mighty fine bacon.”
The ghost Hinkin is referring to is believed to be the architect of what is Greystone Mansion, now the home of WATE-TV.
A more recent “sighting” happened in 2021. A producer heading up the grand staircase to the 3rd floor break room caught sight of a man at the top of the staircase. With a second glance, the man was gone. The producer said the man, “was standing there, as real as anyone,” and described the suit as “old fashioned.”
Eldad Cicero Camp built Greystone in the late 1800s after moving to Knoxville from Ohio following the Civil War. A home, that according to some, the former Union Major has never left.
“Working overnights I had to come up to the third floor to warm up my lunch about 1:30 in the morning,” former WATE director Wayne Begarly recalls. “The hair on the back of my neck starts standing up. I felt a breeze come past me. Where did that come from? It’s the Major.”
“The most permanent mark he made is this building. This Greystone building is just gorgeous,” says Dr. Aaron Astor, an associate professor of history at Maryville College. “It’s a statement piece. in the 1880s a mansion like this was unusual.” Unusual for the late 1800s in Knoxville, but a status symbol none the less. “I think he was certainly a spirited guy that would stand up for himself, certainly ambitious. I’m sure he had pretty high opinions of himself.”
Camp was later appointed as District Attorney of East Tennessee by then-President Ulysses S. Grant and became a successful businessman at East Tennessee Coal and Textiles. However, it’s an incident that occurred in downtown Knoxville that will live on in the city’s history.
“There was a man named Henry Ashby who was a confederate colonel from Virginia,” says Astor. “He had been accused by Camp and others of abusing prisoners of war. Union Prisoners of war. They got into an argument where Ashby assaulted Camp with a cane and Camp responded by hitting him with an umbrella.” Astor goes on to explain that the two went their separate ways, only to continue their dispute the following day. “Nobody really knows who pulled out a gun or who did what first, but Camp pulled a gun and shot and killed Ashby.” Camp would be charged with murder but got off on a claim of self-defense. “The next year, President Grant appointed him to District Attorney for East Tennessee. So, get off for murder you get appointed to be a prosecutor,” says Astor.
Ashby would be buried in what is now the Old Gray Cemetery in Knoxville. Ironically, Camp would also be buried in Old Gray following his death in 1920. The two enemies, rest now just yards apart and just a few miles from Camp’s Greystone home.
“He’s watching over his place. It’s still his spot. It always will be his spot” adds Begarly.
Which is a belief not lost on Appalachian Paranormal Investigations when they spent the night at Greystone in 2017.
“We know that there is a woman, a child, and at least one man here,” investigators told our cameras. And when asked whether the mansion is haunted, API Co-founder Joshua Ooten did not mince words, “I do.”
So, do you believe in ghosts?
Here at WATE 6 On Your Side, those who roam these hallways know that they are not alone.
“I’ve heard a lot of stories about Major Camp and what goes on here at night,” says Begarly.
“Are you afraid of the dark?”
” Well, maybe a little here… just maybe.”
Haunted Tennessee is a series of bone-chilling stories that air each October, when the nights grow longer and the chilly hand of winter reaches for the collarbones of East Tennessee residents. Catch the shows on air and online.