A Haunted Organ in Gadsden: Psychic phenomenon…real or not?


The supernatural is defined as things that defy scientific explanation, such as ghosts, ghouls, goblins, wizards, druids and Stonehenge.

What we can touch, and feel is much more real to us, as humans, but what of the physical apparitions? Are they any less a reality?

So many of us, as physically unimpaired humans, rely so stringently upon the basic senses. Yet, what if we could not hear, could not see and could not touch?

Back around high school days from 1971 through 1973, The Vagabond took art classes with the late Margaret Hand and painted many oil paintings. Margaret was well known statewide for her paintings of state officials.

Twenty years later, The Vagabond published a tabloid called Gadsden Area Pride. One day The Vagabond had his friend Vicki G. Street visit Margaret and Ed Hand at Margaret’s art studio for a story.

It was on this occasion that Vicki found out about Margaret’s “Haunted Organ.”  Vickie writes:

“Enter for a while to the world of the unexplained. Open your mind. Stretch your imagination, just a little. Enter the parlor of Mrs. Margaret Hand’s Studio of Art.

“Margaret Hand, a woman of international fame – intelligent, beautiful, extraordinarily skillful and a sorceress of pigments and magnified human characteristics.

“She is beyond belief in her conceptions and perceptions of a human. One would swear that her paintings live, breathe and have conscious thought and character … they are far more than mere canvas and oil. They are viable.

“Everything about Mrs. Hand is alive.

“It takes an extraordinary person to call on that strength, that other resource, which we all possess, to venture beyond our ‘accepted,’ human capacities.

“Against one wall of the parlor stands a Reed Organ, or pump organ.

“Falling quite comfortably into a lovely chair and settling in to hear the story of the Haunted Organ, I continued to become more and more enchanted with my surroundings in this space.

“Mrs. Hand settled down on the stool of the organ facing me and began telling me the story of the organ in a quiet and compelling voice.

“I will try to relate the story to you, as she did, to me.

“It seems that years ago, a lady who was an acquaintance of Mrs. Hand acquired a Reed Organ.

“She informed Mrs. Hand of the acquisition and also related that to her dismay that the organ did not go well with her ‘modern’ furniture.

“The organ was made by the Farrand Company from Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Because of work with which she was involved, Mrs. Hand was quite interested in the city which was the home of the organ.

“Mrs. Hand’s husband Ed is a widely recognized musician and music theorist. So consequently, she was also interested in the organ, from a musical standpoint.

“It seems that the owner of the organ began to have dreams about the instrument, but not just of the instrument itself.

“She began to dream that she saw a woman standing beside the organ, looking at her with disapproval.

“After having these dreams for a period of time, one morning as she was walking towards her breakfast room she saw the woman who had been in her dreams come gliding towards her and looked directly at her.

“The owner then called Mrs. Hand, as she was scared out of her wits and explained what had happened to her.

“She informed Mrs. Hand that she wanted the organ removed from her home before nightfall.

“As Mrs. Hand was interested in the organ anyway, she became the new owner of the instrument.

“It seems that Mrs. Hand’s mother had also been an organist. Mrs. Hand tried for 15 years to conjure the ‘dream lady’ to no avail.

“One day, however, while her children and grandchild were visiting, Mrs. Hand directed her granddaughter downstairs to go get her tea set before they were to leave.

“The organ, at this time, was downstairs. Mrs. Hand’s granddaughter was four years old and had no knowledge of the ‘dream lady.’

“The child came back upstairs and told her this: ‘Nana, the lady at the pump organ said to tell you she was down there.’        

“She then told Mrs. Hand that the lady at the organ had told her not to touch or play the organ.

“The child replied to the dream lady’ that she could because her Nana said she could.

“When asked by Mrs. Hand if she recalled anything else of physical interest about the ‘dream lady,’ the child reported that the lady had black buttons” sewn all over her face.

“Through many years, this granddaughter continued to tell the story of the ‘dream lady’ over and over.

“Eventually, the Reed Organ was moved to Mrs. Hand’s studio on Broad Street.

“A psychic (who was also a nurse) from Fort Payne, having heard of the unusual instrument and the ‘dream lady,’ came inquiring of such.

“She told Mrs. Hand that she believed she might be able to conjure a vision of the ‘dream lady’ and perhaps learn more about her.

“With her eyes closed, she related to Mrs. Hand that she saw a house beside a river with a white picket fence surrounding it.

“Then she saw the ‘dream lady’ standing nearby the house and exclaimed, ‘Oh, my goodness! The poor woman must have died of lupus! She has black warts all over her face!’

“The psychic then asked Mrs. Hand to place in her hands the original book and manual that came with the Reed Organ.

“She then turned to Page 4 of the manual and placed her hand on it.

“She asked Mrs. Hand if there would be any reason why the ‘dream lady’ would want her to turn to that page in particular.

“Mrs. Hand replied that one of the pedals was sticking.

“The psychic told Mrs. Hand that the ‘dream lady,’ or the original owner, was wanting the organ to be repaired.

“The psychic also informed Mrs. Hand that the original owner was not to be feared.

“She was acting as a ‘guardian angel,’ a quite harmless and wonderful lady.

“The psychic knew nothing of the experience which Mrs. Hand’s granddaughter had years before.”

The original author of this story, Vicki G. Street, is also a musician who spent many years playing a pump organ very similar to the one described within this story.

She played the instrument that day – the mysterious ‘haunted’ organ. Of course, she had to.

Mr. Hand had joined them in the parlor by this time.

Vicki said: “I can tell you, that as I closed my eyes and played the organ and as the sound of, “Amazing Grace” and strains of Chopin whispered across my ears, I felt a stirring of a white dress by my side and (someone) look upon us in that room.

“She was there. She loved that instrument. It was her most prized possession.

“She loved the music that came forth from it and she will always remain with it.”

Some things remain best, if unexplained.

By the way, the left pedal still sticks!

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