The Vagabond – Margaret Hand’s Haunted Organ


By Danny Crownover

The supernatural is defined as things which defy scientific explanation, such as ghosts, ghouls, goblins, wizards or druids.

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

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

Fast forward 20 years and The Vagabond was publishing a tabloid called the Gadsden Area Pride. One day The Vagabond visited Margaret and Ed Hand at Margaret’s art studio for a story.

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

Margaret Hand was a wo-man of international fame. She was intelligent, beautiful, extraordinarily skillful and a sorceress of pigments and magnified human characteristics. She was 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 was alive.

It takes an extraordinary person to call upon that strength and resource which we all possess and venture beyond our “accepted” human capacities.

Against one wall of the parlor stood a Reed organ, or pump organ, as some may call the instrument. Falling quite comfortably into a lovely chair and settling in to hear the story of the “Haunted Organ,” I became more and more enchanted with my surroundings.

Mrs. Hand settled down on the stool of the organ, faced 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’s acquired a Reed organ. She informed Mrs. Hand of the acquisition and also related that to her dismay, the organ did not go well with her “modern” furniture.

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

Mrs. Hand’s husband Ed was a widely recognized musician and music theorist. Consequently, she was 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 reed organ, looking at her with disapproval. After having these dreams for a period of time, the owner of the organ was walking towards her breakfast room one mor-ning when she saw the woman who had been in her dreams gliding towards her and looked directly at her.

Scared out of her wits, the owner of the organ called Mrs. Hand 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.

For 15 years Mrs. Hand tried to conjure the “dream lady” to no avail. One day while her children and grandchild were visiting, however, Mrs. Hand directed her granddaughter downstairs to go get her tea set before they were to leave.

At that time, the organ was located downstairs. Mrs. Hand’s granddaughter was four years old and had no knowledge of the dream lady.

The child came back upstairs and said, “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 certainly could so 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, Mrs. Hand’s granddaughter continued to tell the story of the dream lady over and over again.

The Reed organ eventually was moved to Mrs. Hand’s studio on Broad Street. A psychic from Fort Payne, who was also a nurse, came inquiring of such, having heard of the unusual instrument and the dream lady. She told Mrs. Hand that she believed that 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. She then she saw the dream lady standing nearby the house and she 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. It was a page of repairs.

“Why yes,” Mrs. Hand replied. “One of the pedals is sticking.”

The psychic told Mrs. Hand that the dream lady, or the organ’s 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,” quite harmless and a wonderful lady. The psychic new nothing of the experience which Mrs. Hand’s granddaughter had years before.

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