The Hanging of Bill Sketoe

CATEGORY: Eerie Murders     AUTHOR: M.Hawkes     DATE PUBLISHED: November 2013     HAUNTED RATING: 3.0 (of 5.0)     COMMENTS: 0


Alabama 134
Newton, Alabama 36352

William "Bill" Sketoe was born June 8, 1818 and was a Methodist line minister from Newton Alabama. He was arrested by Captain Joseph R. Breare's Confederate Calvary on December 3, 1864 and was hanged at a place that today is the Choctawhatchee Bridge on Route 134 in Newton. The circumstances of his death have led to many fictional stories about his death including the most famous version from "13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey" by Kathryn Tucker Windham.

The truth is Captain Breare was sweeping the Newton area looking for deserters and enforcing the military draft, or conscription as it was called, to join the army. A few days before the hanging a group of raiders (bandits) attacked a Confederate ammunition wagon in nearby Geneva County killing an officer. Captain Breare reported the capture and hanging of two bandits a few days after the attack. One was a deserter from the 1st Florida Calvary named "Doc" Prim and the other was not named but is most likely Sketoe. After Bill Sketoe was killed his body was put on display in the town of Newton as warning to others before he was buried in the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Echo.

Whether Bill Sketoe was an innocent man or outlaw will never be known. It has been reported for over a hundred years that his spirit haunted the location of his hanging. It is said that he was a tall man and that the branch of the tree that he was to hang from was to low to the ground. So they decided to dig a hole deep enough to keep his feet off the ground. This hole is better known as the "Hole That Will Not Stay Filled". It is said that his angry spirit will not allow any debris to remain inside the hole. Local legend says that the hole has been filled in many times over the years and that the next day it is empty again. The hole remained empty for 115 years until the great 1990 Choctawhatchee River Flood which completely changed the landscape. Today a replica of the hole has been created with a nearby plaque telling one of the many versions of this story.

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