Sheriff's Annex photo

The Hot Spring County Sheriff’s Annex is purportedly host to several ghostly visitors. The site of the annex is the former home of the Malvern Hospital.

Malvern is not well-known for its creepy urban legends or ghost stories, but we managed to dig up a few spooky tales, from here and in the surrounding area.

Cone-Bottoms legend: the Lady in Black

This sad tale involves star-crossed lovers from rival schools, Henderson State University and Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia. The colleges share a deep-rooted animosity for each other since their inceptions in the late 1800’s.

The Cone-Bottoms legend dates back to 1927 and stars a young female OBU student who became romantically involved with a young boy from the rival school across the street.

The two teens—Jane and Joshua, according to the OBU website—tried to make their relationship work, but Joshua caved under pressure from his HSU classmates. Right before the big HSU homecoming dance, Joshua broke up with young Jane and escorted another girl to the affair.

Overwhelmed with grief, the legend holds that Jane fled to her dorm room, changed into a black dress and veil and flung herself down the elevator shaft in her Cone-Bottoms housing hall.

Rumor has it that she can still be heard crying late at night in the dark halls of the building, and that each year on the night of the HSU homecoming dance, the ghostly Jane makes her way from Cone-Bottoms Hall to the Henderson campus, looking for the girl who stole her love away.

The Ghost of Old Man Shouse

Our next tale—fiction, thankfully—first appeared in the pages of DeGray Today in Aug. 1989. The author, John Kelly, fashioned a fantastic tale set in 1974 in the Shouse Ford area of Point Cedar.

According to Kelly, late one evening back in ’74, as the full moon lit the way for Ranger Fred Dixon, he ended his shift at the lake and headed back to the Ranger Office.

Dixon left the Shouse Ford Recreation Area and soon approached Free Hill Church on the right. As he neared the small white building, he noticed a dark figure standing still at the side of the road. An old man donned in a long black beard, long black coat, and a black felt hat with a wide brim. The shadow of a man stood out in the light of the full moon.

As Dixon passed, the man started waving for the ranger to stop, but Dixon was in a hurry that night. He thought little else of the man until another ranger mentioned seeing the same man at the same spot a few nights later.

Dixon later realized that every full moon came with reports from other people in the area seeing the mysterious man in front of the church. Some witnesses also reported seeing the man wandering through the nearby campgrounds, but he spoke to no one, and the mystery deepened.

Dixon vowed to get to the bottom of it. He had his chance only days later, when, as he was passing the church at the end of another long evening shift, he spotted the man once again at the side of the road. The full moon accentuated the darkness of the shadowy figure, and Dixon pulled over to greet him, once and for all.

As Dixon got out out, he radioed the station to let them know his whereabouts. The ranger hurried to catch the shadowy man, who turned and moved quickly toward the cemetery behind the church.

Dixon shifted gears, but the faster he walked, the faster the old man walked as he wove through the headstones in front of them. Suddenly, the man disappeared behind the tallest monument, and Dixon followed suit.

When Dixon rounded the headstone, he could make out the name Benjamin Bob Shouse and the date Feb.26, 1910. Wondering where and how the man eluded him, Dixon turned to leave. As he did so, he felt something grab his foot and pull.

Dixon called out on his portable radio for help and then fell quiet. When sheriff’s deputies arrived to the scene, they found a newly dug grave. They excavated quickly but only found a radio, boots, Ranger uniform, and hat. Ranger Dixon was nowhere to be seen.

A loud noise at the far end of the cemetery startled the deputies. They turned and encountered an unbelievable sight—a headless man, dressed in black, holding a lantern. Deputies gave chase, but the man instantly disappeared into the woods, vanishing before their eyes.

As the figure of the old man melted into the darkness, he cried out, “You Rangers built this lake and campground over my farm and I won’t rest until I bury every one of you!”

Be warned: the ghost of Old Man Shouse can still be seen to this day roaming the campgrounds and the cemetery by the light of the full moon.

The Ghosts in the Sheriff’s Annex

Our final fable comes from first-hand accounts of those who have worked in the Hot Spring County Sheriff’s Annex, former home of the Malvern Hospital.

Workers have reported smelling cigar smoke late at night in the Sheriff’s Office hallway, when no one else was in that part of the building.

Numerous witnesses recount hearing, and even glimpsing, children playing in the dispatch area or hiding behind the vending machine that used to be between the Malvern Police area and the prosecutor’s offices.

Angela Allmon, worked in the building in different capacities for over 11 years, recalled several spooky events she witnessed during her tenure:

“Billy, George and I were working the night shift together.  It was not unusual if we were really slow that two of us would take a handheld radio and step out onto the back porch to smoke.   George and I stepped outside and were gone about 10 minutes.   

I came back in first and Billy asked me, ‘Where’s George?’ I told him George was finishing up a phone call on the back porch.  Billy told me he wasn’t, and I once again assured him that George was still on the porch.  I came in and left him out there.  Billy asked me if he’d come in earlier to use the bathroom and again I told him he had been on the porch the whole time.  Billy said, ‘I swear,  I was on the phone earlier and I saw someone out of the corner of my eye stick their head around the door facing.’

 After convincing Billy that we weren’t playing a joke on him we affectionately began to call the ‘person’ Fred.  When a cabinet door would close or things went missing.  It was Fred.

Sometimes it was necessary for us to go to the bathroom in the drug court area near dispatch because the dispatch one was occupied or or various other reasons. It meant walking in a dark room to the restroom which had a light on.   

I was walking through the room one winter night and it felt different. I got anxious like I needed to hurry and get to the light.  As I was walking I felt the pressure of what felt like were hands pushing me toward the lit bathroom. I completed my mission and headed back toward dispatch at a dead run! I never went back there alone again.

The most spooked I ever got was the time I was working late writing a press release in the Sheriff’s Office end of the building.   The CID investigator, Johnny, and I were getting the release together and I heard giggles coming from the area of Malvern PD.  I told Johnny someone must have brought their kids with them to make a report.  He shook his head and  said, ‘There are no kids.’  I repeated that I had heard them and he agreed that he had heard them, too, but there are no kids.  He instructed me to ‘Go look!’

There. Were. No. Kids.”

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