Located on Netherland Inn Road in Kingsport, TN is Rotherwood Plantation. The lovely mansion was built in 1818 by the Reverend Frederick A. Ross. Mr. Ross was a kindly man who had a very beautiful daughter named Rowena. Rowena was well liked by everyone in Rossville, which would later become known as Kingsport. She was also very intelligent, having been educated in the finest Northern schools. As a result, she had many young men interested in marrying her. She fell in love with a young man. They were planning to marry, but he died tragically when his boat capsized in the Holston River in front of Rotherwood Mansion, in clear sight of Rowena. Rowena was very much effected by this, and she became reclusive.
Finally, after two years, she began to socialize again. After a while, she announced her engagement to a rich young man from Knoxville. But tragedy struck again, when he died of yellow fever. Once again, Rowena went deep into depression. A decade later she married again. This time she had a daughter. When the daughter was six years old, Rowena committed suicide by walking out into the river, after she thought she heard her first love calling to her. Today it is said that her ghost still walks the banks of the Holston River, wearing her wedding dress, and searching for her first love. Some have suggested that the ghost of her first suitor also haunts the Mansion.
The good spirit of Rowena isn't the only ghost who haunts Rotherwood. After the Reverend Ross began to lose much of his fortune, he was forced to sell the mansion and it's grounds to Joshua Phipps. Phipps was a truly evil man, and almost no one liked him during his lifetime. In fact, people in Kingsport still speak of him with dread. Phipps was most notorious for his treatment of his slaves. He was extremely cruel, even having established a whipping post in the house, where he would beat the slaves. Their screams of anguish could be heard all over the Holston area, and Phipps was shunned by locals for his cruelty. It is said that when it rains, blood stains return to the floor inside Rotherwood Mansion.
Joshua Phipps got his in July, 1861. He became very sick, and had to be fanned by a young slave. According to legend, as he lay in bed, a swarm of flies materialized, and filled his mouth and nostrils. Unable to breathe, Phipps suffocated.
As if his death weren't dramatic enough, his funeral turned out to be even more horrifying. A huge crowd turned out for his funeral, most out of curiosity. As the hearse was being pulled up a hill by horses towards the cemetery, it became too heavy for the horses to budge. At the same time, the sky began to get dark, as if a storm were brewing. It took many horses to finally be able to move the casket. As it slowly moved up the hill, and the sky got darker and darker, a large dog emerged from the coffin and ran down the hill! Those present were terrified. Suddenly, a cloud burst and rain poured down on the onlookers. The casket was quickly buried, and everyone returned home.
Today, the black dog, commonly known as the "Hound of Hell," is said to roam the area around Rotherwood Mansion. On dark and stormy nights, it's low, mournful howl can be heard throughout the area. Two more ghosts are also said to inhabit the area. One is the ghost of the aforementioned Joshua Phipps. This ghost is said to haunt those in the mansion by removing covers, and laughing his evil, sadistic laugh. The second is believed to be the ghost of his mistress, who was a former slave. Despite this fact, she was even more evil to the slaves than Josh (if it was possible). She was killed when the slaves rose against her, after they became sick of her torture. To avoid punishment, she was buried on the grounds. Her unmarked grave lies somewhere undiscovered on the grounds of Rotherwood Mansion.
Most people in those parts tend to avoid Rotherwood after dark. Though seeing Rowena wouldn't be so bad, no one wants to see Joshua Phipps, His mistress, or the Hound of Hell.
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