24 minutes | Oct 28, 2020

Episode Seven: The Tale of Pink Lizzie

Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society...I call this story The Tale of Pink Lizzy.  A two story mansion at 683 Fifth Street, on the corner of Fifth & Georgia, became home to one of Memphis’s most iconic, yet not widely known today, ghost stories.  Col. W.J. Davie, the President of Southern Bank of Tennessee, built his mansion between the years 1855-1859 and lived there until October 1866. Apparently, in 1860, Davie secured a loan from Col. Robert C. Brinkley for $30,000 worth of stock in the Memphis Charleston Railroad, using his home as collateral. He was to repay the loan in four years. Unfortunately, the Civil War broke out, the bank was failing, and the military took over the railroad rendering the stock useless. To avoid Brinkley foreclosing on Davie’s mortgage, Davie decided to “sell” Brinkley the home, for the cost of the bond and $15,000, to clear his debt.  Over the next two years, Brinkley renovated the mansion into a school for girls. And in 1868, the Brinkley Female College opened its doors as a boarding school housing 50 girls, under the headmaster J.D. Meredith. Upon opening, the college already had a reputation for being haunted by Davie, who was rumored to have gone insane after he went bankrupt.  Brinkley Female College Our story begins on February 21, 1871, a 13 year old blonde haired student, Clara Robertson was in an upstairs room of the Brinkley Female College, practicing piano when she noticed an emaciated little girl, about 8 years old, in a dirty pink dress, coming towards her. Panic stricken, Clara ran to another room and jumped on the bed, hiding her face in the pillow. The transparent little girl followed her into the room and placed her hand on the pillow near Clara’s head. After a few minutes, the little girl disappeared. Clara ran to tell her fellow classmates what happened and of course, no one believed her. She ran home crying because of all the teasing and taunting from her classmates. When she returned to school the next day, no one spoke of the incident and Clara began to think it was just a prank.  Her fears were only set aside for one day though. The following day, the little girl appeared again. This time there were other students present. It’s not really known if the two other girls really saw anything or if they were just playing around with Clara. Regardless, they all screamed and ran downstairs to get a teacher. This time, when Clara returned upstairs, the little girl spoke to her as the newspaper called it, “like a perturbed spirit in Hamlet”. The little ghost girl told her there were valuables buried in the yard and she wanted Clara to find them.  It was now apparent that the adults needed to get involved. Clara’s father, J.C. Robertson, a prominent Memphis lawyer, spoke with the headmaster, Mr. Meredith and decided there needed to be an investigation. Robertson was worried about his daughter’s well being, while Meredith was worried about the reputation of his school. The following week, Mr. Meredith decided to question the students about the ghost, while Clara was made to wait outside. While Clara was in the schoolyard, the little ghost girl appeared to her again. This time, when she spoke, she told Clara to not be alarmed, her name was Lizzie, and that she would not harm her. Lizzie told Clara that her family had owned this building and it was stolen from them. She wanted Clara to undo the wrongs that had been done to her family. If Clara could find the papers and other valuables buried in the yard, she could claim possession of the property as her own. She also added that if Clara did not do what she had asked, then Lizzie would never do any good to or for anyone. After this incident, Clara told her father she was not going back to school. Her father contacted one of his clients, Mrs. Nourse, a spiritual medium, for help.  Mrs. Nourse convinced Mr. Robertson to hold a seance at their home. Several neighbors came over and gathered around the t...
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