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Black Folklore In Video Episode 2: The Ghosts Of Lake Lanier

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Welcome to Episode 2 of Black Folklore In Video: The Ghosts Of Lake Lanier.

To read the entire story about Lake Lanier, CLICK HERE.

Lake Lanier is a popular destination for Georgians. Just 40 miles from Atlanta in Forsyth County, Georgia, it attracts millions of visitors every year. But the lake’s disturbing origins and high fatality rates have earned it a reputation for being haunted. Grant Yanney takes us back to the 1800s when it all began.

MORE: The Antebellum Tale Of Black Slave Girl Molly And The Haunting Of Sorrel-Weed House

Forsyth County was once home to the Cherokee Nation until President Andrew Jackson forced them out of their sacred homeland to embark on a long and painful journey to what is now Oklahoma. The Cherokee were among about 100,000 Native Americans who were relocated between 1830 and 1850 as a result of the Indian Removal Act.

By the early 1900s, the land had a new name: Oscarville. It became home to a dynamic community of about 1,100 Black residents including farmers, carpenters and other tradesmen, with schools, churches and small businesses.

But that all changed in September 1912. The alleged sexual assaults of two white women would change the course of the town’s history. The first incident involved 22-year-old Ellen Grice, who accused two Black men of attempted rape. The Forsyth County sheriff arrested five Black men for the alleged crime. A week later, 18-year-old Mae Crow was found raped and beaten. Authorities allege that they found a pocket mirror belonging to Ernest Knox, a 16-year-old Black boy from Cumming, Georgia, as evidence. Knox and four other Black men believed to be involved were arrested.

MORE: The Ghost Of Willie Earle And The Haunting Of Pickens County Museum

Word spread about the incidents, and a lynch mob of more than 2,000 whites gathered in front of the jailhouse where the accused were being detained. The mob stormed the jail and killed one boy, Rob Edwards. Ernest Knox and Oscar Daniel were found guilty of the rape of Mae Crow and were sentenced to death by hanging, though this was illegal under state law at the time.

These incidents set off a campaign of terror and intimidation carried out by the Nightriders, a terrorist group whose mission was to force out every Black resident in town. Only a few years later, 98% of Oscarville’s Black residents had relocated or were murdered for refusing to leave. The once bustling town became a ghost town. The land was ultimately sold to the government and flooded to create a reservoir during the construction of the Buford Dam, submerging the remnants of Oscarville and its legacy underwater to this day.

If you want to read more original Black Folklore stories CLICK HERE.