Ida L. Reed

My momma told me lots of stories about a Miss Ida L. Reed. They were all ghost stories, capturing my young imagination and working on my kid fears.

I’ll tell one of them for her.

There was a small home perched up on a hill not even a mile from my mother’s teenage home on Arden Road off 119. I remember it from when I was a small child. It had a lovely porch, a swing still hanging from the sagging roof. Spindles, hand-turned no doubt, lined its edges. A big pine tree sat next to the house, keeping it company way up there. The home burned in 1991 but its shell remained standing. In my lifetime, I saw the home bought and sold several times, always changing hands. When I was 12 or 13, the house was finally bulldozed. The lot sits empty still.

My mom told me she had been in the house once. She and some of her friends, curious and hunting for trouble, wandered into the old place. Likely sometime between 1983 and 1987. While she was in the home, she took a basket from the place and kept it for herself. A few days after she acquired the basket, she and her friend were sitting on her bed when they heard a static sound coming from the hallway and then silence. Mom stood up from her bed and walked towards the bedroom door, odd light cast out around her silhouette. As she reached the threshold, a hazy cloud appeared to them just three feet away. Mom said she knew it was Miss Reed, she could feel it.

I remember the basket. My mom kept it for a long time. I asked her once why she held onto it. She told me this. The years in between her having taken the basket and the home burning, strange things would happen. It would fall down without any provocation, or things mom put in the basket would go missing. But then, Ida’s home burned, and after that, nothing. Mom’s analysis: Ida was happy mom had saved something of her home and so left mom and the basket alone.

Ida L. Reed was a methodiest all her life. She wrote over 2,000 hymns and poems. She was self-educated and also wrote several books. She was born the year the Civil War ended, November 30, 1865. She lived to be 85 years old. She died in 1951, 19 years before my mom was born and 1 year after my grandma was born.

There is a historical marker on Arden Road denoting her home and grave site.

She called her hymns “heartcries to God.”