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CARROLLTON, Ala. (WIAT) — The legend of Henry Wells continues to live on in Pickens County.  

It’s one of the most talked-about ghost stories in west Alabama. The story is simply known as “the Face in the Window.”

In 1878, Wells was arrested for burning the courthouse in downtown Carrollton. The building was later rebuilt, after he was arrested wells attempted to escape and was shot in the leg by police and brought back to jail in the basement of the building.

“There are some strange things that happen here, but the big thing is the face in the window upstairs in our attic.  It comes from Henry Wells being arrested and from him being put up there during a time where a mob wanted to come get him,” Gordo Mayor Craig Patterson said.
Patterson is also the courthouse caretaker and local historian. He says the reason the angry mob wanted to pull Wells out of jail is that valuable papers and deeds were lost in the fire. 

“While the sheriff was trying to calm the mob, henry was watching all this from up there and supposedly all this time Henry was yelling at them from up there and I don’t if they could hear him.  But he said he would curse them if they got to him and hurt him,” he said.

Fearing for his safety, the sheriff removed Wells from jail and took him upstairs into the attic. Wells later died in police custody but promised to curse the mob who wanted to kill him. 

As the legend goes, Wells pressed his face up against the glass to look down on the mob, at the same time a thunderstorm passed through town. Lightening etched his image to the glass window.

Patterson says the ghost story helps with tourism, a group even made a play out of the story and used local actors to portray the story on stage.

“It is a tourist effect, we have a lot of people stop and come through to see the face in the window and they will come into our gift shop here and look at some of the items from that time period.  That window has been through basically gone through 142 years of tornadoes and rainstorms and his face is still up there. So that leads people to believe there’s something supernatural behind it,” he said.