Before the widespread use of automobiles, railroads brought people to and from Dickson. The town formed around the railroad tracks just after the Civil War. “Railroad hotels” were very popular in the early days. They gave people riding the trains a place to stay overnight.
On the cold snowy night of January 10, 1910 there was a fire on North Main Street in downtown Dickson. It destroyed a hotel, a barber shop, a drug store and a tailor shop. It is believed that the fire started at a hotel that was located where Bloom Day Spa operates today.
There were about fifteen guests staying in the hotel that night. The fire started after everyone went to bed. A man named Joe from Hohenwald noticed the fire first on his way out to catch the late train. He tried to alert as many people as he could by knocking on their doors.
It is believed that the fire originated in room #20 of the hotel when a man named Charles from Clarksville ordered a fire to be started in his room to keep him warm and then left it unattended.
The volunteer Dickson Fire Department responded immediately, but due to the frigid and icy conditions of the roads they were unable to move quickly and this proved fatal.
Most of the guests were able to get out. A few men escaped through windows, while some made it out through the front entrance, sustaining minimal burns. Only one man was unable to escape.
The lone casualty reported in the fire was a man from Nashville named Samuel Mullins. Mullins was staying in a room on the second floor with no windows. It was later reported that Mullins was ‘hard of hearing’ and had just undergone a recent surgery which had left him very weak. He was unable to make it out before the building succumbed to the flames. His remains were found in the rubble.
Mullins was a real estate broker who was staying in Dickson overnight for business. Mullins lived in Nashville just up the road from the Belmont Mansion close to where Music Row sits now. He had a real estate office down the hill from the State Capital near where the Nashville Sounds play baseball today.
Mullins was well known in the area. The newspapers of the time described him as a “prominent citizen.” He was only 45 at the time of his death. He was survived by a wife and several children.
Days after the fire, several citizens reported seeing strange things in downtown Dickson. A few people even reported seeing a ghost on Main Street near the burned out ruins of the old hotel. This happened several times and was reported by different people.
One person said they saw a man kneeling in prayer on the burned out lot in the exact spot that Mullins had been staying that night. Someone else said they heard a man “groaning in pain.”
There was another report of someone seeing a ghost and hearing what sounded like “the swishing of wings” in the air, then all of a sudden the ghost would disappear into the darkness and everything would become quiet. Was it the ghost of Samuel Mullins?
Ten days after the fire on January 20, 1910 there was a report about the ghost sightings in the local paper. Over time, the ghost sightings ceased, but the legend of the ghost on main street lives on.
Does the ghost of Samuel Mullins still haunt Main Street? Is the site where Bloom Day Spa operates really haunted?
I’ll leave that for you to decide, but do me a favor…. If you’re out on Main Street this Halloween keep your eyes open, you might just see a ghost!