Fall is a wonderful time of year. The leaves begin to change, temperatures start to cool, and football games become the place to be on Friday nights. As Halloween approaches, people begin watching scary movies, visiting pumpkin patches and telling scary stories.
I love a good scary story, but my favorite ones are the local ones. We have several ‘urban legends’ here in Dickson County, but the most popular one might be the “White Bluff Screamer.” It’s a local legend that’s been passed down from generation to generation.
As I recall from hearing about it as a kid, the story begins about hundred years ago in the 1920’s in the hollers of Trace Creek near the old town of White Bluff.
There was a small country house in the hollers near the creek where a man, his wife, and seven children lived. After living there for a while, they began to hear strange noises. It sounded like an animal but resembled the screams of a young girl. The howls and screams from the nearby woods continued night after night.
The children were scared and couldn’t sleep. After several nights, the man became frustrated and wanted his family to be able to sleep in peace.
Before going to bed one night, the man had finally had enough, he grabbed his gun and took off into the woods, vowing to kill the animal that was upsetting his family.
As the man got deeper into the woods, the screaming stopped. He continued to search, but still he heard nothing. He was about to give up and head back when he started hearing the screams again, but this time… it was coming from his house!
He rushed back to his home to find his whole family had been killed, they had been ‘torn to shreds’ by a mysterious beast. When he told people what had happened, fear set in over the town.
Other people around White Bluff also reported hearing the howls and screams of the mysterious creature, and over time it gained the nickname of the “White Bluff Screamer.”
This is the story I had always heard as a kid. People in White Bluff would tell you the story to try and scare you, especially if you were camping outside. I had always wondered if it was just a made up tale or if there was any truth to the story, so I reached out to a few local historians.
Tony England grew up in White Bluff and is well aware of the ‘White Bluff Screamer.’ He told me that while there’s no historical evidence that the screamer killed that family in the story, something has definitely been heard for years. People have been talking about it a long time, there was even a possible sighting by a couple way back in the 1930’s.
Edward England Jr., who also grew up in White Bluff said his father told him that he heard the ‘Screamer’ when he was a young teenager in the 1940’s. When I asked him to describe the ‘White Bluff Screamer,’ he told me that no one really knows what it looks like, but he had always thought it was a ‘large cat-like animal,’ similar to a mountain lion.
Edward also told me that he may have had a possible encounter with the ‘Screamer’ when he was a kid in the 1970’s. While on a family camping trip near the creek with his mother, father, and sisters, they all heard a strange sound in the woods. Something got closer to them and was behind a tree only a few feet away. They were all so frightened that they got in their truck and drove home, leaving their gear behind.
Edward said that he never actually saw the ‘Screamer,’ but did see large cat-like paw prints when he and his father went back the next day to pick up the camping gear they had left behind.
Over the years people continued to report hearing the screams, but Edward believes that if the original ‘Screamer’ existed, it’s probably long gone now.
Tony says that while some parts of the story have been embellished over the years, he believes what the people of White Bluff told him.
After hearing the story, people from all over the country have come to White Bluff to see if the legend is true. If you search for the ‘White Bluff Screamer’ on the internet you’ll find several variations of the story.
So what exactly is the ‘White Bluff Screamer?’ Is it just a cougar, bobcat or some other type of mountain lion? … or is it something else? Does it still exist, or is it long gone?
Let me know if you’ve ever heard the screams out in White Bluff, I’d be curious to find out!