GHOST TOWNS OF FLORIDA: Popash

 

NOVEMBER 2015

  The mid 1800’s – Early 1900’s (approximately), brought many settlers relocating from elsewhere as it was considered up & coming in industries such as Saw Mills, Lumber, Railroads, Orange groves, etc…They needed a place to lay down roots, thus new communities began popping up. Eventually progress would start creeping in, greatly effecting the livelihood within these towns…Leaving them NO other choice but to move on. 

 

WELCOME TO POPASH!

  Popash began in the 1850’s & by 1879 had added a post office, general store, church & school. It was considered a cattle and farming community, with the school session timed to let out with the strawberry season from December to mid March. The coming of the railroad in 1886 promised a big future for the town BUT when it passed up Popash & landed in nearby Zolfo Springs, Popash began to slowly disappear. The post office was moved to Zolfo, however, the two-story brick schoolhouse remained open until it too closed it’s doors in 1948. The school was torn down in 2009 & as of 2015, all that remained of the town was New Hope Baptist Church, New Hope Cemetery & the shell of the general store…

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WHAT’S LEFT TODAY?

  Surprisingly, there are still many signs that Popash actually existed today! I travelled to the Ghost Town in 2015 & although I was bummed that the old school had been torn down in 2009, I was able to explore the remains of the old general store, the cemetery, the church & an old farmhouse! Although the general store & farm house had seen better days, both New Hope Church & Cemetery are well cared for & appear to be open & active in present day. 

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FOLKLORE, URBAN LEGENDS & TALES OF HAUNTINGS!

  Let’s be realistic…Most people, myself included, are only at 1st mildly interested in the history of these once existence towns. It’s the ACTUAL “Ghosts” that draw them to visit! Popash has its fair share of ghost tales…Here are a few of the more juicy legends…

 

THE TOWN THAT HOLDS ONTO THEIR CHILDREN…

  Out of ALL of the stories out there regarding Popash, the vast majority of them involve children (or the spirits of children!). Some people have claimed that the old school building was once a hospital and that it is haunted by children who died from a fever epidemic while another has it being built on the site of an original wooden school that burned-down claiming the lives of several children. Although the original school was built in 1898 & later replaced in the with a 2 story building, I’ve yet to be able to confirm either story as true BUT I believe at least the hospital Urban Legend is just that…Just a legend as there are ACTUAL photos in the archive that show the school being built (See above!) & absolutely NONE showing a hospital being in that spot. I’d love nothing more than to have explored the inside of that school building just to see if there was something more to the legends, however, I was about 6 years late to the party…

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NEW HOPE CEMETERY

  Of all places purported to be haunted, of course it would be the town cemetery…RIGHT? There are stories of those claiming to have experienced ghostly activity while visiting New Hope Cemetery. As with the other stories, I couldn’t find anything to substantiate ANY hauntings in New Hope. I can also say that I spent quite a bit of time inside the Cemetery & didn’t feel a damn thing…Except sadness. If you walk amongst the many gravestones & markers, it’s hard to ignore the vast number of children buried there. Almost ALL of them lived & died in the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s & in most instances, multiple children had perished within a single family. A number of them died together, with some families losing their children within a few years, months OR even in as little as days of each other. The reason for the high volume of child deaths in Popash isn’t really clear, however, Given the time period, I’d be willing to say that most perished from either illness, unexpected medical emergencies OR complications related to one OR the other as the medical technology & practices we have today were still evolving at that time.

  Ultimately, I like to believe that when a child passes away, their spirit instantly moves on & they do NOT remain stuck on earth for eternity. I think that ANY other scenario would make the absolutely devestating situation of losing a child even more unbareable.

 

THE BLACK-EYED KIDS OF POPASH!

  If you’ve NEVER heard of the Black Eyed Kids (Sorry folks, Fergie is NOT a member!) you can consider yourself lucky! In a nutshell, Black Eyed Kids are an urban legend that have existed since the 1950s & have been the subject of many paranormal shows, horror movies & scary stories ever since. These “paranormal creatures” are said to resemble children between the ages of 6 & 16, with pale skin & black eyes. Those who have claimed to have spotted one of these “creatures” state that they are often seen trying to hitchhike OR panhandle & have even shown up on people’s doorsteps. I’ve heard that they have to be asked inside in order to enter BUT that doesn’t make me feel all warm & fuzzy! The bottom line is DON’T interact with them, DON’T invite them inside & whatever you do, NEVER feed them after midnight! That last rule might actually be for a Gremlin BUT just to be safe, just DON’T feed them ANYTHING!

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A Black Eyed Child (pictured on a movie poster for “Let Me In”)

 

  Funny, I’m not really scared at the prospect of ghosts OR places reported to be haunted (though the thought of having something paranormal happen while I’m alone makes me whiz my pants!) BUT tell me that those little creepy bastards (aka The Black Eyed Kids!) may be squatting a few feet away from where I’m exploring & I’m probably gonna freak the “F” OUT!! So imagine my horror when a few months after visiting Popash, I find an article on the 10 places in Florida where the “Black Eyed Kids” are known to inhabit! What instantly caught my attention…The featured image for the article was none other than…

 

 

  YEP, that would be the old abandoned farmhouse in Popash…The EXACT freaking decrepit POS that I had been standing ONLY a few feet from & had spent 45 minutes, freezing my ass off while looking around! This half burnt structure was on THAT list…HOLY HELL!! I’m so glad that this was well before I became a little more bold & A LOT more stupid & started entering random abandoned places without backup!! 

 

YOU’RE NOW LEAVING POPASH!

  I spent about 4 hours that day exploring the Ghost Town known as Popash & can honestly say that I left happy with my visit. I’d easily recommend taking a drive out there…You won’t see a lot of exciting things, BUT you will see some pretty scenery & a few interesting pieces of the past…Just STAY AWAY FROM THAT FARMHOUSE!!


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SOURCES:

http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/fl/popash.html

http://www.weirdus.com/states/florida/abandoned/popash_school/index.php

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-eyed_children

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