The only things left of this once thriving Union Parish community are a few houses, the Shiloh Baptist Church and a cemetery bearing the remains of a woman whose life and soul were marred by the visions of two dead husbands.
Mary Edmunds was married twice, once in 1852 to George Tabor, and again in 1866 to Dan Lee. Both of her marriages ended violently and under mysterious circumstances. The widow was haunted by recurring dreams of the first and fearful apparitions of the second that somehow implied her husbands’ ghostly meanderings were partly her fault.
“She was convinced that because they had not received a proper Christian burial, their ghosts had come back to haunt her.” recalls Mary Edmunds’ great granddaughter Edna Liggin.
Mary Edmunds came to Shiloh with her parents and six sisters from Georgia in 1847. Her father, James Edmunds, soon purchased 370 acres of land between Farmerville and Bernice for $400.
When one of his daughters married, Edmunds apportioned 40 acres of land to the couple. Deeds in the Union Parish courthouse reveal that Edmunds attached a brief note of esteem for the new son-in-law as well.
Fifteen-year-old Mary Edmunds married Tabor on December 4, 1852. They had four children and one on the way when shots were fired at Fort Sumter and Tabor heard the Confederate drums roll.
Mrs. Liggin said her great-grandmother awoke one evening after a dream in which she saw the bloodied war-torn configuration of her husband lying in a coffin.
“She was terrified. The dream came several times during the night, each time waking her up, only to recur again.” said Liggin.
Three days later, a telegram arrived from the Confederate Army: Tabor had perished in Mississippi. There was no explanation as to the cause of death.
Tabor’s father took a wagon to Mississippi in hopes of bringing his son’s body back to Shiloh for a proper burial, but records show Tabor’s body never arrived in Union Parish.
After the Civil War, a young widow with 40 prime acres of farmland was an easy mark for the drifters, carpetbaggers and Yankee swindlers who came South for the wide-open opportunity of Reconstruction.
Mary Edmunds Tabor married Dan Lee, “a northerner with a shadowy past,” in 1886.
“There was speculation that he was wanted in connection with some crimes in Arkansas,” said Mrs. Liggin.
Genealogy records of a “prominent family from Shiloh” also reveal that one family member was murdered by a man named Lee.
Whatever the case, or whoever was killed Lee was incarcerated in the Farmerville jail when Mary Tabor Lee, baked a pound cake laden with a saw, slipping it past the unsuspecting guard, enabling her husband to escape.
That night, while Lee sat pondering his predicament on the porch in Shiloh, someone came by and fired shots at the house. The next day, Lee was gone.
Sometime later, Mary heard of a mysterious disappearance of a man from a Monroe hotel fitting Lee’s description .
She identified his watch and several other belongings but never heard from her living husband again.
“She was sitting on that same porch when a ghost appeared and wrote something in the sand.” said Mrs. Liggin.
Before Mary Tabor Lee could rise and go to the apparition, it vanished, and the words inscribed in the sand were wiped clean by a sudden summer downpour.