Walton-DeFuniak Library

Straight Up Ghosts



My daughter and I have visited the Walton-DeFuniak Library for more than 25 years. And we’ve always heard stories about the original librarian, Alice Fellows, haunting the building. There’s definitely a spooky vibe in the 135-year-old structure. Doors open and close by themselves, books fall from shelves, and phantom footsteps creak across the old wooden floorboards. Prior to being the city’s first paid librarian, Fellows worked with the Ladies’ Library Association, a volunteer organization that founded the library in 1886 with the goal of “elevating the moral and intellectual standing of the community,” according to minutes of their early meetings. Fellows enjoyed her work with the library so much that she traveled to Chicago to take classes in Library Science. And when she returned, she assumed the position of librarian. Fellows was a stern woman who never married and served as librarian from 1896 until the week that she died of influenza in 1926. During her reign, no horseplay, loud noise or foolishness was tolerated in the library. And many believe that she continues to wander the stacks occasionally making her presence known. Anytime something unusual occurs, such as the front door coming open without anyone being near it or a book falling from the shelf, the staff will say, “It’s just Alice.”

Today the Walton-DeFuniak Library is the oldest continually operating library in the state of Florida, housing more than 33,000 books, approximately 800 of which are historically significant and are displayed but not in circulation. The library is also home to an armament collection that dates back to the Crusades in Europe as well as a host of other antiques. There have been numerous additions to the original structure and a reading garden overlooks the lake compliments of the DeFuniak Springs Garden Club. “I like to think of Alice Fellows protecting her library whenever I visit,” says my daughter, Ruby V…. “And when I take my daughter for the first time, I’ll share those stories with her because they filled me with wonder and lit a fire in me for all things spooky and unexplained.”

The Walton-DeFuniak Library is the oldest, continuously operating library in the state.

The spirit of the first librarian, Alice Fellows, is said to still be roaming the stacks.

A portrait of Alice Fellows is displayed in the oldest room of the library.

Former Library Director, Dan Owens and first librarian, Alice Fellows side by side.

The library is home to more than 30,000 books, an armament collection and many antiques.

Alice Fellows is buried in Magnolia Cemetery, just 1.4 miles away from the library.

The Walton-DeFuniak Library as it was built by the Ladies Library Association in 1886. Ladies could go in the library for free, men were charged 5 cents.

[Submitter’s] daughter, DeFuniak Springs native Ruby V… who remembers hearing stories of Alice Fellows whenever she would visit the library.

Submitted by Tammy K