The Ghost of the Lime Sink - Chipley, Florida - Ghost of the Lime Sink, Florida - Ghost of the Lime Sink, Florida
Records and Archives
Ghost stories are part of the fabric and culture of the American South. They remind us of the
days before radio and television when our ancestors would sit around crackling fireplaces at
night and captivate their family members with stories of unusual things and events. Whether
you believe in ghosts or not, these old stories (often told with a wink of the eye) are important
relics of our early culture and folklore. And, quite often, they have a basis in historical fact.

Washington County, like much of the South, has its share of unusual stories and tales. One of
the best known is Chipley's legend of the lime sink.

The lime sink legend is a ghost story that grew over time about a tragic 1890 drowning at a
lime sink or "sinkhole" in Chipley. These unique geological features are commonly found in
Florida and result from the unusual karst topography that is found under the soil in much of the
state. Water passes through the limestone subsurface over hundreds and thousands of years,
gradually eroding away the subsurface rock to create caves. Often, as these caves continue to
enlarge over time, they become unstable and collapse, creating deep holes known as lime
sinks or sinkholes. Sometimes these features remain dry, but in other places they fill with
water. They can be quite deep and quite dangerous.

The late Washington County historian E.W. Carswell researched the true story behind the lime
sink legend for his 1991 book,
Washington - Florida's Twelfth County (available for purchase
through the Washington County Historical Society).

The facts he uncovered tell a story that is both tragic and haunting.

During the late spring of 1890, a group of teenagers were playing at the lime sink, then on the
property of Captain Angus McMillan. One of them was his 18-year-old daughter, Neta. The
others were 14-year-old Nannie Callaway and 18-year-old Graymore Pridgeon.

The girls were apparently wading in the water when they stepped off into a deep chasm that
drops to a depth of over 30 feet. They could not swim and began crying for help.

Jeff McMillan, Neta's 14-year-old brother, was working in a nearby field and heard the screams
coming from the lime sink. He arrived in time to pull one of them, Graymore Pridgeon, from the
water, but could not save his sister or Nannie Callaway.

Residents from through Chipley rushed to the scene and launched a search and rescue
mission. Using grappling hooks, they were able to recover Nannie's body later that night. No
trace of Neta was found.

A diver was brought in from Pensacola to continue the search, but he also failed. He reported
that he could find nothing on the bottom of a the sink and believed the body might have been
drawn down into an underwater cave that was too dangerous for him to enter.

Efforts were then made to drain the lime sink, but the water rose from its natural source almost
as fast as it could be pumped out. The body of Neta McMillan was never found.

Over the years, a story began to grow in Chipley related to the 19th century tragedy. Some
residents claimed to have seen the shadowy figure of a young woman, rising from the night-
time mists of the sink and walking silently across the water for a minute or two. Such sightings,
it was said, always took place on very still, foggy nights.

The story has been told in and around Chipley for many years.

The lime sink today is on private property and is not accessible to the general public.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
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