Always the fertile grounds for rumors, James Madison University has stories in its history about ghosts and violence other than the infamous tunnels and the mysterious lady in red.

To name only a few, you can take your pick of a hanging in the Wilson Hall cupola, the “Little Bo Peep” murderer or the ghost-who-walks, Confederate General Turner Ashby.

The Cupola

Cupola Hanging

The hanging in the Wilson Hall cupola never happened but the story has made its way around the JMU campus for more than 50 years.

The story goes that a student was indulging in some hanky-panky with a married professor. As stories of unrequited love always go, the professor dumped her.

The student is said to have made her way to the cupola of Wilson Hall and hanged herself. According to the legend, on some nights you can see the woman hanging in the window of the cupola.

Little Bo Peep

The Little Bo Peep Ax Murderer

The Little Bo Peep story is an urban legend that has been making its way around college campuses for more than a generation. The rumor revives itself every year or so around Halloween.

The JMU version of the myth centers around Eagle Hall. According to the story, a deranged student dressed as Little Bo Peep celebrated Halloween by taking an ax to her suitemates on the sixth floor of the residence hall.

In some versions of the tale, the murder weapon becomes a knife. The number of victims varies. Later versions of the story have the killer wearing a “Scream” mask.

General Turner Ashby

General Turner Ashby Walks

Confederate General Turner Ashby was killed in a Civil War skirmish near what-is-today James Madison University.

In a battle with Federal troops, the cavalry general was leading his troops when his horse was shot out from under him. Ashby drew his pistol and led the cavalry charge on foot.

After taking only a few steps, the 33-year-old general was hit in the chest with a mini ball and died instantly.

A monument to Ashby is located where he was killed – about a half mile from the JMU campus, near numerous off-campus student apartments.

There are those who say that Ashby's spirit walks through and near the JMU campus on occasion, as well as a phantom cavalry appearing in the moonlight.

This is no small accomplishment on Ashby's part since he is buried 70 miles away in Winchester.

-- Fred Hilton

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