Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   
Back to Home Page
Back to Photo Index Page
Back to Alabama Index Page
The face is up here.

Face in the Window

Face in the Window
Carrollton, Alabama
(from Roadside America)

One of the more bizarre sights anywhere is the face on the courtroom window, also known as the Lightning Portrait of Henry Wells.

Wells, a former slave, was accused of burning the original Pickens County (AL) Courthouse in 1876.  He was finally arrested two years later.  As there was no jail,  Wells was placed in the garret of the new courthouse.  A mob of locals gathered outside to lynch him.

As Wells peered out the garret window, a bolt of lightning struck nearby and permanently etched his terrified expression into the windowpane.  Wells died less than two months later "of wounds received while attempting to escape."

The lightning photo is still visible today and only from the outside.  Up on the third floor, an arrow painted  on the outside directs you to the miraculous face.

According to one RA tipster:  Through all the years, in spite of hail and storm, which has destroyed all the windows in the courthouse, this one pane has remained intact.  It has been scrubbed with soap and rubbed with gasoline by those who doubt its permanence, but it has met every test and the face remains unchanged.  At close range the pane looks clear and flawless, but  viewed from the ground where once gathered an angry mob, the fear-distorted face of Henry Wells can be clearly seen.