Jillian Garrigues

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Video: Hidden Treasures — The Face in the Courthouse Window

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CARROLLTON, Ala. (WCBI) – In the small Pickens County town of Carrollton, the face in the window is something you have to see to believe. The story has been passed down for generations, and like all local tales, you either believe it, or you don’t.

Pickens County natives know the story well, Henry Wells, the face in the Pickens County Courthouse window. In 1876 Wells burned the courthouse down and ran. He was shot and arrested two years later and brought back to jail in Carrollton.

“You can’t keep a secret in Carrollton, so everybody in Carrollton knew they’d found Henry Wells,” said Pickens County Courthouse Preservation Foundation President Dora Johnson.

The sheriff hid Wells in the courthouse attic so an angry mob on the street couldn’t get him. Wells watched from the window.

“While the mob was standing there, a sudden streak of lightning came. It hit one of the trees in front of the hotel and that ball of fire hit that tree and hopped up on the window and imprinted his face in that window,” Johnson said.

Visitors come from all over to catch a glimpse of the face in the window, and many locals believe the tale too.

“When they come we try to make them believe in it, and you’re going to see for yourself that it’s here. But it’s really left up to the person I guess,” said Johnson.

From the view outside, its clear there is something on the window. Some believe the glass has been replaced over time, but others don’t. Newspaper reports say a hail storm once knocked out every window in the courthouse, except for Wells’.

“That window is different from all the rest, it’s thicker than your thumb and a different color than the other three,” Johnson said.

Wells died in jail from infection of his gunshot wounds and was never hanged. Johnson says the best time to see the face is early in the morning or when it’s a little cloudy and the sun isn’t shining directly on it.

If you would like to help with the restoration of the courthouse, visit http://www.courthousewindow.com/ or call 205-792-2978 for more information.