Turn down the abysmal
darkness of Mary Angela Road and you find
yourself looking down a deserted stretch
of asphalt leading directly into the infamous
Known for generations to Haunted Memphis
enthusiasts, many of whom have had strange
experiences in or near the location, Voodoo
Village is a rag-tag assortment of houses
on a dead end road in a remote corner of
southwest Memphis. It first gained attention
in the early 1960’s when conflicts
between gangs of white youths and the black
residents of Voodoo Village made headlines.
Ever since, Voodoo Village has been a site
of many teen dares and initiations, and
its reputation for weirdness has only grown
over the years.
It consisted of 4 houses that had Voodoo
symbols and statues on their front lawns,
fenced in. The most noticible statue was
one of Jesus holding a bible with a dagger
through it and His hand.
Kids were always going there to gawk and
some said the people in the Voodoo homes
would pull cars across the road to try and
stop them from getting out. It was a tradition
to go Friday or Saturday night during the
school year. The kids who lived on the lake
would go whenever they saw the light of
Many old time residents avow that the Village
is inhabited by a mixed race African-American/Native
American tribe led by a charismatic Chief
named Wash Harris. It is said that the Voodoo
Village tribe practices strange rituals
that look and sound a lot like African voodoo,
but have all the formality and strangeness
of the Freemason rituals of Europe.
Several people have claimed to have witnessed
residents of the Village sacrificing animals
in these rituals – especially goats
and dogs – and for a time there was
a vigilante force in southwest Memphis solely
to protect the pets of local residents.
Strange artwork and sculptures on the lawns
of residents in Voodoo Village only lent
to the widespread belief that something
“weird” was definitely going
on. Sculptures and carvings depicting strange
planetary motifs and decorated with symbols
that appear to be Arabic or Hebrew can be
found everywhere throughout the village.
Most are attested to be the work of Wash
Harris himself, and he in fact took credit
for most of the artwork in rare interviews
he granted in the 1980’s.
It was a rite of passage back in high school
to go there at least once. You always heard
the stories about everything that was there
but you never really thought that anything
like that could exist but there it was.
Many remember the infamous schoolbus by
the entrance that some said they would push
across the entrance to the cove, there were
quite a few of the voodoo signs painted
in some kind of flourescent paint that really
added to the eeriness of the whole scene.
Since that time there has been little contact
with any resident of Voodoo Village and
Harris, who would be well over a hundred
now, has never spoken to the media again.
The fact that Harris is still called “Chief”
by many of the residents and the fact that
many believe him to be a saint or immortal
has led to speculations that Harris is still
alive inside the Village, being closely
guarded by his followers.
Old stories about the chief , some say
he was arrested by the Memphis Police Department
once and he escaped from his cell into thin
Though reporters are often chased away,
photographers have often felt the wrath
of the Villagers and it is a long standing
warning that no photographs are to be taken
inside the Village or even from the road.
Many who have tried have been pelted with
rocks and sticks and chased out of the road
by machete-wielding residents.
Some locals in the know claim that photographs
are prohibited because, once developed,
they will reveal the ghosts of the many
people who have lost their lives to Villagers
over the years. Still others insist that
photographs will reveal the Villagers as
they truly are – aging and corpse-like,
kept artificially young by the many sacrifices
and the pacts with the Devil made by their
For Memphis natives growing up in the area,
Voodoo Village was a place of curiosity
“Everyone got dared to go down there,”
says Holly, a native of Memphis now living
in Louisiana. “If you were a teenager,
it was the thing to do – get chased
by the Voodoo people.”
Holly stated that she can remember vividly
the fantastic artwork and trees hung with
fetishes and spirit bottles, before she
and her friends were chased out of the Village
by a group of turban-wearing women.
“They had to put a big fence around
it, and a gate,” Holly says, “because
it was just so popular with the local kids.”
Popular, maybe, but what of the strange
rituals? In one encounter, described by
a Memphis reporter, a Village resident asked
if he (the reporter) was a member of “the
Lodge.” When the reporter replied
that he was not, the Villager responded
that he “wouldn’t understand
any of it” and that he had better
Just what it is that can’t be understood
is anyone’s guess. With the fervor
of Masons everywhere, the Villagers jealously
guard their rituals and culture. Some have
speculated that the allusion to a “lodge”
could have many meanings beyond the average
Masonic lodge, pointing out that many Satanic
cults refer to their groups as being part
of a “lodge.”
Whatever is going on back there in Voodoo
Village, it is definitely not a place to
get lost around. One unfortunate man who
got a flat tire near the Village late one
night claims to have heard hoarse croaking
and chanting coming from the darkened houses.
He reports that he was “never so happy
to see AAA!”
Much of the myth centers on Wash Harris
who gave his village the name “St.
Peter’s Spiritual Temple” in
the 1960’s and claims to be doing
the “Lord’s work” there.
Reports from those who had access to Harris
and his compound at that time say that there
is anything BUT a religious feeling back
there and that it is more like getting lost
in the dark practices of the Congo. Harris’
temple was, they said, decorated with hundreds
of tiny fetish dolls and other images syncretized
with more familiar religions. Some claim
it is clearly a form of Haitian Voodoo.
Others who claim to have lost pets to the
Villagers who then used the hapless animals
in their strange rituals say that the place
should be torn down and the ground burned.
They point to the high number of deformities
and unusual illnesses in the community surrounding
the Village, and they lay the blame squarely
on the Voodoo going on there.
So be careful turning down the darkness
of Mary Angela Road in the dead of a Memphis
night. You never know what you might find,
or what might find you, down the road to
VOODOO VILLAGE LINKS