In 1955, a photographer was poised to snap a photograph of a spirit aboard the USS Constellation, the historic ship docked in Baltimore Harbor. The photographer, Naval Reserve Lieutenant Commander Allen Ross Brougham, set up a camera on deck just before midnight December 29th. A friend interested in the psychical world advised him that midnight was the best time to capture something. At 11:59, something materialized on the deck and the lucky photographer snapped the shutter on his camera, capturing an incredible image.
Sometime later, Brougham recalled the moment. “How can you describe a ghost? It’d be difficult to do it justice—the sudden, brightening blueish-white radiance; the translucency.”
Just before, the naval officer had detected the sharp odor of gunpowder. The spirit appeared for a brief moment, took a single stride, and vanished after he captured the photograph.
The photograph, which was published in the December 31st issue of the Baltimore Sun, shows the figure of a man beginning to materialize. His right leg, seemingly fully formed, is determinedly stepping forward and a white or gold stripe rises up the side of the spirit’s trousers. From the hips up, the image is blurred by movement, though there is still enough detail to make out that this is a naval officer. The man’s right arm is drawn across his waist as he reaches for the hilt of his sword.
The man’s coat appears to have a swallowtail that seems to lift at the back as he marches forward. Echelons of gold buttons rise on the breast, possibly with fanciful embroidery, and large epaulets crown the shoulders. Above the figure’s craggy face, he seems to wear a captain’s bicorn hat.
A glance at a history of naval uniforms puts this style to around 1852, dating this figure to around the time that this ship was constructed. In the Sun article, Brougham posits that the uniform is from around 1800, but the figure’s pants with braiding on the side, prove that this is later. A ship’s captain of 1800 would have worn a similar jacket, though with knee breeches and stockings.
The history of the USS Constellation is complicated. The sloop-of-war that is docked in Baltimore Harbor was constructed here in 1854, though some parts of the original 1797 frigate of the same name were used. For much of the 20th century, authorities argued that this ship was simply a rebuilt version of the 1797 ship, which has not hold up under close scrutiny. From the date of her construction, the ship remained commissioned by the Navy until 1955—nearly 100 years—before she was retired for preservation as a museum ship.
During her time as a museum ship, the Constellation has seen several restorations and paranormal investigations. Staff and guests have experienced much activity aboard the historic vessel. I plan to explore these encounters in further articles.
Catling, Patrick Skene. “’Ghost’ appears, but Navy doesn’t give up the ship.” Baltimore Sun. 31 December 1955.
Mills, Eric. The Spectral Tide: True Ghost Stories of the U. S. Navy. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2009.
Throughout the South, there are many places where you can sip with spirits. This guide covers all of the bars that I have explored in the pages of this blog over the years. Not only have I included independent bars, but breweries, wineries, restaurants, and hotels with bars as well.
The Baker Cemetery rises on a low hill above the road between the town of Aberdeen and the community of Churchville, in Harford County. There’s little historical information to be found online about this particular cemetery, except for the fact that it is associated with Grace United Methodist Church in Aberdeen.
A 2011 article from the local Patch.com site includes a frightening and fantastic encounter a visitor had at this quiet cemetery just off of busy I-95. This visitor stopped by the cemetery to visit the grave of a relative. After paying respects to the deceased, the visitor began to return to their car. At that point, they noticed an odd man walking along the road.
Despite the warm weather, the man was wearing a long, black trench coat and a floppy black hat. He looked up the hill towards the visitor who was frightened to see his face was “not the face of someone who would be of the living.” A moment later, the odd stranger looked directly at the visitor and began running towards them.
The visitor fled towards their car and quickly locked the doors. But, when they looked up, the strange man was nowhere to be seen. In fact, the cemetery was quiet and empty. The visitor cranked their car and quickly left.
Sometime later, the visitor’s mother asked why they hadn’t visited the cemetery lately. The visitor told her about the uncomfortable experience they had there. The mother responded that she had had the same experience there.
While this story cannot be verified, it remains a chilling tale.
In late 1881, the country was reeling from the death of President James A. Garfield. On July 2, the president, accompanied by two of his sons and his Secretary of State, James G. Blaine, entered the Baltimore and Potomac Passenger Terminal in Washington to board a train for Massachusetts, where Garfield was scheduled to make a speech at Williams College. Entering the terminal’s waiting room, the entourage was approached by a man from the crowd who fired two shots at the president.
Charles Guiteau, a mentally ill man from Illinois was arrested on the scene. Believing that God had ordained the murder, Guiteau had been stalking the president convinced that he was owed an appointment in Garfield’s administration. Both shots Guiteau fired struck the president, though only one penetrated his body: entering his back and coming to rest near his spleen.
The president lingered for more than two months while the country prayed for him to recover. While under modern circumstances Garfield would have recovered quickly, medical science of the period did not recognize and properly treat the infections that wracked his body. Garfield died on September 19 from a ruptured splenic artery aneurism with septicemia and pneumonia as contributing factors. Guiteau was charged with murder, found guilty and executed in June 30, 1882.
A few weeks after the death of the president, a curious notice appeared in a Delaware newspaper which was picked up by The Evening Visitor in Raleigh, North Carolina. The notice described a heavenly vision that was seen by residents of the Delmarva Peninsula. The vision was first viewed by a young girl in the Talbot County, Maryland community of Royal Oak.
The Evening Visitor (Raleigh, North Carolina) 13 October 1881, Page 4
Garfield’s Heavenly Escort.
PENINSULAR PEOPLE SEE THE LATE PRESIDENT SURROUNDED BY SOLDIERS IN THE SKY.
Peninsular people have been seeing ghosts and supernatural objects with alarming frequency during the last three weeks. The first instance of things heavenly having been seen comes from Royal Oak, Maryland. A little girl, some three weeks ago, living in the village, saw after night-fall, before the moon was fairly up above the horizon, whole platoons of angels marching and counter-marching to and fro in the clouds, their white robes and helmets glistening with a weird light. At intervals the heavenly visitors would dance mournfully, as if to the sound of unseen music and certainly unheard music. She rushed in to her parents and declared that the heavens had been spread and betrayed to her vision sights somewhat premature, as regard time, and then sank down in affright. Her father, to satisfy his doubting mind, went out and was rewarded with a sight of the unearthly spectacle. The news of the mystery quickly spread from mouth to mouth, from house, to house, and in an incredibly short space of time the inhabitants were out en masse gazing in open mouthed astonishment while the white robed hosts seemingly offended at the immense amount of genuine astonishment and wonder they were unearthing, slowly faded from sight, leaving Royal Oak a firm believed, from the little girl who was first on the spot to the ‘Squire in his little office behind the church in ghosts and winged goblins. But the phenomena seem to have been especially manifest in Sussex, Delaware.
Monday night two weeks ago William West, a farmer living near Georgetown, the county seat, saw, at a time almost identical with the appearance of the vision of Royal Oak, bands of soldiers of great size, equipped in dazzling uniforms their musket steels quivering and shimmering in the pale weird light that seemed to be everywhere, marching with military precision up and down unseen avenues and presenting arms at the sound of unheard commands. The vision was of startling distinctness and lasted long enough to be seen by a number of West’s neighbors who, after the unearthly military had taken its departure and been swallowed up in thin air, retailed the strange story to their eager friends who had not been so fortunate as they. But strangest of all, a man named Coverdale, who was driving thought the country along a lonely road at the same time, being then several miles away from West’s house and in an entirely different direction, saw to his astonishment and alarm the same band of soldiers in their faultless uniforms. Many people living near Laurel, many miles away, situated in the lower end of the Peninsula, saw the same extraordinary phenomena at the same time. A few go as far as to say, in spite of the ridicule of their associates, that they distinctly saw in the midst of the soldiers, and conspicuous by reason of his size and commanding presence, the hero President himself, pale, but with his every feature distinctly and vividly portrayed. There is no doubt of the fact that there were many who thought they saw Garfield in the clouds. In Talbot county the illusion was seen by [a] number. A farmer living in Clata’s Point on going out into his yard after dark saw, as he related it afterwards to his neighbors, angels and soldiers marching side by side in the clouds, wheeling and going through every evolution with military precision and absolutely life-like and natural.—Wilmington (Del.) News.
Antietam National Battlefield 5831 Dunker Church Road Sharpsburg, Maryland
Avenging and bright fall the swift sword of Erin
On him who the brave sons of Usna betray’d!
For every fond eye he hath waken’d a tear in
A drop from his heart-wounds shall weep o’er her blade.
We swear to avenge them! – no joy shall be tasted,
The harp shall be silent, the maiden unwed,
Our halls shall be mute, and our fields shall lie wasted,
Till vengeance is wreak’d on the murderer’s head.
Georgians should never be pissed off before breakfast. At least this was sentiment expressed by a Georgia soldier (many of whom were likely of Irish stock) from one of General John Bell Hood’s (the Hoods were of old Dutch stock, via New York and Kentucky) divisions when he wrote about the morning of September 17, 1862. The soldier complained, “Just as we began to cook our rations near daylight, we were shelled and ordered into formation. I have never seen a more disgusted bunch of boys and mad as hornets.”
General Robert E. Lee (of English stock) was attempting an invasion of Maryland from which he could terrorize Pennsylvania and, hopefully, bring about a swift end to the war. But, General George B. McClellan’s (from Scottish stock) Army of the Potomac had doggedly pursued him and barred his way towards the Keystone State.
In quiet cornfields on the outskirts of Sharpsburg, Maryland, Union General Joseph Hooker (of English stock) hurled his forces at the Confederates stationed near the Hagerstown Pike. Both armies fed multiple divisions into the conflagration in a cornfield watched over by a modest church built for a German Protestant sect, the Dunkers. Into this meat-grinder soldiers of vast and varied heritage met gun-barrel to gun-barrel with their brothers from Wisconsin, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas. By 10 o’clock that morning, some 8,000 men lay dead or wounded.
As carnage washed over Miller’s Cornfield, Confederates took up a position in an old farm road that decades of wagon wheels had eroded below the landscape, an old, sunken road. Around midday, Union forces were directed to attack this surprisingly strong position and each was mowed down. Fourth in line for this onslaught was the 69th New York Infantry, known as the Irish Brigade, led by General Thomas Francis Meagher.
Meagher was of solid Irish stock, having been born in the Irish city of Waterford in 1823. His father, a merchant and politician, was Canadian, though his father was born in County Tipperary, Ireland. Young Thomas Francis received his education at the hands of Jesuits in Ireland and later Britain before he settled in Dublin where he became involved in the Irish Nationalist movement.
In the village of Ballingarry, in South Tipperary, Meagher and other “Young Irelanders,” led an attack on a local police unit in 1848. After the police called in reinforcements, Meagher and the other rebels fled. They were arrested and put on trial for treason. The leaders of the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848 were sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered in the British tradition, but a public outcry led the judge to commute their sentence to being exiled to the British penal colony in Tasmania, Australia.
Arriving in Australia, nearly all of these political convicts escaped with Meagher and John Mitchel making their way for New York City where both settled and became prominent activists and journalists. Taking up the cause of slavery, Mitchel found his way to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he started the Southern Citizen newspaper, and later he served as editor for the Richmond, Virginia newspaper, the Richmond Enquirer. After the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, Meagher was moved to support the Union, despite previous sympathies with the South and his friend, Mitchel.
Of his decision to support the Union, Meagher wrote, “It is not only our duty to America, but also to Ireland. We could not hope to succeed in our effort to make Ireland a Republic without the moral and material support of the liberty-loving citizens of these United States.” He recruited his fellow countrymen and built Company K of the 69th Infantry Regiment, New York Volunteers, which was now being sent into the hail of gunfire and artillery towards the Sunken Road.
To remind his men of the Irish heritage, Meagher wanted to present each man with a shamrock before the battle, but as none were available, he presented the men with sprigs of boxwood instead. The ranks lined up for their charge into the valley of death while the brigade’s chaplain, Father William Corby, rode up and down giving the men conditional absolution. With their emerald green flags flapping in the breeze, the Irish Brigade marched into the fray with an old, Irish battle cry, “Faugh-a-ballagh!” or “clear the way.” Around 540 of his men were killed before the brigade was withdrawn from the field. Meagher reportedly fell from his horse with some reports that he was drunk, while the official Union report presented to General McClellan states that his horse had been shot.
Following the Irish Brigade’s bravery on the field of glory, the Union was able to beat back the Confederates from the Sunken Road, which earned this once peaceful farm road the gory moniker, “Bloody Lane.” The battle progressed south to a picturesque stone bridge on Antietam Creek where the battle concluded with nothing gained by either side. To historians, the battle proved to be the bloodiest day in American history with some 23,000 souls killed, wounded, or missing.
The battlefield at Antietam has been preserved by the National Park Service and it is considered one of the best preserved Civil War battlefields in the country. With all the blood that stained the battlefield that day, it’s no surprise that echoes of the battle still ring across the fields and vaporous martial apparitions continue to appear. One of the most commonly told stories from the battlefield concerns the a visit from a class from the McDonogh School, a private school in Owings Mills, Maryland. After touring the battlefield, the teacher allowed the students to wander the park, consider the events that took place there, and write their impressions. When the teacher began reading the students’ papers he was shocked to read that some students heard shouts coming from the Bloody Lane that sounded like someone singing a Christmas carol, something that sounded like “fa-la-la-la!” Was this the old Irish battle cry from the Irish Brigade of “Faugh-a-ballagh?”
In his 2012 book, Civil War Ghost Trails, former park ranger Mark Nesbitt includes another fascinating story that asks if the spirits of the Confederates killed at Bloody Lane may also be active. Some years ago, a group of Civil War reenactors decided to camp at Bloody Lane. Just after settling down, the uniformed reenactors began to hear whispering and moaning as well as feeling odd chills. One-by-one they escaped to the safety of their cars leaving one reenactor alone on the battlefield. As they settled into their cars, the men a shriek and saw the reenactor stumbling back from field.
Still shaking from his experience, the reenactor told his friends that he was laying within on the old road. He had heard the same sounds that frightened the others, but he only thought their imaginations were getting the best of them. Suddenly he saw a hand rise from the ground between his chest and his arm. With brute force the hand began to press on his chest as if to pull him into the earth. After he began screaming, the arm vanished.
But lo! there surges forth a shriek, From hill to hill, from creek to creek- Potomac calls to Chesapeake, Maryland! My Maryland! –from Stanza VII, “Maryland, my Maryland” by James Ryder Randall (1861), state song of Maryland since 1939.
Point Lookout State Park 11175 Point Lookout Road Scotland, Maryland
N.B. This article was first published on Courtney Mroch’s Haunt Jaunts 14 September 2016.
Where the Potomac River calls to and meets the Chesapeake Bay at a place called Point Lookout, shrieks sometimes rend the quiet night air. The shrieks and cries may come from the throats of the countless men who withered and died in the Union prison camp here or perhaps they are shrieks of terror from the living who have encountered the active spirits who haunt this place. Here in this wild and lonely place, apparitions are frequently accompanied by audible echoes of the past and negative energies of the past are still palpable in the salty breeze from the Chesapeake Bay.
Seemingly squashed between Virginia and Pennsylvania and hemmed in by the Chesapeake Bay, Delaware, and West Virginia, Maryland seems to be more of an afterthought as a state, though it is perhaps one of the more important states in the early history of this country. In terms of the paranormal landscape, Maryland is also not well regarded, though it could be seen as one of the more haunted states in the South if not the country. From the small villages clustered along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay to the Washington, D.C. suburbs, Baltimore, Annapolis, the battlefield-pocked farmland of Washington County to the mountains of Western Maryland, the state is haunted to its core. Among its contributions to American paranormal studies are the 1949 exorcism of a young boy in Cottage City (a Washington, D.C. suburb in Prince George’s County) that forms the basis of William Peter Blatty’s novel, The Exorcist; the persistent legend of a goatman-like creature near Beltsville (also near Washington); and numerous macabre near-mythical characters including the killer Patty Cannon, the vengeful slave Big Lizz, the Pig Woman of Cecil County. Haunted landmarks include the USS Constitution docked in Baltimore Harbor, the Antietam battlefield, the Landon House in Urbana, Governor’s Bridge, the University of Maryland in College Park, and historic and haunted cities such as Ellicott City and Frederick.
Point Lookout is the most southern tip of St. Mary’s County, the oldest established county in the state having been established in 1637. The area was first explored by Captain John Smith (yes, the one of Pocahontas fame) in 1608 who noted the abundant fish and game, the fertile soil, and the strategic military importance of this spot. Over the next couple centuries settlers here endured attacks from Native Americans and the site’s military importance brought a raid from British forces during the American Revolution. After a number of ships were lost on the shoals just offshore from Point Lookout, the government built a lighthouse in 1830. Despite the warning beacon, some catastrophic shipwrecks still occurred here including the USS Tulip which sank with 47 souls after a boiler explosion, and the tragic breakup of the steamship Express during the Great Gale of 1878 with the loss of 16 souls.
The Civil War brought thousands to this little peninsula with the establishment in 1862 of Hammond General Hospital to care for wounded soldiers. The immense building could house 1,400 patients and consisted of 16 buildings arranged as the spokes in a wheel. A short distance from the hospital Camp Hoffman was established the next year to house Confederate prisoners of war. In The Photographic History of the Civil War, the camp is described: “No barracks were erected, but tents were used instead…The prison was the largest in the North, and at times nearly twenty thousand were in confinement…in winter the air was cold and damp, and the ground upon which most men lay was also damp.” In this rude prison—nearly all prison camps during this war were rude and inhumane—some 3,000 Confederate troops perished from disease and exposure to the elements. With this dark history it’s no wonder that Point Lookout is teeming with activity.
In 1992 on the FOX TV show, Sightings, paranormal investigator Lynda Martin says of Point Lookout: “This has to be one of the places that I’ve investigated, that it’s just the whole area is just full of activity. It’s not just localized to just one building or one spot on the grounds, it includes the whole area. I’ve never come in contact with anything like that before.” After a 1980 paranormal investigation here involving Hans Holzer, the pioneering paranormal researcher and early ghost hunter, he declared, “that place is haunted as hell!” For decades, reports have been filtering out from Point Lookout from staff and visitors alike regarding paranormal activity here. What makes these reports so interesting and important is the wide variety of experiences and the evidence that has been captured.
Some years ago a reenactor was spending the night in an old guardhouse near Fort Lincoln, one of the earthen forts built to defend the prison stockade. Going out after dark to gather firewood, the man knelt down and heard the distinct sound of a bullet whizzing past his head. A window pane in the guardhouse behind him was struck and shattered. Shaking with fright from his near-death encounter, the reenactor fled the area. Returning the next morning, he was shocked to find that all the window panes were perfectly in place and none had been shattered.
It is perhaps the old lighthouse here that serves best as a beacon for spirits. Various caretakers have lived in the early 19th-century structure and many of them have had experiences. It was one of these caretakers living here in the late 1970s who asked paranormal investigators to check out the activity after he had numerous experiences in the building. One evening as the caretaker sat at his kitchen table he was overcome with the sensation of being watched. Walking to the door he saw the visage of a man wearing a floppy hat looking back at him through the window. His curiosity was aroused by the strange visitor and the caretaker opened the door to let him in. The figure turned and walked through the screen that enclosed the porch. The same caretaker regularly reported hearing voices, footsteps, moaning, and snoring throughout the house when he was home alone.
A park ranger reported that he saw a Confederate soldier running across the road near where the camp hospital once stood. Over the years that he served at the park he claimed to have seen the soldier nearly a dozen times. A group of fishermen arriving early one morning reportedly struck a man who suddenly appeared in the road ahead of them. The group exited the vehicle to find no man or damage to the car, though they had all experienced the thump of the man’s body hitting the car. Another park employee on patrol one night turned to see a field of white tents lined up in the middle of the road. She fled without looking back.
In terms of auditory evidence, Sarah Estep, one of the pioneers in the field of EVP or electronic voice phenomena, was a part of the 1980 investigation and captured a number of EVP here. Among the EVPs captured was one saying, “let’s talk,” while another EVP came in response to Estep’s question, “were you a soldier here?” The clear voice of a young man states, “I was seeing the war.” These EVPs were among some 25 captured during this investigation. Others have successfully captured singing, humming, and even the chanting of soldiers on tape when nothing was heard at the time.
From the ominous lighthouse to the spiritual artifacts remaining from the Civil War prison camps, Point Lookout remains one of the most important historical and paranormal landmarks in the South.
Charles, TBN. “Troubled spirits are restless at one Southern Maryland site.” The Bay Net. 22 October 2015.
Cotter, Amelia. Maryland Ghosts: Paranormal Encounters in the Free State, 2nd Ed. Haunted Road Media, 2015
Davis, William C. & Bell I. Wiley, eds. Photographic History of the Civil War, Vicksburg to Appomattox. NYC: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 1983.
Gallagher, Trish. Ghosts and Haunted Houses of Maryland. Tidewater Publishers, 1988.
“Legends of Point Lookout. Bay Weekly, Vol. 8, No. 42. 19-25 October 2000.
Oconowicz, Ed. Big Book of Maryland Ghost Stories. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2010.
‘Twas the night before Halloween and all through the blog, little was stirring…
This move from Blogger to this new site has been tedious and time-consuming. I’ve tossed out a great deal of junky posts and put many posts aside that need to be updated and refreshed leaving me with many bits and pieces that should be republished in a different context. This is a selection of recycled pieces for Halloween.
East Coast/West Coast 138 St. George Street St. Augustine, Florida
This modest commercial building once housed Kixie’s Men’s Store and some odd activity. The shop employed a young tailor, Kenneth Beeson who would later serve as mayor for the city. While working late one evening he noticed a door opening by itself followed by the sweet scent of funereal flowers. After experiencing odd activity for a while, Beeson put out a tape recorder and set it to record just before he left. When he returned the following morning, he was shocked to discover a plethora of sounds including marching feet and guttural growls. Disturbed by these incidents, Beeson had a priest exorcise the building. The activity ceased.
Cain, Suzy & Dianne Jacoby. A Ghostly Experience: Tales of St. Augustine, Florida. City Gate Productions, 1997.
Lapham, Dave. Ghosts of St. Augustine. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 1997.
Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel Chetoogeta Mountain Tunnel Hill, Georgia
As the railroad spread its tentacles throughout the nation before the tumult of the Civil War, a route was needed from Augusta, Georgia to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Numerous obstacles stood in the way, but the biggest was Chetoogeta Mountain. Plans for a railroad tunnel dated to the second half of the 1830s, but work did not commence until 1848 with work completed two years later. The new tunnel was instrumental in Atlanta’s growth as a railroad hub and was a strategic feature for the Confederacy to protect during the Civil War.
The tunnel’s strategic importance led to a series of skirmishes being fought here leading up to the Battle of Atlanta. Following the war, the tunnel remained in service until 1928 when a new tunnel was built a few yards away. The old tunnel became overgrown with kudzu and was largely forgotten until 1992 when preservationists fought to save the tunnel. It is now the centerpiece of a park that features reenactments of the skirmishes fought at the site.
It is often re-enactors who have encountered anything supernatural at the site. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of documented accounts of spirits at Tunnel Hill. At least four books and a handful of good articles document the high levels of activity at this site. Accounts include the apparitions of soldiers seen both inside the tunnel and around it. Ghostly campfires, disembodied screams, spectral lantern light and the smell of rotting flesh (minus the presence of actual rotting flesh) have all been reported by re-enactors and visitors alike.
DeFeo, Todd. “Antebellum railroad tunnel still a marvel after all These years.” com. 22 June 2009.
Kotarski, Georgiana C. Ghosts of the Southern Tennessee Valley. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2006.
Underwood, Corinna. Haunted History: Atlanta and North Georgia. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2008.
Western and Atlantic Railroad Tunnel. Tunnel Hill Heritage Center. Accessed 28 November 2010.
Old Talbott Tavern 107 West Stephen Foster Avenue Bardstown, Kentucky
Continuously open since the late 18th century except for a period in the late 1990s when the tavern was being renovated following a disastrous fire, the Old Talbott Tavern has hosted an impressive array of visitors ranging from Daniel Boone to General George Patton. Perhaps one of the famous guests who has never checked out is outlaw Jesse James who stayed frequently in the tavern while visiting his cousin who was the local sheriff. With the claims of Jesse James’ spirit which may also roam the halls of Selma, Alabama’s St. James Hotel, James’ spirit may split the hereafter between two favorite locales. But James’ spirit is not the only spirit acting up in the Old Talbott Tavern. Other ghosts may include formers guests, owners and their families.
Old Louisiana State Capitol 100 North Boulevard Baton Rouge, Louisiana
When the state capitol was moved from New Orleans to Baton Rouge in 1846, the city donated land atop a bluff over the Mississippi for the capitol building. Architect James Dakin designed a Neo-Gothic building very much unlike the other state capitols which were often modeled on the U.S. Capitol building in Washington. The magnificent crenellated and be-towered structure was used as a prison and garrison for soldiers under the city’s Union occupation and during this time it caught fire twice leaving it a soot-stained shell by the war’s end. The building was reconstructed in 1882 but abandoned in 1932 for Governor Huey Long’s new state capitol.
Even before the capitol burned during the war, there was a ghost gliding through its halls. Pierre Couvillon, a legislator representing Avoyelles Parish, enraged by his colleagues’ corruption, suffered a heart attack and died. Though he was buried in his home parish, his spirit was said to reside in the capitol; perhaps checking up on his colleagues. When the capitol building underwent restoration in the 1990s, the spirit or spirits in the building were stirred up and activity has increased. Staff members and visitors have reported odd occurrences. One security guard watched as movement detectors were set off through a series of rooms while nothing was seen on the video.
Two organizations investigated the building in 2009 and uncovered much evidence. Louisiana Spirits Paranormal Investigations picked up a number of interesting EVPs including someone singing the old song, “You Are My Sunshine.” Everyday Paranormal, in their investigation had a few encounters in the basement of the building, the area used as a prison during the Union occupation. It seems that there are many spirits within the crenellated walls of the Old Capitol.
Duvernay, Adam. “Several Baton Rouge sites said to be haunted.” The Daily Reveille. 27 October 2009.
Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican, 2007.
Louisiana Spirits Paranormal Investigations. Old State Capitol, Baton Rouge, LA. Accessed 11 November 2011.
Southeastern Students. “Old State Capitol Still Occupied by Former Ghosts.” com. 29 October 2009.
Jericho Covered Bridge Jericho Road at Little Gunpowder Falls Harford County Near Jerusalem, Maryland
Straddling the county line between Harford County and Baltimore County over the Little Gunpowder Falls is the Jericho Covered Bridge, constructed in 1865. According to Ed Okonowicz in his Haunted Maryland, there are legends of people seeing slaves hanging from the rafters inside this nearly 88-foot bridge. Certainly, there is an issue with this as the bridge was constructed in 1865, after the end of both slavery and the Civil War. Other, more realistic legends, speak of a woman seen on the bridge wearing old-fashioned clothing and people having their cars stop inexplicably in the middle of the bridge.
Varhola, Michael J. and Michael H. Varhola. Ghosthunting Maryland. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2009.
Corinth Battlefield Corinth, Mississippi
Following the Confederate’s disastrous attack in April of 1862 on the Union forces at Shiloh, Tennessee (for a battle description see my entry on the Beauregard-Keyes House in New Orleans), the Union army laid siege for two days to the vital railroad town of Corinth, just over the state line. To save his army from annihilation, General P.T.G. Beauregard gave the appearance of reinforcement troops arriving and being put in place while efficiently moving his troops out of the city to nearby Tupelo. The Union army entered the city the following day to find it devoid of Confederates. In October of the same year, Confederates tried once again and failed to capture the city losing some 4,000 men (including dead, wounded and missing) in the process.
The battlefield on which these two battles were fought is now incorporated into the mid-sized city of Corinth. Portions of the battlefield and earthworks are now preserved as the Corinth unit of Shiloh National Military Park. As one might expect, some of those portions have spiritual artifacts remaining. Some of the best stories from Civil War battlefields come from re-enactors who have experiences while re-enacting battles and one of the primary reports of ghosts from the Corinth battlefield comes from a re-enactor whose story was documented by Alan Brown. This particular re-enactor heard the sound of a phantom cavalry and a few nights later, the sound of someone rummaging through her tent while camping on the battlefield.
Brown, Alan. Stories from the Haunted Southland. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.
North Carolina Zoological Park 4401 Zoo Parkway Asheboro, North Carolina
North Carolina lawyer and folklorist Daniel Barefoot has done much to preserve North Carolina and Southern legends and ghost stories in his books. His series, North Carolina’s Haunted Hundred provides a single ghost story or legend from each of the state’s one hundred counties. From Randolph County, smack dab in the middle of the state, comes the legend of the aptly named, Purgatory Mountain, now home to the NC Zoo. The state-owned zoo is the largest walk-through habitat zoos in the world and a major attraction in the region.
During the Civil War, much of rural North Carolina was resistant to seceding from the Union and, as a result, the state was the final state to secede. Still, many citizens, including the peaceable Quakers of Randolph County resisted joining the butternut ranks. Recruiters were sent to these areas to nudge and sometimes force the inhabitants to join. One particular recruiter in this area earned the nickname, “The Hunter,” for his harsh methods. He rounded up a group of Quaker boys, tied them roughly and marched them to Wilmington to join the army, but a few escaped and returned, bedraggled to their rural homes. When the recruiter returned, this group of escaped boys shot him outside of his cabin at Purgatory Mountain. His malevolent spirit is still supposedly stalking the crags of his mountain home.
Barefoot, Daniel W. North Carolina’s Haunted Hundred, Vol. 2: Piedmont Phantoms. Winston-Salem, NC, John F. Blair, 2002.
Carter House 1140 Columbia Avenue Franklin, Tennessee
By some accounts, the Battle of Franklin, November 30, 1864, was one of the bloodiest battles of the war. Some historians have even deemed it the “Gettysburg of the South.” Fought right on the edge of the town of Franklin, the battle hit very close to the home front and absolutely hammered the farm of the Carter family which was located at the center of the main defensive line. During the furious fighting, the Carters, neighbors and slaves cowered in the basement of the house, emerging after the battle to witness the carnage spread through their yard and around their house. The house and outbuildings still bear bullet holes, attesting to their experience.
Fanny Courtney Carter, who was 8 years old when the battle overtook her family’s farm, later recalled the day following the battle: “Early the next morning after the Battle I went to the field. The sight was dreadful. It seemed I could scarcely move for fear of stepping on men either dead or wounded. Some were clod and stiff, others with the lifeblood ebbing out, unconscious of all around, while others were writing in agony and calling ‘Water! Water!’ I can hear them even now.” Fanny’s brother, Tod, who had enlisted in the Confederate army was found some yards from the house, his body riddled with eight bullets, but still clinging to life. The family brought him into the parlor of his home where he died on December 2.
The pastoral fields that once surrounded the Carter House as well as the town of Franklin that saw so much blood that November day have mostly been lost to development though the spiritual imprint of the battle is still felt throughout the city. The spirit of Tod Carter may be one of the more active spirits at the Carter House. He has been seen sitting on the edge of the bed where he may have died and according to Alan Brown, he took a tour of the house, correcting the tour guide when she didn’t use the correct name or date and disappearing before he and the guide could descend to the basement.
Apparently he’s not the only lingering spirit. Poltergeist activity in the house has been attributed to Tod’s sister, Annie. Objects have moved from room to room and one visitor on a tour watched a figurine that jumped up and down.
Battle of Franklin (2009). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 13 December 2010.
Brown, Alan. Haunted Tennessee: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena Of the Volunteer State. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2009.
Rockledge Mansion 440 Mill Street Occoquan, Virginia
The town website for Occoquan (pronounced OK-oh-qwahn), Virginia states that the city, “has an inordinate amount of spooks per capita” and then goes on to list a number of locations in the town with ghosts. Among this remarkable collection of haunted locations is the magnificent Georgian mansion, Rockledge, which commands a literal rock ledge above Mill Street. The town was founded in the mid-eighteenth century as a port on the Occoquan River and during the Civil War this northern Virginia town served as a post office between the North and the South.
Quite possibly the work of colonial architect, William Buckland, Rockledge was built in 1758 by local industrialist John Ballandine. In the yard of this house the ghost of a Confederate soldier has been seen and possibly heard. One witness saw the soldier then noticed peculiar wet footprints on the front steps that appeared to be from hobnail boots, the kind that would have been worn by soldiers during the war. Many people have heard loud footsteps in the house as well as someone knocking at the door. So far, no source has identified this soldier.
Streng, Aileen. “Benevolent ghost believed to haunt mansion.” com. 27 October 2010.
Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for Rockledge Mansion. Listed 25 June 1973.
Berkeley Castle WV-9 Berkeley Springs
Berkeley Springs, also known as “Bath,” has attracted visitors who come to take the waters of the mineral springs located there. Overlooking this quaint town from a commanding position on Warm Spring Mountain sits Berkeley Castle, seemingly a piece of medieval Britain transplanted. Modeled and named after Britain’s own Berkeley Castle, the castle was built as a wedding gift from Colonel Samuel Suit for his bride, Rosa Pelham. The Colonel, who was quite a bit older than his bride, died before the castle was finished and his widow finished the building. She lived in the castle after his death and squandered the fortune she inherited and died penniless well away from the castle, but legends speak of her return.
The castle was purchased by paranormal investigators in 2000 but sold fairly shortly after that. Once open for tours, the castle is now primarily a private residence, though it may be rented for weddings, parties and other events.
Fischer, Karin. “Castle in Eastern Panhandle could be in need of a new lord this spring.” Charleston (WV) Daily Mail. 21 November 2000.
History Berkeley Castle. Berkeley Castle. Accessed 19 March 2011.
Robinson, James Foster. A Ghostly Guide to West Virginia. Winking Eye Books, 2008.
Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum 813 South Atlantic Avenue Ocean City, Maryland
On October 28th, Dead of Night Paranormal Investigations will host an investigation of Ocean City’s former Life-Saving Station. Constructed in 1891, this white, wood frame building housed a keeper and a team of “surfmen” who monitored the local coast for ships in distress. Once a distressed ship was spotted, the team would leap into action and attempt to rescue any souls aboard the vessel. It was dangerous work that sometimes claimed the lives of the rescuers as well as those who they tried to rescue.
The Life Saving Service—organized by the federal government in 1848—was merged into the Coast Guard in 1915 and this building was in service until 1964 when a new structure opened nearby. When the town considered demolishing the building in 1977, locals organized to save the structure and install a museum of local history. Today, packed with local artifacts and memorabilia, the building remains occupied by spirits who flit through the exhibition reminding visitors and staff of the lives that have been led and may have ended in this unassuming building.
Among the many relics is life-sizes rag doll with a grotesque gap-toothed grin known as “Laughing Sal.” Sal once greeted visitors to Jester’s Funhouse, one of the attractions located along the Ocean City Boardwalk. With a terrifying laugh and jerky animatronic movements, Laughing Sal invited visitors into the thrills of the funhouse. When the funhouse closed Sal was stored away, though vandals attempted to destroy the doll, she was restored and returned to greet visitors to the museum. Like Key West’s famous Robert the Doll, Sal continues to frighten visitors and staff alike. While the doll is no longer rigged to move, her disconcerting laugh can be heard by pressing a button in front of her display. However, Sal has been known to laugh when no one is around and when no one has pressed her button.
Laughing Sal’s creepy guffawing is not the only paranormal activity encountered in the old life-saving station. A little, blonde haired boy has been seen running and playing in the museum. Once, as the museum staff was closing, the little boy dashed through the front door into the museum. A staff member pursued the child into the museum, though he had apparently vanished. Despite checking every space a curious child might hide, the staff member could not locate him. The life-saving station has saved many a life and a few spirits as well.
Boardwalk Birdie. “Ghost hunting in Ocean City.” com. 11 September 2017.
Burgoyne, Mindie. Haunted Ocean City and Berlin. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2014.
The rain had slackened on the night of July 30th in Ellicott City, Maryland when the water flowing down Main Street began to form into cascades and eventually a torrent. The historic cobblestone streets and storefronts funnelled the raging water into a flume as it sought the refuge of the Patapsco River at the foot of Main Street. Cars, pedestrians, mud, merchandise, and eventually pavement and parts of the street joined the river-bound tumult. Within hours much of the street itself had been swept away leaving the foundations of the buildings on either side exposed. In the chaos, two lives were lost, several buildings totally destroyed, and many more sustained severe damage.
Ellicott City is no stranger to flooding and its historic streets and buildings bear scars from floods over the centuries. Some of those scars are spiritual in nature. It has been claimed that Ellicott City is the most haunted city in the country—though I take no stock in any claims of being “the most haunted”—though at least some of that haunted nature may stem from the floods. The father and son ghosthunting team of Michael J. and Michael H. Varhola, authors of Ghosthunting Maryland, posit that granite may also be a cause. The city lies on a large deposit of granite, some of which has been quarried for the city’s building materials. Indeed, many historic structures use granite as well as the city’s cobblestone streets. Regardless of the cause, Ellicott City does have more than its fair share of ghosts.
Situated on the upper reaches of Main Street, The Judge’s Bench escaped the damage visited on its neighbors down Main Street by the floodwaters of July 30, 2016. As part of downtown Ellicott City, however, The Judge’s Bench has not escaped the city’s more haunting aspects. Indeed, this pub has one of the city’s more well-known ghost stories. In fact, the story is noted in the building’s description in the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties.
The Inventory of Historic Properties notes that the Judges Bench property has been occupied at least as far back as 1860. The stone and wood frame building on this site has been occupied by several businesses over the decades, most notably Berger’s Grocery Store. During this period, the grocery’s proximity to the local courts supposedly brought judges to the store on their lunch. The judges would often sit on a bench outside the store as they ate, thus the name “The Judge’s Bench.” In researching the building, I stumbled across an interesting article in the Baltimore Sun concerning a fire that severely damaged a block of Main Street in 1940. Unfortunately, while the article notes Berger’s Grocery, a laundry, and the Church of God as being in this block, it does not specify addresses and I can’t determine if this was the exact block.
The story of the fire is interesting, however, especially in the treatment of the Chinese immigrant businessman, Der Wong, who owned and operated the laundry that was decimated in the fire. The reporter decided that the fire was much less interesting than Mr. Wong’s personal story and the loss of his life savings (in cash) that he stored in the now-ruined building. While the reporter treats Mr. Wong and his story condescendingly, he also buries the details of the fire, though he notes that much of Berger’s Grocery was lost and that the Bergers, both of whom were 56, escaped to the roof of the building where firemen brought them down by ladders. No one was killed in the fire.
The Judge’s Bench has operated as a bar for several decades and for much of that the story has been told of the resident spirit, Mary. According to locals, the daughter of the Bergers took her own life in 1962 on the third floor by hanging herself from one of the building’s rafters. While she makes her presence known throughout the building, her spirit is most active on the third floor. In 1997, the bar’s manager told a reporter from the Baltimore Sun, “I make people come upstairs with me because I’m scared.”
Staff had already had issues with liquor bottles falling from behind the bar and one of the bar owners opened one morning to discover liquor bottles neatly lined up on the floor behind the bar. Other staff had issues with the restrooms where toilets would unaccountably flush on their own, faucets would turn themselves on, and an entire roll of toilet paper once unrolled itself while no one was in the bar but a single staff person.
Some years ago, one of the owners was working in the building’s third floor, she was shocked to feel a cold breeze, but could not locate a source. A 1997 investigation of the bar documented in a Halloween article in the Baltimore Sun provides the impressions of a psychic who explored this haunted area. “The only thing I’m getting is that someone once used this as a refuge,” the psychic contends, “I think this was a refuge…a place where maybe someone came to hide from everyone.” The psychic noticed the rafter where Mary supposedly hanged herself and the sensitive remarked, “There’s something about it that keeps catching my eye. It looks like there was fire damage or something.”
Since the disastrous July floods, the Judge’s Bench has reopened and life has begun to return to Main Street and presumably, Mary has returned to her antics.
“Chinese laundryman loses life’s savings as shop burns.” Baltimore Sun. 6 April 1940.
Maryland Investory of Historic Properties. “The Judge’s Bench.” Accessed 2 January 2017.
Nitkin, Karen. “Change is stranger at Judge’s Bench.” Baltimore Sun. 27 July 2000.
Nitkin, Karen. “Ghost tours attract visitors to Ellicott City.” Baltimore Sun. 29 July 2011.
Ollove, Michael. “The spirits move them.” Baltimore Sun. 31 October 1997.
Peterman, Erika D. “Spirited excursion attracts ghost club.” Baltimore Sun. 24 May 1998.
Rector, Kevin. “2 dead, emergency declared after historic Ellicott City ravaged by flash flood.” Baltimore Sun. 1 August 2016.
Sachs, Andrea. “A history spree in Ellicott City, Md.” Washington Post. 16 October 2014.
Stretching from Key West, the southernmost point in the country to the Canadian border at the St. John River in Fort Kent, Maine, US-1 connects the East Coast. In the South it links together important cities from Miami to Jacksonville, Florida; Augusta, Georgia; Columbia, South Carolina; Raleigh, North Carolina; Richmond and Arlington, Virginia; Washington, D. C.; to Baltimore, Maryland before entering into Yankee territory. It also links historic and haunted cities like St. Augustine, Florida; Aiken and Camden, South Carolina; Petersburg, Fredericksburg, and Alexandria, Virginia before it solemnly passes The Pentagon, with Arlington National Cemetery beyond it, before crossing the Potomac into Washington.
US-1 may be considered among the most haunted roads in the country. Not only does it directly pass a number of haunted places, but many more can be found within a short drive of this legendary road. This tour samples just a few of the legendary spots found alongside or near this legendary road.
Pig Woman Legend Cecil County
As US-1 dips south out of Pennsylvania into the countryside of Maryland, it enters Cecil County, the domain of the Pig Woman. According to local folklorist, Ed Okonowicz, the Pig Woman stalks the northern counties of the state as well as the marshes of the Eastern Shore, though the primary setting is usually in Cecil County. Okonowicz’s version of the tale begins near the town of North East where a farmhouse caught fire in the 19th century. The lady of the house was horribly burned in the fire and witnesses watched her flee into the nearby woods. She usually confronts drivers near a certain old bridge and causes cars to stall. The drivers see the specter of the Pig Woman who scratches and beats on the car. Terrified drivers who flee their vehicles are never seen again, though those who stay in their cars are left with horrible memories and odd scratches as well as dents on their vehicles.
This tale has been told around Cecil County for decades with hotspots for Pig Woman encounters being reported around North East, Elkton, and, in the 1960s, near Rising Sun, through which US-1 passes. Matt Lake, author of Weird Maryland, associates this tale with tales from Europe that tell of a woman with a pig-like face, particularly stories that ran rampant in early 19th century London. Despite deep European roots, the Pig Woman Legend remains fairly unique among Southern ghostlore.
Lake, Matt. Weird Maryland. NYC: Sterling Publishing, 2005.
Okonowicz, Ed. The Big Book of Maryland Ghost Stories. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2010.
Wormuth, Laura. “Decoding the Pig Lady of Elkton legend.” 31 October 2013.
Susquehanna River At the Conowingo Dam Between Cecil and Harford Counties
The Conowingo Dam, built between 1926 and 1928, carries US-1 over the Susquehanna River. Only five miles from the Pennsylvania border, this area was rife with activity when the Underground Railroad was in operation before the Civil War. Slaves seeking freedom in Pennsylvania would ply the river at night looking for red lanterns on the riverbanks that marked the safe houses. Slave catchers also used red lanterns to capture contraband slaves only a scant few miles from freedom in order to return them to their owners. Flimsy rafts were often employed here that led to the drowning deaths of some.
Along the river, the red lights are supposed to bob and dance on the riverbanks even today while the moans of slaves and even spectral bodies floating in the water are encountered by hikers, campers, and fishermen in the area.
Ricksecker, Mike. Ghosts of Maryland. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2010.
Peddler’s Run Flowing parallel to Glen Cove Road and MD-440 Near Dublin
On the western side of the river, one of the tributaries offering up its waters to the Susquehanna is named for a ghost; it’s called Peddler’s Run. As the legend states, in 1763 a poor peddler on the Dublin-Stafford Road (now MD-440) was found decapitated near John Bryarley’s Mill on Rocky Run. Locals buried the body near the creek where it was discovered. Not long after the peddler’s burial, his specter was seen walking along the creek without his head. In 1843 a skull was found by another local farmer. Presuming it to be that of the now legendary peddler, the skull was buried with the traveler’s remains. The peddler’s spirit was not seen again, though his name still graces the creek.
Hauck, Dennis William. Haunted Places: The National Directory. NYC: Penguin Press, 1995.
Varhola, Michael J. and Michael H. Varhola. Ghosthunting Maryland. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2009.
Tudor Hall 17 Tudor Lane Bel Air
As it hurries towards Baltimore, US-1 passes through the county seat of Harford County, Bel Air. Northeast of downtown is Tudor Hall, the former home of the famous and infamous Booth family. Junius Brutus Booth, one of the greatest American Shakespearian actors of the first half of the 19th century, built this Gothic-style home for his family. In this fine home, Booth’s family were immersed in the family occupation of acting. The halls rang with snippets of Sheridan and Etheredge while family members are supposed to have performed the balcony scene from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet using the balcony on the side of the house. Some of the elder Booth’s children would achieve their own celebrity including his sons Edwin, Junius Brutus Jr., and his daughter, Asia. Booth’s son, John Wilkes, who inherited his father’s fiery personality, would achieve notoriety after he assassinated President Lincoln after the end of the Civil War heaping infamy of Shakespearean proportions on the family name.
As word of Lincoln’s assassination spread, troops began to seek out members of the Booth family. Troops searched Tudor Hall which was still owned by the Booths but being rented to another family. The house passed out of family hands a few years later and has been owned by a host of individuals. Now owned by Harford County, the house is home to the Center for the Arts and is open a few times a month for tours.
The Booth’s legacy has extended from the theatrical realm into the spiritual. The spirits of several Booth family members have been reported throughout the South including John Wilkes Booth’s spirit which may still stalk Ford’s Theatre in Washington and Dr. Mudd’s farm in Waldorf, Maryland, where he was treated for a broken leg after his dastardly deed at the theatre. Legend holds (wrongly so) that Edwin’s dramatic spirit still appears on the stage of Columbus, Georgia’s Springer Opera House where he appeared in the early 1870s as well as in the halls of the Players’ Club in New York City where he died. Junius Brutus Booth’s fiery spirit may still roam the halls of Charleston, South Carolina’s Dock Street Theatre, formerly the Planter Hotel, where he stayed in the 1850s. Appropriately the building was transformed into a theatre in the 1930s.
Of course, the family’s seat in Bel Air may also be haunted by members of the spirited family. One couple who owned the house told the Washington Post in 1980 that they once were greeted by small brown and white pony. The curious creature looked into the couple’s car and then peeked into the house through a rear window. Moments later the creature vanished. The couple believed the animal was the spirit of Junius Booth’s favorite pony, Peacock. The same couple had a dinner party interrupted by spectral antics when a guest asked for seconds. The hosts and their guests were astonished as the top of a cake lifted up and landed at the place of that guest. People who have lived and worked in the house continue to tell stories of unexplained footsteps, voices, and things moving on their own accord with this storied house.
Allen, Bob. “In Maryland, a couple preserves the estate of the ill-starred Booth family.” The Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA). 21 December 1986.
Meyer, Eugene L. “House Booth built is slightly spooky.” Washington Post. 10 January 1980.
Perry Hall Mansion 3930 Perry Hall Road Perry Hall
It is arguable that the namesake of this Baltimore suburb is actually haunted. This grand colonial mansion sat derelict for many years and acquired a reputation of being haunted. The legend that has persisted about this house states that builder of this home and his wife both died on Halloween night in the late 18th century and that in the time since, some 50 other people have died here under mysterious circumstances some of whom still haunt the house. Though, according to the mansion’s website, none of this is true.
Baltimore businessman Harry Dorsey Gough acquired this vast estate in the 1770s and constructed this mansion which he named for his family’s ancestral home in Britain. Gough lived the life of a colonial playboy for a while after Perry Hall was constructed but after a visit to a Methodist meeting in Baltimore, he converted to the new Christian denomination. After distinguishing himself as a planter, businessman and politician, Gough passed away here in May of 1808 (not Halloween as the legend states). The estate remained in the family until 1852 when it began its long journey in the hands of others. Baltimore County acquired the derelict house recently and will be used as a museum and events facility.
In a 2011 article for the Perry Hall Patch Jeffrey Smith, then president of the Friends of Perry Hall Mansion debunked some of the legends around Perry Hall. Using the version of the legend in Matt Lake’s 2006 book, Weird Maryland, Smith breaks down the points of the legend. While there have likely been deaths in the house, the 50 deaths under mysterious circumstances that the legend purports are absurd. Smith notes that the house is hooked up to electricity and lights seen inside may have simply been left on by a previous visitor. Where the legend states that visitors have been unable to capture video of the house is also preposterous. While this house has reasons to be haunted on account of its history, there are no stories to support that assertion.
Coffin, Nelson. “Perry Hall Mansion shuttered while updates considered.” Baltimore Sun. 1 March 2016.
Lake, Matt. Weird Maryland. NYC: Sterling Publishing, 2004.
Smith, Jeffery. “Perry Hall’s most renowned and mistaken ghost story.” 31 October 2011.
Green Mount Cemetery 1501 Greenmount Avenue Baltimore
As US-1 bypasses downtown Baltimore it forms a northern border for this venerated cemetery. After visiting Boston’s Mount Auburn Cemetery, the first “garden cemetery” in the country, Samuel Walker, a Baltimore merchant, began to draw up plans for a similar cemetery to occupy a former estate called Green Mount. Hiring Benjamin Latrobe, architect for the U.S. Capitol Building, to design this park-like cemetery which opened in 1838. In the decades since, the cemetery has become the resting place for famed statesmen, artists, writers, and military figures, as well as the infamous including John Wilkes Booth who is buried with his family.
While numerous articles state that Green Mount is haunted, none of them connect specific stories with this august resting place. However, the cemetery has one very interesting connection to the paranormal, the grave of Elijah Bond, the creator of the Ouija Board. It was not until recently that Bond’s grave was marked, appropriately with a stone engraved with his Ouija board design.
“Baltimore headstones, horrors for a hair-raising, haunted Halloween.” The Towerlight (Towson University). 27 October 2013.
“History.” Green Mount Cemetery. Accessed 23 September 2016.
Hilton Mansion Campus of the Community College of Baltimore County Catonsville
As US-1 leaves Baltimore it swings by the suburb of Catonsville. According to a 2004 lecture given on the haunts of Catonsville, community college faculty held contests to select a member to attempt to spend the night in this haunted mansion. Some encountered the sword-wielding Confederate soldier who is supposed to guard the home’s main staircase. Author Tom Ogden notes that the apparition of a woman wearing a nightgown and holding a candle has also been encountered here. The house dates to the early 19th century, though the interior was completely replaced in the early 20th century. The home now serves as the college’s Center for Global Education.
Hagner-Salava, Melodie. “’Spirited’ talk evokes ghosts of Catonsville’s past.” Catonsville Times. 4 March 2004.
Ogden, Tom. Haunted Colleges and Universities: Creepy Campuses Scary Scholars and Deadly Dorms. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2014.
Historic Savage Mill 8600 Foundry Street Savage
Located between Baltimore and Laurel, Savage, Maryland is a quiet, unincorporated community on the banks of the Little Patuxent River. Downtown Savage lies between busy I-95 and slightly less busy US-1. The community was created as a mill town providing employees for the Savage Manufacturing Company’s textile mill which was constructed in the 1820s. The mill was in operation for more than a hundred years before it closed just after World War II. The old mill complex was used for the manufacture of Christmas ornaments for a few years before it was purchased for use as a warehouse. In 1985, the mill was reopened as a venue for boutiques, restaurants, and antiques dealers.
The mill has since become one of the driving forces for tourism to the area drawing more than a million people in 2010, but not all those people are attracted by shopping and attractions at the mill, some are brought because of the ghosts. The owners of the mill started ghost tours in the mid-2000s to capitalize on the ghost stories surrounding the mill complex.
Throughout the mill complex, spirits of former millworkers still linger. Merchants and patrons of the mill have heard their names called, been tripped by the puckish little girl’s spirit on the steps of the New Weave Building, seen faces at the windows, or perhaps encountered the spirit of Rebecca King who fell down the steps in the mill’s tower.
Alexander, Sandy. “Using the supernatural to sell Howard County.” Baltimore Sun. 4 October 2004.
“Ghostly history.” Washington Times. 23 October 2004.
Hoo, Winyan Soo. “At Maryland’s Savage Mill, history and commerce converge.” Washington Post. 28 April 2016.
St. John’s Episcopal Church 11040 Baltimore Avenue Beltsville
Like a moralizing parent looking over wild children, St. John’s Episcopal Church presides over the sprawl of US-1 (known as Baltimore Avenue here) as it passes through Beltsville. During the Civil War this commanding site featured a Federal artillery battery. The wife of a rector here in the 1970s recorded a number of experiences with spirits both in the church and in the churchyard. One evening while the wife and her children picked flowers in the churchyard they were startled to hear the sounds of a service coming from the church. After intently listening, the family entered the sanctuary to find it darkened and empty.
Carter, Dennis. “Hunting for haunts.” The Gazette. 25 October 2007.
Tawes Fine Arts Building Campus of the University of Maryland College Park
Moving south out of Beltsville, US-1 passes through College Park and the University of Maryland Campus. Though no longer home to the Department of Theatre, the Tawes Fine Arts Building retains its theatre and recital hall. The current home to the university’s English department, the building may still also retain its resident spook. Not long after the building’s opening in 1965, students began noticing the sound of footsteps in the empty theatre and would occasionally have mischievous jokes played on them, seemingly from beyond.
With quite a population of resident ghosts on campus, the university archivists have started documenting the stories. According to one of the archivists quoted in Michael J. and Michael H. Varhola’s Ghosthunting Maryland, Mortimer, Tawes’ ghost, may actually be a dog rather than a human spirit. According to campus lore, Mortimer was brought into the theatre during its construction and would frolic on the stage. The theatre’s seats had yet to be completely installed and the house was filled with metal frames the seats would be attached to. The frolicsome canine jumped from the stage into the house and impaled himself on one of the frames. Supposedly, he was buried in the building’s basement.
Okonowicz, Ed. The Big Book of Maryland Ghost Stories. Mechanicsburg, PA, Stackpole, 2010.
Tawes Theatre. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 5 April 2013.
Varhola, Michael J. and Michael H. Ghosthunting Maryland. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2009.
Bladensburg Dueling Ground Bladensburg Road and 38th Street Colmar Manor
When Washington outlawed dueling within the limits of the district, the hotheaded politicians and gentlemen of the district needed a place to “defend their honor.” They chose a little spot of land just outside the district in what is now Colmar Manor, Maryland. The activities at the dueling ground provided the name for the nearby waterway, Dueling Creek or Blood Run, now blandly called Eastern Branch. When the city of Colmar Manor was established in 1927, the city used dueling imagery on its town crest including a blood red background, a pair of dueling pistols and crossed swords.
Senators, legislators and military heroes are among the hundred or so men who dueled at this place in some fifty duels that are known and countless others that took place at this spot. Commodore Stephen Decatur was killed here in a duel with Commodore James Barron in 1820 and Representative John Cilley of Maine, who knew little of firearms, died here after combat in 1838 with Representative William Graves of Kentucky. The spirit of Stephen Decatur has been seen here along with other dark, shadowlike spirits that still stalk the old dueling grounds. The bloody grounds are now a park that stands silently amid the roaring sprawl of suburbia.
Hauck, Dennis William. Haunted Places: The National Directory. NYC: Penguin, 2002.
Taylor, Troy. “The Bladensburg Dueling Grounds, Bladensburg, Maryland.” Ghosts of the Prairie. 1998.
Varhola, Michael J. and Michael H. Varhola. Ghosthunting Maryland. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2009.