Alabama’s Haunted Thirteen

Thirteen years ago, I started this blog and early on, I did a series of articles highlighting places in each of the thirteen states I cover. Those early articles have mostly been updated and separated into their own articles. Please enjoy this updated version of those early articles.

Bladon Springs Cemetery
Bladon Springs Road
Bladon Springs

 

A Haunted Southern Book of Days–9 January

This article is a part of an occasional blog series highlighting Southern hauntings or high strangeness associated with specific days. For a complete listing, see “A Haunted Southern Book of Days.”

 

Located near the Tombigbee River, this cemetery and its well-known ghost story recall another disaster that occurred here. In 1913 as the steamboat James T. Staples neared the bend in the river near here, it was rocked by an explosion sending twenty-six souls and the ship to the bottom of the river. Shrouded in mystery, however, are the events leading up to the sinking.

Bladon Springs Cemetery Alabama
Gates of Bladon Springs Cemetery, by Judyanne Waters, 2015. Courtesy of Find-A-Grave.

The ship’s captain, Norman Staples—the ship was named after his father—had lost the ship to creditors after experiencing a financial reversal in December 1912. Depressed with the loss of his ship, Norman Staples committed suicide just after the New Year. A few days later, the crew of the ship began to see the shadowy form of the ship’s former owner in the boiler room. Legend says that that crew quit and had to be replaced before the ship steamed north. Just prior to the ship’s explosion, the rats aboard reportedly began to flee the doomed ship.

Norman Staples was laid to rest in this cemetery along with his wife and three of their children, none of whom reached the age of six. Norman’s sad spirit is said to patrol the grounds of this cemetery, his eyes never averting from the river where his beloved ship went down.

Sources

  • Ward, Rufus. “Ask Rufus: Ghosts of the Tombigbee.” The Dispatch (Columbus, MS). 25 October 2014.
  • Hauck, Dennis William. Haunted Places: The National Directory. NYC: Penguin, 2002.
  • Higdon, David and Brett J. Talley. Haunted Alabama Black Belt. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.

 

D. E. Jackson Memorial Hospital
30338 Lester Road
Lester

If you hear screams emanating from this old, defunct Limestone County medical facility, they may not be ghosts. Over the past few years, this hospital has been transformed into a charity haunted house attraction at Halloween. According to local newspapers, this facility opened in the 1940s and served the Lester area until the 1990s. It was used as a drug rehab facility until it closed for good sometime thereafter. Prior to its closure, former staff whispered about paranormal activity. Volunteers working in the haunted house have reported hearing voices and seeing a locked door open on its own accord. Additionally, a lady in white has been spotted in and around the building.

Sources

  • Hollman, Holly. “Haunted hospital a prescription for frightening fun.” Decatur Daily. 1 October 2010.
  • Nicole, Ashleigh. “Northern Alabama’s Haunted Attraction: Lester Haunted Hospital.” Newsbreak. 24 September 2023.
  • Scripps, Lora. “Haunted hospital ready to scare you out of your wits.” News-Courier (Athens, AL). 22 September 2011.

 

George O. Baker House (private)
600 Dallas Avenue
Selma

As the Battle of Selma raged outside the George O. Baker House in April of 1865, seventeen women and children huddled within this 1854 Italianate home. Two gravely wounded soldiers took shelter here, and both were cared for despite being from opposite sides. The Confederate soldier was taken to the nearby hospital while the Union soldier languished in the hall. According to the home’s owner, “he was reported to be a kind one as some of the children here received peanuts from him just before he expired.” The blue-clad soldier died on the floor of the hall just under the staircase. His blood stains are still visible.

Over the years, many types of paranormal activity have been reported ranging from shadow figures to orbs to footsteps. One young man visiting the house some years ago, later told his mother he didn’t want to return because the “real old gentleman in the funny suit” had frightened him. Authors Higdon and Talley note that the house seems overwhelmed by a sense of sadness. The house has been investigated twice by two different paranormal teams and is featured on the Alabama Ghost Trail series on YouTube with a video of the owner speaking about the home’s ghost. Please respect the owners and residents of this private home.

Sources

  • Alabama Ghost Trail. “Baker Home.” YouTube. 19 July 2009.
  • Higdon, David and Brett J. Talley. Haunted Alabama Black Belt. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.

 

Kenan’s Mill
188 Dallas County Road 236
Selma

While investigating Kenan’s Mill with the Alabama Paranormal Association, author and investigator Dale Langella felt something touch her in the charcoal kiln. “That never happens to me. I never get so freaked out like that and scream. I’ve been grabbed by spirits before, but I guess I just wasn’t expecting that,” she told a reporter from the Selma Times-Journal. The spirits here seem to enjoy physically touching visitors. In her book, Haunted Alabama Battlefields, Langella describes the myriad ways that visitors have been touched.

One young lady visiting the mill one evening felt something grab her leg and heard a male voice saying, “Help me.” Looking down, the young lady was shocked to see a wounded Confederate soldier clutching her leg. Other visitors have felt a burning sensation on their buttocks or felt something tug at their clothing; all this in addition to apparitions and odd flashes of light that sometimes appear throughout the site. The Selma Times-Journal quotes Langella as remarking that the site is “highly active.”

Built in the 1860s, the mill remained in the Kenan family until it was donated to the Selma-Dallas County Historic Preservation Society in 1997. This site was quite active during the Civil War, serving as a collection point for Confederate forces throughout central Alabama; as a result, the grounds were used as a field hospital. After the war, the mill served many farmers in the local area. The mill is now operated as a museum.

Sources

  • Johnson, Ashley. “Paranormal society finds activity in Selma.” Selma Times-Journal. 29 August 2012.
  • Langella, Dale. Haunted Alabama Battlefields. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.

 

Kenworthy Hall (Carlisle-Martin House) (private)
AL 14
Marion

Among the most unique Southern plantation homes, Kenworthy Hall was built for cotton planter and factor Edward Kenworthy Carlisle. The home was once the seat of a 440-acre estate and plays host to a classic Alabama ghost tale. Designed by noted British-American architect Richard Upjohn, the house is modeled on an Italian villa and features a unique square tower that figures into the home’s ghost story. As one of Upjohn’s masterpieces, the house was named a National Historic Landmark in 2004.

Kenworthy Hall Marion Alabama
Kenworthy Hall with its campanile-like tower. Undated photo taken for the Historic American Building Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Kathryn Tucker Windham’s story of Kenworthy Hall centers on Edward Carlisle’s daughter, Anne. The young woman enjoyed spending time in the room at the top of the home’s tower. As young men across the South were signed up or called for military duty in the days leading to the Civil War, Anne’s beau was one of the first young men in the area to sign up.

He promised his lady that his slave would carry news to her and would carry a red flag if he had been killed. Keeping vigil in the tower room, Anne spotted the slave returning one afternoon bearing a red flag. She uttered a cry and threw herself over the railing of the staircase. Tradition speaks of that anguished cry still being heard on moonlit nights. Please respect the owners and residents of this private home.

Sources

  • Higdon, David and Brett J. Talley. Haunted Alabama Black Belt. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.
  • Mellown, Robert & Robert Gamble. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Kenworthy Hall. January 2003.
  • Windham, Kathryn Tucker and Margaret Gillis Figh. 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama, 1969.

 

McIntire-Bennett House (private)
1105 Sycamore Street
Decatur

One of the most storied houses in Alabama, the McIntire-Bennett House played a prominent part in state history throughout the 19th century. Completed around 1836 on a bluff overlooking the Tennessee River, the house’s strategic location brought it to prominence during the Civil War. As control of the city passed between Confederate and Union forces, the house served as headquarters for various generals, which is perhaps the reason why it was one of a handful of buildings left standing in town after the war. Following the war, the house was purchased by Joseph Hinds who served as U.S. Consul General to Brazil. Here, Hinds’ daughter Grace was born in 1879. She would marry British Lord Curzon and become a well-known socialite in the Gilded Age.

McIntire-Bennett House Decatur Alabama
McIntire-Bennett House, 1976. Photo by Alex Bush for the Historic American Building Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Legend holds that while the house was under Union control, it was receiving considerable fire from snipers located in the Old State Bank (see my entry on the bank here) building downtown. When one of the soldiers was shot and killed, his comrades had no way of disposing of the body. The soldiers cut a hole in the floor of the parlor and buried their friend under the house. The home’s current owner has been under the house, and his wife told the local paper, “There is dirt under there, and a hole cut out.”

The bedroom directly above that parlor is known as the “Ghost Room,” and it is here that a female wraith is said to appear to those in the room alone. She is supposed to lead people to the parlor and stand over the grave of the unfortunate soldier. While the home’s current owners have not encountered the female entity, they note that the room is apparently always much cooler than the rest of the house. The house remains a private residence, please respect the privacy of the owners and residents.

Sources

  • Gamble, Robert. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Rhea-McIntire House. 11 June 1984.
  • Godbey, Catherine. “Pre-Civil War era home features ghost room, tales of Union soldier buried there.” Decatur Daily. 4 December 2011.
  • Norman, Michael and Beth Scott. Historic Haunted America. NYC: TOR, 1995.

 

Old Morgan County Courthouse
24 Courthouse Square
Somerville

The oldest courthouse remaining in the state, this courthouse was built in 1837 to serve Morgan County. When the county seat moved to the bustling town of Decatur in 1891, the records were removed by an armed guard under cover of night to prevent locals from sabotaging the move.

Old Morgan County Courthouse Somerville Alabama
Old Morgan County Courthouse, by Chris Pruitt, 2012. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

In 2007 this historic courthouse, now a museum and community center, was investigated by the local Somerville Paranormal Apparition Team (SPAT). Among the evidence discovered in this Federal-style building were a handful of EVPs.

Sources

  • Floyd, W. Warner. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Somerville Courthouse. No Date.
  • Huggins, Paul. “Somerville’s ghost hunters.” Decatur Daily. 20 August 2007.

 

Phenix City Riverwalk
By the Chattahoochee River
Phenix City

The banks of the Chattahoochee River here have seen human activity for centuries. Evidence discovered in this area indicates that Native American villages had thrived along this river for centuries before white occupation. In the early 19th century, the eastern bank here saw the development of Columbus, Georgia, which would be incorporated in 1828, while this side of the river remained Indian territory inhabited mostly by Muscogee Creek and Yuchi people with a smattering of white pioneers.

Historic Marker Phenix City Riverwalk Phenix City Alabama
Historic Marker on the Phenix City Riverwalk, by Mark Hilton, 2013. Courtesy of the Historic Marker Database.

A historical marker along the Riverwalk commemorates the execution of six Muscogee and Yuchi men who were accused of attacking the village of Roanoke in Stewart County, Georgia. Roanoke was mostly destroyed, several white settlers were killed, and the six accused men were hung here for the attack in November of 1836.

This section of the river saw much development as the end of the navigable portion of the Chattahoochee River. Cotton and other goods from nearby plantations were loaded here on ships bound for the Gulf of Mexico, and Wilson’s Raiders swept this area in April of 1865, towards the end of the Civil War.

The Chattahoochee Riverwalk on both sides of the river apparently has a variety of activity. On this side of the river, walkers and bikers have been followed by shadowy spirits that have caused some bikers to have accidents. As this section of the river has seen so much historical activity, it is difficult to determine the identity of the spirits.

Sources

  • Serafin, Faith. Haunted Columbus, Georgia: Phantoms of the Fountain City. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2012.

 

Rowand-Johnson Hall
Campus of the University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa

Hurrying towards a class in Rowand-Johnson Hall some years ago, a student passed an elegant older woman on the sidewalk. Being a proper Southerner, he smiled and wished her a good morning. The woman smiled in acknowledgment and said nothing. Entering the lobby of the building he noted that the woman he saw was the same as the woman whose portrait graced the room: Marian Gallaway. He stopped into the office of the head of the theatre department saying, “I just saw Marian Gallaway.”

The department head replied, “Unlikely, she’s been dead for eleven years.”

Rowand-Johnson Hall, built in 1955, houses the university’s Department of Theatre and Dance and two theatres: the Marian Gallaway and the Allen Bales Theatres. The theatre names pay homage to two beloved professors: Dr. Bales, a speech professor and noted actor and director, and Mrs. Gallaway, longtime director of the University Theatre. While Dr. Bales is not believed to be among the numerous spirits on this most haunted of campuses, Mrs. Gallaway’s spirit has become a part of the campus’ ghostlore tradition.

When in doubt, young student actors will implore Mrs. Gallaway for guidance. “How’s my blocking, Mrs. Gallaway?” they will ask and glance towards the projection booth where her spirit is supposed to appear. Though, sources do not provide if her appearance answers their question. Mrs. Gallaway also still attends performances and is sometimes seen sitting in the second row by theatre patrons who recognize her from her portrait in the lobby. Other legends note that when theatre students are lollygagging and avoiding learning lines or studying that Mrs. Gallaway will slam doors and make loud noises in the building to correct these wayward students. Great theatre directors will even direct from the grave, it seems.

Sources

  • Cobb, Mark Hughes. “Who haunts the halls of Tuscaloosa?” Tuscaloosa News. 25 October 2009.
  • Higdon, David and Brett J. Talley. Haunted Tuscaloosa. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2012.
  • “UA Campus Tour: Rowand-Johnson Hall.” University of Alabama. Accessed 21 March 2013.

 

Samford Hall
Campus of Auburn University
Auburn

 

A Haunted Southern Book of Days–7 February

This article is a part of an occasional blog series highlighting Southern hauntings or high strangeness associated with specific days. For a complete listing, see “A Haunted Southern Book of Days.”

 

Standing at the heart of Auburn University and the university’s history is Samford Hall with its spectral guard still watching over things from the building’s bell tower. It was on this site that East Alabama Male College was founded in 1859 in a building that would be fondly dubbed “Old Main.”

Samford Hall Auburn University Alabama
Samford Hall, Auburn University, 2017. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV, all rights reserved.

With the coming Civil War, Old Main–along with the Presbyterian Church, now the university chapel (see my article on the chapel here)—was utilized as a Confederate hospital. Legend holds that the front lawn was stacked with the bodies of the dead some twenty-five feet across and about six feet high while awaiting interment in nearby Pine Hill Cemetery.

During this harrowing time, a Confederate guard watched over the living and dead below, from the pair of bell towers of Old Main. When Old Main was destroyed by fire in 1887, it was replaced by a larger, more elaborate building featuring two towers of different size. Though the original building is gone, the guard has been spotted upon his perch many times. One student hurrying past the tower one evening looked up to see a man with a rifle on his shoulder in the bell tower. A local mother who allowed her young son to play on the lawn in front was shocked when her son reported seeing a man in the tower who said that he had helped burn the building.

Sources

  • Kazek, Kelly. “Who wins the Ghost Bowl? An Alabama vs. Auburn challenge for Halloween.” com. 23 October 2013.
  • Ollif, Martin T. “Auburn University.” Encyclopedia of Alabama. 18 August 2008.
  • Sheehan, Becky. “Paranormal research team resurrects regional history.” Auburn Plainsman (Auburn University). 28 October 2013.
  • Serafin, Faith, Michelle Smith and John Mark Poe. Haunted Auburn and Opelika. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2011.

 

Shelby Springs Confederate Cemetery
Shelby County Road 42
Calera

Visitors among the quiet ranks of grave markers here have had a variety of experiences including full apparitions, unexplained lights after dark, and physical contact from unseen forces. This cemetery was established in 1863 not far from the Confederate hospital relocated here from Vicksburg, Mississippi after the city’s fall. While most of the graves here belong to Confederate soldiers, tradition holds that a few unmarked graves beyond the fence at the back of the cemetery are those of Union soldiers.

Sources

  • Johnston, Kim. Haunted Shelby County, Alabama. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.
  • Shelby County Heritage Book Committee. Heritage of Shelby County, Alabama. Clanton, AL: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1999.

 

Smith Hall
Campus of University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa

Within the hallowed halls of Smith Hall, much weirdness has been reported. From disembodied footsteps to the sounds of horses and carriage moving through the building, students and staff have had countless experiences in this building. Others have heard the droning of a lecturing professor and noisy students while a laboratory assistant working in the building’s basement was once pushed into and then locked in a closet by an unseen force.

Smith Hall University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
Alabama Museum of Natural History in Smith Hall, University of Alabama. Photo by AlabamaGuy2007, 2008, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Built in 1910, this magnificent Beaux-Arts structure was constructed to house Alabama Museum of Natural History as well as laboratories and classrooms. Named for Eugene Allen Smith, a university professor and Alabama State Geologist, the museum houses some of his personal effects, including his personal carriage, and perhaps his spirit may be one of those remaining here.

Sources

  • Crider, Beverly. “Crimson Hauntings: The Ghosts of UA.” com. 10 May 2012.
  • Higdon, David and Brett J. Talley. Haunted Tuscaloosa. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2012.
  • Windham, Kathryn Tucker. Jeffrey’s Latest 13: More Alabama Ghosts. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1982.

 

Weaver Castle (private)
625 Lauderdale Street
Selma

A handy man installing a ceiling fan in this historic home was asked, “What are you doing?” When he looked to see who was asking, he discovered an empty room. A resident some years ago had her dog reprimanded by an unseen presence. Her dog began barking, and a voice demanded, “Dog, shut up!” Her children were upstairs when that happened and had not been downstairs.

Weaver Castle Selma Alabama
Weaver Castle, by Altairisfar, 2011. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

William M. Weaver constructed this German Gothic style home in 1868 on property that had seen fighting during the Battle of Selma. Weaver passed away here in 1898 of, as the Alabama Ghost Trail asserts, a broken heart following the death of his son from kidney disease. Please respect the owners and residents of this private home.

Sources

  • Alabama Ghost Trail. “Weaver Castle.” YouTube. 19 July 2009.
  • Higdon, David and Brett J. Talley. Haunted Alabama Black Belt. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.

The blood of the lamb–Gloucester, Virginia

Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul-cleansing blood of the lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?

— “Are Your Washed in the Blood?” by Elisha Hoffman (1878)

Church Hill (private)
John Clayton Memorial Highway (VA 14)
Gloucester Courthouse, Virginia

Along the banks of the Ware River, Mordecai Cooke established his plantation in 1658, calling it Mordecai’s Mount. Towards the end of the 17th century, Cooke’s son donated a small parcel of land to the local parish to construct a church and thus Ware Episcopal Church was built a short distance away from the home. The house on a hill above the church soon earned the name, Church Hill.

With the marriage of a Cooke daughter, the estate passed into the hands of the Throckmorton family. The home may have been rebuilt several times before the current frame structure was built in the 19th century. While the house may have changed, a legend has persisted involving one of the young Throckmorton daughters.

Young Elizabeth Throckmorton traveled to London with her father at a young age. The impressionable girl soon found herself in the thrall of a young English gentleman. After her return home, she continued corresponding with him, despite her father’s objections. Thinking that the young man might only be interested in his fortune, Elizabeth’s father began quietly intercepting the letters.

Distressed by the sudden end to the love letters from across the pond, Elizabeth fell into a depression. As she pined for her English gentleman, her health deteriorated. As the first cold winds of winter blew in November of that year, Elizabeth fell into an eternal sleep. Her family dutifully washed and cleaned her body in a light gown and placed her into a simple coffin barefoot. A grave was dug on the edge of the garden and the coffin lowered after a simple service likely led by the rector of Ware Church.

Ware Parish Church Gloucester Virginia
Ware Church, taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Following the burial of their beloved daughter, the family retired to their home to bundle up as the first storm of winter blew in. However, local grave robbers had their sights set on the fresh grave and the young lady who may have been buried with family jewels. In the dead of night, they stole into the small family burying ground to disinter its newest resident.

Once the pine coffin was pulled out the ground, the lid was pried off and the body of the young lady was exposed. Her earrings and necklace were easy to remove, though her ring was steadfastly held on her swollen finger. The thieves turned to using a knife to cut the ring off. After several strokes, the thieves were surprised when the body seemed to jerk to life, coughing and sputtering and crying out in pain. The frightened thieves fled the bloody scene.

Front door of Ware Church Gloucester Virginia
Front door of Ware Church, 2016. Photo by Voxinterior, courtesy of Wikipedia.

In confusion and pain, Elizabeth rose from her coffin and blindly began to make her way towards the house. The freezing wind blew, and her light gown gave no protection from the cold. Her feet were frozen by the newly fallen snow in her path as she unsteadily crawled towards the dark hulk of her family’s home.

As the family’s enslaved people woke in the dark of the morning a lump under the snow at the door was revealed as the frozen form of young Elizabeth with blood congealed around her mangled hand. Further grief-stricken by the gruesome discovery, the family reburied their daughter’s remains, though her spirit continues to walk beyond her grave.

Legend tells us that Elizabeth’s wraith continues to walk when the first snows of the season come. Within the house, inhabitants have heard the sounds of her light footsteps and preparations being made in the home’s fireplaces. Shortly the crackle of fires is heard issuing from the cold and empty chimneys. Often the next morning, drops of fresh blood are found in the snow outside leading from the cemetery up to the doorstep. Later inhabitants of the home have also reported that the empty house has been seen ablaze with light on dark and stormy nights. Perhaps trying to warm the young girl who froze to death several centuries before.

Church Hill is a private home. Please respect the privacy of its residents, both the living and the dead.

Sources

  • Church Hill.” Colonial Ghosts Blog. 15 August 2017.
  • Lee, Marguerite DuPont. Virginia Ghosts, Revised Edition. Berryville, VA: Virginia Book Company, 1966.
  • Taylor, L. B., Jr. Ghosts of Virginia’s Tidewater. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2011.

Street Guide to the Phantoms of the French Quarter—Ursulines Street

This article is part of my series, Street Guide to the Phantoms of the French Quarter, which looks at the haunted places of this neighborhood in a street by street basis. Please see the series main page for an introduction to the French Quarter and links to other streets.

Ursulines Street

When Adrien de Pauger laid out the streets of New Orleans in 1721, he named this street for his personal saint, Rue de Saint-Adrien. The name did not stick for long and the street was renamed Rue de l’Arsenal. Eventually, the name was changed to honor St. Ursula, the patron of the Ursuline Sisters who arrived here in 1727 and founded a convent at the corner of what is now Chartres and Ursulines Streets. That name evolved to honor the sisters themselves.

Sources

  • Arthur, Stanley Clisby. Walking Tours of Old New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 1936.

Haunted Hotel
623 Ursulines Street

This early 19th century home is the host of modern tourists and supposedly a number of ghosts. I have covered it in a separate article.

715 Ursulines Street (private)

This typical early 19th century home became the scene for two bloody murders in 1927 dubbed the “Trunk Murders, “after making headlines around the country. According to the current owner, the house is not haunted, though the story has influenced another ghost story a few doors down. This strange murder has been covered in my article, “A Block of Death and Dismemberment—New Orleans.”

725 Ursulines Street

723 and 275 Urusulines Street New Orleans
The doorway of 725 Ursulines Street, 2019. Photo by Infrogmation, courtesy of Wikipedia.

For nearly a century, a famous ghost tale has been placed in this home, though the story may be mostly fictional. For more information, see my article, “A Block of Death and Dismemberment—New Orleans.”

735 Ursulines Street

This classic Creole cottage may be haunted by ghosts, but it does provide an eerie postscript and tie-in to two stories in the same block. See my article, “A Block of Death and Dismemberment—New Orleans for more details.

A Block of Death and Dismemberment – New Orleans

Stay away from jazz and liquor, and the men who play for fun. That’s the thought that came upon me when we both reached for the gun.

— “They both reached for the gun.” from the musical Chicago (1975) by John Kander and Fred Ebb.

715, 725, & 735 Ursulines Street (private)

While reading about the infamous 1927 “Trunk Murders,” my mind instantly began to draw parallels with the Kander and Ebb musical Chicago. The musical explores the intersection of murder, tabloid journalism, and infamy, all against the backdrop of Prohibition-era Chicago with its wild criminality and vaudeville entertainment drunk on the influences of money and illegal liquor, all underscored by the rhythms of jazz. The themes of the musical however, could easily be transplanted to many other American cities in this era, especially New Orleans.

700 block Ursulines Street French Quarter New Orleans
Northeastern side of Ursulines Street in 1999. The edge of 735, a creole cottage, is on the far left with 725 near the middle of the photo. The last balcony with lacy ironwork on the right is 715. Photo by Infrogmation, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Throughout the early twentieth-century, much of the French Quarter was a working-class neighborhood populated by immigrants. This collection of old buildings still possessed a magical aura that attracted Bohemians like Sherwood Anderson, William Faulkner, Lyle Saxon, and other creatives who immersed themselves in the vibrant, thrumming atmosphere and took advantage of the low rents. Less than a decade before, a pall had been thrown over these neighborhoods as they were haunted by the infamous axe man who mostly preyed on Italian immigrants adding to the city’s allure. Crime remained rampant in the Quarter.

Just a few days before Halloween 1927, housekeeper Nettie Compass stepped inside the second-floor rooms of 715 Ursulines Avenue to attend to her regular duties for the Moity family. The crowded domicile was in a bloody disarray. Compass quickly summoned some bystanders and newspaper reporter George William Healy before she proceeded further into crime scene. Healy wrote in his memoirs “we found red stains on the floor and saw a large trunk in a bedroom, partially open. When I pulled up the trunk lid, a woman’s body, arms, and legs severed from the torso, was exposed.”

Healy called a fellow reporter, Gwen, who intrepidly ventured further into the apartment where “she sighted several objects on a bed. ‘Look,’ said Gwen, holding up these objects. ‘Lady fingers.’ Four fingers had been cut from a woman’s hand … After placing the fingers back on the bed, Gwen moved to a second bedroom, found a second trunk, and opened it. It contained a second woman’s body.”

A machete-like cane knife, typically used to cut sugar cane, rested on the second torso, as if to proudly boast of its role in the killings. The rest of the apartment was strewn with the family’s personal effects and smears, trails, drops, and spatters of blood. It’s not hard to imagine the metallic reek of blood bolstered by the late October humidity surrounding the sanguine scene.

After examining the scene, the coroner, Dr. George Roeling, determined that the two women had likely been beaten with a lead billy club before they were decapitated with the cane knife and then skillfully dismembered. The victims were Theresa and Leonide “Lonie” Moity, the wives of brothers Henry and Joseph Moity. The two couples lived with their children in these small rooms where the neighbors reported frequent loud, drunken fights among the adults over money and infidelity.

In a bedroom cabinet, investigators discovered a poorly written manuscript of Lonie’s story exhorting young girls to “be careful, for marriage is a life sentence… Guess it was only my luck to be happy like this, so I warn others not to take the same risk.” Ironically, nearby a rejection slip from a popular ladies’ magazine was discovered smeared in blood.

From the scattered clues, investigators pieced the family’s torrid tale. Joseph Moity had recently left his wife, Lonie after uncovering her infidelity. At the same time, tensions between Henry and Theresa continued to simmer. A realty office operated on the ground floor of 715 Ursulines under the aegis of Joseph Caruso. After the couples moved in upstairs, Caruso and Theresa Moity began flirting in the quiet moments when Henry was out of the apartment.

Newspaper clipping of an article regarding the Trunk Murders
A clipping of a newspaper article posted to Joseph Moity’s Find-A-Grave memorial page. The children are Henry and Theresa’s, with Leonide “Lonie” and Henry Moity pictured below.

On October 26, a day before the bodies were discovered, Lonie and Theresa announced that they were moving out as they packed their belongings in a pair of trunks. Henry began drinking and, under the influence of alcohol, devised a plan to murder the women. He waited until the women and children were asleep before he entered the bedrooms and began his grisly work. Moity’s skills as a butcher made quick work of the dissection of his wife and sister-in-law. Once the deed was done, he made his way into the morning breeze of the Quarter.

Once the bodies were found, authorities initiated in the search for the women’s husbands. Joseph quickly turned himself in, revealing that he was separated from his now late wife and currently living with his sister. The search immediately turned to focus on Henry. The crew of a freighter headed out of the city turned Henry in, just two days after the murders were discovered. Henry was eventually found guilty of the murders and given two concurrent life sentences.

Henry Moity spent a number of years in the Louisiana State Penitentiary gaining the trust of the prison wardens. In 1944, after he was sent on an errand to the post office, he blithely escaped. Two years later he was arrested in St. Louis and returned to Louisiana where he was shortly released from prison. Making his way to California, he was arrested for shooting (but not killing) his girlfriend and was incarcerated in the infamous Folsom Prison where he died some years later.

New Orleans Trunk Murders
The Moity murders were national news. This article appeared in the Indianapolis (IN) Star – Sun on Christmas 1927.

Today, there is little to distinguish this typical nineteenth-century town house from its neighbors. On the subject of the torrid and bloody affair that happened within its walls just a few days before Halloween in 1927, the house is mute. Tour guides spin tales about paranormal activity here, though the co-owner recently told the Times-Picayune, “This place is absolutely not haunted. It’s a lovely house that unfortunately had this really tragic thing happen in it in the 1920s.”

Interestingly, this tale may have influenced another ghost story just a few doors down at 725 Ursulines St. In 1945, Gumbo Ya-ya: A Collection of Louisiana Folk Tales was published. Compiled from material collected by writers with the WPA’s Writers Project under the supervision of Lyle Saxon, this book enshrined a number of ghost tales that remain in the collective psyche of New Orleanians and especially ghost tour guides. The tale of the “sausage ghost” is one of those stories. Somehow, despite any documentary evidence, this story has been placed at this address.

723 and 275 Urusulines Street New Orleans
The doorway of 725 Ursulines Street, 2019. Photo by Infrogmation, courtesy of Wikipedia.

According to this story, Hans Muller lived and worked at this address some time ago. He was a sausage-maker and had his factory within his home. Over the years, he grew tired of his wife and one night pushed her into the sausage grinder. Customers began to complain of finding “bits of bone and cloth in their sausages.”

One evening as he worked, Mr. Muller was confronted by the angry spirit of his wife and fled in terror. Disturbed by his screams, neighbors contacted the authorities, though Muller placated them by saying he’d had a nightmare. After a customer discovered part of a gold wedding band in their sausage, the police were sent to the address again. There “they found Hans Muller in his factory screaming and crying, a raving maniac.” After determining the nature of his crime, he was placed in an asylum where he later committed suicide. The next owner of the property reported that the spirit of the wife continued to return.

The sausage ghost tale is believed to be fiction as there is no other evidence attesting to the story’s validity outside of its inclusion in Gumbo Ya-ya. Is it any wonder that this house, so close to the location of the Trunk Murders, has had this strange tale attached?

735 and 737 Ursulines New Orleans
The Creole cottage containing 735 and 737 Ursulines Street, 2023. By Infrogmation, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Still, while these stories don’t pan out as ghost stories per se, there is an eerie postscript. In 2002, at 735 Ursulines Street a disturbed man murdered his girlfriend, likely after she revealed that she was leaving him. The man butchered her and packed her remains into “a cheap particle board trunk.” A short time later, the man moved to a new apartment on Elysian Fields Avenue (so named for the resting place of Greek heroes) with the morbid trunk in tow. After the man left that apartment, his landlord discovered the trunk and its mummified contents in 2005, leaving this dark detail among the myriad that pervade the French Quarter like the stodgy humidity and dampness that continue to linger in this tropical city.

Sources

Street Guide to the Phantoms of the French Quarter—Conti Street

This article is part of my series, Street Guide to the Phantoms of the French Quarter, which looks at the haunted places of this neighborhood in a street by street basis. Please see the series main page for an introduction to the French Quarter and links to other streets.

Conti Street

Conti Street French Quarter New Orleans
Conti Street sign, 2019 by Infrogmation, courtesy of Wikipedia.

According to historian Stanley Clisby Arthur, Bourbon Street was initially called Conti Street for the Princess Conti. When Bourbon Street was renamed, this street was renamed Conti.

Sources

  • Arthur, Stanley Clisby. Walking Tours of Old New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 1990. Originally published in 1936.

700 Block Conti Street

Throughout its history, the French Quarter has been no stranger to violence. In the early morning hours of 21 March 2015, gunshots rang out in this block of Conti Street. In the aftermath, two young men in their 20s lay wounded. One of them died on the scene, while the other died at the hospital a short time later.

Conti Street, French Quarter, New Orleans
A view of the 700-block Conti Street looking towards Bourbon Street. Photo 2019, by Infrogmation, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Part of this spectacle may replay itself. Investigator and author Jeff Dwyer explains that witnesses have seen “the ghostly images of a young man who appears lifelike but quickly becomes transparent as he runs a distance of about 50 feet and then vanishes.” Others have heard “muted gunshots” as they have seen this horrible image.

Sources

  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans: Revised Edition. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2016. 

Prince Conti Hotel
830 Conti Street

The Prince Conti Hotel’s bar, The Bombay Club, is apparently haunted by the spirit of a madam who once operated on the premises before the hotel was opened. She has been dubbed Sophie by staff members who have encountered her in the kitchen, bar, and at Booth 3.

Bar Bombay Club Prince Conti Hotel, French Quarter, New Orleans
The bar of The Bombay Club in the Prince Conti Hotel, 2010. Photo by Gary J. Wood, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Sources

  • Gardner, James. Professor’s Guide to Ghosts of New Orleans. CreateSpace, 2020. Kindle Edition.

917 Conti Street (formerly Musee Conti Wax Museum), private

The idea for the Musee Conti Wax Museum came to Ben Weil after a visit to London’s famous Madame Tussaud’s while on a trip to Europe. He quickly imagined a similar counterpart in New Orleans illustrating scenes from local history. The museum opened in 1964 with figures created by a Parisian mannequin maker. The figures of Napoleon, Andrew Jackson, Madame LaLaurie, Marie Laveau, and Jelly Roll Morton were shipped to the city on a Pan Am jet, where some of the figures were seated in the cabin among actual human passengers. The wax museum quickly became a major tourist attraction in the French Quarter. Legions of school children visited among the silent and still figures to learn the weird and wacky and violent history of the city.

Conti Street, French Quarter, New Orleans
917 Conti Street, the building that once held the Musee Conti Wax Museum, is the grey building on the right of this photo. Photo 2021, by Infrogmation, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Over time, stories began to spread of spirits among the wax figures. Staff and guests have heard disembodied voices within the museum and others have seen shadow figures moving about amongst the stationary figures. Others have felt the eyes of the figures follow them around the space. The museum has undergone investigations by a number of paranormal investigators who have uncovered a great deal of evidence alluding to the presence of spirits here.

Sadly, the Musee Conti Wax Museum closed in 2016 and the building was sold. Developers transformed the building into high-end private condos. Since the building’s redevelopment, it is unknown if the spirits remain here.

Sources

Wallace Parlour House
1026 Conti Street, private

In a city chock full of irascible characters, Norma Wallace is amongst the pantheon. For decades, she was one of the most well-known doyennes of the city’s pleasure palaces. She was the last, and perhaps the most upstanding and respectable, of many madams who operated throughout this city’s vice-ridden history. From this innocuous address she operated one of the city’s most famous brothels, a place where the patriarchs of prominent families brought their sons as a rite of coming of age. A place where wanted criminals might rub shoulders with the judges who might one day sentence them. Business leaders, bureaucrats, political leaders, entertainers, law enforcement, and diplomats all came to indulge in Norma Wallace’s court of young women. For a time, couples might visit to observe some of New Orleans’ first sex shows given in Norma Wallace’s parlor.

Born into a poverty-stricken family, Wallace had aunts engaged in prostitution. At a young age, she learned that she could earn a living with her womanly charms, though she quickly grew tired of actually selling herself. Within a short time, she began overseeing other ladies of the evening and quickly learned how to finesse law enforcement and the justice system to protect her business interests. With the election of increasingly conservative crime-fighting district attorneys who vowed to fight corruption, she was forced to close her house and business. In her later years, she was able to transform her infamy into fame and her name was celebrated, though she quickly grew bored. In 1974 she took her life at her home in rural Mississippi.

This infamous address fell into disrepair and decay following Wallace’s ownership. Recently, a developer purchased the home and restored it, dividing the house into condos. It is said that the odor of cigars is still smelled here accompanied by the clinking of glasses and the sound of a woman’s husky laugh. Perhaps Norma Wallace is reliving the best years of her life?

Sources

  • Gardner, James. Professor’s Guide to Ghosts of New Orleans. CreateSpace, 2020. Kindle Edition.
  • Wiltz, Christine. The Last Madam: A Life in the New Orleans Underworld. NYC: Open Road Integrated Media, 2000. Kindle Edition.

Street Guide to the Phantoms of the French Quarter—Dauphine Street

N.B. This article was originally published 15 June 2016 with Bourbon Street.

This article is part of my series, Street Guide to the Phantoms of the French Quarter, which looks at the haunted places of this neighborhood in a street by street basis. Please see the series main page for an introduction to the French Quarter and links to other streets.

Dauphine Street

Dauphine Street New Orleans
Tile street name set into the sidewalk. Photo by Infrogmation, 2019, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Originally the Rue de Vendome, this street was renamed Dauphine Street not long after. According to John Chase’s Frenchmen, Desire, Good Children…and other Streets of New Orleans, there is no certainty as to who this street is named for, though it was likely named for the Dauphin of France, the heir apparent to the French crown.

Sources

  • Chase, John. Frenchmen, Desire, Good Children…and other Streets of New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 1949.

Dauphine Orleans Hotel
415 Dauphine Street

Like so many French Quarter hotels, the Dauphine Orleans comprises a number of buildings with varying histories and spirits. On the west side of Dauphine Street is a small group of old cottages, some dating to at least 1775. Among these buildings is the Audubon Cottage, one of several buildings where artist John James Audubon lived for a time. Another cottage was once occupied by one of the city’s infamous bordellos in the 19th century, a bawdy house under the watchful eye of May Bailey. This building is now the hotel’s bar, May Bailey’s Place.

Sanborn map 1895 of New Orleans French Quarter
The 1895 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of the corner of Dauphine and Conti Streets where the Dauphine Orleans Hotel is now located. Most of the cottages and buildings on this corner now comprise the hotel.

In 1834, merchant Samuel Hermann built a large home just across the street from the cottages. This building now houses the hotel’s offices. After these buildings were renovated, the Dauphine Orleans Hotel opened in 1971.

Investigations conducted in the 1990s by the International Society for Paranormal Research (ISPR) reported the presence of a number of spirits including a soldier’s spirit in the pool area, and several former ladies of the evening, possibly associated with May Bailey.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. The Haunted South. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2014.
  • “The Dauphine Hotel is really haunted.” WGNO. 30 October 2015.
  • Montz, Larry and Daena Smoller. ISPR Investigates The Ghosts of New Orleans. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2000.
  • Oswell, Paul. New Orleans Historic Hotels. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2014.

Gardette-LePretre House
715 Dauphine Street, private

Gardette-LePretre Mansion French Quarter New Orleans
The Gardette-LePretre House in January 1958. This photo was taken by Richard Koch for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Sometimes known as the “Sultan’s Retreat” this private residence is home to a popular legend. At some point in the early 19th century, a deposed potentate from the east took up residence here. Accompanied by scimitar-wielding guards, a harem, eunuchs and servants, the potentate rented the home and turned it into an Eastern-styled pleasure garden. One morning passersby noticed that everything had suddenly gone quiet. Ominously, and in testament to the horrors within, a small trickle of blood dripped from underneath the front door. When the police broke in to investigate they discovered all the home’s residents had been massacred in an orgy of blood and violence. Since that time, residents have supposedly dealt with odd sounds, disembodied screams, and mysterious apparitions. Sadly, there’s no evidence that these events actually occurred or that the building may be haunted.

Sources

  • Ambrose, Kala. Spirits of New Orleans. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2012.
  • Caskey, James. The Haunted History of New Orleans. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2014.

Dauphine House Bed & Breakfast
1830 Dauphine Street

The Dauphine House is located about a block outside of the French Quarter in Faubourg Marigny, but I think it’s close enough to include in this look at French Quarter haunts.

This small inn, built in 1860 as a private residence, hosts several spirits. Not long after the owner purchased the home she encountered a spectral couple on the stairs, “they wore clothes from the end of the 1800s…they were standing there smiling.” She thanked them for their home and explained that she would take care of the house and the couple disappeared. A guest at the inn who was distraught over a breakup reportedly saw the couple a few times during her visit and felt they were attempting to comfort her.

Sources

  • “Haunts of the Dauphine House.” Ghost Eyes Blog. 15 January 2010.
  • Smith, Terry L. and Mark Jean. Haunted Inns of America. Crane Hill Publishers, 2003.
  • Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2001.

National Haunted Landmarks of Maryland, Part I

Most people have heard of the National Register of Historic Places which was established in 1966 by the Historic Preservation Act. Maintained by the National Park Service (NPS), this list denotes places of historical importance throughout the country and within all U.S. territories and possessions. Since its establishment, it has grown to cover nearly 95,000 places.

While the National Register is widely known, the National Historic Landmark (NHL) program is little known. This program denotes buildings, districts, objects, sites, or structures that are of national importance, essentially a step-up from a listing on the National Register. The criteria for being designated as a National Historic Landmark includes:

  • Sites where events of national historical significance occurred;
  • Places where prominent persons lived or worked;
  • Icons of ideals that shaped the nation;
  • Outstanding examples of design or construction;
  • Places characterizing a way of life; or
  • Archeological sites able to yield information.

Among the listings on this exclusive list are the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia; Central Park, the Empire State Building, and the Chrysler Building in New York City; and the White House in Washington. Currently, there are only 2,500 landmarks included on the list.

The state of Maryland has more than 1,500 listings on the National Register and has 76 National Historic Landmarks. In addition to these listings, there are seven other nationally important sites that are owned and operated by the National Park Service, so they are technically National Historic Landmarks, though because they are fully protected as government property and do not appear on the list of NHLs.

This article looks at the Maryland landmarks and other protected properties with reported paranormal activity. This article has been divided up and this looks at the first eleven landmarks on the list.

National Historic Landmarks, Part I

Clara Barton National Historic Site
5801 Oxford Road
Glen Echo

Clara Barton House, Glen Echo, Maryland
The Clara Barton House, 2006, by Preservation Maryland. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

While this site is owned and operated by the National Park Service, it is listed on the list of National Historic Landmarks as well. I have covered this location in my article on “Montgomery County Mysteries.”

Brice House
42 East Street
Annapolis

Brice House Annapolis Maryland
Recent view of the Brice House taken in 2009. The house is made up of five parts, the large main house, two pavilions with “hyphens” that connect the pavilions to the main house. Photo by Wikipedia user, Pubdog Courtesy of Wikipedia.

This masterpiece of Georgian architecture is also counted as part of the National Historic Landmark listed Colonial Annapolis Historic District. I have briefly covered the paranormal activity here in my article, “Brice House Photos—Annapolis.”

Chestertown Historic District

Hynson-Ringgold House (private)
106 South Water Street
Chestertown

Located on the Chester River on the state’s Eastern Shore, Chestertown was a major port town for several decades in the latter half of the 18th century. As a result, the town is graced with a number of grand merchant’s homes, including the Hynson-Ringgold House, which now comprise this NHL historic district.

Hyson-Ringgold House Chestertown Maryland
The Hynson-Ringgold House, 2011, by Kriskelleyphotography, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The earliest part of this lovely Georgian house was constructed in 1743. As it passed through the hands of various owners, it has gained many additions. Over the years it has been owned by and attracted luminaries who, and who possibly even remain to haunt it. Since the 1940s, the house has served as the home for the president of Washington College.

Rumors of the house being haunted have been circulated since the 1850s, though the only documented story speaks of a maid who lived and worked in the home in 1916. After having her faced touched while she tried to sleep in the attic garret, she eventually refused to sleep in her room.

Sources

  • Chestertown Historic District. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 29 January 2022.
  • Daniels, D. S. Ghosts of Chestertown and Kent County. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2015.
  • Hynson-Ringgold House. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 29 January 2022.

College of Medicine of Maryland—Davidge Hall
University of Maryland School of Medicine
522 West Lombard Street
Baltimore

Davidge Hall is the oldest medical school building in continuous use in the country, as well as possessing the oldest anatomical theater in the English-speaking world. This elegant, Greek-revival structure was built in 1812 and its anatomical theater reminds us of the dicey issue of anatomical training in early America. While it was important for future physicians to understand anatomy by dissecting human cadavers, there were no established protocols for actually procuring these bodies. Even the most well-established medical institutions and educators often turned to “resurrection men” to steal bodies from local cemeteries and burying grounds, which obviously caused a great deal of consternation among the families of those who were recently deceased.

Dr. John Davidge, an Annapolis-born physician for whom this building was later named, began providing training to local medical students in 1807. Not long after opening his school, which included an anatomical theater, an angry mob interrupted a dissection, stole the corpse and they may have also demolished the building. Following the riot, a bill officially establishing a medical school was passed by the state’s General Assembly. The use of stolen bodies in the College of Medicine ended in 1882 when a bill was passed providing medical schools in the state with the bodies of anyone who had be buried with public funds, including criminals and the indigent.

Davidge Hall College of Medicine Maryland Baltimore
Davidge Hall, 2011, by KudzuVine, courtesy of Wikipedia.

According to Melissa Rowell and Amy Lynwander’s Baltimore Harbor Haunts, there are reports of disembodied voices and strange sounds within the building. Perhaps the spirits of some of those who were dissected remain here?

Sources

Colonial Annapolis Historic District

Middleton Tavern Annapolis Maryland ghosts haunted
Middleton Tavern, 1964. Photograph for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

The city of Annapolis dates to 1649 when a small settlement named Providence was established on the shore where the Severn River enters the Chesapeake Bay. Throughout the 18th century, the village grew into a prosperous port and administrative city. Its importance was recognized when it was named as the temporary capital of the United States following the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

Reynolds Tavern Annapolis Maryland
Reynolds Tavern, 1960. Photograph by Jack Boucher for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

With its dearth of colonial buildings, much of its historic district was promoted to a National Historic Landmark in 1965. Of course, with much of the historic built environment remaining many of these structures are haunted. Two taverns among them—Middleton Tavern and Reynolds Tavern—that I covered in my article, “One national under the table’—The Haunted Taverns of Annapolis.”

USS Constellation
Pier 1, 301 East Pratt Street
Baltimore

USS Constellation 2008 ghosts haunted
The USS Constellation at its permanent berth in Baltimore Harbor, 2008. Photo by Nfutvol, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The last remaining sail-powered warship designed and built by the United States Navy, the USS Constellation was constructed here in Baltimore in 1854 and includes parts from the first Constellation constructed in 1797. Since the ship was decommissioned and preserved as a museum ship in 1955, stories have come from visitors and staff alike of ghosts and assorted paranormal activity being witnessed on board. The same year the ship opened to the public, a photographer remained aboard the ship late one night hoping to capture the image of one of the ship’s ghost. He was rewarded with the image of a 19th century captain striding upon the deck captured on film. I have covered his story here.

B & O Ellicott City Station Museum
2711 Maryland Avenue
Ellicott City

There is perhaps no better place to meet one of Ellicott City’s spectral residents than the old Baltimore & Ohio Train Station in downtown. One local resident discovered this fact as he walked to work one foggy morning. Just outside the old station he was approached by a young boy who was apparently lost. The resident told the little boy he would help him find his mother. Taking his hand, they began to walk towards the restaurant where the man worked. Oddly, the man didn’t take any heed to the boy’s old-fashioned clothing, but as they neared the restaurant the child let go of the man’s hand. As he turned the man was shocked to see no one behind him. The little boy had vanished.

B & O Station Ellicott City Maryland
Ellicott City’s B&O Station, 2020, by Antony-22, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Ellicott City Train Station was witness to the first rail trip ever made in this country on May 24, 1830. That day a horse drawn rail car opened rail service spanning the twenty-six miles between Baltimore and Ellicott City. That day, the station was being built and would be completed in 1831. Over the last nearly two hundred years, as rail service has come and mostly gone in the United States, this station has remained standing and is now one of the oldest remaining train stations in the world and the oldest in this country. Throughout its history it has seen the comings and goings of the citizens of Ellicott City including many sad farewells and happy greetings, all of them leaving their psychic traces on the thick stone walls.

The little boy encountered by the restaurant employee is not the only spectral resident that has been seen here. Staff and visitors alike continue to have odd experiences in the museum.

Sources

Fort Frederick
11100 Fort Frederick Road
Big Pool

Amidst the hostilities of the French and Indian War (1754-1763), Fort Frederick was constructed on the Maryland frontier to provide shelter and protection attacks from Native Americans and the French. During the Pontiac Uprising of 1763, hundreds of frontier residents found shelter within the fort. During the American Revolution, the fort was pressed into service as a POW prison, housing up to a thousand British and Hessian soldiers at one point. After the founding of the fledgling United States, it was no longer needed and sold at public auction. As fighting broke out during the Civil War, however, the fort was once again pressed into service, although it was quickly found to be unnecessary. The state of Maryland acquired the site as a park in 1922.

Fort Frederick Big Pool Maryland
Fort Frederick State Park, 2009, by Acroterion, courtesy of Wikipedia.

While the fort saw mercifully little action, many deaths occurred within its walls from disease. From these grim times of illness, spirits have been left who continue to roam the old battlements and grounds. Among them, a “Lady in White” has been seen drifting through the fort.

Sources

Hammond-Harwood House
19 Maryland Avenue
Annapolis

Annapolis has a wealth of colonial brick mansions, all of which are a part of the Colonial Annapolis Historic District, and several of which are important enough to afford individual listings as National Historic Landmarks, including Brice House, the William Paca House, the Chase-Lloyd House (just across the street), and the Hammond-Harwood House. These homes may also share an architect in common, William Buckland. Unfortunately, some of the homes are only attributed to his had as documentation has not survived.

Hammond-Harwood House Annapolis Maryland
The Hammond-Harwood House, 1936, by E. F. Pickering for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

The Hammond-Harwood House is considered most likely to have been designed entirely by Buckland. In fact, the front elevation of the house can be seen in painter Charles Wilson Peale’s contemporary portrait of the architect. On the table at Buckland’s side is a piece of paper with a drawing of the home. It is known, however, that the home’s design was adapted by Buckland from a plate in Andrea Palladio’s 1570 magnum opus, I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura (Four Books of Architecture).

Construction on this home for Matthias Hammond, a wealthy planter with fifty-four tobacco plantations, in 1774. The magnificent manse remained a private home for a succession of wealthy families until St. John’s College purchased the house in 1924. A non-profit took over operation of the home in 1940 and it remains a house museum.

Over the years, a legend has sprung up regarding Matthias Hammond’s fiancée. It is believed that Hammond may have never occupied the house once it was completed and the legend states that he neglected his fiancée during the construction, much to her chagrin. Tired of waiting for completion on the mansion, she broke off the engagement, though she later returned to him as a mistress. Witnesses have spotted a woman in colonial dress peering from the windows of the home and have claimed that the spirit may be the aggrieved mistress. Upon her death, she was buried on the property in a secret crypt. According to writer Ed Ockonowicz’s interview with the home’s manager, this legend is not true.

Sources

Kennedy Farm
2406 Chestnut Grove Road
Sharpsburg

In the dark years prior to the Civil War, John Brown began to formulate plans to liberate the enslaved population. In 1858, he cast his eyes on the small town of Harpers Ferry, Virginia with its Federal armory. His plan was to use his motley crew of men to capture the armory and use the arms stashed there to arm local slaves and foment rebellion. He rented a small farm that had once been home to the late Dr. Booth Kennedy several months before the planned attack. In this spot on the Maryland side of the Potomac River Brown and his men drew up plans for his raid and gathered arms. The raid was put into action on October 16, 1859 and lasted until the arrival of General Robert E. Lee with a detachment of Marines from Washington.

Kennedy Farm Sharpsburg Maryland
The farmhouse at the Kennedy Farm after a recent renovation, 2019, by Acroterion, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The raiders holed themselves up in a fire engine house which came under fire from the Marines. Eventually the soldiers were able to break their way inside and arrested all the remaining raiders including Brown himself. Brown was quickly put on trial for his leadership in the raid and was executed in nearby Charles Town roughly a month and a half after the failed raid began, on December 2. Since his death, his spirit has been drawn back to many of the places associated with the raid, including the Kennedy Farm.

In 1989, a reporter from the Washington Post interviewed a student who was renting a room inside the historic farmhouse. He reported hearing the sounds of footsteps climbing the stairs to the farmhouse’s second floor where the conspirators slept in the days leading up to the raid. He told the reporter, “it sounds like people are walking up the stairs. You hear snoring, talking and breathing hard. It makes your hair stand up on end.” The student and his roommate would often play video-games late into the evening to avoid going to bed, after which activity usually started. In the years since the interview, a number of people associated with the building have also had frightening experiences there.

Sources

Maryland State House
State Circle
Annapolis

Located at the center of State Circle, the Maryland State House is the oldest state capitol building still in use, having been built in the final decades of the 18th century. Construction began on the building in 1772 and it was finally completed in 1797, after being delayed by the American Revolution. Even in its incomplete state, the building was used between 1783 and 1784 as a meeting place for the national Congress of the Confederation.

The building’s most prominent feature is the central drum topped with a graceful dome and cupola. So prominent is this feature that it appeared on the back of the Maryland state quarter when it was produced in 2000. This dome plays a part in the capitol’s ghost story.

Maryland State House Annapolis
Maryland State House, 2007, by Inteagle 102704, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Legend speaks of a plasterer, Thomas Dance, who was killed while he worked on the building when he fell from the scaffold upon which he was working. According to a guide from the Annapolis Ghost Tour, the contractor refused to pay Dance’s pension and outstanding wages to his family and confiscated his tools, leaving his family destitute.

While it is not known what has kept Mr. Dance’s spirit bound to the state house, he is blamed for much of the paranormal activity within the building. The spirit of a man seen walking on the balustrade at the top of the dome and within the building at night is believed to be Dance. Flickering lights and blasts of chilly air experienced by the living here are also blamed on him.

Sources

 

A “non-stop jazz spook”—Baltimore, MD

The Evening Sun (Baltimore, Maryland)
June 12, 1923 

“GHOST” HOLDS SWAY AS DOUBTERS FLEE

Family Moves From Dulaney
Street House And Schemes
To Lay Spook Fail. 

A “spook” thought to be the spirit of a departed long-distance dancer, has visited the house at 2630 Dulaney street and has driven the tenants away, residents of the block say.

Those who have gone to the house to scoff have departed very suddenly when the “haunt” came forth and gave visible demonstrations of its power, and today the ghostly visitor from the nether world reigns supreme.

Mr. and Mrs. John Welk, who moved into the house from Woodberry six months ago, have been driven out. Residents of the block who have seen strange things happen in the house are inclined to agree with them, and neighbors tread softly as they walk past the deserted house at night.

Non-Stop Jazz Spook.

But though the “ghost” haunts the house, it, too, seems ill at ease, as though it is doing penance. For as it does its stuff it groans mournfully, and the sight of a shoe seems to exercise an unbreakable power over it.

This has caused some to think that it is the ghost of a long-distance dancer who passed out after shuffling for 167 hours and who is doomed as punishment to shuffle for an eternity on the Elysian fields.

Mrs. Welk first became conscious of its presence when a pair of shoes she left on the floor started to shuffle wearily about the room, while heart-rending groans emanated from somewhere in the empty space where the person in them should have been.

Nor is it only Mrs. Welk’s shoes which are moved by the unseen ghost. According to neighbors, it is perfectly impartial and say shoes which are places in the building are seized with a desire to get somewhere else.

This includes not only unattached shoes, but those on the feet of investigators. Persons who have, in a calm and scientific spirit, sought to plumb the depths of the visitations have found that their shoes have suddenly carried them out of the house when the manifestations commenced.

Robert Mason, 2611 Dulaney street, was one of the scoffers who tried to show up the ghost. A pair of shoes were placed on the first floor as bait, and presently they began to move without any visible shanks in them. They moved to the accompaniment of a low moan, and at the same time a sweater which had been placed in the shoes was thrown a foot away.

Goose flesh began to appear on the backs of the necks of the investigators, but they stayed to see what would happen. A moment of shivery silence passed and then Mrs. Welk suddenly screamed, “There he is!”

A shadow appeared on the wall, a shadow which Mrs. Welk declared was the spirit of her dead father. But, unlike Hamlet, she did not stay to converse with it.

“Come with me,” said a hollow ghostly voice.

For a moment the group stood unable to move. Then their shoes got restless and they went out the front door.

George Pettingill, a carpenter, 2638 Dulaney street, is another who tried to lay the ghost. He piled up more shoes then six ghosts could wear in the middle of the floor and put some of his tools on them to weight them down. Suddenly the tools were scattered to the corners of the room and to the cadence of the same lugubrious groans, the shoes began to waltz. Everybody seemed satisfied with this and left.

_____

Dulaney Street lies southwest of downtown Baltimore, just off US 1 in a neighborhood called Mill Hill. Looking on Google Maps, it appears that the house where this haunting took place is no longer standing. The street is derelict with many of the town homes boarded up. A residence that was once a neighbor to 2630 still stands and appears to be occupied by tenants.

Dance marathon 1923
Dancers participate in a marathon 20 April 1923. Photo by the National Photo Company, courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

This article is interesting, not only in documenting this strange phenomenon, but in linking it to a “long-distance” dancer. It seems that the article is referring to the dance marathons that were popular in the 1920s. In these marathons, couples danced for as long as they could endure. As long as the couple remained moving, they were still in the running and rules sometimes allowed one partner to sleep, while the other remained dancing. The article notes that this particular dancer danced for 167 hours, which is more than six days, which was possible. The current record for marathon dancing, according to Guinness World Records, for an individual is 124 hours and for a pair is a mere 41 hours. Dancers setting records before the advent of Guinness World Records, which was first published in 1951, have not been included.

Sources

  • Dance marathon. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 27 December 2020.
  • “Ghost” holds sway as doubters flee. The Evening Sun. 12 June 1923.

The Wraiths of Winchester, Virginia

N.B. This article was originally posted as part of “A Spectral Tour of the Shenandoah Valley,” which I published in 2014. Seeing that the article needed some serious work, I have decided to shift some things around and post each city as a separate article.

Winchester, Virginia’s twisting history certainly makes it fertile ground for hauntings.

Chartered in 1752, the city was one of the most important cities in the region during the 19th century. Nine major roads converged along with the Winchester and Potomac Railroad, making this a crucial market town.

With the coming of the Civil War, the city’s location made it a prize coveted by both armies. It would famously change hands many times during the war. Three major battles took place here with a host of smaller battles and skirmishes taking place throughout the region. This bloody history has most certainly left a spiritual mark on the Shenandoah and especially on Winchester.

Winchester’s ghosts have been documented primarily in Mac Rutherford’s 2007 book, Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. There is a ghost tour, Ghost Tours Old Town Winchester, Virginia, which is hosted occasionally.

The tour is arranged alphabetically by street, with the sites in order by street address south to north and east to west.

East Boscawen Street

Mount Hebron Cemetery
305 East Boscawen Street

Encompassing four different cemeteries, Mount Hebron holds some of the oldest burials in the city. Two of the cemeteries within its precincts date to the mid-18th century, while the large Stonewall Confederate Cemetery was created just following the Civil War. This may also be the most haunted section of this cemetery. The marker for the Patton Brothers, George and Tazewell (Col. George S. Patton was the grandfather of General George S. Patton who lead American forces during World War II), has some reported activity with it involving a lone figure seen near it. Wearing a military greatcoat and peaked hat, the figure walks towards the marker and disappears. Legend holds that the figure may be none other than Nazi Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. During the 1930s, Rommel was one of a number of German military leaders who spent time in the area studying the military tactics of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson.

Mount Hebron Cemetery Winchester Virginia
Entrance and Gate House for Mount Hebron Cemetery. Photo 2010,
by Karen Nutini, courtesy of Wikipedia.

While the Confederate dead—some of whom were unknown—were buried in the cemetery here, the Union dead were buried across Woodstock Lane in the National Cemetery. Mac Rutherford notes that people living in the area and passersby just after sundown have seen gray figures rising from the Confederate section of Mount Hebron and making their way across the street towards the National Cemetery.

Sources

  • History. Mount Hebron Cemetery. Accessed 21 September 2014.
  • Klemm, Anna and DHR Staff. National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for Mount Hebron Cemetery. 25 July 2008.
  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.
  • Toney, B. Keith. Battlefield Ghosts. Berryville, VA: Rockbridge Publishing, 1997.

West Boscawen Street

38 West Boscawen Street, private

One of Winchester’s most accomplished daughters, the singer Patsy Cline, is associated with this building. It was here, at the G&M Music Store, where Cline bought her first guitar and made some of her first recordings. Visitors to the room that once housed the recording studio have experienced a coldness and claim to have felt the spirit of the famed singer.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

125 West Boscawen Street, private

This circa 1790 home is now occupied by a law firm. Like many buildings throughout the city, this structure served as a hospital for the wounded during the Civil War. Employees of the businesses that have occupied this space over the past few decades have reported hearing footsteps regularly and feeling a cold chill in certain rooms.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Fuller House Inn
220 West Boscawen Street

This magnificent home was constructed in 1854 incorporating the late 18th century servants’ quarters from the Ambler Hill Estate. On the eve of the Civil War, the house was purchased by prominent local dentist, Dr. William McPherson Fuller. This building was also commandeered for use as a hospital during the Civil War and that may explain the presence of a soldier who has been seen in the house. The house serves as an intimate event space and lodging.

Sources

  • Varhola, Michael J. Ghosthunting Virginia. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2008.

South Braddock Street

South Braddock Street
Between Cork and Boscawen Streets

Soldiers from the Civil War have been seen along this street. After the First Battle of Winchester on May 25, 1862, which was a Confederate victory, Union forces retreated along this street. According to Mac Rutherford, they held their formations along this street until they reached the center of town where they broke rank and ran for their lives. The reports of soldiers seen here usually include large formations of many soldiers.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Braddock Street United Methodist Church Parking Lot
Intersection of South Braddock and Wolfe Streets, Southeast Corner

This block has spiritual activity from two different wars. The Braddock Street United Methodist Church Parking Lot has possible activity dating to the French and Indian War (1755-1762). During that war, Fort George, one of two forts built in the area under the purview of Colonel George Washington, stood near here. This piece of property was used for drilling recruits and Colonial soldiers have been seen in the area and in the building that once occupied this site.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

North Braddock Street

Kimberly’s (Lloyd Logan House)
135 North Braddock Street

Lloyd Logan, a local tobacco merchant, built this home around 1850 and it was considered one of the finest homes in town. When war came, the house was taken over by Union generals Franz Sigel and later by Philip Sheridan. Under orders from General Sigel, Lloyd Logan was thrown in jail and the house and most of its contents were confiscated for army use. Logan’s wife and daughters were later removed from the house and unceremoniously dumped along the Valley Pike. This incident may contribute to the spiritual activity within the home.

From Braddock Street, look up at the two windows on the south side of the second floor. Passersby have seen the figure of a man pacing and throwing his hands into the air. One witness described him as not “really clear, sort of gray and fuzzy. I think he was even pulling at his hair.” Employees of Kimberly’s have also seen the man in that room and state that he is accompanied by a woman crying in the corner.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

West Cork Street

Cork Street Tavern
8 West Cork Street

Occupying a pair of early 19th century residences, the Cork Street Tavern has a pair of ghosts, though there seems to be some uncertainty as to why they’re there. Much of the structure’s history is well-known except for the period during Prohibition when the building may have been used as a speakeasy and brothel. The pair, nicknamed John and Emily by the restaurant staff, have both made their presence known with a variety of activity. Apparitions of both have been seen in the building while Emily’s voice has been heard calling, “John,” a number of times. A spirit has also been known to trip female patrons walking into the non-smoking section. The level of activity here is high enough that it led an investigator to remark during a 2009 investigation that “nothing holds a candle to Cork Street.”

Sources

  • History. Cork Street Tavern. Accessed 17 September 2014.
  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.
  • Varhola, Michael J. Ghosthunting Virginia. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2008.
  • Williams, J.R. “Paranormal investigators examine Cork Street Tavern for ghost activity.” The Northern Virginia Daily. 3 August 2009.

South Loudoun Street

Water Street Kitchen
(formerly Old Town Café)
2 South Loudoun Street

This large, brick building was originally the family home of the prominent Holliday family and this was the home of Frederick Holliday who served as governor during the 19th century. The building has seen a variety of uses including post office, a dry goods store and drug store. Since its use as a restaurant, the owners have discovered that the building is also the residence of two ghosts. A male spirit has been seen ascending the stairs from the basement, though he always just stops and stares upon reaching the top. A woman’s spirit has been seen entering the building’s front door and rearranging items on the shelves inside the restaurant.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Red Lion Tavern Building
204-208 South Loudoun Street

This historic tavern building was constructed in 1784 by a German-born Revolutionary War veteran named Peter Lauck. He is known to have had seven daughters, one of whom may still be seen and heard in the building. People recently working in the building have been thanked by a soft, feminine voice saying, “danke.” The shadowy figure of a woman in colonial dress is sometimes seen when the voice is heard.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007. 

North Loudoun Street

Old Court House Civil War Museum
20 North Loudoun Street

Of all the buildings throughout Winchester that were impacted by the Civil War, the biggest impact was possibly on this building which was constructed in 1840 as the Frederick County Court House. The building served as a hospital and, after the Third Battle of Winchester, a prison for captured Confederates. Many of the scars left on this building including the graffiti left on the walls by soldiers from both sides have been preserved. The building has also been the scene of some rather intense spiritual activity.

old frederick county courthouse winchester virginia
Old Frederick County Court House, 2011, by Saran Stierch. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Some spiritually sensitive passersby have witnessed gray forms huddled in the building’s courtyard where Confederate prisoners were kept. In the old courtroom, voices have been heard ranging from faint whispers to obnoxious shouting and the cries of the wounded that once crowded this space. During the building’s renovation, workers had tools and equipment moved. Three workers walked off the job when scaffolding was moved from one side of the room to another during a lunch break.

Sources

  • Austin, Natalie. “Local ghost expert shares stories of the supernatural.” The Northern Virginia Daily. 30 October 2004.
  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

33 North Loudon Street 

Near this address be on the lookout for a young woman in Civil War era clothing hurrying along the street with a shawl wrapped around her shoulders. This is believed to be the spirit of Tillie Russell, a local woman who legend calls, “The Angel of the Battlefield.”

A small engagement occurred at Rutherford’s Farm outside of Winchester on July 20, 1864. Union forces attacked a Confederate division on General Stephen Ramseur throwing that division into confusion. Capt. Randolph Ridgeley of the 2nd Virginia Volunteer Infantry was seriously wounded when Tillie Russell found him and nursed him through the night. Ridgeley was found the next morning being cradled by Miss Russell and survived his wounds.

For years, people have seen the spirit of Miss Russell leaving the building at 33 North Loudoun pulling her shawl about her shoulders as she heads off towards the battlefield at Rutherford’s Farm.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Village Square Restaurant and V2 Piano Bar and Lounge
103 North Loudoun Street

These two establishments occupy a series of haunted structures all built in the early 19th century. Spirits flit and float throughout the restaurant, but the V2 Piano Bar and Lounge has the real story to tell. This building formerly housed Miller’s Apothecary which opened on this site in the mid-18th century. The apothecary was operated by the Miller family until 1992 when they decided to shutter the business. Subsequent owners of the building have all had run-ins with the resident spirits including Jeanette, a young woman who lived with the Miller family in the 18th century.

Perhaps one of the saddest stories of this location comes from the Civil War. Union soldiers from the 29th Pennsylvania Infantry were quartered in the upstairs rooms. A young African-American male was lynched by the group in a tree just outside the building. The pacing of boots and the shouts of arguing soldiers are still heard here.

Sources

  • Varhola, Michael J. Ghosthunting Virginia. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2008.

Taylor Pavilion
125 North Loudoun Street

In its heyday, the Taylor Hotel offered the grandest accommodations in the city. Opening about a decade before the Civil War, the hotel provided accommodations to many of the generals leading troops through the area during the war. Sadly, one of the red-headed call girls who served at the hotel still lingers in this building.

In 2011, the old hotel was purchased by the city and renovated to hold five apartments and restaurant space as well as an outdoor events venue. Apparently, something doesn’t like the restaurant space, though. Kitchen staff have reported that grease burners, often turned off at night, will be found to be on in the morning. One cook installed surveillance cameras to put an end to this. However, he saw that the burners were turned off by the night staff, though they were found on again that morning.

Sources

  • Brehm, Brian. “Spirits frequent several Winchester haunts.” Winchester Star. 24 October 2017.
  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

151 North Loudon Street
(formerly Olde Town Armory and Heirlooms)

Originally constructed as the Arlington Hotel, this building houses a ghost that is known to make a bathroom run every morning. Past operators of a shop here reported that the front door would frequently open by itself followed by the sound of footsteps racing into the store and up the stairs. The water in the bathroom would be turned on in the upstairs bathroom. After some time, the spirit began leaving a penny outside the bathroom door. In one case, the spirit left a penny on the floor and placed a penny on the breasts of a female mannequin being stored just outside the bathroom.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Brewbaker’s Restaurant
168 North Loudoun Street

With a core dating the late 18th century, this old commercial building has been home to a continuous line of restaurants since 1910. However, the history does not explain the apparition of a young woman who appears near the fireplace. A photograph taken here some years ago seemed to show the shadowy figure of a man wearing boots; a figure some have interpreted as a Confederate soldier.

Sources

  • Brehm, Brian. “Spirits frequent several Winchester haunts.” Winchester Star. 24 October 2017.
  • History of Our Building. Brewbaker’s Restaurant. Accessed 24 September 2014.
  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

West Piccadilly Street

Phillip Williams House
(formerly Joe’s Steakhouse)
25 West Piccadilly Street

A Confederate officer is frequently seen staring out the windows of this circa 1845 mansion. Legend holds that this is the spirit of Colonel George S. Patton (the same one buried in Mount Hebron Cemetery above) who died here September 19, 1864 from injuries sustained during the Third Battle of Winchester. He is believed to have passed away on the second floor.

Sources

  • Austin, Natalie. “Local ghost expert shares stories of the supernatural.” The Northern Virginia Daily. 30 October 2004.
  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Handley Regional Library
100 West Piccadilly Street

Handley Library Winchester Virginia
The glorious Beaux-Arts facade of the Handley Library.
Photo 2011, by Missvain, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Opened in 1913, this glorious Beaux-Arts library was constructed as a gift to the city of Winchester from coal baron, Judge John Handley. The face of a man with a “drooping mustache” has been seen peering from the windows of the building’s rotunda. A full apparition of a man with a mustache and wearing a frock coat has been seen by library staff inside the building. Perhaps Judge Handley is checking up on his gift?

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Indian Alley

Figures of very tall Indians have been witnessed along this street. There are a number of legends dating to the 18th century regarding very tall Native Americans who once lived in the area. Perhaps the spirits of these original inhabitants return? The Indians are generally seen during the first and last light of the day.

Sources

  • Austin, Natalie. “Local ghost expert shares stories of the supernatural.” The Northern Virginia Daily. 30 October 2004.
  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Located southeast of downtown is this site:

Abram’s Delight
1340 South Pleasant Valley Road

One of the best places to understand the early history of Winchester is in the restored home of the Hollingsworth family, one of the first white families to settle in the area. Built by Abraham Hollingsworth in the mid-18th century, the house remained in the family until the City of Winchester purchased it in 1943. The house is apparently haunted by spirits of family members who once lived there. The family’s mill, which is now home to offices for the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society, is also the scene of some paranormal activity. Please see my blog entry (An independent spirit—Winchester, Virginia) for further information.

The Terrors of US 29—A Ghost Tour

US 29 from Florida to Maryland

US 29 LaGrange Georgia
A sign for US 29 in downtown LaGrange, GA. Photo by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

In the early 20th century, American roads were a mess. In the late 19th century, the railroad was really the only means to travel throughout the country as roads weren’t well-maintained or even necessary except for local transportation. With the advent of the automobile however, “good roads” (as the movement was called) became increasingly crucial. Car owners began to band together to form auto clubs to create roads for themselves.

In the 1910s, these auto trail organizations and automobile clubs reached even further to create the Lincoln Highway, one of the earliest transcontinental highways stretching from New York’s Times Square to San Francisco’s Lincoln Park. With its popularity among travelers and local governments alike, the idea was expanded to the South with the creation of the Dixie Highway, which originally connected Chicago to Miami. Not only did this open up the South to tourism, but it brought industry as well.

While this new network of roads was increasingly useful, the Federal Government began investigating ways to expand and organize this network. State roadway standards were introduced in 1914 with the creation of the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO). Their standards eventually evolved into a U.S. Highway system over the next decade. This system, now nearing a hundred years old, continues to expand to this day.

U.S. Route 29, a north-south highway, connects Pensacola, Florida to Ellicott City, Maryland. Along its route it passes through a number of major cities including Auburn, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia; Greenville and Spartanburg, South Carolina; Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina; Danville, Lynchburg, Charlottesville, and Fairfax, Virginia; Washington, D.C.; and some of DC’s Maryland suburbs before its termination in Ellicott City, a suburb of Baltimore.

For me, US 29 has a very personal connection. On its route through my hometown of LaGrange, Georgia, it passes many landmarks from my youth and is the road on which I currently live. It also figures into several stories that I now tell on my Strange LaGrange Tour. For a few years I have wanted to take a big road trip to visit many of the haunted places I have written about and considered that driving the length of US 29 would make an excellent trip. This article covers many of the haunted locales I plan to visit should the trip come to fruition.

This article is intended to provide links to places I have written about elsewhere on my blog along with several brief entries and other suggested locations that I may cover in the future. This article is not intended as a static article, but will change as I cover more locations along the route of US 29.

Sources

Pensacola, Florida

US 29 begins at the intersection of North Palafox Street and Cervantes Street (US 90 and 98), just north of downtown Pensacola. While there are no haunted places (that I know of) at that immediate intersection, less than a mile south is a cluster of locations. The Saenger Theatre (118 South Palafox) is located at the intersection of South Palafox and Intendencia Street. A block south of the theatre is a cluster of hauntings around Plaza Ferdinand VII (which is haunted) that includes the T.T. Wentworth Museum, the portion of Zaragoza Street between S. Palafox and S. Baylen Streets, the Quayside Art Gallery, Pensacola Children’s Museum, and Seville Quarter. Just east of the Plaza is Old Pensacola Village including Old Christ Church (405 South Adams Street).

Saenger Theatre Pensacola FL
Saenger Theatre, 2010, by Ebyabe. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The entirety of US 29 in Florida in within Escambia County. After passing through the town of Century, the highway continues north into Escambia County, Alabama.

East Brewton, Alabama

After crossing over the creepily named Murder Creek in Brewton, US 29 runs through East Brewton which features a haunting at the old Fort Crawford Cemetery (Snowden Street).

Andalusia, Alabama

US 29 bypasses downtown Andalusia which features a haunted jail. The Old Covington County Jail can be viewed from North Cotton Street behind the courthouse.

Troy, Alabama

As the highway makes its way through downtown Troy, Alabama, it passes near the first of many major institutions of higher learning, Troy University. Two dormitories on the campus, Pace and Shackleford Halls, feature ghost stories.

Pace Hall Troy University Alabama
Pace Hall, 2017, by Kreeder13. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Union Springs, Alabama

Some years ago, I took a trip to Enterprise and drove US 29 past downtown Union Springs. I wasn’t expecting to pass through this small town, but the historic downtown intrigued me. Once I got to my destination, I looked up the town and wrote an article about my trip including the three major haunted places here: the Bullock County Courthouse and Pauly Jail (217 North Prairie Street) and the Josephine Arts Center (130 North Prairie Street).

Bullock County Courthouse Union Springs Alabama
Bullock County Courthouse, 2000. Photo by Calvin Beale for the US Department of Agriculture.

Tuskegee National Forest

North of the city of Tuskegee, US 29 heads through the Tuskegee National Forest, a site of high strangeness that includes tales of ghosts and Sasquatch sightings.

Auburn, Alabama

As US 29 approaches Auburn, it joins with I-85 to bypass the city, though there is a concentration of haunted places in and around downtown and Auburn University. Two locations at the university have been covered in this blog including the University Chapel and the Ralph Brown Draughon Library, both of which are located on College Street.

Draughon Library, Auburn University,
South College Street facade of the Draughon Library at Auburn University, 2017. Photo by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Auburn Train Depot
120 Mitcham Avenue

Railroad passengers entering and leaving Auburn have passed through one of the three buildings that have occupied this site since 1847. The first building was destroyed during the Civil War while its replacement was destroyed by fire after a lightning strike. The current building was erected in 1904 and served as a rail depot until 1970. The building was left empty in 2003 after being used as a real estate office for some 20 years. The building has served as a restaurant for a number of years and rumor has it that staff has experienced a number of strange doings.

There is a legend about the building recounted in Haunted Auburn and Opelika regarding a young woman who met a young man here. The couple began to meet regularly despite the insistence of the young woman’s father that she would marry another man. The young couple planned to elope, but the young woman’s brother thwarted the plans and killed his sister’s lover. She then threw herself in front of an arriving train. Her wail intertwined with the train’s whistle are supposedly still heard.

Sources

  • Cole, Ashtyne. “City plans to renovate historic train depot.” Auburn Plainsman. 12 June 2014.
  • Serafin, Faith, Michelle Smith and John Mark Poe. Haunted Auburn and Opelika. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2011.
  • Woodham, Brian. “Restaurant coming to Auburn Train Depot.” Auburn Villager. 3 December 2014.

Opelika, Alabama

As US 29 (still concurrent with I-85) passes into Opelika, it crosses AL 169, which has had some activity.

Opelika Chamber of Commerce Alabama
Opelika Chamber of Commerce, 2016. Photo by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Downtown Opelika also features several haunted locales including the Chamber of Commerce (601 Avenue A) and the Salem-Shotwell Covered Bridge in Opelika Municipal Park.

Spring Villa Opelika Alabama
Spring Villa, 2010, by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

The exit with US 280 provides access to Spring Villa (1474 Spring Villa Road), a most unusual plantation home with ghosts and other strangeness. At the next exit, US 29 becomes independent and heads north through Chambers County.

Valley, Alabama

Within the city of Valley, there are several villages clustered around mills including the community of Langdale. US 29 passes between the old Langdale Mill (rumored to be haunted) and Lafayette Lanier Elementary School and the adjoining Langdale Auditorium (6001 20th Avenue) which are known to be haunted.

Langdale Auditorium Valley Alabama
Langdale Auditorium stands next to Lafayette Lanier Elementary. Photo 2016, by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

The city of Valley extends up to the state line with West Point, Georgia. Just before 29 crosses that line it passes through the community of Lanett with its Oakwood Cemetery (1st Street) which is home to the dollhouse grave of Nadine Earles.

West Point, Georgia

West Point Post Office Georgia
West Point Post Office, 2012, by Rivers Langley. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

In downtown West Point, the Depression era U. S. Post Office (729 4th Avenue) may feature a few spirits. The area also has a small Civil War-era fortification, Fort Tyler, which was constructed to protect an important railway bridge over the Chattahoochee. The four-hour siege that was fought here in April of 1865 left many dead, including the commanders of the fort. These men were buried in Pine Wood Cemetery which is passed by US 29 as it leads north to LaGrange. Both of these locations may be home to paranormal activity.

LaGrange, Georgia

I have been a resident of LaGrange since early childhood and this town instilled in me a love of ghost stories. For the past couple years, I have been providing a ghost tour of downtown, the Strange LaGrange Tour, on which I feature the LaGrange Art Museum (112 Lafayette Parkway). Along its route through town, 29 passes LaGrange College with its antique centerpiece, Smith Hall. My tour discusses Smith Hall, Hawkes Hall, and the College Chapel, which are all spirited places. The college’s theatre, Price Theatre, off Panther Way, has an assortment of theatre ghosts.

Smith Hall LaGrange College ghost haunted
Smith Hall ,LaGrange College, 2010, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Atlanta, Georgia

In its journey between LaGrange and Atlanta, the road passes a number of haunted locations, though I have yet to cover any of them in this blog.

Fox Theatre Atlanta Georgia
Fox Theatre, 2005. Photo by Scott Ehardt, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Downtown Atlanta has a number of haunted places on its famous Peachtree Street including the Ellis Hotel (176 Peachtree Street), the Fox Theatre (660 Peachtree Street), and Rhodes Memorial Hall (1516 Peachtree Street) all of these are covered in my “Apparitions of Atlanta” article.

Moving out of downtown towards Decatur, US 29 runs along Ponce de Leon Avenue. On this route, it comes near Oakland Cemetery (248 Oakland Avenue, Southeast).

Oakland Cemetery Atlanta Georgia
Oakland, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell IV,
all rights reserved.

Stone Mountain, Georgia

Leaving DeKalb County, the road enters Gwinnett County near Stone Mountain, home of Stone Mountain Park (1000 Robert E. Lee Boulevard). Not only have there been spiritual encounters on the slopes of the titular monadnock, but the park’s Southern Plantation has a number of spiritual residents inside the historic structures.

Stone Mountain Georgia
Stone Mountain, circa 1910, from “Granites of the Southeastern Atlantic States,” by Thomas Watson.

Duluth, Georgia

US 29 runs south of Duluth where the Southeastern Railway Museum (3595 Buford Highway) is located. With a large collection of historic train cars and related things, a number of encounters have been reported within these cars.

The Superb Southeastern Railways Museum Duluth Georgia
President Warren G. Harding’s personal Pullman Car, The Superb,
now housed in the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth.
Photo 2007, by John Hallett. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Watkinsville, Georgia

As the highway leaves Gwinnett County, it passes through Barrow and into Oconee County. South of US 29 is the small town of Watkinsville, where the creepy Eagle Tavern (26 North Main Street) has served customers, and now museum patrons, for more than 200 years.

Eagle Tavern Watkinsville Georgia
The Eagle Tavern. Photo by Lewis Powell, IV, 2010, all
rights reserved.

Athens, Georgia

Concurrent with US 78, US 29 intersects US 441 right at the city limits of Georgia’s historic university town, Athens. Besides many hauntings on campus, the city features many historic structures with ghosts which I have covered in my article, “Town and Gown—Ghosts of Athens and the University of Georgia.” I have written separate articles on three other locations here: the Classic Center (300 North Thomas Street), the T.R.R. Cobb House (175 Hill Street), and the Tree That Owns Itself (277 South Finley Street).

Postcard of the Tree That Owns Itself Athens Georgia
The original Tree That Owns Itself shortly before it fell in 1942. Postcard from the Boston Public Library.

US 29 passes through three more Georgia counties: Madison, Franklin, and Hart before crossing into South Carolina. Unfortunately, I have little information on these counties’ haunted places.

Anderson, South Carolina

The city of Anderson’s Municipal Business Center (601 South Main Street) was the scene of odd, possibly paranormal activity in 2009.

Greenville, South Carolina

One of the more prominent Upstate South Carolina hauntings is Greenville’s Westin Poinsett Hotel (120 South Main Street). The city’s downtown features a number of haunted locales including Connolly’s Irish Pub (24 North Court Square). The city’s Herdklotz Park (126 Beverly Road), north of downtown was formerly the home of a tuberculosis hospital.

West Poinsett Hotel Greenville South Carolina
The Westin Poinsett Hotel, 2012, by Bill Fitzpatrick. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Spartanburg, South Carolina

Wofford College is one of several institutions of higher learning located in Spartanburg, nearly all of which have spirits. Wofford’s Old Main Building is the haunt of several spirits.

Old Main Wofford College Spartanburg South Carolina
Old Main Building, 2010, by PegasusRacer28, courtesy of
Wikipedia.

Gaffney, South Carolina

On the way into Gaffney, US 29 passes the small town of Cowpens. A major battle of the American Revolution took place about nine miles north of town and the battlefield is known to be haunted.

In 1968, a serial killer operated in Gaffney and some of the sites where he dumped his victims’ bodies are known to be haunted. These sites include the Ford Road Bridge over Peoples Creek.

Blacksburg, South Carolina

After passing through Blacksburg, US 29 approaches another battlefield from the American Revolution with paranormal activity, Kings Mountain National Military Park (2625 Park Road).

Charlotte, North Carolina

From Blacksburg, South Carolina, US 29 continues across the state line into North Carolina. I have not covered any locations in Cleveland or Gaston Counties. In Charlotte, I have covered one location, the Carolina Theatre (224-232 North Tryon), though I intend to rectify this in the near future.

Carolina Theatre Charlotte North Carolina
The hulking remains of the Carolina Theatre in 2015. Renovations have since started. Photo by Fortibus, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Salisbury, North Carolina

Some years ago, I discovered an 1898 article from the Salisbury Sun describing the appearance of a ghost on Fisher Street. In addition, I discovered that the building at 122 Fisher Street has been reported as haunted. These locations were written up in my article, “’His ghostship’—Salisbury, NC.”

Salisbury National Cemetery
202 Government Road

The treatment of prisoners by both the Union and the Confederacy during the Civil War was atrocious and certainly has led to very active haunted locations where the prisons operated. This is certainly evident in Salisbury where an old textile mill was turned into a prison to house 2,000, but eventually held some 11,000. With a number of deaths occurring on a daily basis, a small cemetery was established a short distance from the prison which in 1874 became the Salisbury National Cemetery. According to Karen Lilly-Bowyer, a retired educator and the operator of the Downtown Ghost Walk, the area around the old prison site and the cemetery are quite active and a Union sentry has been spotted around the trenches where the prisoners were interred.

Salisbury National Cemetery North Carolina
Salisbury National Cemetery. Photo by David Haas for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Sources

  • Lilly-Bowyer, Karen. “A war-haunted landscape.” Salisbury Post. 22 January 2011.

Greensboro, North Carolina

Greensboro is home to a number of haunted places including the Biltmore Greensboro Hotel (111 West Washington Street), the Carolina Theatre (310 South Greene Street), and the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office (400 West Washington Street).

Carolina Theatre Greensboro North Carolina
Greensboro’s Carolina Theatre in 2008. Photo by Charles Brummitt, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Yanceyville, North Carolina

As it heads north out of North Carolina and into Virginia, US 29 passes through Caswell County. East of its route is the county seat of Yanceyville with its lovely and haunted Caswell County Courthouse (Courthouse Square).

haunted Caswell County Courthouse Yanceyville North Carolina ghosts spirits
The Caswell County Courthouse, 2009, by NatalieMaynor, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Danville, Virginia

After crossing into Virginia, US 29 briefly runs concurrent with US 58 as both skirt around the edge of the city. Both highways have business routes extending into Danville proper. There is a historic marker on Riverside Drive (US 58 BUS) near the ravine where the deadly crash of the Old 97 train took place in 1903. Over the years since the accident, locals have reported seeing strange lights moving within the ravine and they have heard the scream of the doomed train’s whistle on the anniversary of the tragic event.

Wreck of the Old 97 Danville Virginia
The wreck of the Old 97 in 1903. This photo was taken shortly after the engine was pulled into an upright position.

Lynchburg, Virginia

While I have yet to cover Lynchburg in my blog, there are a number of haunted locales here, especially on the campus of Randolph College.

Sweet Briar, Virginia

US 29 passes through the small college town of Sweet Briar, home to the private women’s college Sweet Briar. From the tales that have been told on campus, it seems the founders of the college have remained here.

Charlottesville, Virginia 

The highway bypasses Charlottesville on its west side passing near the haunted University of Virginia, home to several haunted places including the Alderman Library. Southeast of downtown is one of this city’s most well-known monuments, Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello (931 Thomas Jefferson Parkway), where the former president may continue to reside. Nearby is also the old Michie Tavern (683 Thomas Jefferson Parkway), where Jefferson and his friends often dined.

Monticello Charlottesville Virginia
Monticello, 2013, by Martin Falbisoner, courtesy of Wikipedia.

As US 29 passes out of the city, it comes near a haunted former bed and breakfast, the Silver Thatch Inn (3001 Hollymead Drive).

Brandy Station, Virginia

This small community in Culpeper County was the scene of one of the largest cavalry engagements of the Civil War in 1863. A small home near the Brandy Station depot was commandeered as a hospital after the battle. The patients left graffiti covering the walls and perhaps spirits as well, giving this home the nickname Graffiti House (19484 Brandy Road). A small, historic church, Fleetwood Church, nearby and the Brandy Station Battlefield are also known to be paranormally active.

Graffiti House Brandy Station Virginia
Graffiti House, 2013. Photo by Cecouchman, courtesy of
Wikipedia.

Warrenton, Virginia

This small, Fauquier County town is home to several haunted places, including the Black Horse Inn, the Hutton House, and a home called “Loretta.”

Manassas National Battlefield Park

US 29 cuts directly across the Manassas Battlefield in Prince William County. Among these farm fields, hills and wooded copses, two major Civil War battles–the First and Second Battle of Bull Run or Manassas–were fought. The first battle was fought on July 21, 1861, and the second battle was fought on August 29-30, 1862. As a result, this battlefield is known to be quite haunted. New York Avenue, so named for the New York regiments that were decimated here during the second battle, is known to be haunted by the apparition of a Zouave soldier.

Old Stone House Manassas Battlefield Virginia
The Old Stone House on the Manassas Battlefield is one of the most recognizable haunted places here. Photo by William J. Hamblin, courtesy of Wikipedia.
Memorial to the 5th NY regiment Manassas battlefield
Memorial to the 5th New York Regiment near the New York Avenue section of the battlefield. Photo 2006, by AndyZ, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Arlington, Virginia

Occupying the grounds of Robert E. Lee’s former estate, Arlington National Cemetery provides a resting place for some 400,000 soldiers from every conflict since the Civil War. With so many dead, there are ghost stories regarding the cemetery, Arlington Mansion, and the surrounding area.

Arlington Mansion Virginia
An 1864 photograph of the Custis-Lee Mansion or the Arlington Mansion, which is now a centerpiece of Arlington National Cemetery.

Washington, D.C.

US 29 enters the nation’s capital on the Francis Scott Key Memorial Bridge over the Potomac River. It continues onto Whitehurst Freeway in Georgetown before crossing Rock Creek and becoming an elevated freeway. This point over Rock Creek is significant for two reasons, the bridge itself is haunted and this crossing is at the beginning of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.

C & O Canal Georgetown
The C&O Canal as it moves through Georgetown. This photograph is looking east from the Wisconsin Street Bridge. Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid, 2008. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The canal, which was begun in 1828, was meant to provide transportation of cargo from the end of the navigable portion of the Potomac to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In the end, cost overruns ended the construction in Cumberland, Maryland, 184.5 miles from it’s beginning. From the end of construction in 1831 to 1928, the canal was used primarily to ship coal from the Alleghany Mountains to Georgetown. The “Grand Old Ditch,” as it was called, lay abandoned for many years until ownership was overtaken by the National Park Service. The canal is open as a National Historic Park with a trail alongside it. From end to end, the canal is lined with legends and ghost stories.

Along its route through Washington, US 29 comes near many haunted places. For a list of places covered in this blog, please see my District of Columbia Directory.

Montgomery County, Maryland

Montgomery County is a suburban county providing suburbs for Washington. While I don’t have any haunted places listed along US 29, there are several places close by. See my article, “Montgomery County Mysteries.”

Elkridge, Maryland

As it wends its way towards its termination in Ellicott City, US 29 passes the town of Elkridge where Belmont Manor and Historic Park (6555 Belmont Woods Road) is located.

Belmont Mansion Elkridge Maryland
Belmont Manor, 2015, by Scott218. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Ellicott City, Maryland

On its way towards its terminus, US 29 passes the haunted and quaint Wayside Inn (4344 Columbia Road).

This city’s historic district lies in the valley of the Patapsco River, with Main Street running downhill to a bridge over the river. A tributary, the Tiber River, meets the Patapsco near here and problems with severe flooding have been experienced at points along Main Street. One of these recent floods is discussed in my article on the Judge’s Bench (8385 Main Street). Housing shops, boutiques, and homes, many of the buildings along Main Street also house spirits.

Patapsco Female Institute Ellicott City Maryland
An illustration of the Patapsco Female Institute in 1857, from The Book of Great Railway Celebrations of 1857.

North of downtown are the ruins of the Patapsco Female Institute (3655 Church Road).

Northwest of Ellicott City’s historic downtown, US 29 passes over I-70 before quietly ending at Rogers Avenue and Old Frederick Road.