There are many stories told of spirits that seems to follow a favorite item. It may be purchased at an auction, a yard sale, inherited, or it might be an item on display at a museum. Here are some stories passed on to me:
The Haunted Furniture
Stephanie bought a sofa and a dresser at a used furniture store when she moved in with a roommate and her young daughter. Stephanie would come home from work and her room would be littered with clothing. Clean clothes were pulled from her dresser and dirty clothes pulled from the hamper. She placed the blame on her roomies daughter, but the little girl never owned up to it.
A few months later, Stephanie as able to move out on her own, and took the sofa and dresser to her new apartment. She was shocked to come home to clothes once again scattered all over the apartment. Then she was frightened when she saw a little girl standing in the room laughing at her. The girl disappeared before Stephanie got over the shock.
Stephanie has since moved, and she left the sofa and dresser behind. She has had no more activity of the paranormal kind.
Darlene’s husband was doing some home renovations in the Washington, DC area. The woman had died and left no will, had no known family, but had some photo albums, china, and many other personal items left in the house. The renovators were told to throw them all out. Darlene’s husband brought the photo albums to her, and they have had hopes of researching the woman and seeing if they can find someone close to her to pass them on to. Once the photo albums came to Darlene’s home, they starting having unexplained things happening. Lights would go on and off. Cabinets would open and shut, as would doors. Darlene’s son had bought a new cell phone and was talking to his girlfriend on it. He was playing with the video at the same time and caught a white mist in the shape of a woman walking in the hallway past his bedroom door. This activity occurred for only a few weeks, and then peace descended again in their home. Could the woman just be checking up on her photo album and making sure it was being taken care of?
The Pie Safe
Sarahs’ grandmother, Ferol, inherited a pie safe from her paternal grandmother, who was full-blooded Cherokee. Ferol and her husband, T.B., refinished it and used it in their kitchen as a china cabinet.
One day, Ferol and T.B. were getting ready to leave the house and noticed the door of the pie safe was opened. They didn’t know who would have left it opened, but they closed it and left. They came home to find that there was a fire in the kitchen. The burner of the stove had been left on.
Since that day, the pie safe has opened on its own when there is a death in the family.
When Ferol’s father Irvy passed away, his wife Sarah wore his watch. She also constantly wore a ruby ring that Ferol and T.B. had given her. After Sarah died, Ferol put the ring and watch in the back of a pie safe drawer. They came home one day to find the drawer opened and the jewelry placed in the front of the drawer. That same day, a sliding door in the hallway was opened and the bathroom door was closed. Sarah was always known for opening and closing doors and Ferol has always been known for everything being perfect in her house. Nothing is ever out of place. The family believes in the predictions of the pie safe, and that Sarah still visits.
The original, medieval tower house fortress stands in the center of the castle today, but renovations in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries have added wings and rooms around it. It has been the home of the Earls of Strathmore since 1372, when King Robert II of Scotland gave the castle to Sir John Lyon.
Glamis is the childhood home of the present Queen Elizabeth’s mother, her being the youngest daughter of the fourteenth Earl of Strathmore. Princess Margaret was born here in 1930. It is also the setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It is believed that Duncan was murdered here by Macbeth.
The castle has a violent history. There have been murders, executions, witches, illness, and extreme sadness. Legends and myths have grown from these. There is a rumor of a secret room and all the uses it may have had. It is no wonder this is called the most haunted castle in Scotland.
The Chapel and the Grey Lady
On my visit to the castle, I had a strange, overwhelming sadness as soon as I entered the chapel. Then I learned about the Grey Lady. Over 400 years ago, the 6th Laird of Glamis married Janet Douglas. Lady Janet was born into the Douglas clan and her brother was the stepfather of King James V. James hated his stepfather and hated anyone of the Douglas Clan. After Laird Glamis died in 1528, Lady Janet no longer had his protection. She and her son, John, became the focus of King James’ hatred. He confiscated Glamis Castle for the crown and accused Lady Janet of practicing witchcraft. He accused her of making potions to kill him with. The Lady and her son were put into the dungeons of Edinburgh Castle.
Confiscating her home and throwing her in prison was easy for King James, but he found it difficult to convict Lady Janet of any crimes. Her reputation was impeccable and she was highly respected. He resorted to torture. He captured her clansmen and servants and put them to the rack. They were stretched until they screamed out lies against Lady Janet. On July 7, 1537, Lady Janet of Glamis was burned at the stake while her sixteen year old son watched in horror. After the death of King James V, John, the 7th Earl of Glamis, was released and returned to his home. He found all the family heirlooms and valuables were removed by the king. It is said that before James died, he confessed feeling remorse for his hatred and the murder of Lady Janet.
The ghost of the Lady can be seen in the chapel, kneeling in front of the alter as if in prayer. An overwhelming sadness surrounds her. She has also been seen above the clock tower looking over the lands that were once hers.
In the fifteenth century, Earl Beardie, the 2nd Laird of Glamis, was playing cards with the Earl of Crawford late one Saturday night. A servant came into the room to remind the Earls that it was nearing midnight and it was sacrilege to play cards on the Sabbath. Lord Glamis yelled at the servant to get out of the room and stated that he would play cards until Dooms Day if he so desired. A few minutes until midnight, the servant again entered with the same reminder. Again Earl Beardie yelled at the servant and stated that he would play with the Devil himself! At the stroke of midnight, a stranger dressed in black knocked on the door and asked to play cards with them. He threw a handful of rubies on the table, so of course the Earls let him sit in the game. A little while later, a loud argument between the Earls could be heard and when the servant went to check on them, they were engulfed in flames. It seems the Devil caused the Earl to play cards until Dooms Day. His ghost is said to roam the halls. Sounds of stomping feet, swearing and the rolling of dice can be heard from the tower where Earl Beardie cursed God and played cards with the Devil.
The Secret Room
There is a window on the front of the castle that is said to be from a secret room. No one seems to be able to find the entrance to this room. Rumor has it, that this room holds a horrible family secret. The Earls of Glamis are supposedly shown this room on their twenty-first birthday, but the secret is so horrible that they don’t talk about it.
With this room, there are several different legends. A deformed child was kept locked up as the family “monster”. A vampire is born to every generation and this room is where the vampire is kept. A true story is of the Ogilvies. They had hid from their enemies, the Lindsays, and were walled up and starved to death. Maybe this is the room that this occurred.
Throughout the years, there have been many reports of guests waking to faces looming over their beds, covers pulled off, faces being seen from windows and then disappearing, and apparitions running through the grounds. Where there is so much history, whether good or bad, there has to be ghosts.
Emory & Henry is a historical college in Emory, Virginia. It was founded in 1836 and is the oldest school in southwestern Virginia. The college is named after John Emory, a Methodist bishop and Patrick Henry a patriot and Virginia’s first governor. It is a Methodist faith based school with a small student population.
In April of 1861, the college had to shut its doors due to the War Between the States. Like many of the buildings in Virginia, the original Wiley Hall was turned into a hospital. (that building no longer stands and but there is a new Wiley Hall that stands in its place). The Battle of Saltville was partially fought on campus grounds. The school reopened after the war ended.
During World War II, E & H was one of the 131 schools that trained Naval Officers for their commission.
E & H has a lot of legends and ghost stories. My daughter was a four year student there and always had a new one to share.
Byars Building was at one time a courtroom. There is a story about a discussion that became quite heated and out of hand. One of the men got disgusted and left the room to get some air. He was leaning out a second story window when his opponent pushed him. He grabbed on to the hanging lamp outside the window but couldn’t hold on and fell to his death. This lamp can be seen swinging frequently even when there is no wind. My family was watching the lamp swing
when there was no breeze. A person stuck their head out of the offending window and we all jumped out of our shoes!
Katie told me that one evening she saw the lamp swinging without any force of wind, and thought she saw a man looking at her from the window. She cannot say that it was a ghost, but it spooked her.
Byars is supposedly one of the most haunted building on campus, the other being Wiley Hall. I have been grilling my daughter’s friends, trying to get them to tell me stories. Here is one I got:
Shane was assigned to create and stage a fight. He was having a hard time pinning his assigned partner down to get the job done. Being a graded project, Shane agreed to meet his classmate in the Greenroom, in the basement, at 2am. The Greenroom was a lounge/meeting area for the theater students. It had costume workshop and storage, bookshelves, and computers. Shane was alone, and waiting for the student who was in no hurry to show up and finish this project. He began drawing and planning out the scene to be at least somewhat ready for the rehearsal.
Shane began to hear odd banging and clanking noises. He looked out the door to make sure no one was in the hall. He determined he was alone so he went back to his drawings. It is an old building. They do tend to have odd noises, especially in a basement.
After a few more minutes, Shane started to hear a “low grumble”. He wasn’t sure what could be making that noise. The pipes? An animal stuck in the wall? Walking around the room, he traced it to the one of the bookshelves. He listened, trying to determine what could be making that sound. He started to pull out some books, and the sound became louder. It was no longer a grumble, but a growl. It became even louder and seemed to fill the room, and then it turned into a deep roar. Shane left the building.
He called his project partner and told him what happened. They decided to go back and try to determine what it was that made the noise. They couldn’t move the bookshelf and the noise was finished by that time, so they rehearsed.
They stopped rehearsal at one point because they heard the famous phantom piano music of the building. Deciding to check it out, they found a girl practicing. She left and the boys were alone again. Once back to the Greenroom, the piano starting playing again. They knew there was no one playing it that time.
Wiley Jackson Dormitory or MaWa (for Martha Washington)
This is an older, four story building that is the female dormitory. It resembles an old hospital or military barracks. The elevator is ancient, the rooms are tiny, and there were communal bathrooms. It was a creepy building with or without ghosts.
According to stories, there was a young woman that lived in this dorm who was stood up for a dance. In her despair, she hung herself from the middle shower in one of the bathrooms. Sometimes that shower head will spray water uncontrollably on its own. There has also been the sounds of high heels pacing the halls at night.
One of the rooms on the third floor has unusual electric issues. The television turns on to the Weather Channel, even when the television is not plugged in.
I have had two different stories of a girl hanging herself in the closet. One was on the fourth floor. Eileen and her roommate would hear scratching sounds coming from the closet.
The other story I read online about a room on the second floor. Items get pushed from the desk, the closet door opens on its own, the thermostat changes on its own, and choking sounds can be heard coming from the closet.
The building may not be original but there is horrible history on the spot where it sits. Not only was it the site of the hospital, but there were several people murdered there during the Civil War.
About 150 wounded Union soldiers were taken to the hospital after the Battle of Saltville. A few days later, three unknown men went in and shot and killed three African American men from the 5th United States Colored Calvary. The next day, Captain Champ Ferguson, a guerrilla Confederate soldier arrived looking for Lt E. C. Smith, a Union officer who supposedly did some unjust treatment to Fergusons family. Ferguson murdered Smith in the hospital.
Blood and bullet holes remained as a reminder. Students reported seeing the apparitions of soldier, items moving on their own, and the sounds of boots.
The new building has its own stories. “Freda” walks around, closes doors, and moves items. There have also been reports of a woman in white in and around the building.
The J. Stewart French Alumni House
This house was built in 1852 and is one of three buildings that are still set on their original foundations. From 1893 until 1964, it housed the College presidents. It was briefly student housing, and then an office building. In 1984, it became The Alumni House. The house is named for the 11th college president.
According to a story I was told by one of the students, an alum was spending the night. Something woke him up and he opened his eyes to a little girl, wearing 1800s era clothing, staring at him.
This house no longer exists, but it was once student housing. Shane was the RA in charge of this house and two others, all housing football players. The house was named for the couple who previously owned it, both deceased.
Emory & Henry, being a small campus, centered in a small community, did not have enough residential housing, so many of the houses in the village of Emory also belonged to the college. This house was one of them. It was a three bedroom home, with kitchen, living room and a basement apartment.
Shane had to go back to school early for RA training. He was at the house by himself. He was told the head RA and the area coordinators were going to do a walk through, so he was at his computer, expecting them anytime. He started hearing noises coming from the kitchen, which sounded like the cabinets opening and shutting. He figured his expected company had arrived so he went to talk to them. He was shocked to walk into the kitchen and find no one there, and all the cabinets standing open. He was more than a little spooked, but he shut all the cabinets and left the room.
All through the week, when Shane was alone, he would hear the slamming of kitchen cabinets and walk in to find them all open. He shared this story with the librarian one day while doing some studying. The librarian laughed and told him that old Mr. Fachilla was a prankster and was just messing with Shane. He pulled pranks on people all the time when he was alive. For the two years Shane spent in the house, the cabinet game was played several times. No one else in the house experienced it though. It only seemed to happen when Shane was alone One night when he was extremely tired and frustrated, he heard the cabinets begin to slam. Shane called out and asked Mr. Fachilla to stop. He did. When Shane passed by the kitchen later, all the cabinets were shut.
He was never frightened by the incidents. He knew nothing was out to hurt him. There was one night, however, that was different and Shane was afraid. He had to come back to the house from break early again, so he was alone. It was a dark night with heavy rain storms. It wasn’t a comfortable night. “Everything seemed heavy”. As he was watching tv in his room, the cabinets started slamming. It was different that time. They were being slammed harder and it sounded like they were alternating from one side to the other, which was not usual. When Shane left his room to check it out, the door that leads to the kitchen slammed shut. He ran back to his room, shut the door and locked it. He didn’t even try to leave that night. Eventually the slamming stopped. Shane wasn’t sure if that was Mr. Fachilla that night or not. Or maybe he was protecting him from something. Shane just knew he was not supposed to be in any other part of the house that night.
Coaldale is a little community along the Arkansas River, between Salida and Canon City. It seems to be a hotbed for paranormal activity. According to stories that I have been told, two Indian tribes killed each other off in wars. Spirits of Indians and animals are reported to be seen walking through the walls of houses. There have also been reports of UFOs flying along the ridges of the mountains.
My parents rented several different houses there with the intention of buying a home eventually and living there permanently. Each home had its own oddity. I visited them several times while I was in the service. I wasn’t particularly comfortable in any of these houses and I didn’t like to be left alone. Actually, I never felt alone at all! I always felt like someone was watching me.
Their first house was nothing more than a fancy shack. It made a person dizzy because the floors had an odd slant. My father and brother occasionally would encounter the scent of cheap perfume, so strong that it smelled like a bottle was busted on the floor somewhere. The first time they smelled it, they searched the house thinking a cat knocked over a bottle of my mother’s perfume. My mother cannot wear perfume due to allergies, and they never did find the source.
The second house was newer and it was the summer home for some city people. My parents rented it for the winter, while they looked for a place to buy. There really are no stories with this house except for the mass amount of flies. I am not sure if there is anything about flies and the paranormal, but these were huge house flies beating themselves up against the windows in the dead of winter.
The third house was the most active in the paranormal sense. It was high in the hills with no neighbors near. The kitchen faucet would turn itself on quite frequently, but that could have been plumbing issues. Someone would knock on the door, and there would be no one there. One night my father was awaken by flashing lights and a car horn. He got up to find out that no one was around but his jeep was flashing and honking. This was before the automatic keys and panic buttons.
This house was sold to someone else, so they had to move once again, and found another trailer down the hill to rent. My brother decided to spend one last night in the house. He thought it would be great to have the house to himself and watch tv all night. After he fell asleep on the sofa, he was startled by some unusual noises. When he opened his eyes, a bright blue light was coming out of the fireplace towards him, and then would pull back before touching his face. This went on for a while and my brother told me he was too frightened to run away!
Footnote: I have recently been told that the old shack has been torn down. It seems one of the neighbors there now has been having odd things happen. He saw my aunt in town and asked if my parents had anything strange happen to them while living there. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t tell her what was happening to him.
In 1628, the first tower of Braemar Castle was erected by John Erskine, 18th Earl of Mar and was used as a hunting lodge. Later, it was used as protection from the Farquharson Clan. In 1689, the castle was attacked and burned by John Farquharson, the Black Colonel of Inverey. In 1715, the castle was turned over to the Crown following the Earl of Mar’s leadership of the Jacobite Uprising. The castle and the land was then purchased by John Farquharson, 9th Laird of Invercauld, but it was left empty until 1748. The government then leased it to serve as a garrison for Hanoverian troops.
In 1831, the military moved out and the castle was returned to the Farquharsons. Queen Victoria would stay there when she attended the Braemar Highland Games, and John Louis Stephenson is reported to have written Treasure Island while staying at Braemar Castle.
There are many legends and ghost stories associated with this castle. Sightings of a young woman have been reported. According to legend, she was honeymooning in the castle and woke to find her new husband gone. She believed he had abandoned her and committed suicide. Her spirit usually appears to newlyweds.
A clashing of steel can be heard on the staircase and a piper has been seen roaming the halls. A baby is heard crying and legends say this child was murdered in the castle.
The Black Colonel of Inverey has been seen around the castle. An outline of a body appears on one of the beds and it is believed to be John Farquharson. The smell of tobacco lingers in many of the rooms.
I am particularly interested in Braemar Castle because of the experience I had there. My mother and grandmother came to Scotland to visit while I was stationed there with the Navy. We took a trip to the Highlands and Braemar was one of our stops. The inside was historically furnished with wonderful antiques. We listened to the stories the guide was telling us. We came to the room where we were told that they straightened the bed every night before closing, but every morning there would be a head print on the pillow. We were not sure the guide didn’t make the print every morning himself for effect, but my mother and I were startled when something unseen walked in between us, leaving our cheeks numb and cold. It wasn’t a comfortable experience and the sensation didn’t leave us until we were out in the sunlight once again.
When I joined the Navy in 1980, I had dreams of adventures in exotic places. Atsugi, Japan was not on my list of places I wanted to visit. I didn’t even know where it was! But little things like that do not matter to the Navy. They sent me anyway. Not only did I meet some great people and had some great adventures, I also came back with ghost stories.
The Naval Air Facility Atsugi is located on the island of Honshu, the main island of Japan. It was built in 1938 by the Japanese Imperial Navy as Emperor Hirohito’s Naval Air Base. In 1938, this was a rural area of farmland and forests. It was decided that this was a good place to train pilots. An underground defense system was also built in the form of tunnels. They still exist, but to my knowledge, they are not used.
On August 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito announced that Japan would surrender, ending World War II. Many in Japan refused to surrender, and this included Kozono and his pilots in Atsugi. They swore to defend Japan “to the end”. They printed and dropped thousands of leaflets over Tokyo, Yokosuka, Yokohama, and surrounding areas that proclaimed that anyone who surrendered was guilty of treason. They urged the continuation of the war. The base was held captive for seven days until the airmen concluded that the surrender of Japan was a reality. The pilots took off in 33 planes and the disarmament began.
On August 30, General Douglas MacArthur landed at Atsugi to accept the formal surrender aboard the USS Missouri and assume the duties of Military Governor of Japan. Before he arrived, paratroopers of the 11th Airborne Division landed at Atsugi Airfield. 123 planes and several thousands of troops moved in from Okinawa to Honshu. The war was officially over.
Nowhere in my research did I find that kamikaze pilots committed suicide when surrender was announced, but that was what I was always told about the base and its haunted history.
I was walking to work one evening, going down a road that crosses over at least one of the tunnels. I heard loud voices coming from one of the tunnel entrances. As far as I knew, these were sealed and not used by the Americans for anything, especially for a party, which is what it sounded like. I was later told about the suicides that supposedly took place in the tunnel. I was also told that the Navy chapel was haunted – no specifics were ever given to me. This building was once a Buddhist temple and stories are told of suicides there also.
Japan is a very haunted country. The history is bloody, the suicide rate high. Then there are the deaths by natural disasters, such as earthquakes. One story I was told was by an American who lived off-base. He would hear loud footsteps going up thirteen steps. His home was a single story, but was located in a neighborhood that was destroyed in a past earthquake.
One of the oddities of NAF Atsugi was the tree on the flight line. Flight lines are kept free of trees, bushes, rocks, debris, etc. for the safety of the planes and people that work around them. There were many attempts to remove this particular tree but it was deemed impossible. Body parts and lives were lost when removal attempts were made. So, they stuck a red light on it to allow pilots to see it at night. I have recently been informed that the tree is no longer standing. It seems Mother Nature was the only one that could safely remove it.
For the two years that I lived in Japan, I was told stories of Old Red Eyes. Red eyes were seen floating in the corrosion hanger at night by some of the sailors that had to pull watch duty. I have learned a long time ago that when you are tired and alone, your imagination can run away with you. Many people didn’t take those reports seriously, until one night a hanger door flew off of its hinges shortly after the sailor saw red eyes. The unbelievers were hard pressed to come up with an explanation on how that large, extremely heavy metal door could be pulled down.
My friend Anne was a parachute rigger. They had a tower building that they worked in, rigging parachutes for the airplanes. In the military, we always pull watch duty of some sort and Anne had to pull the occasional duty overnight in the tower. She didn’t mind it most of the time, but there were some nights when “Charlie” came to visit. It is believed that the ghost of a rigger who was killed in a furnace explosion still hangs around. Anne told me of time when staples would be continuously shot at the radiator, the trash can would slide back and forth on its own, or the old dial phone would ring like someone was dialing. Most of the time she could ask him to stop and he would. There were other times she finished her guard duty from her car.
A few miles away, there was a smaller Navy base called Kami Seya. Some years before my arrival, there was a fire at one of the buildings that killed four sailors. There have been reports ever since that “burning” figures are seen walking down the halls of the restored building.
During the Great Depression, Robert Porterfield, an out-of-work actor, returned to southern Virginia with an interesting and innovative idea of opening a theater that took produce as payment for a ticket instead of cash. Actors needed to eat and people needed entertainment in those tough times. “With vegetables you cannot sell, you can buy a good laugh.” Admission was 40 cents or the equivalent in farm goods, such as eggs, vegetables, milk, etc.The original building was built in 1831 as Sinking Springs Presbyterian Church. In 1890, it began use as the town hall.Barter actors had many distractions they had to deal with. During a performance there would be noise of the livestock that were bartered. The stage was built over the town jail, so I can imagine the loud singing of town drunks on occasion. That later became a holding cell for dogs suspected of rabies. Eventually, the theater was able to claim the building as their own space. Until 1994, the fire siren was on the theater. When it would sound off, the actors had to freeze until it was done.In 1953, it was announced that the historic Empire Theater in New York City was slated to be torn down. Robert Porterfield had a weekend to buy and remove all that he could. He furnished the Barter with Empire seating, décor, and light fixtures designed and installed into the Empire by Thomas Edison. This lighting was used until the 1970s.Porterfield died in 1971, and it is said that he hasn’t left the building that he loved so much. Actors will swear that they have seen him roaming behind the curtains or sitting in the audience watching a performance.There is a tunnel entrance in a dressing room that once led to the Martha Washington. I have read a story that Ned Beatty was frightened by a spirit from the tunnel while in this dressing room. My daughter did some intern work at the theater while in college. She told me that many of the actors were uncomfortable in this room.
For more information or their schedule go to their website at bartertheatre.com
The Tavern was built about 1777 and is one of the oldest taverns in Virginia. Throughout the centuries, it has been a bakery, bank, post office, private home, general store, as well as a tavern. During the Civil War, it is believed that the third floor attic was a used as a hospital. There are numbers on the wall that look to be where hospital beds would have been lined up.
With all of the history come ghost stories and legends. One story is of the “Tavern Tart”. She was a lady of the evening that had her throat slit by one of her customers. It is reported that her murder took place in the second floor dining room and her figure can be see looking out the window in the middle of the night. It is believed that she is the spirit that likes men and will touch them on occasion. Women, more noticeably pregnant woman, have reported items, such as a loaf of bread, being thrown at them, or they have been pushed aggressively by unseen hands.
Then there was the murder of Captain Gordon William Rife. He was spending time with the wife of a prominent Abingdon resident by the name of Stephen Alonzo Jackson. Jackson found his wife in bed with Rife on the second floor of the tavern. The altercation moved outside where Jackson allegedly shot and killed Rife. It is said the Rife still walks the halls of the second floor.
The Cave House
Under the town of Abingdon is a limestone cave system. Limestone is believed to have properties that hold psychic energy. That may be why Abingdon is known to have so many hauntings.
Walking down a dark Plum Alley during our ghost tour, we stopped at a fenced-in area that surrounded the back of an old house and a large cave. In 1760, Daniel Boone was camping nearby, when wolves came from this cave and attacked Boone’s dogs. Boone gave Abingdon its first name of “Wolf Hills”.
There have been reports from this building of unexplained events such as doors opening and shutting, mysterious footsteps and other noises, as well as the feeling of being watched and followed. I was told also, of noises coming from the back room when the house was a craft store. The Cave House was once a boarding house for the Barter Theatre. Ernest Borgnine, who got his start at the Barter, was frightened by something in the house. He ran out and wouldn’t return.
The house is privately owned and is empty at this time, in need of restoration and repairs.
I was able to spend a little time in Abingdon while my daughter was going to Emory and Henry College. Of course, I always look for legends and ghost stories, so I took the ghost walk with Appalachian Ghost Walks. It started at 8:00pm and we didn’t get back to the hotel until 2:00am, but we had an interesting time. (I think he was testing a new program with us, so the tours are not usually that long.)
At the beginning of the tour, Stacey gave us a demonstration of dousing rods and told us stories of how he uses them during investigations. I had never seen them used before and was fascinated. He also told us that since he started investigating and studying, he is more sensitive to the presence of spirits. There was a time while we were walking down the street that he said he saw a man wearing a red jacket standing behind us. There was no one there, but I took a photo to see if any anomaly might show. I was rather shocked to see an energy orb in my photograph, right where he said the man was standing!
We walked all through the town while we listened to tales of the Barter Theater, the Cave House, various private homes, stores and churches, and of course the Martha Washington Inn. The best part of the tour was being able to walk the halls of this beautiful hotel at 1:00 in the morning. I came home with more stories to research and write about.
Martha Washington Inn
The ghost stories of this hotel are reported by many writers and I was thrilled to be walking the haunted halls. I was disappointed that I didn’t see the famous spirits walking down the stairs, but I soaked up the aura and the history that surrounded me.
The Inn started as a private home built in 1832 for General Francis Preston, Sarah Buchanan Preston, and their nine children, for approximately $15,000. The building standing now is built around the original home.
In 1858, the mansion was purchased from the Preston family and became a college for young women. The college was named Martha Washington College or “The Martha” and operated for seventy years.
During the Civil War, the college was affected in many ways. The students became nurses and the grounds around the building became training grounds for the Washington Mounted Rifles. Skirmishes were fought in and around Abingdon and like many buildings in Virginia, the college became a hospital for wounded soldiers from both sides.
The Martha closed in 1932, due to the Great Depression and opened in 1935 as a hotel. It has changed owners throughout the years, but the restorations have preserved much of its historic charm, and still includes a grandfather clock that one of General Preston’s daughters brought from Europe.
While we were walking the halls of the inn, we noticed some of the photos on the walls. One in particular intrigued me. It was group photo of women students. In front of the women were misty forms, that resembled people sitting. I can’t help wondering if some of the deceased decided they wanted to be seen in the photo also.
Many of the ghosts of Martha Washington Inn come from the Civil War. Here are some of the stories:
Beth and the Yankee Captain
During the Civil War, some of the college students returned home, but many stayed and volunteered as nurses. Beth was one of the students that stayed.
Captain John Stoves, a Yankee officer, was severely wounded and captured in town. He was carried through the cave system under Abingdon, and brought to the third floor of the college. For weeks, Beth nursed him and they found themselves falling in love. Often, Beth would try to sooth him by playing her violin., He would not recover from his wounds, and while he lay dying he called her to play for him. She was too late but she tearfully played a melody as a tribute. Beth died a few weeks later from typhoid fever.
Students of the college and present day guests of the inn report hearing violin music in the night. Others report visits from Beth in room 403, the room where her love died.
A young Confederate soldier was assigned to carry papers listing the location of the Union army to General Robert E. Lee. The young soldier was in love with a student at the college, and he wanted to see her before he left. He faced many risks going to the college but he braved them for his love. The soldier traveled through the cave system under Abingdon and used a secret stairway to enter the building.
While he was with the girl he loved, two Union officers came up the stairs and found him. He had no means of escape, so was shot down. Blood stained the place where he landed, and to this day the bloodstain continues to appear even after the floors have been refinished. Carpets over the area often develop holes over the stain.
The Phantom Horse
A Union soldier was shot in front of the building in 1864. On moonless nights, a black horse has been seem roaming the Inn grounds searching for his rider.
The Ghost in the Tunnel
An underground tunnel once connected the Martha Washington Inn with the Barter Theatre. In the 1930s and the 1940s, actors would use the tunnel to walk between the two buildings. The actors would report a sensation of an evil presence. The tunnel is not in use due to part of it being collapsed. The door on the Barter side is in the costume room. Present day actors feel uncomfortable in that room. The spirit is believed to be a man that was killed by a collapsing of the tunnel in 1890 or a Confederate soldier that used to run ammunition out of the college basement during the Civil War.
Welcome to our website. We are affiliated with Western Slope Paranormal from Grand Junction, Colorado. We are interested in ghost stories from around the world, and do paranormal investigating locally. I am still figuring this website out, so it may be rough for a while, but hopefully it will be a good resource for anything paranormal. There is going to be a place for readers to share their stories, information on ghost walks, and more. Bear with me as I build this exciting website.
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