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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We are a group of individuals who enjoy all things paranormal. We are constantly looking for answers about ghosts, who they are, and why they are still visiting. We believe in trying to find out if locations are really haunted or if there are natural reasons for the situations people are dealing with. We don’t use a lot of fancy, expensive equipment, but do try to use common sense. You can find Western Slope Paranormal on Facebook.