Ghostly Haunts: Touring Virginia’s History
by Casey | Posted on October 28th, 2011
You’ve no doubt heard of the National Register of Historic Landmarks, but have you heard of the National Register of Haunted Places? Virginia has a good presence on both. Care to take a look?
When in Alexandria …
Visit the Ramsay House, a building said to be frequented by spirits in 1700s clothing. Then head to Gadsby’s Tavern Museum to hear the tale of a young woman who died there in 1816. She is said to have led a tavern guest upstairs to a deserted bedroom where a hurricane lamp glowed. Indeed, the lamp was hot to the touch, but the wick had never been lit.
Want to turn it up a notch? Head to Dumfries.
The Weems-Botts Museum is the home of a ghost who throws books and likes to turn lights on and off. Reverend Mason Locke Weems was a one-time resident of the home. It was he who fabricated the story of George Washington and the cherry tree! The house also served as his bookstore, so perhaps he is the book-throwing ghost.
Into Civil War ghost stories and sightings?
In Leesburg, at the Balls Bluff Battlefield Regional Park, apparitions of soldiers climbing the bluffs have been seen at night. This is the site of Loudoun County’s largest Civil War battle.
Fort Monroe in Hampton was known during the Civil War as “Freedom’s Fortress” by runaway slaves. Apparitions of young soldiers walking along the top of the fort have been reported.
Mechanicsville’s Cold Harbor National Battlefield Park still has ghostly battles at night. Many photographs have captured ghosts near the walkway.
Martha Washington Inn in Abingdon has held haunting intrigue since the Civil War when the building was used as a hospital. It is said that a young nursing student named Beth cared for a wounded Confederate soldier. Nearing death, he asked her to play the violin. As she played, he quietly passed on. Heartbroken, Beth died a few weeks later. It is said that the room where the soldier died has harbored her spirit since.
On the campus of Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, written accounts report tears streaming from the ”Virginia Mourning Her Dead” statue. Some say she mourns cadets buried at her feet. They died in the Battle of New Market. Additionally, a cadet who was accidentally locked inside Jackson Memorial Hall claimed he saw figures moving on the large mural that depicts the Battle of New Market, and saw flashes of gunfire.
Of Revolutionary War intrigue …
On the southern banks of the James River in Surry is Bacon’s Castle, Virginia’s oldest house, dating to 1665. You’ve probably heard of Bacon’s Rebellion? Yes, this was the home that Nathaniel Bacon’s men seized from owner and builder Arthur Allen while rebelling against the Colonial government in 1676. Strange things happen here …
An iridescent ball of light has often appeared and disappeared to inhabitants of this home, of which there have been several. One owner’s wife encountered “a sweet white face with large black eyes and parted hair with a white scarf around her head.” Some time later, the same owner’s wife discovered her room in disarray — a round burner-lamp, normally sitting on the table was leaning against a pedestal, and a globe was smashed to pieces. Also, a large open dictionary was placed tidily on the sofa, and the heavy bookstand had been moved across the room.
In the second capital city of Virginia, Colonial Williamsburg …
Some believe the ghost of Lady Ann Skipwith inhabits the George Wythe House. The story goes, Lady Ann and her husband attended a gala at the Governor’s Palace, but because of some slight, her temper flared and she left in such a hurry that one of her slippers broke. She hobbled up the wooden staircase at the Wythe House, sounding like someone with a peg leg. One report stated that Lady Ann took her own life. She is buried in the graveyard of nearby Bruton Parish Church, and is said to be heard ascending the stairs in her one good slipper.
Ready for a ghost hunt? Learn about more thrilling ghost sightings and history at Virginia.org/GhostlyHaunts.