Wednesday, October 22, 2014

300 Years of Haunted Edenton...taking the Ghost Walk in my hometown

Edenton's 1767 Courthouse (photo by K.L. Wood)
When you live in a town which is over 300 years old with many homes continuously occupied since the 1700s you have to expect there to be a few hauntings…or at least stories of haunted houses and spectral visitations. This year, my family and I went on the town's annual October evening walking tour: the Edenton Ghost Walk.

Young women from John A. Holmes High School carried candlelit lanterns to help illumine our path along the uneven, often brick, walkways in the dark of night. But what a perfectly beautiful night it was! Cool and crisp with bright stars above us, quiet enough to hear the water lapping gently against the town docks.  Our tour guide led us by several homes and buildings and shared their stories...historical and suitably creepy. Come close, dear Reader, and I will tell you some tales…but keep in mind these are just a few of what we heard and these are limited to the area in which we walked. Edenton is full of many more homes filled to the brim with lore and legend.

Standing outside the 1767 Edenton Courthouse, our guide told us of an eighteenth century man who committed several crimes and was tried and convicted in the historic building. Once sentenced to a lengthy imprisonment, he bolted to the front door and tried to escape. The exit was locked from the outside and he beat futilely on the heavy wooden door hoping someone would unlock it and let him out. The man ultimately died in prison. People walking by the old courthouse, late at night, sometimes hear the sound of banging as they pass the door.

Beverly Hall is a beautiful and stately mansion, built as part bank, part residence in 1810. It
Beverly Hall, photographed in 1936 by Frances Johnston
is home to a particularly grisly tale. It seems there was a clerk working in the bank who was discovered to have been swindling the townspeople out of their hard earned money. One night, the clerk saw a crowd of disgruntled people coming toward the Hall carrying torches and all manner of weaponry. He decided to shoot himself before the angry mob reached him. Disappointed at not being able to bring the man to justice, they took his corpse to the old Courthouse, sat it up for “trial,” accused and sentenced him to “death,” and then carried his body back to Beverly Hall where they strung him up in a tall tree in the backyard. There they left him for crows to pick his corpse apart. Today there appears to be an unusual amount of crows that hang out on Beverly Halls lovely grounds…looking for more, perhaps?

Built in 1850, elegant Pembroke Hall is popular today as a gorgeous wedding venue. Every weekend from spring through fall, festive white tents pop up on its generous grounds for happy couples to exchange their vows and celebrate their union. One hopes the brides do not encounter the spirit of a man who has been seen there, wearing a Confederate uniform and bearing horrific facial wounds from a Civil War battle in which he lost his life.
Pembroke Hall, Edenton (photo from 

Speaking of bridesanother lovely home is the source of a sad tale of a happy eighteenth century bride who decided it would be fun to play hide and seek with members of the wedding party on the day of the nuptials. During the game, the bride went missing and although the guests searched thoroughly and called her name repeatedly, she was never found. With a number of pirates wandering the streets, it was feared and assumed she must have been kidnapped by some dastardly piratical crew. Generations later, after the house had changed ownership a few times, a woman went into the attic and witnessed a filmy form sweep past her and hid for a far corner. The woman peered into the far recesses of the attic and found a beautiful wooden chest she thought might make a lovely coffee table. When the chest was brought down and opened, the body of long dead woman in a wedding dress lay within. Apparently the unfortunate bride hid in the chest during the game and it locked on her, sealing her in and sealing her fate.

Another story involves the restoration of the Roanoke River Lighthouse, in active
Roanoke River Lighthouse, Edenton (photo by K. L .Wood) 
commission from 1886 to 1941. This is the original lighthouse that marked the entrance of the Roanoke River into Albemarle Sound. In recent years it was moved from its working site to Edenton’s harbor where it has undergone extensive renovation and is now open for tours. Part of the restoration involved removing some sad, old carpeting. One of the workmen was bending over and pulling up a section of the carpet when he felt a hard and distinct kick on his backside. Looking around he expected to see he had bumped into something but there was nothing anywhere near him that could have caused the sensation. Evidently, one of the old keepers was indignant at the man’s removal of his beloved carpet!

As I have stated before, living in a 300 year old town is a wonderment and an inspiration. I hope you can come and visit our town someday…perhaps you will experience your own spirited encounter!

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...Y'all come back now! (And beware of things that go bump in the night!)


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