Always it seems with me. I never do things in baby steps. I just go right in hard-core, full throttle. Hence why I’m no longer allowed to drive a V8….Grrrr…So when I let a friend beguile me to a certain group of ghost hunters and I meet said ghost hunters and they instantly feel like home, why the hell wouldn’t I join. Even more so, why the hell wouldn’t I let my very first investigation with them be at one of the scariest, most haunted places on the East Coast. Pfft. I got this.
Of course I’m talking about my kick ass friends and team members of Coastal Virginia Paranormal. And the big and bad scary place, the uniquely eery, where spirits have run amuck, the notorious St. Albans Sanitorium. And of course I wasn’t quite ready for what I was about to experience. Hell no.
Most people, you know the sane ones, they’d see this sign and peace out.
Yeah, my Daddy always said I didn’t have much common sense.
The six-hour drive to Radford, Virginia where this paranormal playground sits is a pretty one. A scenic drive taking us across mountains into this quaint little town. But then, as one of my team members points towards a hill saying “there she is over there” I turn to get my first glimpse of the asylum and it’s as if the theme song to Psycho starts playing full blast in my head. The weeks of anticipation for getting here was now over and here I was, just minutes away from the creep show starting. I gulped down quietly as we inched closer to the large dilapidated three story abandoned brick building that looked straight up like the perfect backdrop for a horror movie. And let me tell ya, I like horror movies but I ain’t trying to be in one yo…..
Upon arriving and signing waivers (yes waivers) we each were required to sign, one of the co-founders of our group, who had been there once before, said “come on guys I know a short cut in.” Note to self, don’t let him lead me anywhere short ever never again. (just kidding you know I love ya) “Come this way,” he says. “It’s cool,” he says. “They say a spirit likes to hang out just on the other side of this door” he says. He forgot to mention on the other side of that door was the bottom floor, the basement. Pitch black. As in no windows. As in dude, I couldn’t see nuttin. I gulped down hard when he opened that door and the burst of cold air hit my innocent little non ghost conversationalist self. Armed with my tiny flashlight (because the big ones just ain’t cool) I stepped forward as the door slammed behind me into this now nothingness that was once full of life. A long long sordid history of life….
Before it became notorious for being one of the most active locations for paranormal activity on the east coast, it started off from the ground up, literally. The land from which it sits was once occupied by the Powhatan, Shawnee and Cherokee Indian tribes. Overlooking the New River, this land was host to the infamous Draper’s Meadow Massacre in 1775 where many pioneers suffered tribulations at the hands of the Shawnees. Further in history, during the Civil War, the hill from which the asylum sits was host to several battles.
It wasn’t until 1892 that the building was erected and became the St. Albans Lutheran Boys School, named after the famous St. Albans school in London. Meant to be one of the most prestigious schools on the east coast, it soon inherited a terrible reputation for bullying and suicides.
like a twisted disguise
how it rears its three faced eyes,
dancing on them all
the souls of unsuspecting hosts
taunting with fire and brew
whispering callous words
giving them no choice
to rage within
and decide war their only course
-Fragments of Chaos, poetry by Jenny Hayut
The students it seems were separated into two very distinctive groups, the athletic and the worthless. Those that were not worthy of playing a sport on one of the highly competitive teams within the school were often bullied resulting in many suicides and unexplained deaths. After the death of its founder, George W. Miles, in 1903, the school because of its dark reputation suffered a great loss in enrollment and as a result closed its doors in 1911. It sat vacant until 1916 at which time Dr. John C. King acquired the property and opened the doors again to what he’d hoped would be the nation’s first advanced psychiatric hospital….
Much like Miles, King set his expectations high. He wanted a hospital that would not only cure the mentally ill but change the near barbaric living conditions as was the standard practice with other facilities at that time. He’d hoped to have patients live as normal a life as possible, curing them of their sickness. Unfortunately armed only with what was the standard procedures of his time, he wasn’t very successful.
The methods of treatment in the 1900’s were, pardon the pun, insane. Things like insulin-induced comas, lobotomies and shock therapy were not just something you’d see in a horror movie, they were the real deal. And these procedures would leave most patients either brain-dead or literally kill them.
Another horrific treatment was that of hydrotherapy. Patients were made to soak in bathtubs…for days at a time. Or perhaps strapped with ice-cold towels, or naked bodies hosed down with blasts of freezing water.
These various treatments leaving patients in a mummified state or only making their illness worse and wanting to end their suffering, committed suicide. One bathroom on the third floor, where it was known the most ill and dangerous patients were housed, has been nicknamed the “Suicide Bathroom.” It is here that many attempted and or were successful in taking their life. At least four suicides are documented as occurring in this bathroom. On a side note here, this is by far the one room in the whole building that I felt the most uneasy in. While assisting a team member setting up a camera and motion sensor, my chest became heavy and I had a hard time breathing. I would not enter the room again until the end of the night when I assisted again with removing our equipment.
did you know with a delicate grasp you held me there,
hanging by an endless memory,
among the fragments of midnight,
among the white noise,
absorbing this me that I have become that floats between
the jagged edges of sanity
and a chaos that I covet
as if my final infusion
-Fragments of Chaos, poetry by Jenny Hayut
By the 1960’s the hospital had over 3,500 patients to an astounding staff of just forty-five. It was impossible to give everyone equally proper care and struggled remaining open until 2004. It was left untouched for years, faced threats of being demolished, suffered vandalism and then the paranormal world began investigating. Countless groups have toured, investigated, made claims, presented evidence and it continues today to be one of the most astounding places to visit….
Five dollar flash light don’t fail me now I silently prayed as I tried to keep up with two of my adrenaline charged team members weaving corners in the dark. That initial moment I seriously was having second thoughts as to whether or not I could do this. The fear was very much present but so was the adrenaline. It was already slowly charging through my veins. I could almost feel it as I looked behind me, beside me, squinting in the darkness. After getting lost weaving around corner after corner into this dark abyss, I silently cursed myself, -something is gonna snatch you Jen and these guys are gonna be so far gone they won’t even realize it-
Thankfully, we finally managed to find the stairs leading up to the first floor to our now waiting team members and I breathed a sigh of relief at sunlight. That is until I began to walk the corridor leading to the main entry. I discovered real quick, even with the daylight, it wasn’t much better up here. I seriously was going to give myself cool points by way of a bottle of booze if I made it through this night.
Upon arriving we had arranged for a proper tour of the building with the docent who relayed the history of how the asylum came to be and of its demise. Taking nearly an hour, we were shown from the third floor where the most disturbed patients were housed as well as an outside caged area the “birdcage” as it is called by some, where they could get limited outside activity.
dare to imagine a walk beyond this terrace of hopeless hearts,
beyond this bruised sky
where burning tides tease of the devil’s water
that lulls a nefarious thirst without remorse
-Fragments of Chaos-poetry by Jenny Hayut
We also toured the nurses quarters where many reports of laughter, talking, walking, pretty much everyday activity has occurred. Making our way back down to the basement, we toured the areas that were used for electroshock therapy and hydrotherapy. Because the hospital had so many deaths it even had its own morgue which we toured as well. Much activity has been reported in these areas due I imagine to the horrors experienced here and death.
In the daylight walking the halls wasn’t THAT bad. But, beyond the light, turning darkened corners, I felt the presence. We all did. You could almost smell it in the air. These walls were watching us. And we would soon discover they had a lot to say.
Below are images taken by myself as well as my team members as we toured. I have always flocked to abandoned buildings with a certain aura about them so naturally I was beyond excited at the opportunity to photograph St. Albans. Capturing the spirit of the building. The history that seems to remain in remnants here and there, telling us a silent story. From the people who inhabited this place decades ago, refusing to be forgotten, to the history of how far medical technology has taken us with treating the mentally ill, it’s all here and it’s quite a beauty.
Upon ending the tour, we had decided that we wanted to fuel up on food before offering our energy to Casper. Smart thinking I found from my experienced team members. As we returned and daylight was already starting to diminish,it was time to set up all of our equipment.
We as a group discussed where we wanted to set up cameras and investigate, strategically making sure wires would get where we needed them to be and make the best use out of where we could get equipment in. We organized groups as to who would investigate where and when first. A lot was going on all at once and I was in complete yowza mode. We knew the two places that we all unequivocally wanted to investigate were the bowling alley and the boiler room which of course naturally were both down in the basement. But then aren’t all sinister places after all?
Taking about an hour, we ended up setting up seven cameras in various areas of the building and it was then lights out. (that’s just what we say cuz um psssst there wasn’t any lights in this place to begin with)
the silence that shall inevitably creep in the darkness,
it digs its nails deep,
fading into a fraction of her soul,
succumbing to the truth
as it slowly unfolds
-Fragments of Chaos, poetry by Jenny Hayut
Naturally I was sent off to the basement first to the bowling alley. But of course! Now the bowling alley. A little bit of history and reported activity first. Quite a few spirits have been reported down in this area. The bowling alley itself came to be by way of a reward for patients. So in all accounts it was a fun place to be I imagined. But they had to put in the basement….
Virginia is home to a legally historical murder trial. The first conviction of a murder without a body. And guess where the suspected murder happened? Right outside the property that led up to the sanitorium. Yep. It is thought that the spirit of that victim, Gina Renee Hall killed by Stephen Epperly lingers in the basement between the bowling alley and boiler room. Other reports of a demonic spirit named “Goat Man” attacks people here as well as “Smokey” the once maintenance man of the facility who would drag women to the boiler room and rape them. He got his nickname as it is thought and reported that he was a smoker and if visitors offer him a cigarette then he will interact with them. Because of his disrespect, women are warned not to investigate the boiler room alone (Of course that didn’t stop us). Disembodied voices, shadow people, bursts of coldness, growling, all these have also been reported between these two rooms within the basement.
Entering the bowling alley, we started our audio recorders, digital video recorders (DVR’S) and settled in for the first EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) session of the night. I should mention that we chose to set up not only an IR (infrared) camera here but an audio recorder as well because of the abundance of activity that has been reported occurring down here.
Now see this is the first thing I learned about ghost hunting. It feels weird as hell initially sitting there in the dark talking to yourself and as my team members would tell you it took me a few times investigating with them before I could get over that weird feeling and once I did it was game the hell on. This particular session included myself, Rocki and Wayne, one of our co-founders. Rocki lead the session while Wayne armed with a DVR was recording and I was recording audio. I will say right now as I learned early on, paranormal investigating is hours and hours of sometimes nothing. Yeah, that wasn’t the case this night. Below is what we captured in that first session. (you will need headphones with the volume turned all the way up for this and all the audio and video evidence I’ve attached)
hear that knock? after I ask that it come closer..
hear the whispering?
What we hear is a “no” a direct answer to Rocki’s question….
I can personally recall throughout our time down there that there were unexplained noises repeatedly coming from the hallway between the bowling alley and the boiler room. We undoubtedly heard disembodied voices and unexplained knocking. The most significant noise I recall however, was the sound of shuffling feet. One particular instance I recall shifting myself away from the doorway onto the other side of my team member as I was certain someone was about to walk in on us from the darkness. The whole time I was down there I was uneasy, of that I’m certain. And it wasn’t going to get any better as the boiler room was next.
Throughout the night my other team members had sessions as well and had their own personal experiences. One being with Mike and Tom, the other co-founder of our team. Upon going through a series of questions it would seem they were getting interaction as with each question that was asked a knock was heard signaling an understanding. They as well distinctively heard a woman’s voice as well as scratching as if someone was trailing their nails along the pipes. The following is their evidence.
The following is what was picked up on the audio that we had set in the bowling alley. No one was down there investigating at this time.
To all of us it sounds like the ball return functioning. Obviously it wasn’t working nor in working order.
To the boiler room we went….
All of us throughout the night had our own individual experiences with the boiler room. I myself did two separate investigations. One this initial time with Rocki and Wayne and the second time with just the women of our group. It without a doubt lives up to its reputation as being the most sinister place in the building. The sordid history of it hits you as soon as you walk in. Bursts of coldness come and go leaving you chilled to the bone. That itself happened several times to many of our team members, myself included.
Initially with that first session in the boiler room I personally experienced a tug upon the bottom of my pants leg. It was sudden but there was no doubt I felt it. Much like while when we were in the bowling alley, shuffling of feet, and knocking continued outside the hallway leading into the boiler room. So much so that we decided to walk outside and stand within the hallway and begin recording. It’s at that time that my team member was knocked with a massive sense of coldness. Below is the recordings from our experiences.
Returning with the women was just as revealing if not more chilling. In trying to provoke “Smokey” we taunted him asking if he just simply couldn’t handle all of us women together in the room. If it pissed him off or turned him on. It didn’t take long for us to get activity from him as you’ll hear below when my team member Heather, captures what she believes a shadowy presence hiding within the corner of the room then suddenly disappears. I waste no time and begin questioning him. What my audio picks up as I listen to much later sends chills down my spine. Listen for yourself…
what we hear amidst me channeling my inner leprechaun, is just before I say “it’s just us girls” is a faint whisper saying “oh yeah” acknowledging he is in fact hiding from us. Now…I took my interpretation a bit further with this one thanks to the erotic writer in me. It’s a bit x-rated so I’ll refrain from mentioning it here but if you are curious drop me a message, I’ll tell you.
Two of my team members, Krystal and Tracey were using K2’s (EMF-electro-magnetic field-detectors) during this session and repeatedly it was as if Smokey or some thing was pacing back and forth around us as they both would continue to light up, as if he was taunting us. A friend of the group investigating with us, Marie, was using a thermal image device and even she was detecting energy aside from us.
Upon hearing what we believed was the sound of a young woman’s voice we decided to begin using the spirit box. (also known as a “ghost box” is a device used to contact spirits through radio frequency) It didn’t take long for us to begin getting interaction but seemed as if the spirits were fighting amongst each other. As if the room was full with entities. One most obvious battle was what we believed the ghost of Gina perhaps with Smokey. She would answer questions that we posed such as “what is your favorite color” and we got the definitive answer “wine” As the questions continued we suddenly heard a male voice and then the sound of the female voice “I have to go” at which time silence ensued. The continued bursts of coldness affected all of us up until we left to return upstairs.
I need to mention here that while we were having a session in the boiler room, all the men had decided to do their own investigation in the room on the second floor known as Donald’s room. The story of Donald as we know it is he was a janitor of the asylum and lived on site. He was a known homosexual and not an all around nice guy but I’ll get to that in a second. So the guys in all their gander decided they may get more activity if they all went into the room together. Activity was especially reported within the closet of Donald’s room. So naturally they pretty much tried to seduce a spirit in to coming out to play, taking turns in the closet. While none of them got felt up they did manage to get a pretty amazing EVP recording.
what we hear is perhaps Donald acknowledging Mike’s question with a “uh huh”
Upon returning upstairs we paired up differently and went off into what was the nurse’s wing where much activity had been reported as well. Armed still with our audio recorders and digital video recorders we walked the dark halls with flashlights in hand. I personally did not experience anything while here however some of my team members picked up talking and laughing along the empty corridors.
Below are various images that Rocki took throughout the wing as well as other various places within the asylum that after reviewing have questionable orbs within them. They could very well be nothing but it certainly made some of us go hmmmm.
Another team member, Mike, had an interesting experience in the room we pegged the “knocking door” room. It is here that a door that remains padlocked for whatever reason gets a lot of activity as reported by other groups. Mike decided to go and check it out by knocking and even though he didn’t get what he hoped was a knock back, he did hear the distinct sound of shuffling feet just on the other side.
Because of all the activity that had been going on in the bowling alley all night, including what I hadn’t mentioned yet, initially when some of our team members were setting up the camera, Mike was trying to summon the spirit known as “Goatman.” An EVP was picked up very clearly calling him a “dumb ass” which became the joke of the night. So we made our way back down to the dreaded basement where I once again went back into “gotta watch my back” mode. While down here which turned out to be our last time, we continued to hear several sounds, banging, shuffling of feet. There was no doubt in my mind that there was a presence down there. And not all friendly. While none of us ever experienced any kind of attack, it had been reported over and over again that other groups investigating had. But the voices, the banging, the walking, yeah, I was and still am convinced we were not alone down there.
Returning back upstairs nearing 3am our night of investigating was coming to an end. So they always say save the best for last. Seems not of my doing but that is exactly what happened.
Just at the top of the staircase leading to the second floor, is a room scattered with toys about and the shadow of a child painted on the hardwood floor. This is Jacob’s room. As the story goes, Jacob was abandoned just outside the doors of the asylum. The staff decided to take him in, giving him his own bedroom within the staff quarters, across the hall from Donald. I think you may already sense where this is going. Yeah. Turns out Donald had a thing for little boys. Repeatedly raping him to his death.
I really had no intentions of going into this room at all but for the fact that one of our team members, Tracy, really wanted to do a session in it. So I as well as Rocki were asked to go along. Remember that tour I mentioned at the beginning of our visit? I snapped some pictures of Jacob’s room then during the daylight…
The toys and dolls were brought in from various different researchers over the years in hopes of interaction with Jacob as it had been reported that a new toy would excite him, as it would any child. As we filed into the room, each of us armed with a flashlight and recorder, two of us leaned against the wall and begin attempting to summon Jacob. Asking questions like “Jacob are you here?” and “can you sit down and play with us?” When Rocki asked him “show us your favorite toy” that’s when it got very very interesting.
As we leaned against Tracy was crouched to the floor. Within seconds we heard the sound of a coin dropping onto the floor directly behind her. I quickly shined my light at her just as she was picking up a penny off the floor. As you’ll hear in the recording below I ask her if it had perhaps fallen out of her pocket as I shifted my eyes to what she was wearing, and the position of her pockets. From the position she was in there was no way anything could have fallen out of her pockets and she was adamant that she didn’t have any coins in her pocket, adding that she’d being using her bank card the entire day. Obviously we were dumbfounded trying to come up with a logical solution but we couldn’t find one so we were left to believe that it was in fact Jacob. Jacob showing us his “favorite toy”.
Again as you’ll hear in the recording, we thank Jacob and place the coin back on the floor for him. Moments later both my team members experience an overwhelming sense of discomfort resulting in Tracy turning on her light. Walking about her light then shines on a series of pennies in a perfect row to my left, about five feet from Rocki standing next to me. None of us can be certain that those pennies were there when we entered the room. In all honesty they very well could have been. However all three of us heard and saw the penny that dropped. That much we have no doubt about and remains with no explanation.
The session lasted just under twelve minutes and nearing the end it was decided we’d attempt a quick session in Donald’s room as neither of us girls had done so. Within moments of myself entering the room, I was hit with a wave of anxiety. It’s not something that I can easily explain unlike the bowling alley and boiler rooms where I was scared the whole walk down and for the most part the whole time I was investigating. With Jacob’s however my disposition was relatively calm. I truly was relaxed the whole time I was in Jacob’s room unlike my team members. However the moment I entered Donald’s room I tensed up and immediately wanted out. As a result we decided to finish up and return downstairs. Now this is where it gets really interesting…
Upon returning downstairs we discovered that it was time to begin packing up. We were calling it a night. Because the three of us were still standing on that side of the building we offered to return upstairs and pull the cameras and wires from both Jacob and Donald’s rooms. Immediately returning to Jacob’s room Rocki sat his light on the floor while pulling the wires up to break down the tripod and camera. When I heard him say “they’re gone” I was puzzled. “What” I asked him. Pointing into the room he said again “they’re gone, the pennies, all of them, go look.” Now I knew for certain that the three of us remained together from the time we walked out of Jacob’s room until the time we walked downstairs until present and I knew for a fact that no one else had been up the stairs since we’d walked down. Of course my immediate reaction was yeah right so naturally I had to see for myself. I was beyond shocked when I discovered he was absolutely right. Not only was the coin gone that Tracy had tucked just under a toy in the room but the coins that had been perfectly lined up were gone as well. This to me was the most perplexing event of the entire night for me there and still baffles me. Simply because there is no explanation for it. None. It wasn’t until we returned home and the three of us started listening to our evidence that we heard it. I’ll let you listen for yourself to see if you can place it. Just before the penny drops. Listen….
You hear it? That little faint sound just before the penny drops? Yeah. We did too….
So in short, after spending six plus hours investigating St. Albans Sanitorium I am absolutely convinced that it is haunted. From the decades of history, horror and tragedy it has even before this building was erected. This building is dead yet so very much alive. From the countless EVP’s we recorded, to the images that we captured, to the first hand experiences of sounds and hints of being touched, there is no doubt. This place is the real deal. No friggin doubt. And I’m beyond ready to go back. It’s kind of in my veins now….
Thanks for reading and please check out the video below that shows off an amazing flight view of St. Albans as well as our evidence collected.
to put into words
an impossible chore
but there it is
its existence ripping at my core
slowly it drives me mad
and sometimes keeps me at bay
yet its force, the reason
for never keeping me away
those moments when i doubt
or feel i should say goodbye
it pulls me back in
silencing my cry
this twisted connection
where night embraces day
is something to covet
a reason for us to stay
…a ghost hunter…
-Fragments of Chaos, poetry by Jenny Hayut
So there has been quite a lot of talk about this secluded winding road amidst the many historical battlefields of Yorktown that were center stage for the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. On this road sits a bridge. The bridge itself is on the path of Historical Tour Road which is a driving tour of the memorialized battlegrounds of both the Revolutionary War and Civil War. But this bridge, it has nothing to do with any battles. Nothing but a living urban legend most say, others say they’ve witnessed unexplained events in the dark of the night.
Some say the bridge was used by members of the KKK to hang African-Americans. Others say a woman who found herself in an unfortunate arranged marriage could not bear it and ran from her wedding in her dress and hung herself from the bridge. Others say a “ghost car” haunts the winding road leading up to the bridge. Then yet others talk about once driving under the bridge cars are reported to suffer some sort of mechanical malfunction, shutting off. Others report a disruption in their radio. And as the stories continue, another claims that if your name is spray painted on the bridge then you will die. Then there is yet another story about an abandoned house off the path in the wooded area that people have witnessed “red eyes” staring back at them from within the shadows. That one got my attention…a little. So of course I had to go check it out for myself. Of course!
On a rainy Sunday afternoon I drove down this Crawford Road noting it was in fact quite secluded with only a few houses at the beginning of the turn off. A long winding road with copious amounts of trees allowing for the nature girl in me to pull off and take pictures. I love curvy roads in the middle of nowhere leading up to a scary bridge what can I say.
Continuing my journey about two miles up the road I spot the infamous bridge. Now I had been told from other locals to beware of the still present KKK members in the area as well that the police repeatedly patrol the area because well I forgot to mention this part. Because of its seclusion and the sense of fear that the area has brought over the years it seems to be a hot spot for real life murders. Many have occurred along this road over the years and that’s a documented fact. So I knew I had to work fast and taking it all in, getting pics and getting a feel for it all.
Stopping my car about one hundred feet from the bridge I get out and decide to walk the rest of the way. The closer I got the more I saw just how much graffiti it had. That’s a lot of dead people I chuckled to myself.
So the brave newbie of a ghost hunter I’ve become I plowed right through to walk under it which is when it’s said crazy stuff happens. I heard some birds chirping. That was cool. Read some of the graffiti that covers the street as well. Now I’m not discounting other reports of experiences along this road and surrounding this bridge but for me, I got nothing. So after taking a few more pictures I walked back to my car and sought out the directions to get atop the bridge. Maybe something cool will happen up there?
It did take me a few frustrating turns to finally find the right way towards the bridge which is how I discovered it’s along the Historical Tour Road route which Waze aka my normally kick ass GPS totally didn’t come through for me with.
So once again, I pull up towards the bridge and stop about one hundred feet. Getting out I take more pics, still loving all the scenic beauty. Never mind that this could be the home of brutal killings and despair. If it’s pretty, it’s pretty.
Well…again I was disappointed. But I got some really cool shots of the bridge.
and then there is this that I loved. The behind you just captivated me. I played around with the exposure with this one and like the way it came out.
And then there was this little guy which to be perfectly honest was the most exciting thing for me to see while I was here.
In all, my trip having proven not much of anything I can see myself venturing back in the midnight hour to see what there is to see. Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t….And this bridge and all the legends surrounding it, the events of in history that unfolded before it, and the real life crimes that it witnessed, it absolutely has inspired a story…or two.
It’s taken me over two year’s thus far to travel up and down the East Coast in search of the notable places of poet and writer, Edgar Allan Poe. His works have been a notable muse to my own writing and the birth of my love of poetry. And since I’m OCD about everything, it makes perfect sense to divulge in every place Mr. Poe once lived, visited or has some historical tie to. Right? Right.
Edgar was born in Boston, Massachusetts to David and Elizabeth Poe. He had two siblings, older brother Henry and sister Rosalie. The children at a young age found themselves parentless as their father abandoned them and at the age of three, Edgar’s mother, a then actress in Richmond, Virginia, died of tuberculosis. The children were then separated. Henry was sent to live with his paternal grandparents in Boston, Rosalie to the McKenzie’s of Richmond and Edgar was adopted by John and Frances Allan, also of Richmond, Virginia.
While the places I have visited thus far are all of importance and have their own individual connection to Poe, they are not in historical order and notably the states of New York and Massachusetts have yet to be visited which I hope to do in the future.
My first stop took me to the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where Poe resided for six years from 1838 until 1844. Here he lived with his wife/cousin Virginia and her mother, Maria Clemm. His time spent here is described as the happiest of his life. While most of the homes he lived in while in Philadelphia have been demolished, one still stands. It is the last home he lived in before he decided to leave with his young ailing wife with tuberculosis to the then tranquil outskirts of New York. Today the home located in the Spring Garden section of the city is owned and maintained by the state park service and listed on the registry of historical places.
The home itself has been left to age with murals upon the walls depicting how the home would have looked when Poe lived within its walls.
A room set up like a parlor lends a feel to the macabre feel that was Poe’s legacy. Within it contains many writings and advertisements over the years of Poe’s work. Also on display is a prized possession, a copy of the famous Annabelle Lee poem as written in Poe’s handwriting.
Entering the basement the macabre feel continues with its spooky feel and truly one of my favorites among the whole house. Talk about getting some paranormal ju ju down here. Heck yeah.
Next up the lively city of Baltimore, Maryland that holds beneath its branches quite a story of Poe’s footsteps…..
So on my pursuit to retrace the steps of Edgar Allan Poe because well I can, I stumbled upon something of epic coolness.
Rock Creek Cemetery.
In the heart of Washington DC, Rock Creek Cemetery is the home to my reason for a visit, the final resting place of Rosalie Poe, sister to Edgar Allan Poe. Established in 1719, it is the home to many dignitaries as well as famous folks and owns the title of the oldest cemetery in the District of Columbia.
Upon entering the grounds with a trusty map in hand that I easily printed off their website, I easily found Rosalie’s headstone. Sadly I easily discovered it was but a small memorial against the beasts of beauty that surrounded the park-like cemetery.
I’ve always been fond of architecture and I don’t shy away from including funerary sculptures into that category. Except for me they take on a whole separate appreciation. The solemnity of them. The personal meaning that lies within each. The clear love and grief of its design that is almost staring back at you. It’s eerily beautiful. And when I began to meander about the well-groomed grounds of Rock Creek I came across many notable and breathtaking mausoleums, sculptures and tombstones that I want to share.
The first one that was more like a secret sanctuary was enclosed by walls of shrubbery that looked well cared for. Walking up the marble steps onto a square marble platform I discover this.
Of course I had to search the internet to find out what this eerily amazing piece was and who is buried here as you see it’s completely unmarked. I do love a good mystery and believe you me I already had a novel half way written.
What I found out was pretty cool. Amazingly enough this unmarked sculpture was built in 1891 and in 1972 was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Um, wow. I can see why though. Buried here is notable author Henry Adams and his wife, Clover. Heartbroken when his wife committed suicide, Henry sought out the skills of famed Irish artist, Augustus Saint-Gaudens and architect Stanford White to design a piece fitting for his wife. Over the years it has taken on the name as “Grief” from its many visitors from all over the country. However, Mr Adams left specific instructions in his will that there was never to be an inscription nor was the monument ever to be labeled with a title.
His vision was that of the Buddhist interpretation of nirvana, a state of being beyond joy and sorrow. I was easily in absolute awe of it and found myself sitting on the marble bench that surrounds it, meditating. Sigh. What a beautifully tragic love story. The love this man must have had for his wife and clearly heartbroken to want to make something so beautiful, so unique. I visualized him coming here, sitting, talking to her. I was mesmerized by her solemn beauty and had to get an up close look of her. It should be noted here that the intent of Saint-Gaudens was this not to be male nor female, but I like to imagine that it is her, his wife, trapped in her silent tomb.
Easily my most memorable piece throughout the whole cemetery I spent quite a bit of time here, captivated by the beauty, the meaning and the sadness.
Reluctantly, I continued my exploration, leaving this oasis and it didn’t take long to stumble upon another silent beauty and unlike Adams memorial, this was left to weather which I found remarkably symbolic.
Those eyes so real as if telling me their story, and the face as if covered in grief-stricken tears. Created by sculpture American, Gutzon Borglum “Rabboni” it is meant to depict that of Mary Magdalene and has a bronze marker on the back that reads:
THE END OF BIRTH IS DEATH
THE END OF DEATH IS LIFE
WHEREFOR MOURNEST THOU
This next one was a close second to the Adams Memorial and is simply titled “Memory” and designed by American sculpture William Partridge. The bronze panels along the granite bench that the mourning woman sits depicts Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Men.”
The only information I could get on this next one was that it was designed by artist Jules Dechin so I call it “The Raised Hand”
This one, the Frederick Keep Monument, I couldn’t find much information on other than it is designed by artist, James Earle Fraser.
Remaining are other images I captured throughout the grounds of various tombstones, monuments and intricate mausoleums.
Finally, the reason that brought me to this secret oasis, the tombstone of Rosalie Poe, which will undoubtedly be included in an upcoming post of my travels along the East Coast in search of Poe Places.
I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent in this oasis amidst the bustling streets of Washington DC . If you like history and are a fan of funerary sculpture or simply want to adventure somewhere off the beaten path, I would highly recommend a visit to Rock Creek Cemetery.
Another Friday night has found me at the historically rich home of the Ferry Plantation House investigating with Coastal Virginia Paranormal. Except tonight was a little special. Tonight I was asked to officially join the group and I am estatic! I knew I fit in with these guys right away upon meeting them last week. If ever there was a no judgement zone, “we’re nerds and proud of it” group, these guys are it and I am the newly crowned nerd.
What I love about this group and what makes them unique is they as well as myself appreciate the history of a home or place. They embrace that with any investigation that they may do. Whether it be a public place or a private residence, they respect the “heart” of the subject under investigation.
And further their headquarters or home base is a home of historical importance as well as listed as one of the top 25 most haunted places in Virginia. The executive director to the house and docent, Heather Moore, is a member of CVP so she has full access to undergo investigations at any given time. This I think is resourceful especially in conducting experiments with new equipment as well as training new members.
I look forward to investigating with these guys and becoming a part of their family.
As if asking me to join them was not exciting enough, they also informed me where the next investigation shall take them…St. Albans Sanitarium, noted as the most haunted place on the east coast and most haunted asylum in the country! Go big or go home…these guys clearly ain’t afraid of no ghosts.
Click on the pic below to learn more about this seemingly sinister sanitarium who’s history begins with the land from which is built upon.
Witches, cats, trees on my…
So it would seem as I sit here writing this Ms. Scaredy Cat survived her exciting night of adventure with the Coastal Virginia Paranormal group. I gotta tell ya, I really didn’t know what to expect and I truly was a little apprehensive even though I talked good game leading up to my debut night of meeting said ghosts. Well that quickly diminished as I walked inside the beautiful home that is the Ferry Plantation House. Before I tell you about this historical home that sits on the list of the top most haunted places in Virginia, I should tell you more about the history of Virginia and how this home might have found its way on such a list.
Virginia is one of the oldest original colonies. It is the home of Jamestown, the first English settlement in America where Captain John Smith and his crew landed. Before they came however it was the home of many Native American tribes. As a result make shift burial grounds are scattered about along with a vast amount of artifacts. Virginia claims to have one hundred and seventy haunted places and the Ferry Plantation House is within the top twenty-five most haunted.
Located in Virginia Beach, the Ferry Plantation house dates back to 1642 when Virginian Savill Gaskin started the second ferry service along the Lynnhaven River thus Ferry Farm as it was called, got its name. This welcomed many aristocrats and their families and slaves to the area creating the Old Donation Farm neighborhood. Many of the homes were built from remnants of prior structures. The Second Princess Anne Courthouse stood on the site of Ferry Farm from 1730 to 1751. It is here I’ll mention a well-known trial that occurred at the courthouse. Grace Sherwood or The Witch of Pungo went on trial here. Likely jealous of her beauty and preferring to wear pants over dresses she was accused of witchcraft by her neighbors. She was a skilled herbalist and known animal lover but unfortunately was convicted resulting in the only witch to be tried and convicted in Virginia. I’ll get back to her in a minute.
In the 1770’s Walke’s tavern owned by the Walke’s family stood on the Ferry Farm property as well as the family’s mansion. In 1828 their home unfortunately burned down and two years after that George and Elizabeth Macintosh built from its foundation the farmhouse as it is at present.
Inside the house today you’ll find time period furnishings some being owned by its occupants over the years. The house itself, a three-story brick, federal style home has a parlor, an attic (Henry’s room aka where the slaves were housed aka the jury room above the old courtroom) Who’s Henry you’re asking. Hold on I’m getting there. The home also has a library and multiple bedrooms one being the nursery where my new friend Eric is known to hang out.
So now that we got that out-of-the-way, on to the good stuff. So it was around 7:30 pm that I arrived at the house and met the infamous group that my friend and member Rocki had been talking about non-stop. I met with Tom who for lack of a better word is the head honcho, as well as Wayne, Heather and Mike, head investigators for the Coastal Virginia Paranormal group. Heather is also the Director of the house which regularly conducts historical tours. Knowing that, I knew off jump street she was in the know of all the good stuff. These guys were very welcoming and I could tell right away they knew their shit. I spied two black cases filled with research equipment aka the goodies needed for a proper ghost haunt and right away the goose bumps started. I was totally feeling like I was in an episode of Taps. Alas, no Jason Hawes was around but meh, I was already high on all the seemingly knowledge in the air. These guys between all of them have over 20 years of experience in paranormal investigation. That’s pretty impressive. And here I am wondering what that thingie is with all the pretty lights…
I got a quick history run down of the house and then Wayne entrusted me with the said thingie with the pretty lights. It is here I learned it is called a K II EMF Meter, an electromagnetic field meter aka the ghost tracker I’ll hence forth call it. So having done a little of my own research before coming to the house I read that eleven ghosts supposedly have been documented here. One of them being Henry. See I told you I was coming back to him. Lead the way Wayne. Bring on the ghosts.
Henry is thought to be a slave that is normally lingering upstairs also referred to as the attic and jury room of the courthouse which happens to be the oldest part of the house. So of course that’s where we head first. It is here I’ll mention that upon entering the house, the courthouse room is the room you will enter first and I immediately got a weird, heavy feeling about it. I didn’t see nor hear anything to give me the creeps but it was just something about it that didn’t bode well with me.
Walking up the narrow steep steps to the attic with only the light of a flashlight to guide us into the waiting darkness, I can’t lie I got a rush of excitement and then a thought of what the hell are you doing Jen. But I forged on, curiosity getting the best of me. Upon getting to the top of the stairs I walk into what is probably a 20×20 room with a single bed in the middle and a low wood ceiling. Wayne had told me to look up at the ceiling where handprints can been seen. It is thought those of slaves. It was easy for me to spot them randomly across the ceiling when I peered up.
Standing there in the dark the four of us, I proceeded to watch my very first EVP session begin. This is where not only are the K II’s being monitored which I had death’s grip on mine, but also recorders were set as Rocki and Wayne began asking the room, with its now heavy air, questions. “Henry are you here?” Wayne asks. “If you are, make the lights light up for us. We have some new people here tonight with us that just want to know you’re here.” The room is silent but for the outside wind stirring creaks here and there in this old monarch of a home. “Will you come and talk to us Henry,” Rocki asks. The room to my surprising dismay continues to remain silent.
views looking up and down from the steps leading up to attic/jury room
I cannot lie here, my heart was racing a bit and I continued staring into the dark corners of the room and behind me. I silently thanked my Daddy for instilling in me the importance of keeping check of your surroundings. But cursing him for never telling me what to do if a ghost rolls up on me.
It’s important for me to tell you here that a proper ghost hunt is not as exciting as its portrayed on television. Hours of no activity could be waiting for you. Seasoned investigators such as these guys know this and accept the long stretches of nothingness as part of the job. But me, not so much. The adrenaline was pumping and I was ready for my close up. After about twenty minutes or so of continued silence, Wayne wanting to give me a full experience of every area, in this informal investigation, suggested we continue on to outside the home where the hanging tree is. The whaaaa?
The land of the plantation at its prime stretched for miles and miles. Over time that changed leaving it now as it stands part of a cul-de-sac, surrounded by private homes and a large grassy field. I noticed a tennis court in the middle of the field and asked what’s up with that. Rocki said “oh that’s where the Indian burial ground is” and then pointed across the darkness to a large patch of shrubbery. “Over there too.” He continued explaining that the tennis court was built in order to protect the land from robbers searching for relics. “Oh okay”, I say, cool like while thinking oh shit.
Seeing it off in the distance this tree was quite beautiful. Me being the nature lover I was already planning on coming back during the day to take pics of it. Its bare sloping branches in near perfect symmetry was impressive. Of course this is what made it perfect for its name sake. Remembering that this at one time was the site of a courthouse it is said that this tree was used for hangings for those convicted as well as the demise of slaves. Heather, had told me that it was known that at least three slaves had been hung from its branches. Approaching it I discovered the huge tree hollow at its base. I’ve always thought these were pretty cool and this instance was no different. When Rocki said why don’t you go inside it, I didn’t hesitate. What was I thinking…
Armed with a mini flashlight and my ghost tracker, I leaned in and positioned my body inside the tree. Much to my surprise the hollow expanded at least a hundred feet up giving me plenty of room to maneuver around. My own private oasis. It’s important for me to add here that the size of a tree’s hollow is a significant indication of its age. With this being as large as it was, it was obvious that I was standing inside what possibly could be over 220 years of history.
Alone in the darkness, this is where things got weird. It’s not easy for me to explain in words but I began to get this overwhelming feeling of sadness and the tree seemingly was pulling me, almost in a hypnotic kind of way. I know it sounds crazy. I know. But it’s what happened. I stood there with a sense of being anchored within the tree circling my flashlight above me peering at the empty space that was beginning to make my chest heavy. After a few minutes the voices of the guys outside grabbed my attention and its as if I came out of my trance. Upon maneuvering myself out of the tree I’m hit with a second wave of emotion. The sudden need to cry. I didn’t actually cry but the feeling hit me and hard. I stood there a moment longer just leaning back staring up at its beauty while the guys showed me a picture they’d snapped of me while I was inside. We slowly make our way then back to the house and I walk away with a sense of confusion but notice the further we distance ourselves from the tree, the heaviness of my chest slowly diminishes.
Entering back into the house our next stop is the parlor. It is here Heather began telling me about the history of parlors and it’s uses. In short, it wasn’t just for chilling with your peeps. Back then diseases spread quickly and were relentless resulting in many deaths. Well medicine and technology obviously wasn’t at its prime so family and loved ones had their own practices for determining whether or not someone was dead. How, you ask? Well they’d lay the suspected dead person out on a table in the parlor and family members cloaked in black from head to toe in mourning would watch the body round the clock, until they were satisfied that the person was not going to wake. Once the determination had been made that they were in fact dead, the body was then removed from the home and prepared for burial.
At this point all the members of the group joined together and we set up chairs circling the room and another piece of equipment was set out to investigate, an EDI Research device. This acts the same as the K II meters but also monitors change in temperature in the room as well as senses motion and vibration. The mother load of devices was my thought. With the lights out and the parlor doors being shut, another EVP session begins. Sitting around each member took turns asking questions aloud of the room in attempts to evoke a spirit to make contact with us. The ghost trackers had much activity off and on as the members of the group continued to sit and ask questions of who might be in the room. At one point we all began to hear what sounded like a woman humming coming from above. Eventually as the sound continued it progressed to muffled words as if the voice were singing. After about thirty minutes or so the session ended and it was decided our next stop would be upstairs to the nursery and the Nanny’s rooms.
views of parlor in Ferry Plantation House
Walking up the steps to the third floor I was hit with a sense of apprehension but I brushed it off still left feeling a little wary from the sounds of the humming woman. Upon getting to the top of the steps I turned to my left and peered into the room which clearly had the furnishings of a nursery and then glanced to my right which I was told was the Nanny’s room.
Walking into the nursery the four of us sat down on the floor forming a circle putting the K-II meters in the center on the floor. I began to stare around the room looking at all the period clothing adorning the room and even stepping into the walk in closet full of children’s clothing. Mike, one of the head investigators began telling me about the child that’s known to make his presence known in the room. A seven-year old boy that they have named Eric. Not long after Mike and Rocki started calling out to him the meters began lighting up. I sat in silence listening for any movement, or sounds but nothing. And then….a sudden upward tug at the waist band of my leggings. I jumped and immediately shouted out an expletive. My instinct was to get up and run but I was the only chick in the room and there was no way in hell I was showing my chicken shit side. So I continued to sit describing to them what it felt like and we watched as the meters continued to stay lit.
This is where I have to say even though I was in shock, not expecting such a thing and I will say it absolutely without a shadow of doubt in my mind happened. But even though my initial response was that of fear, it wasn’t a I’m in danger kind of fear. It was more a fear of the unknown. Because truly, not only while I was in that room, but the whole time I was touring the house with CVP I never felt threatened. So I think that’s what kept me in place too. That and being a Mom myself to an eight year old boy, my mom genes kicked in.
Within five minutes or so my fear was tested again as I then began to feel a finger drag across the base of my back directly on my flesh. Again, I was shocked from it but the feeling of fear was still not present. I suppose I was imagining my own son when he hugs me and loves on his Mommy. And then I thought, he sees my tattoo back there, not knowing what it is thinking he was helping by trying to wipe it off. This second time experiencing physical contact, Rocki immediately holds the meter up behind me and the lights grow stronger. At the same time, another newbie touring with us, Josh, snaps a picture of me focusing on the area behind me, hoping to capture Eric.
After being rocked by those two encounters I was reminded the night was only getting started. We still had the Nanny’s room to check out and the room where the courthouse stood, the one that gave me the creeps a little. So reluctantly I left with the group walking and me and Josh walked into the dark room of what was the Nanny’s. At this point he was feeling a little uneasy with a feeling of being in trouble. We had been told while in the nursery that the Nanny seems to grow angry if anyone comes into the nursery after 10pm as to not wake the children. It was well past ten. We walked around a bit more finally making our way back downstairs headed to the old courthouse room.
We all meet back up in the dark room of the old courthouse which again is along with the jury room/attic upstairs is the oldest part of the house. You’d think courthouse, inmate, angry, haunting in that order right? Nope. This room is popular for decades of ghost cat sightings. We all stood again with our meters and the EDI monitoring the temperature in the room. We didn’t spot any cats but it is now that some of the members start asking if Grace Sherwood is around. Now I have formed an interesting thought having learned that Grace aka the Witch of Pungo, was a huge animal lover. What if maybe this cat, what if it’s actually Grace? Or what if when the cat is seen it is because Grace is around, the cat sensing her comes inside? Just my spin on things. If you want to learn more about Ms. Sherwood you can check it out here. http://ferryplantation.org/history/grace-sherwood/
It’s at this point that Tom invited me to ask my own questions and well simply put I discovered I was very much ghost shy. An introvert with the dead too. But of course! The meters randomly showed signs of lighting up but not enough to get us excited and so after a short while we flipped the lights back on and pretty much called it a night.
Having been there from about 8pm until 3am when we finished I was finding myself still on an adrenaline rush. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy meeting the members of Coastal Virginia Paranormal group, but I discovered just how rewarding paranormal investigating can be. Pairing that with my own personal experiences I was ready to come back before I’d even left. I should mention here again that this evening was made possible for me to meet the group. It was a very informal investigation as they advised me cameras are normally set up as well and monitored during a normal investigation. I walked away educated more in paranormal experience and investigation and a more sense of acknowledgement that spirits are out there. Demonic I’m not so sure but everyday folks just acting out their life as if they were still alive. Pretty dang profound stuff if you ask me….
For more information about Coastal Virginia Paranormal group visit their website here: http://www.cvparanormal.org/index.html
Also if you’d like to read more about the history of the Ferry Plantation House or perhaps schedule a tour, visit their website here: http://ferryplantation.org/
Thanks for reading!
This past week I was invited to host one of my favorite prompts over in Twitter land. Because of my never ending love of poetry, my addiction really, I participate regularly in poetry prompts on twitter. From the very beginning I discovered with participating in them I was without a doubt finding another outlet to build my characters through the emotions I was exploring through the poems I would create. And to have to write a poem in 140 characters or less, I was finding I needed to be resourceful with my word choice. As a result I was leaving out those uncessessary wors like the pesty “just” or “that”which are like monkeys on a unseasoned writer’s back.
So thanks to the lovely MadStormQueen who started the Madverse prompt, I was able to observe over a twenty-four hour period the creations of many many talented poets armed with the same words I gave them to create a poem. A freaking mazing does not do it justice. I was blown away by all the submissions. Below, following my two submissions, are just a few of my favorites that really stood out to me that were submitted. Enjoy and thanks for reading!
Just so ya’ll know the book AKA Six Seconds, AKA the third installment in the Full Throttle Series really exists…ahem. I’m pimping out the playlist that I’ve blowed the hell up while writing this story of Cash and Dani. I mean hello, Holt’s brother?!? And Dani is a hot mess. I’m still trying to figure out if her and Niki are gonna get along. These ladies are as different as night and day but for having one thing in common. They got a thing for a Maddox.
Note Rob Zombie shows up a few times here. He’s like my Poe to music ya’ll. Feel good, bat shit crazy kinda music. Makes for the best scenes!
Enjoy! And I promise…it’s coming. Oh…and here’s a pic that offers much inspiration for Dani. She is almost too much for me to handle at times. Oye.
So, I have this friend. Great guy. Even has a cool nickname. Rocki. Totally gonna use that name in a book one day. Except it’ll likely be a kickass female MMA fighter or a drag racer. So Rocki, much like me has always had an interest in the paranormal. Well he took it to the next level by joining a local group, The Coastal Virginia Paranormal Group http://cvparanormal.org/index.html and began ghost hunting.
He’s shared with me his experiences on his hunts including the photograph below (look out the window, lower center…see the face?!?) he snapped at the group’s headquarters, The Ferry Plantantion House http://ferryplantation.org/ which of course has its own share of resident ghosts with a lot to say. To say I have been impressed would be an understatement. From the recordings he’s made (what the serious hunters refer to as EVP’S ) to the images he’s managed to catch, to simply listening to his own personal accounts, I easily found myself on the edge of my seat (okay one night I’ll admit under my covers….that picture scared me dude!)
Upon hearing my excitement and knowing my interest in the undead and everything in between (minus zombies…I don’t get down with them..*gasp*) Rocki poses this question. So Jen why don’t you come along one night. Meet the group. Do a hunt with us. It’ll be fun, he says. You’ll like it, he says. You’ll without a doubt get addicted, he says. And what do I say without hesitation? Hell yes! Count me in! Should I bring the popcorn? Wait what????
So here I am, one week away from my date with Casper and his cousins. No not really. These are refined ghosts. Of historical importance. Hmmm, I wonder if one of them is hot? To say I’m a little nervous is well not cutting the corn. Yes, I just had a Children of The Corn vision. I’m all over the place freaking out. I mean come on Jen, you’re the one breathing dude. What could they possibly do to you??? Note to self. No horror flicks for the rest of the week….Truly though, I’m excited…and scared shitless. I’m such a talker. Bring it, Whitey. Wait that’s not racist is it? I’m equally scared black or white yo.
Okay, so seriously, seriously, focus Jen. I’m quite looking forward to this opportunity not only to meet what I’ve been told by Rocki to be a great group of people who bring forth their individual talents and interest to paranormal activity but also an amazing backdrop for the night, The Ferry Plantation House. I’m a history and architecture geek too so this house….a 1830 Federal style farm house (see where I’m going with the Children of the Corn reference) with history dating back as far as 1642, surely comes with alot of back story AND I’m being told the home of not one, not two but ELEVEN ghosts! I can’t wait to learn more about it, meet this amazing group and maybe actually have a paranormal experience. Say a prayer for me. And if you know any good exorcists..you know, just in case. Wand at the ready.