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.
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….
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.
In the silence its breeding ground she knew. How it twisted it’s coils about her. A ticking time bomb she was. The pounding of the clock as the seconds passed. Each one resounding her torture. Just a few more moments and it would be over. Quieting the demons, eyes dead ahead, head high, determined not to succumb to its weighing strength. Voices about but in muffled bursts of excitement. For her attention, her concentration only on him.
She knew when he was coming. She could smell the remnants of the soap he likely scrubbed himself down with repeatedly from fear. And the fear, he wreaked of it. But it was different. Almost intoxicating to her. Not vile like the others. Not hatred or desire to destroy, but simply intoxicating. Her veins, they floated in a way, in his direction. The pain diminishing ever so slightly but it was enough for her to notice that first time he appeared. And it was for that reason his presence captivated her each and every time he came.
As he got closer the tapping of fingers along metal off in the distance grated in her head. Squinting her eyes, shifting her head back and forth in an uncontrollable rage, she heard his footsteps falter. Sucking in a breath, tasting the stale air, she closed her eyes and counted to now what took ten seconds before she could tranquilize the noise from her mind. Each day seemed to take longer but she avoided thinking of it.
She opened her eyes to find him peering upon her with hesitation his face revealed. And as she forced herself to sit still his gaze changed, softening into a courteous smile. He was the only one really that was nice to her in this cesspool and for that small fact, she was thankful. He began his walk again towards her and she fought back the need to reach out to him. Such an odd sense of reaction she thought.
He reached for the chair next to her bed, the metal scraping against the floor, again filling her with rage but with him near, somehow she gained the power to push it away. She noticed then for the first time that he had a book in his hands and upon sitting down, the sound of the spine cracking as he opened it left her teetering, gritting her teeth. But she focused on his actions. This was new. He’d never done this before. Or at least, not that she could remember. Some days seemed to fade into the next and her mind, it played tricks on her.
He sat in silence which baffled her yet continued to captivate her. And then without notice he stood and almost whispered, “I’ll be back tomorrow my love,” placing the book in her hands and then was gone. As she sat in silence, she peered down at the book, its pages full of images of a girl, a beautiful girl.