Tag Archives: hauntings

I Want to Live in a Haunted House

For the first time, I think I can truly understand why people say that their house is haunted. I don’t believe in ghosts. I don’t believe in the supernatural. I don’t believe in anything that can’t be proven with the logical, brute force of Science.

But….

Late last night, I was in bed reading when I thought I heard the back door open and then close. A minute or so later, I heard footsteps walking passed the dining room door. I called out to Emily.

No answer.

I got out of bed and walked out into the dining room and into the hallway. No-one was there. Emily wasn’t home and I was all by myself.

It was a little nerve-wracking.

This is no isolated incident. The doors open and close on their own. The venetian blinds hum and chatter. There are the sounds in the walls like something is pressing to get in.

It’s an old house. It moves and settles and shifts. The doors close and open because they’re too damn loose on their hinges and the wind from the open windows opens and shuts them.

I know it. I internalize it. And I still don’t believe in ghosts. Not one jot.

But….sometimes, when it’s really late at night and I’m all alone in the apartment and I hear those soft and sinister sounds start up again, deep within the walls of the house and moving across the floorboards like cat’s paws, I can’t help but want to believe there are ghosts making their way through the apartment with unearthly purpose.

Because, really, isn’t that more fun that a seventy year old house with some creaky floorboards?

-D-

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A Ghost Story: The Lady in Black

It’s 1862 and General Burnside has successfully gained control of Roanoke Island. The Confederate soldiers who were captured were sent up to Fort Warren in Massachusetts, a detention center for prisoners of war. Among those captured was Lieutenant Samuel Lanier, a soldier out of Georgia.

Lieutenant Lanier manages to smuggle a letter out of the fort to his wife Melanie. After receiving the letter, she risks everything on a trip up North to see her husband. She finds sanctuary in Hull, Massachusetts in the home of a Confederate sympathizer. She disguises herself as a man, cutting her hair short and wearing the clothes of a serving boy.

But Fort Warren is on an island in the middle of the harbor, difficult to reach even if one isn’t a Confederate soldier’s wife. She hitches a ride aboard a boat and sneaks onto the Fort and finds her husband’s cell using plans he sent her in the letter.

Once reunited they make plans to escape from the fort, plans that involve a lot of digging. Unfortunately, they choose a spot far too close to the barracks for the guards. The couple is discovered. Backed into a corner, Melanie points a pistol at Colonel Dimick, the officer in charge of Fort Warren. She tells him to release her and her husband or she’ll shoot him. Dimick refuses and Melanie fires.

The pistol explodes and shrapnel from the gun hits her husband, killing him instantly. Melanie is arrested and convicted and sentenced to hang in less than a day.

Her final request is that when she is hanged, that she is allowed to wear women’s clothes, instead of the disguise she’s been wearing. Her request is granted and she’s given some old robes that had been used in a play earlier that year.

After she’s hanged, her ghost is seen wandering through the fort, dressed in the black robes she wore to her execution.

This was the first, interesting ghost story I came across while researching haunted places in and around Boston. What you read above is an amalgam of half a dozen different versions that I read, though each version only differed a small amount. It was always Fort Warren. There was always a captured lieutenant. And there was always his wife, who seemed to posses far more steel than he did.

What was interesting, to me, was the amount of detail I’d find sometimes. The names of everyone, the battle Samuel Lanier was captured in, the place he and Melanie came from, the name of the commanding officer for Fort Warren: so much detail.

And yet, it’s most likely completely bull.

There is a record of a Samuel Lanier being both imprisoned and dying at Fort Warren. However, there are several differences between the historical Samuel Lanier and his legendary counterpart.

At Fort Warren, there’s a memorial stone that lists all those prisoners who died during their imprisonment (seen here). Lanier’s rank is not listed, but he’s from Company K of the 10th Regiment from the North Carolina State Troops (if I’m reading that right), which means he wasn’t from Georgia.

This matches with the record listed on this site of the soldiers from Company K. Samuel Lanier was a private who was captured and sent to Fort Warren where he died of typhoid.

No trigger happy wife from Georgia. No exploding pistol aimed at the fort’s commander. Just a bad sickness that Lanier caught in one of the nicer prison camps at the time.

Since the story is made up, that means there’s no ghost. You can’t have the ghost of an angry, hanged woman without the angry, hanged woman.

Sigh, like I said yesterday, I didn’t even need to leave my chair.

Dylan Charles

Special thanks to The Washington Greys website and waymarking.com.

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