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The Blue & Gray Press | November 19, 2017

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Annual ghost walk begins

On Oct. 23 and 24 the University of Mary Washington Historic Preservation Club hosted its 25th annual Ghost Walk in downtown Fredericksburg.

From 6 p.m. to 10p.m. on Friday and from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, tour groups left every 10 minutes from Market Square in Old Town Fredericksburg.

Each of the haunting walks lasted for an hour and a half as groups were taken to 11 different stops along historic streets.

Students from the UMW Historic Preservation Club hosted the event, led tour groups, acted out parts, sold tickets and T-shirts and handed out goodies such as cookies, candy, apple cider and hot chocolate.

Besides the Historic Preservation Club members, members of the Fencing Club and Theater Department donned fantastic costumes, ghostly makeup, swords and performed roles in front of each tour group.

Senior Rebecca Pomerantz, a four-year veteran of the Ghost Walk and a member of the Historic Preservation Club, said, “Every year is a different experience, because new sites are added and less popular ones are taken away.”

The changing of stops along the tour is very important to make sure that each year the tours are “never the same, since they are always changing,” Pomerantz said.

After going to the Ghost Walk last year, Victoria Yale enjoyed it and decided to become a tour guide for this year’s event.

“[Fredericksburg] seems to be full of excitement tonight, so hopefully we will get to encounter some of these ghosts that used to call this place home,” Yale said as the tour was about to start.
Yale led her group along the glowing sidewalks of Fredericksburg and across busy streets from one haunting site to the next.

The first stop was the Hugh Mercer Apothecary shop, where the group encountered the ghost of Hugh Mercer. After performing an amputation on a sick patient he warned, “This evening has been full of mishaps” and that if the group encountered anything unusual he would “be here all night with my bone saw.”

Moving on, the tour stopped in front of the Smithsonia, a house downtown where as Yale said that many unexplained events have occurred, including the disturbing appearance of a headless blue lady. Not long after Yale finished speaking, the ghostly figure herself made an appearance, causing the group to move along rapidly to the next site.

Across from the Free-Lance Star building, Yale and her group met Lin Franklin.

Franklin told the story of a Native American named Katina, who still continued to tuck the children in at night, even though she has been dead for many years.

Upon reaching Kenmore Plantation, Yale and her group discovered a séance hosted by Grace Walker to summon the restless spirit of Fielding Lewis, because of extraordinary things that have been happening at the site as of late.

Walker borrowed two members of the group, and together they summoned the spirit of Lewis, who was not so happy at having been called.

“Go away and leave me alone,” is the message the ghost had for Walker, leaving her to take in this message as Yale led her group on.

At the home of Mary Washington, the group was told a little history concerning Washington and her house. But before long, the group was startled at the sound of snapping branches as the ghost of Washington appeared.

“Let’s push on to our next stop,” Yale said as she led the group away from Washington and her home.

Arriving at the Pinkadilly tea house, the group found two ladies sitting out front waiting for the waiter to show up. Not long after he appeared to take their orders, a ghostly woman followed.

“I like to be called the woman of the night” she said, and then proceeded to chase the waiter out of sight.

“O my goodness, the crumpets are not worth this much,” screamed one of the ladies as they ran off in a different direction.

Upon reaching the next site, the old Wheeler house, the group was confronted by two drunken cooks. After much arguing mixed with storytelling, the group learned these two were the ghosts of the people believed to have started the great fire of 1807. According to Yale, the fire destroyed most of the town, including the Wheeler house.

The next site on the tour was a home where a lady was sweeping the sidewalk. As she talked to Yale, a gruesome ghost appeared with a bullet hole in the side of his face.

“That’s Yip,” the lady said, “Yip was [slang for] a Yankee back in the Civil War. He was hiding out in this house here when the hand to hand combat broke out; a bullet went right through this kitchen door and killed him where he stood.”

Yale helped the lady to rid the house of him and then she led the group on.

At the James Monroe Museum, the tour stopped to listen to Yale as she told a little of its background and of its recent ghostly sighting.

“One day as the director was walking to work he saw two men wildly arguing in front of the museum… he believes they were none other that Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe,” said Yale.
After their introduction, the ghosts of Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe appeared and started wildly arguing while sword fighting. This comical and thrilling display soon ended and they decided to further discuss their argument over a glass of brandy.

Moving next door to the Masonic Cemetery, the tour took a turn from “moderately creepy” as Pomerantz called it, to slightly spooky.

Yale led the group into the graveyard and was talking about those buried there when several ghosts surrounded the group, causing a few observers to scream out in surprise.

As the ghosts circled the group, one said, “No one is buried here,” while another said, “They build a store over our bodies and moved our headstones here.”

As the ghosts continued to hover around the group Yale led them out of the graveyard and on to the next and final site.

The old Presbyterian Church was the final stop of the haunted evening.

There, Yale informed the group that the church was used as a Civil War federal hospital.
Many pews were removed to make coffins for the dead soldiers.

The ghost of Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, was seen attending to wounded soldiers in front of the church.

After the group left Barton to tend to the soldiers, Yale announced that the tour was over until next year.