The Museum at Colonial Beach is THE source of information about Town of Colonial Beach, Virginia’s (CBVA) rich and colorful maritime history–including some spooky stories!
Here is a sampling of the ghost stories you’ll hear if you visit the Museum:
Ghosts of the Potomac River Oyster Wars
Colonial Beach, VA, is the site of the century-long Potomac River Oyster Wars, which lasted until Colonial Beach resident Berkeley Muse was killed by an officer on a Maryland Marine Police patrol boat. Local lore says that ghosts roam the riverfront–could Berkley be one of them?
Captain’s House at 211 Irving Avenue
Noises, sounds of walking and sounds of doors opening have been heard by residents of the home; a man in a black coat has been seen several times by residents. Is it the ghost of a ship captain who once lived in the original house? Or perhaps it is the ghost of a man who allegedly hanged himself in the shed behind the house. Home owners said they have experienced the ceiling fans coming on all by themselves and their dogs refuse to go in the cottage in the home’s backyard.
Colonial Beach Plaza Bed and Breakfast
Colonial Beach Plaza Bed and Breakfast is reportedly home to a little girl in a white dress whose ghost has a fascination with electricity, making electrical appliances–and the nearby streetlight–go off and on. She especially loves to play with the electric fireplace on the first floor. Current owners of the Plaza say they haven’t experienced the little girl’s spirit; though, the street light at the end of Weems Street, where the bed and breakfast is located, is reported to go out frequently.
The Bell House
This Victorian mansion was originally referred to as Burnside Cottage because it was built for Colonel J.O.P. Burnside, son of Civil War General Ambrose Burnside in 1883. It became known as The Bell House when the father of Alexander Graham Bell took possession. Today it is well known for the spirits who reside there. Strange noises, the feeling of something “swooshing” past on the stairs, a glimpse of a “wispy” figure leaning out of the bathroom in the dark, someone calling the owner’s name and the sudden appearance of old-fashioned 2-inch hairpins in various places in the home. A photograph of the home revealed an image of a white-haired and bearded man looking out of the window, just like the father of Alexander Graham Bell!
Old Colonial Beach Hotel
The 115-room Colonial Beach Hotel was built around a summer home that once belonged to Gen. “Lighthorse” Harry Lee, father of Robert E. Lee. It was located on what is now Town Hill, current site of various Colonial Beach festivals and events. Several ghost sightings were reported, including that of a little old lady dressed in Victorian clothing, with her grey hair piled on top of her head, sitting in a rocking chair in front of a TV. On another occasion, the night clerk at the hotel believed he saw a woman in an old-fashioned grey skirt with a white high-necked blouse and grey hair in a bun. She disappeared as he walked toward her.
“Haunted” Green Gables was a home where door knobs turned on their own, the sound of footsteps drifted through the halls, an ashtray suddenly broke in half and chanting noises came from the attic. The image of a young girl was seen on several occasions including at Christmas. The spirit often made itself known before a thunderstorm in the fall or summer. There was a strange breeze noted in the upstairs of the home which seemed to disturb the family Doberman so much that he wouldn’t go upstairs to rest in his favorite spot when the breeze was present.
Chessie the Sea Monster
Part of American lore, some folks say Chessie the Sea Monster lives in the Chesapeake Bay. Sightings of Chessie, a creature 25 feet long, 5 -6 inches in diameter, with 3 or 4 humps, date back at least to 1945. News of a local farmer who saw a 14-foot snake, with an undulating body swimming smoothly and rapidly in the Potomac River, brought throngs of newspaper reporters to Colonial Beach. Less than two weeks later, Chessie was spotted 15 miles downstream.
Henry Disston House
At the Henry Disston House, residents reported strange noises, especially on winter evenings. One morning an owner found her grandson sleeping on the couch because “someone sat on the bed during the night and woke” him up. Sometimes an owner found his renovation tools in a completely different spot than where he had left them the night before.
Outside Colonial Beach
Near CBVA, Stratford Hall, birthplace of Civil War general Robert E. Lee, is said to be haunted by Elizabeth McCarty Storke, who had an affair with Lee’s step-brother, when she was only 14. Nanny Madeleine is another ghost, as well as former slaves hiding in the wine cellar after witnessing a murder there.
Punishing Dunking Stools
In the 1600 and 1700s, “gossips, scolds, disorderly women, and common troublemakers were dunked in and out of the cold pond water” via a Ducking Stool in front of spectators. In 1697, the local court ordered a ducking stool for each parish in Westmoreland, including one at “Cpt. Lawrence Washington’s Mill Dam”, located about five miles from Wilkerson’s Restaurant, near what is now the border of Westmoreland County and King George County on Rosier Creek. It was the first grist mill in Westmoreland County, built and first owned by John Washington, the great great grandfather of George Washington.
Lamb’s Creek Church
In King George, 1700’s Lamb’s Creek Church reports a woman in white who kneels at the chancel rail along with two Confederate soldiers.
Stop by the Museum of Colonial Beach Virginia on your next visit to Town or read the museum’s full article Believe It or Don’t: Some Stories That Are Stranger Than Fiction from the History of Colonial Beach.