Writing my nonfiction ghost books enables me not only to visit many great historical museums and attractions, but to learn about their ghost stories. Below is an excerpt from the Rosewell Plantation chapter of my new release,Virginia's Haunted Historic Triangle: Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, and Other Haunted Locations . I am only telling other people's experiences or the ghostly legends for this excerpt. If you want to learn happened to me, you'll need to get book for yourself.
Take a step back into ghostly history as you tour Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown in the Historic Triangle. Visit Jamestown Island where Captain John Smith and the first English colonists settled. Stroll around Yorktown and follow the same footsteps of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington as they walked along Duke of Gloucester Street. Hear odd noises and see apparitions at the Peyton Randolph House, Cornwallis's Cave, Wells's Corner, Sherwood Forest, the Rosewell Plantation, and many, many other places. Be prepared to get to know the ghosts of this Historic Triangle and its surrounding areas. They're dying for you to read their stories.
Many of the supernatural accounts of Rosewell were not as romantic. Music (like from a harpsichord) is heard playing, guests are seen descending down invisible stairs, boys with lanterns stand where doorways once were, and a woman in a red cloak rushes into a rose garden. Also reported are drops in temperature by a good fifteen degrees or more and strange noises. Some of the phenomena are sounds that seem like slaves coming in from the fields. One young woman reported hearing strange noises on the back trails and came back to the plantation quickly. Later she tried to say that maybe it had been animals.
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There are stories that tell of a young woman observed walking down the front steps every night, only to vanish. One of the eeriest tales is of a couple who found their exit blocked by a car with 1930s plates. They also saw a pale woman peering through the back window.
For one witness, Patty Ceran and her family, nothing out of the ordinary happened when they visited Rosewell, except for some noises coming from the basement when they peered into it. They never could explain the sounds.
Another encounter happened to a young woman and some of her friends at the ruins late one night. They didn’t trespass on the property, but stayed on the gravel road that led up to the gates. They left the place in a panic when they heard voices and what they thought sounded like horses trotting down the drive.
Someone else had taken her kids to the place to learn about history. Her eldest child walked back into the woods to go find where the old ice cellar had been. The girl hung around the back of the cellar when she heard the sound of horses and gravel "churning." Her mother, her siblings, and she were the only people there that day . . . at least, the only “living” visitors!
Back in the late 1970s, three teenagers drove in a truck to Rosewell one night to check the place out because of the ghost stories. They parked in front of the mansion, maybe about a hundred feet or so from the front steps. The night was pitch black, with no moon. As their eyes adjusted to the darkness, they noticed two red lights in front of them. They thought that maybe they were the taillights of a car parked in front of them, but that had to be impossible as they were alone there. Finally two of the three decided that it had to be a car and that obviously they weren’t alone. Someone else had parked there too, and they just missed it driving up.
Then the lights began to levitate. Astonished, they asked each other if what they were seeing actually was happening. They asked the third person, but he never answered them. They began to wonder if someone was fooling with them. After all, how could a light climb as high as a tree limb? They thought maybe it could be a boat on the York River since the river was in that general direction behind Rosewell Mansion. But the river was too far away from the mansion. Besides, the vegetation and forest would obscure the view. More lights appeared and they darted around the tree limbs in front of the mansion stairs. They enjoyed it, when all of sudden their friend, who hadn’t said a word, started the pickup truck and threw it into reverse. He drove through a cornfield, with the other two bouncing around in the bed of the truck.
To this day, the third friend claims he saw nothing, but the others know better. He saw something more than lights that they saw that night. What it was, he won’t say.
Another witness told of hearing someone going up and down the steps. Yet, she saw no one! Another person who lives in Gloucester mentioned visiting Rosewell one time at night. He and his friends like to go out there to do a bit of paranormal investigating. There were four of them at the time; two guys and two girls, all with their own flashlights. The guys went in the cellar first and then the girls walked in after them. All the flashlights dimmed, and one of the other guys freaked out, saying he saw a guy standing on each side of them. The witness admitted that it felt as if they were being escorted. He has never gone back after that time. He also mentioned that if you go over by the ice hole and look at the mansion, it looks like a man is sitting on one of the ledges.
There have been other paranormal investigators at Rosewell, mainly at night. I watched one group’s video, but to me, except for one orb, the rest looked like rain drops.
Those who work at the place do offer some explanations that debunk some of the ghost stories. Such as the evidence that rats were found living in the walls when the ruins were excavated. And of the one couple that claimed story an old car blocked the drive, a worker said someone living in the area had parked it there.