Thursday, October 29, 2015

Halloween is Coming: Petersburg May Be More Haunted than Williamsburg!

   (The photos are copyrighted and included in my ghost book, Paranormal Petersburg, Virginia, and the Tri-CitiesArea, so please share the link and not them, Thank you.)

When one thinks of the most haunted spot in Virginia, they think Williamsburg. Well, after researching and writing books for each area, I am here to say, I think Petersburg has gotten Williamsburg beat!

But Williamsburg has Jamestowne, which began in the 1600s and before that the Powhatan Indians. Well, the Powhatan natives scattered as far as Chester and the Tri-Cities area and there is the second English settlement, the Citie of Henricus Sir Thomas Dale started after Jamestown and Fort Henry (became Petersburg later) was established by Abraham Wood in 1645 that later in 1675 Peter Jones took over and established his own trading post.  So, the area was as long living as Williamsburg.

Plantations in the area were built as early as 1600s and 1700s, like Weston Plantation in Hopewell.  The death of Powhatan and the ascension of Opechancanough as paramount chief brought about the 1622 Massacre that hit parts of the area, even the Falling Creek Ironworks March 22, 1622, killing all but two children.  In Petersburg, their wooden buildings burned down in a great fire July 16, 1815. More than 350 buildings were destroyed with an estimated $3,000,000 in damage. After that, they rebuilt, using brick.

During the War Between the States, there was the nine-month ling Siege of Petersburg, plus a battle raged on outside the city (in what is now Petersburg National Battlefield-the Eastern Front and in Dinwiddie County, the Petersburg National Civil War Battlefield—Five Forks (plus Battle at Sutherland Station and Dinwiddie Courthouse). 

Slavery happened here. A slave auction was held right in the old Town Petersburg! Petersburg’s first enslaved African- Americans were brought here in 1732 to work in John Bolling’s tobacco warehouses. Bolling owned haunted Centre Hill Mansion. It was subdivided and named Wittontown in 1750, but was renamed Pocahontas when it became a town in 1752. This town became the oldest free black community in the United States, settling Pocahontas Island—and it is still there today. Pocahontas Island is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Edgar Allan Poe and Virginia Clemm had their honeymoon here--staying at Hiram Haines Coffee and Ale House. Haines was friend and colleague of Poe and invited them. No one can pinpoint when Poe and Haines became friends, but Haines’s wife was the daughter of a wealthy Richmond merchant, and she had known Poe as a child.

The Revolutionary War is connected to Petersburg. My husband and I attended a 233rd anniversary of the reenactment of the 1781 Battle of Petersburg at Battersea April 19-20, 2014. It did not happen at Battersea, but nearby. You can read about it in the chapter for Battersea in my ghost book, Paranormal Petersburg, Virginia, and the Tri-Cities Area.

Someone once told me that he’d heard a ghost story for every building in old Town Petersburg, along with many spots on the streets, too. Add to that, other parts of Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Sutherland, Prince George County, Colonial Heights, Hopewell, and add in nearby Chester, Enon and Ettrick-Matoaca, so much has added to a very paranormal section of Virginia.  

At this time of the year, with the leaves on trees and some bushes changing colors, the air generally more cooler, pumpkins on doorsteps, some already carved with faces on their flesh, and Halloween decorations on homes and in store windows and inside them, too, it is not hard to believe ghosts are watching you as you walk the streets of Petersburg, or tour Weston Plantation house or stalk the battlefields. It may not be as full of opulence as Williamsburg or hold ghost tour upon tours that fill the streets (after all, Williamsburg has more practice at accepting their spirits and using them to attract the history and paranormal buffs), but Petersburg with its gently tattered costume has a more haunted past that still persists, no, demands, to be seen and heard.   

So take their ghost tour in the city, check out the ghost tour at Blandford Cemetery Halloween night, or join the ghost tours held at Pamplin Park for their Voices from the Shadows. You just might catch glimpse of a gentile lady in hooped skirts or see a Civil War soldier, even a black one, at a restaurant as you eat a meal. Snap a few photos at night of Centre Hill Mansion or the buildings in town, or Colonial Height’s Violet Bank Museum from the street. Drive the streets of Screamerville in Enon after the trick-or-treaters are all inside and with your window rolled down, you just might hear someone screaming. It might be someone living, but again, it might not, And maybe, just maybe, with the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead thinnest on Halloween, you might be fortunate to see why Petersburg and the Tri-Cities are more haunted than Williamsburg can ever attain to be.

Enjoy an excerpt from the Peter Jones Trading Post sub chapter in Old Towne Petersburg’s Other Haunted Places chapter of my book,  Paranormal Petersburg, Virginia,and the Tri-Cities Area.

The Investigation
The night of the investigation at The Bistro at Market and Grove on July 12, 2014, across the street, Carol Smith, Julia Ogle, Leonard Price, and I met in the parking lot. A full moon hovered in the sky above.

Since we weren’t supposed to go into the Bistro restaurant until 10 p.m., we gathered our equipment and made our way over to Peter Jones Trading Post. Our recorders already on, I turned on my ghost box and began asking questions to see if any spirits still lingered. Carol and the other two used their flashlights to read the posted signs for tourists about the ruin’s history.

I asked, “Is there any spirit still here?”

A male voice came across the scanning waves. “Jacob.”

I said, “Is Peter Jones still here?”

Peter Jones did not reply, so I said, “Jacob? Can you talk to me?”

He answered, “Jacob.” Two other, different male voices followed his.

“Phillip.” “Harry.”

I pressed, “Peter? Is Peter here?”

Nothing from Peter Jones came across the box.

We wandered down the street, ending up by a stone bench with bars crossing the front. I dropped all but my ghost box on the bench.

“Jacob? Jacob, are you one of the Confederates or Federal soldiers held prisoner here during the Civil War?”


“Tell us anything you want us to tell us. Are you a Confederate soldier? A Union soldier?”

The box stopped scanning. Occasionally, I found spirits could turn off the ghost box, whether due to not wanting to talk to us or some other reason. Sometime, I wondered if they were maybe drawing the power from the batteries and electronics.

Julia asked: “Who was here during the War? Confederate? Federal?”

A man with a deeper voice than the others said, “Both.”

“Was Jacob one of the Federals or a Confederate?”

“Yes.” That did not answer my question, just that he was a soldier.

Then the same man’s deep voice came across the box, saying, “You must…”

I questioned, “You must what? We must go?”

I heard the man say, “Yes.”

I asked if we could take picture and then we would leave them alone. I searched in my pink bag for the camera in its soft case, but it was not inside. It had to be still in my car, so I told my friends that I was heading back to the parking lot to fetch it. Carol’s equipment was still in her vehicle, so we all left the structure. (We had a freaky paranormal experience in the parking lot that you can read about in The Bistro at Market and Grove chapter.)

What is left of the building can be found at the corner of Old and Market
Streets in what might be called a small park setting. It doesn’t cost to visit

and who knows, maybe the phantom of Peter Jones or some Civil War prisoners might talk to you. You never know.

 Book Blurb for Paranormal Petersburg, Virginia, and the Tri-Cities Area:

Travel to Petersburg, Virginia, and the surrounding areas of Colonial Heights, Hopewell, Prince George, Dinwiddie, and nearby Ettrick-Matoaca, Enon, and Chester to discover what spirits, monsters, UFOs, and legends await the unwary. Why are the Union and Confederate spirits still fighting the Civil War in the battlefields? Who is the lady in blue who haunts Weston Plantation House? Learn what the phantoms at Peter Jones Trading Post will do to keep from being photographed. Drink tea with runaway slaves still hiding on the top floor above the Blue Willow Tea Room. Are Edgar Allan Poe and his bride still on their honeymoon at Hiram Haines Coffee and Ale House? Why does the Goatman stalk young lovers? Meet the ghosts of Violet Bank Museum that greet guests at the house. Hauntingly active as they share space with the living, the dead refuse to give up their undead residency.

Paranormal Petersburg, Virginia, and the Tri-Cities Area

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