Ghosts of Kentlands Mansion

New article out about Kentlands Mansion in the InGaithersburg magazine – http://www.gaithersburgmd.gov/Home/ShowDocument?id=3508. Dorothy and I will be telling stories of Gaithersburg hauntings on Octobe 27 at the Arts Barn – https://www.facebook.com/events/462439480922175/

Kentlands Title Caption

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Happy Holidays!

Wishing everyone happy and safe holidays and a
2016 full of wonder!682-1

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Out and About

Dorothy and I have a number of speaking engagements over the next month or so and we’re fortunate that several will be at local libraries. All of those are free and open to the public. For the list of dates and places, go to our Events page.

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In the News

Dorothy and I have an article in this month’s Montgomery Magazine

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Out and About

It’s getting to be Halloween season and our speaking schedule is filling up. While most of the talks are for area clubs, there are a couple that are open to the general public: October 5 for the Kensington Park Retirement Community and Kensington Historical Society and October 26 for the Germantown Historical Society. I’ll post any new talks and detail updates on the Events page.

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Clifton Revisited

A ghost story isn’t truly complete unless you get the experiences from all the people who have ever lived there, something which is nearly impossible. Therefore, it pleases us no end when we get a report from the current inhabitants of one of the places we write about in ISOMG. Recently, I received an email from Courtney, one of Clifton’s current owners, with an update to the haunting of this very historic house:

Clifton_2011I have to say, reading the account of Clifton’s ghost was wholly reassuring…we have been experiencing ‘ghostly activity’ on a regular basis since moving in almost 8 years ago and it is nice to confirm that we aren’t the first!  Like the Bullards before me, I find the presence of Others in Clifton to be warm and welcoming, albeit perhaps a bit moody – I’ve been locked out of my own house more times then I care to admit!  Further, when we were renovating the house the workers here had quite a time managing the interference of our spirits – machines were turned on and off, keys and tools were moved several times a day, and one worker flatly refused to work on our porch after being pushed by an invisible hand.  However, on the whole it has taken on the feeling of an extra family member rather than a bother, and I loved reading your account.  Thanks so much for including our house in the book…

You can read the original blog post on Clifton or the full story in ISOMG.

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Out and About

Things have been quiet lately, but we’re still out speaking as evidenced by today’s photo.

image

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Book Signing

Dorothy and I will be signing books from 2:00-4:00 at the Gaithersburg Book Festival. We’ll be at the Schiffer Books booth. There are a lot of great talks and authors and we hope you’ll stop by and say hello to us!

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The Lincoln Connection

I realized as returned home tonight that it is not only the first day of Passover, not only a full lunar eclipse, but also the anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The connection to Montgomery County lies not with Lincoln himself (how I wish we could have had a story about his ghost in ISOMG), but one of the conspirators. So as John Wilkes Booth and others tried escaping to the south, one of the conspirators went north  and it’s his story, George Atzerodt’s story, that I am at liberty to tell.

George Atzerodt. Image from the Library of Congress

George Atzerodt. Image from the Library of Congress

Richter-King House and George Atzerodt

There is a somewhat new house in Germantown where mysterious things have happened.The owner, a policeman, feels the house shake every time he puts on his dress blues. Heavy footsteps are frequently heard going up the stairs. What could have happened to haunt this house?

The answer lies not in the house, but in where the house stands. It is on the foundation of an older house; a house with a history and fear. It was the Richter-King House in Germantown and it was host to George Atzerodt, one of the Lincoln conspirators.

The story actually begins on Friday, April 14th in Washington, DC. George Atzerodt met with John Wilkes Booth , Lewis Paine and Davy Herold to plan President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Booth’s plan was not just to murder Lincoln, but also Secretary of State William Seward and Vice-President Andrew Johnson. Each member of the group was given a task to do. The task of killing Vice President Johnson fell to Atzerodt.

Until that moment, Atzerodt thought he had agreed to be part of a plot to kidnap the President. He knew couldn’t go through with an assassination. He decided the best thing to do was to get out of town! His cousin, Ernest Hartman Richter had a farm in upper Montgomery County and Atzerodt thought Richter might take him in while he figured out what he should do next.

The next day was Easter Sunday. As Atzerodt traveled north he stopped for lunch. The subject of Lincoln’s assassination came up among the diners and he was drawn into the conversation. His contribution to the conversation seemed unusually knowledgeable to his fellow diners. So much so that it aroused the suspicions of everyone at the table. Without realizing he may have said too much, he continued on to his cousin’s where he hung out and helped with the farm chores.

Richter-King House. Image from the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission

Richter-King House. Image from the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission

On the morning of Wednesday, April 19 at 5:00 AM, Atzerodt was roughly awakened by a blue-clad soldier sticking a pistol in his face. His conversations about the assassination three days earlier at the farmhouse had come back to haunt him. Through a network of spies, the information had worked its way to the 1st Cavalry stationed at Monocacy Junction. Once under arrest, the military moved him to the Old Capitol Prison where he was eventually hung.

So those heavy footsteps are, no doubt, the soldiers coming to arrest Atzerodt. And it is Atzerodt’s spirit that shakes with fear knowing that the soldiers in blue are coming to get him.

 

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Snowy Day

Huntview. I wish we had a snowy photo. It probably looks beautiful today.

Huntview. I wish we had a snowy photo. It probably looks beautiful today.

Snow days are treats in and of themselves, but a little haunting might add to your pleasure, or at least that was my thinking when I began this post. We only have one story in ISOMG:MC that involves a snowstorm. That story belongs to Huntview, or the James Trundle Farm, in Poolesville. This 19th century house, ca. 1878 (but built on the foundations of an older building), seems to be incredibly haunted, and the current residents can prove it having had many encounters, heard, felt, and seen, with the spirits that inhabit the place.

The other great thing about the tales of Huntview is that they have been reported by many different residents over time as you can see from the following excerpt:

One night sometime during the 1940s there was a terrible snowstorm.  Everything around was shut down and no one was out who didn’t have to be.  It was evening and the caretaker* at the time was looking out the window when he saw footprints in the snow.  He called the family together because he had told everyone to stay inside.  This was the kind of storm where one could be in great danger outside.  But everyone was in and no one had gone out.  The next morning, the man went out to see what damage the storm might have caused.  Under the window where he had seen footprints the night before there was a set of deep tracks leading down to River Road.  As he followed the tracks, they became shallower and shallower until they disappeared altogether in the middle of a field. 

The ghosts who haunt Huntview have been thought to be Civil War soldiers, farmers, and men from a different era. I can only speculate to whom those footprints belonged. A long gone farmer looking after his property during a terrible storm? A Civil War soldier scanning the area to be sure that the Confederates have not crossed the river? I leave it to you to decide.

*Huntview has not had a resident-owner for some time. All the stories we gathered are from caretakers who lived and worked at the farm.

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