Do ghosts have a smell? As I immerse myself in Passover baking, the ghosts we have found that are associated with smells, so far good, comes to mind. Why good smells when the spirit met a tragic end, I know not. What I do know is that smell, especially the smell of good things baking, makes me think of wonderful, benevolent spirits.
Lily Lilac at the Brookeville Woolen Mill is one of the best known ghosts to be associated with a smell. We don’t know her story, but the scent of lilacs was always pleasing to the family that lived there.
Why the attic at the Layton House would occasionally smell like baked beans is a mystery. The smell is associated with the spirit of a child that seems to inhabit the space. The child, a boy, was thought to be the result of a liaison between one of the white owners of the property and their enslaved cook. The lore about the Layton House is that the mulatto child was kept out of sight in the attic, away from the prying eyes of Layton’s neighbors and that he died while young.
The story of a young cook at Needwood Mansion that got herself in the family way while still unmarried is truly tragic. She hanged herself rather than face the shame of having an illegitimate child. Her ghostly manifestation is the smell of chocolate cake baking in the kitchen. Now I do always feel better when I have a little chocolate after a difficult day. Do you think she’s perhaps comforting herself the same way, but only in the after-life?
And, finally, Woodside, an historic home in Silver Spring, has perhaps one of the most frustrating aromas. Who doesn’t enjoy waking up to a fresh pot of coffee that is just waiting for you when you come down in the morning? Well at Woodside, the resident spirit only provides the scent. You have to do the brewing yourself!
Do you have any ghosts that come with their own, distinct perfume? Let us know!
The last week has been full of being out and about speaking to various groups. We had amazing turnouts at our talks at the Sandy Spring Museum and the Goshen Historical Society. On Saturday we went to the Hyattstown Mill Arts Project’s annual St. Paddy’s Day Poetry and Potluck. Dorothy read a modified version of the Little Bennett story and we enjoyed a lively, creative evening of poetry, prose, music and art. You can’t ask for more than that!
Hyattstown Mill, ca. 1918. From HMAP.
One of the the things we really enjoy about speaking at different groups is that we almost always come away with a lead or two for new stories or more about some of the stories that are already in the book. I would have expected no less at Sandy Spring and Goshen, two of the best represented, most haunted places in ISOMG:MC, but we had nothing for Hyattstown, or much in that part of the county. We went with great hopes that someone would have a tale to tell and we were not disappointed! So, in the spirit of St. Paddy’s Day, I have decided to share with you our story writing process; how we find a story and where we begin. This is not the finished product, but what happens at the beginning, when we know just a little history and have been given the briefest of paranormal tales. The rest comes after much research is done and some colorful prose has been crafted.
The Hyattstown Mill, a grist mill, was built in 1918 on the site of an older mill complex, ca. 1790. It ceased operations in the 1930s. The mill is located in Little Bennett Regional Park and is operated by the Hyattstown Mill Arts Project. One day, one of the artists that works at the mill was alone on the second floor when she saw an apparition of a woman.
And there you have it. The beginning of a new story. Perhaps something for volume 2…
Dorothy and I have a busy spring lined up with three presentations next week as well as appearances in April and May. We were just selected to be in the Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 18 which is very exciting! All our appearances are free and open to the public, so we hope to see you at one of them soon! The complete list can be found on the Events page.