Category Archives: Derwood

The Aroma of Ghosts

DSC00333Do 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!



Filed under Brookeville, Derwood, Laytonsville, Silver Spring, Woodside

Wat Bowie and The Battle of Rickett’s Run

Shady Grove Metro Station

If an armed posse of Quakers seems a contradiction, then you have to hear the story of the Battle of Rickett’s Run.

When Dorothy and I were interviewed for the Gazette article, the reporter asked if any of the stories could have been a book all on its own. Of course, we thought of stories that told a good tale, those with more history. Now that I consider it, I think he might have meant stories with more haunting (you just can’t take the history out of an historian). One that I think is tailor made to become an adventure story is the Battle of Rickett’s Run. (Of course, in Montgomery County the term “battle,” is misleading.While we were the site of a number of small skirmishes, the closest thing to an actual battle was the Battle at Ft. Stevens, on the district line.)

Walter “Wat” Bowie

But I digress…So why do I have an image of the METRO Station at Shady Grove? This station was built over Rickett’s Run (a “run” is another name for a creek). It is here that Wat Bowie is said to walk, still perplexed at the events surrounding his death on October 7, 1864. And we are back to that odd posse of armed Quakers.

After an ill-planned attempt to kidnap the governor of Maryland, Bowie and his cohorts took a detour through Sandy Spring on their way to Poolesville. Thinking that a bunch of Quakers would do little to stop them, they decided to take a little time and loot Alpin Gilpin’s general store. How wrong they were! Gilpin, along with his friends and family went after the gang.

Catching up with Bowie, at the site of the Shady Grove METRO Station, the posse shot. but against experienced soldiers they broke and ran. The Confederates were too surprised by the Quakers to fight back effectively. When the smoke cleared, the only casualties were Bowie and a horse. To paraphrase the Annals of Sandy Spring, truth is stranger than fiction.

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Filed under Civil War, Derwood