Category Archives: Laytonsville

Who Moved That Toy? Not I! – the Story of the Layton House

Layton House

Layton House

I was pleasantly surprised this week to have received the following lovely email with new haunting information on the Layton House:

Hello, my family and I lived in the Layton house 1967-1971. My sister and I recall many odd and unexplained events that went on in the house. Particularly in the Attic. The attic was our play room. Never smelled baked beans but, our toys were moved and when we shut the door the handle would rattle. At that time the handle was a latch you had to lift up on the handle to release the lock/latch. Other spirit encounters went on. I would love to know who was the child’s father was. When he was born, what he died from. I have purchased your book and look forward to reading it. Thank you,
Elisa Tredway

I was simply going to update the Layton House post when I realized I had never written one (how could that be?). For those who don’t know the Layton House, it is well known in its community for being haunted and one of the first ghost stories I ever used was on this historic structure. So perhaps you can see why I thought I had.

The Layton House, as you can imagine, belonged to the family from which Laytonsville gets its name. The house was built ca. 1800 when it was still called Cracklintown, part of the Cracklin District (the name comes from a popular regional dish). By the 1850 census (what would historians do without that wonderful census!), the name had changed to Laytonsville, after its postmaster. This was a common occurrence in the naming of towns, the post office needed a name and would just assign one, and then the town would eventually changed the name to match the post office. Laytonsville is also one of only 19 municipalities in Montgomery County (eight of which are in Chevy Chase).

The house has had quite a life, first as a home, then as the dilapidated house on the corner, then as an antique store (which seems to be directly after the Tredway Family lived there, and finally as a lovingly restored and maintained family home for the Wilkinsons. It is home to both a friendly spirit (occupying the attic) and a malevolent spirit (in the basement).

The spirit in the basement appears to just be lingering, sending out bad vibes. The legend attached to the story is that it is the ghost of an enslaved man who was kept in the basement and who tried to escape slavery only to be shot and killed. This ghost does not have any real activity attached to him except the cold chill and unsettled feeling people get when using the basement stairs.

However, the spirit in the attic is very active. It is said to be that of a mulatto girl, born to a Layton and his enslaved cook. Their child was kept in the attic and eventually died there. This story, as with other slave spirits, is difficult to track down. Records on persons of this type, who were not legally people, but property, are hard to find. In cases like this, I always go with local legend. This girl was seen by the child of one of the home’s former tenants. And the fact that toys that belonged to both the Tredway, and then the Wilkinson, children were moved and apparently played with, attests to the possible veracity of the story.

There is so much more to the the story of the Layton House and its haunted past, too much to include in is this already too long post. Check out the rest in ISOMG:MC, chapter eight.

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Filed under Laytonsville, Slavery

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!

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