Ghosts of Chesapeake Bay Port Towns
It’s no surprise that the confluence of waterways has spawned some of the oldest communities in the modern Chesapeake region. From rural wharfs to raucous seaports, the Bay’s port towns have centuries of history, evocative settings and plenty of ghostly tales.
* Middleton Tavern in the Annapolis’s historic district is thought to be haunted by a man who was killed there in the 1800s. People call him Roland. “Roland has the reputation of being quite a drinker,” said Mike Carter of Annapolis Ghost Tours. Bottles have been moved and slid off shelves, and one customer reported a bottle hovering in the air, then smashing to the floor. “It’s almost always the good bottles,” Carter said. “Top shelf stuff.”
* Onancock, VA, on the Delmarva Peninsula, was once a designated royal port in the American colonies. Its historic district, a member of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, is home to The Inn at Onancock, where a feisty elderly lady who once owned the house has appeared to its present-day owner.
* The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, a Gateways member in St. Michaels, MD, has ghosts in the attic. Disembodied sounds have been heard on the upper floor of the building, which at one time hosted a brothel and now serves as the museum gift shop.
* In Chestertown, MD, local residents continually offer new material for the annual ghost walk. “It was amazing once we started doing this, how much we heard,” said Diane Daniels, director of the county historical society that sponsors the walk.
Residents have reported strange sounds and lights, voices and even human figures. A lady in white appears on the stairs of an 18th-century mansion. Staff from a local frame store wouldn’t return to the town’s old custom house because frames hung straight were continually knocked crooked.
Daniels said that Chestertown ghosts seem friendly and their presence on such a peopled landscape comes as no surprise. “Think about how long people have been paddling through these waters, carriages have been on these roads, and people have walked along the paths,” she said. “It’s the footsteps of history, echoing.”