Tuesday, July 5, 2016

...a ghost tour app & an old family cemetery in Colonial Williamsburg...

“I look for ghosts; but none will force
Their way to me. 'Tis falsely said
That there was ever intercourse
Between the living and the dead.”
~ William Wordsworth

One of my favorite vacation activities is to take the city’s ghost tour. In Williamsburg, VA where my fella and I have gone for the last four years, there are numerous ghost tours to choose from; yet, they’re always busy especially during holiday weekends. I convinced him years ago to take a tour and it was the two of us along with our 30??? closest friends. Having worked as a tour guide myself, I find it challenging to connect with a group over 15; but, Williamsburg is a tourist town and ghost tours are big business.

This year I opted to go mobile and paid just $9.99 for the Williamsburg Ghost Tour by iTourMobile LLC. A quick browse on the internet gives me just enough evidence to know that this is a steal considering the average tour is anywhere from $13-30 depending on the company, the length of the tour, and the time of the event. The description of the app:

Explore the haunted history of Williamsburg with this guided audio tour app featuring 25 locations and nearly one hour of audio! Listen to the tour on your mobile device with a friend, or all alone...if you dare. This GPS-guided tour allows you to walk at your own pace, choose your starting point, and do the tour whenever you want, even in the dead of night. You can choose to follow one of our suggested routes, complete with easy-to-follow directions, or walk to the stops in any order. The audio will play automatically when you arrive at a stop.

One of the great aspects of taking a tour via app is that you’re not crowded nor are you stuck with folks you would rather not be stuck with if ya know what I mean. Since ghost tours are typically only given in the evening, the app allowed us to take the tour in our own time. My fella and I started the tour on Independence Day eve; and, I finished the tour today around noon while he sat under a tree in Bruton Parish Cemetery. Believe it or not, we were both perfectly alright with this. It was 90 degrees and sunny; walking two miles in this weather is not what my fella enjoys. Me, well, I like an adventure.

I had not listened to the app or read the stories prior to being on location. There were several aspects of the app itself that I enjoyed. First, as you’re walking spooky music plays along. It silences itself when you arrive at a location and the spiel begins. Then the spooky music continues. Second, the spiels are quite theatrical. They’re not like some of the sad, monotone podcasts that you hear. And, third, if you cannot hear the app or prefer to silence the app, there is a script at the bottom. Even better, the sources are listed. Wait, what?!? Really! Yep. So not only do I learn the story but I can see where the spiel’s information for the script derived. One book that was cited was The Hauntings of Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown by Jackie Eileen Behrend. Okay, that’s really a fourth cool thing about the app. Oh, and each location is represented by a little ghost on the map (that fifth) and with each script there are also pictures which was helpful because the buildings were not always clearly marked (that’s sixth!).

While the app description lists 25 sites, there are actually 27 although they are misnumbered.

1.      Tyler Garden
2.      Tucker Garden
3.      Brafferton House
4.      President’s House
5.      Matthew Whaley
6.      Kimball Theater
7.      Thomas Moore House
8.      Duke of Gloucester Street
9.      Bruton Parish Church
10.   Wythe House
11.    Governor’s Palace
12.   Peyton Randolph House
13.   Path of Death
14.   Haunted Goal
15.   Coke-Garrett House
16.   Palmer House
17.   Shield’s Tavern
18.   Raleigh Tavern
19.   Ludwell-Paradise House
20.   Chowning’s Tavern
21.   Greek Revival
22.   Nicholson House
23.   Market Square Tavern
24.   Public Hospital
25.   Dora-Armistead House
26.   Steam Tunnel (numbered as 27 in the app)
27.   Jones Cemetery/ Secretary’s Office (numbered as 29 in the app)

Probably my favorite find of the entire tour was the Secretary’s Office and Jones Cemetery. The building is from 1748 and was established because of the Capitol Building fire that destroyed many public records. This building was made of brick with the floor being stone. Without an attic or a basement to cause moisture, the two fireplaces in the building were intended to keep all of the paper documents dry and mold free. The building was not necessary to store records after the capital of Virginia moved to Richmond (Williamsburg was the state capital prior).

Around the turn of the century, the building became home to David Rowland Jones and Mary Ann Tinsley-Jones. As legend has it the Jones were said to be reclusive and were seldom seen anywhere but church. They had seven daughters, none of whom were married.

There are seven family graveyards in the historic area of Colonial Williamsburg. The graves in front of the Secretary's Office belong to the members of the Jones family. Each grave consists of a marble slab and an accompanying urn.

David Rowland Jones; (Son of Meriwether and Kitturah Ann Davis Jones)
Mary Ann Tinsley-Jones; (Daughter of Samuel Hildrup and Sallie King Tinsley)
Hattie Peterson Jones; (Daughter of David Rowland and Mary Ann Elizabeth Jones)
Helen Norfleet Jones; (Daughter of David Rowland and Mary Ann Elizabeth Jones)
Emma Adelaid Jones; (Daughter of David Rowland and Mary Ann Elizabeth Jones)
Ida Maude Jones; (Daughter of David Rowland and Mary Ann Elizabeth Jones)
Rosalee Jones; (Daughter of David Rowland and Mary Ann Elizabeth Jones)
Mary Rowland Jones; (Daughter of David Rowland and Mary Ann Elizabeth Jones)
Virginia Wills Jones; (Daughter of David Rowland and Mary Ann Elizabeth Jones) source

While we have been coming to Williamsburg for Independence Day celebrations for years, and I grew up within a half hour of the place so I've been visiting for several decades, this is the first time I ever went *left* instead of right around the Capitol building. Proof that we all need to break our tendency of being creatures of habit. I had no idea that there was a cemetery so close in proximity.

The ghost story itself isn't too exciting. Of course, I rarely think ghost stories are. The story includes one of the daughters who in this story is named “Edna”, which would have had to have been a nickname since none of the girls were given this name. Edna was killed by a carriage while trying to secretly leave her home and go out to meet a guy. Allegedly, apparitions have been seen in this cemetery and near the home as well. 

What is more frightening than the ghost story itself is that all of the daughters were forced to stay at home forever since they are buried just feet from the home were they lived. 


  1. Cool! I once worked a gig in Williamsburg across from the old Public Hospital, the former Eastern Lunatic Asylum. Now it's a museum. Not exactly ghostly, but a little creepy nonetheless, with all their bloodletting and restraining devices on display.

  2. A ghost tour app sounds great, no crowds, where!

    Ugh, being stuck home for ever is the ultimate nightmare!

  3. I’m the founder of itourmobile.com - glad you enjoyed it!