After 4pm on a Thursday afternoon, there isn’t much to do in Carroll County. Fortunately, Jade from Daughter of the Jaded Era and I discovered Carroll County’s “spirited” self-guided tour of Westminster, Maryland. There have been many “strange and unexplained sightings” over the years. I love a town that embraces its history and one that embraces its legends and lore. And of course, I love an active public library. Annually the Public Library of Carroll County, Maryland, becomes “a ghost host” which begins with the ghost walk. Visitors and library patrons enjoy learning about local ghost legends and sightings.
Is Carroll County really haunted? Probably. Why else would you shut down coffee shops at 4pm?!? No seriously. Some people believe that there are haunted happenings. One story is of Cockey's Tavern in Westminster which is said to be haunted by a ghost of a confederate soldier who was wounded in the Battle of Gettysburg. He’s is described as a basic troublemaker who rearranges pictures and partakes in spirits from the bar.
There are eight listings on the tour. For the complete tour guide, click here.
On another website, I found a few more stories.
More than 150 years before The Kimmey House the location acted as an office space for the medical practice of Dr. George Collgate. It is said that a ghostly patient of Dr. Collgates’ lingers in the building to this day, evidently, still waiting for his appointment.
The Shriner House (which isn’t listed on the Ghost Walk map but through this website, I learned that the house was built in 1804 by the Shriner family. The house is in Linwood, which borders Carroll County. The ghosts of the Shriner house play with electronic devices and frighten family pets. As the site reports there were two brothers who began fighting over the same woman. After one brother shot the other brother through the dining room window, ghosts of both of the brothers have been spotted. The family who was living in The Shriner House at least in 2011 when the story was published noted that a relative who was quite ill asked for the two men who visited her. Her description of them matched a description of the two brothers (insert eerie music).
Also not on the Ghost Walk but not too far from the location where Jade and I took our own “spirited” tour is The Haunted Mill. A former mill owner reports that annually when there is a full moon, a ghostly image of a man riding a horse and chasing after a fox can be seen. Apparently this chase is what led to the mysterious death of both the man and his horse. I personally like to think that the fox made it and went on to lead a happy, healthy, foxy life :p
Jade writes more about the terrifying Big Tom legend (hee hee). About halfway through the tour we were giving ourselves (with spooky voices and faces... Jade can do a really spooky voice by the way), I suggested that we should have filmed ourselves because wow we were dorky (and by dorky, I mean incredibly cool!)
The story that really strikes me, because so many of them were ridiculous, was entitled “The Ascension Church Legh Master’s Soul”. This one was problematic and sad. First, a bit about the church. The Ascension church which demonstrates the Neo-Gothic architectural style dates back to 1844. Today, the church is affectionately referred to as the Stone Church. It is recognized as an historic property by the Maryland Historical Trust.
The church’s website reads that the author of the Star Spangled Banner, Francis Scott Key would have known the early founders of the church, and was most likely involved in the early discussions of the church. The Stone Church claims a spiritual heritage with the national anthem author for his outreach to the African American community. One of church’s most historic memorials honors his work with local African American children. Visitors can find a plaque with Key’s name and efforts in the vestibule.
The story of Legh Master is that he was an incredibly cruel man who moved to the area. After the death of his wife, he became infatuated with one of his enslaved* servants. When she refused his advances, he became enraged and bricked her up in a kitchen oven. Master also bound a young slave named Sam who was the girl’s fiancé and threw him into a furnace.
When Master died he was buried but his bones were found risen to the surface again and again. The third time that his bones were buried and rose again, his remains should be moved to consecrated ground… The Ascension Church. His grave was boxed in brick and a large stone slab was placed on top to keep him in the ground. But, shortly after the grave was finished, the stone slab covering the grave cracked in half. Rumor has it that the slab was replaced but it cracked once again and that is how it remains today.
*Language has power. We can’t take back what happened but we can grant these individuals an identity as people and use a term to describe their position (that was forced upon them) in society rather than reducing them to that position. By doing this, we carry these people forward as people, not the “property” that they were considered at that time. A small change is altering our use of the noun slaves to an adjective enslaved.