Prospect Place: Home of Hope, Freedom and Ghost: Conclusion

December 27, 2011 by J-Serf


        Another ghostly legend of Prospect Place is the sad heartbroken tale of Anna Adams-Cox. As the eldest daughter of George W. Adams, she and her husband William Cox Jr. inherited the house and property after G.W. passed away in 1879. William and Anna enjoyed a lavish lifestyle at the beginning of their time as owners of Prospect Place. The couple was famous for throwing elegant balls and parties with socialites from all over the county attending them.

      However, it seems that William enjoyed spending money more than making it, and it wasn’t too long before their small fortune ran out. Broke and wanting to avoid the inevitable embarrassment of his situation, William boarded a train to Colunbus one morning and was never seen or heard from again.

      Anna was heartbroken and abandoned with their child, (George). In time, Anna was forced to sell exspensive heirlooms and other household articles to stay financially afloat. Things got so bad that she was forced to sell parts of the mansion’s copper roof to support herself and her son. Anna died in the mansion due to a terrible fall on the ice in 1924. She died destitute and without the knowledge of the whereabouts of her husband.

      It is said that Anna roams the hallways of Prospect Place in search of her husband and mourning the loss of her once extravagant life.

      Another story tells of a female runaway slave who passed away while finding refuge at Prospect Place. It seems she suffered a serious head wound while trying to escape from the south. Although Prospect Place’s residents tried everything to save her, she was still overcome by her injury.

      It’s said that her ghost is a benevolent one that protects Prospect Place from those that would mean to cause harm to or on the property. Otherwise, she is quite friendly and even a bit of a practical joker on visitors and ghost hunters.

      Another ghostly apparition was discovered by a local psychic who visited Prospect Place. It seems he was once a servant who worked at the mansion. He has been seen and photographed on the stairwell landing that adjoins the second floor and the ballroom. According to the psychic, the servant was not at all happy about having to climb up and down all the stairs in the mansion.

      Prospect Place is a true historical site that was a ray of light in one of our county’s darker times. It was a refuge for the hopeful unfortunates who sought it out and a place of protection against outside intruders who would have kept those dark times going on.



Prospect Place: Home of Hope, Freedom and Ghost Part 2

December 16, 2011 by J-Serf


          Not only does Prospect Place hold a special place in history as an important station in the Underground Railroad and a safe haven for runaway slaves making their escape to the North, the mansion, along with the whole property is said to be a haven for ghost as well. There are reportedly about five ghosts that haunt the property, each one with a story behind it.

      The first is the story of the southern bounty hunter who is said to have come to Prospect Place demanding that George Adams hand over any slaves he might be harboring. Not intimidated by the heavily armed bounty hunter, Adams drew his revolver and a stand-off ensued. When some hired hands that worked for Adams heard the two men arguing they came to their bosses’ aid. Now outnumbered, the bounty hunter backed down and left.

      The story doesn’t end there, however. When the hired hands who respected and was very fond of Adams found out the bounty hunter was camping just off of the property they decided to make sure that he would not return and cause any more trouble. They raided his campsite, bound the bounty hunter and carried him to the three story barn on the property. The men then tried the bounty hunter for the crime of slavery, found him guilty, hung him and secretly buried him on the property.  Today, it’s believed the spirit of the bounty hunter haunts the barn, searching for his executers so he can exact revenge.

      The second tale behind a ghostly spirit is about the little girl who fell to her death from a balcony. She had fallen ill and was delirious from fever. She wandered out onto the balcony where she fell. Even more tragic was the fact that they couldn’t bury her right away. It was winter and the ground was frozen so hard they could not dig a grave. Her body was placed in the mansion’s basement, which was cold enough to keep her from decomposing. Her grieving mother visited her body daily until the Spring thaw. Once the ground was soft enough they buried her.                                     

      In present day reports of her ghost have been spotted near the door that exited out onto the balcony that she fell from.  She has also been seen in the basement, the ballroom and the Upstairs Parlor, which was the room she stayed in while sick. Most sightings of her in that room have been by the fireplace mantle. Occurances of her sightings have been going on for about a century.    more ghost stories from Prospect Place coming soon…



Prospect Place: Home of Hope and Freedom Part 1

November 26, 2011 by J-Serf


         Though more of an estate mansion than a plantation, there’s no doubt that Prospect Place holds an important spot in our American history. During the Civil War, this home acted as one of the largest safe stations in the Underground Railroad. Many African-American slaves found refuge here during their dangerous journey to freedom in the north. Located in Trinway, Ohio, Prospect Place is also known as Trinway Mansion.  The property is listed on the National Park Service of Historic Places.   The mansion was built by George W. Adams (pictured below right) in 1856.  History recalls that Adam’s father who was a plantation owner in Virginia came to be a staunch abolitionist. Eventually, George Beal Adams(father), gave up his property, freed his slaves, and moved his family to the non-slave state of  Ohio in 1808. They settled in the Madison Township of Muskingum County. One of thirteen children, George W. Adams was only eight years old at that time. 

       Like his father, George W. also became an abolitionist. Around 1828, he and his brother Edward built one of the first flouring mills in Ohio. Later known as Adams Mills, the mill would be the first place Adams would begin his underground railroad operation.  In 1845 Adams married Clarissa Hopkins Shaff. Together the couple had four children. After eight years of marriage, Clarissa died. Adams remarried in 1855. This time to  Mary Jane Robinson. There were six children born from this union.  

      During this time Adams had began building Prospect Place. When completed in 1856, the 29 room mansion was a showcase of modern and even revolutionary features for the time such as, indoor plumbing which included a copper tank cistern on the second floor which pressurized water throughout the house. The house also had two coal stoves which contained two copper tanks that heated water and allowed the mansion the luxury of  both hot and cold running water service. Adams made the home’s basement a resting station for runaway slaves. Here they could seek refuge and safety from southern bounty hunters that would roam the Ohio countryside. The slaves would also be supplied with food, blankets, lanterns, and other provisions for their continued journey to the north.

      Later, after the war Adams becme president of the Steubenville and Indiana Railroad. He was head of the construction of the Cincinnati and Muskingum Valley Railroad. George W. Adams passed away on August 31, 1879 at the age of 79. He is buried in Dresden Cemetery in Dresden, Ohio.

      Today Prospect Place is the home of the G. W. Adams Educational Center, Inc. It is also a museum and tours are given throughout the year. There are also tales of ghost and hauntings on the property. More on that in Part 2.




The Ker Plantation of Virginia’s Eastern Shore

November 1, 2011 by J-Serf


         Located in the town of Onancock, Virginia in the county of Accomack, is the 200 year-old Ker Plantation. Built by John and Agnes Ker, construction of this beautiful home began in 1799 and was completed in 1803. The Kers moved in sometime in 1801. Besides the Kers, only one other family has ever occupied the home as residents.

      The Ker house was built in the Federal-style of architecture which is the name for the type of architecture built in the U.S. between 1780 and 1830, and particularly from 1785 to 1815. This style shares its name with what is known as the Federal era.

      A shining example of Federal architectural design, the Ker house stands out, and it is no surprise that it has become a National and Virginia Historical landmark. It is also the headquarters of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society, or the E.S.V.H.S., who bought the home in 1960. This home is beautifully decorated and well preserved by the E.S.V.H.S. for all to enjoy.

      The Eastern Shore of Virginia is rich in history. For example, the county name Accomack, along with the names of the towns, Onancock, Pocamoke, Chincoteague and Assateague are names of native American tribes that dwelled on the Eastern Shore, prior to white settlers. The small island towns of  Chincoteague and Assateague are home to miniature ponies whose ancestors were cargo aboard a Spanish ship that wrecked just offshore of Assateague Island. These ponies managed to escape from the wreckage and swim ashore to the island. Every year, the town of Chincoteague rounds up and auctions off a few of the ponies to prevent over population. Tourist and potential buyers from all over the nation attend this event.

      As for the Ker Place, as it is called sometimes, not only does the house act as headquarters for the E.S.V.H.S., the Ker home is also a fully functional part of the community. It is open to the public for social gatherings, tours, and has a historical library. There is also an archaeology lab. The Ker home is a wonderful place for everyone to learn about his/her heritage.

      Another attraction is the Ker House’s Herb and Kitchen Garden. Created in 2004 and overseen by the Master Gardeners of the Eastern Shore of Virginia, this herb garden has an enormous variety of herbs. During tours of the garden, information about each herb and all it’s flavor and medicinal purposes are discussed.

      The Ker Home is truly a jewel of architecture and a place of learning and information about our past. Look it up.





Stewart Mansion of Galveston, Texas:Pirate Legend and Indian Myth Collide Pt. 2

October 10, 2011 by J-Serf

      Laffitte’s pirate forces and the Karawanka warriors met on the field of battle just yards away from Lake Como, which sits on the original 15 acres where Stewart Mansion would stand 107 years later. Armed with only spears and bows and arrows, the Karawanka stood little chance against muskets and cannon. Laffitte’s men inflicted serious casualties on them, killing most of the warriors, while the pirate forces lost only five men. Laffitte had taken care of his Indian problem, but sometime 2 or 3 years later,  the U.S. Government forced Laffitte and his pirate colony off of Galveston. Laffitte was mortally wounded in 1823 when he tried to attack what he thought was Spanish merchant ships. Instead, the ships were fully armed Spanish warships. Laffitte died the following morning after the battle.

      Later in 1846, J.A. Settle built the first house on the property. The following years saw Settle’s house, as well as the property change hands about four times. Then finally,  George Sealy would purchase the grounds and build the now known Stewart Mansion. The land itself had an historical reputation already from the events of piracy, murder, and war, but talk of paranormal activity didn’t start until well after the deaths of the last individual owners, (the Stewart family).

      Maco Stewart, who was a fan of Galveston history, also seems to have been fascinated if not obsessed with pirate lore. There are several portraits of prates, including the famed Jean Laffitte. Some of the pictures portray the pirates posing or depicting fictional scenes from the artist’s imagination, like some pirates’ boarding a ship. Three portraits in particular, located at the front of the mansion, are famously known to change places with one another. Of course one of them is a picture Jean Laffitte. People have said that these portraits seem to be watching you’re every move. That,  along with atmosphere of the place has creeped out many people. Islanders or just anyone that’s been out there will tell you point blank, “Don’t go at night.” Also reports of banging doors and there have been visitors that have heard a woman weeping.

      Then, just to add more spice to the stew, there’e the long been told tale that Stewart killed his family and conviently buried them within the walls of the mansion. But unless those are just headstones planted over empty graves in the Stewart family cemetary, the tale is a tall one. In fact, Stewart died before his wife and children in 1950, when he suffered a heart attack while driving home from a social event.

      Now owned by Stonehenge Real Estate & Investment Co., there has been talk of restoring the mansion for historical reasons, but nothing has been done yet.

Stewart Mansion of Galveston, Texas: Pirate Legend and Indian Myth Collide Pt. 1

September 28, 2011 by J-Serf

      Towards the west end of Texas’ Galveston Island, there are the dilapidated ruins of the infamous ‘Stewart Mansion’.  This mansion, along with the land it sits on is rich in history, most of it violent and bloody. Tales of pirates, giant cannibalistic indians, buried treasure, plus unusual goings on have many believing Stewart Mansion is one of the most haunted places in Texas, if not the entire country.

      The mansion itself was built by industrialist, George Sealy Jr. in 1926. The mansion’s Spanish Colonial Revival style hearkens back to those days before the 20th century, when Galveston was still quite wild and not yet tamed by white men. In 1944, the mansion got it’s present-day name when Maco Stewart bought it for he and his family to use as a resort home. Stewart, who served in the Marine Corps. during the first world war as an aviator, and had made his fortune through shrewd business dealings and ownership of the Stewart Tile Co. He also ran an insurance agency. In some of my research I’ve read that after his death, Stewart’s wife, Lillian donated the home to the University of Texas Medical Branch or UTMB as it’s popularly known as today. I read on that UTMB converted the mansion into a convalescent home for disabled and ill children. They maintained control of the mansion until 1968. What happened afterwards and why the house and grounds were allowed to fall into such disrepair is sketchy.

      As for the land the mansion sits on, the area was very close to famous pirate, Jean Laffitte’s “Pirate’s Cove”, a colony of pirates collected and organized by Laffitte. With his men, numbering in the hundreds strong, Pirate’s Cove was Laffitte’s base of operations in the Gulf Coast. Not far from Pirate’s Cove was a settlement of Galveston’s original inhabitants, the Karawanka Indians. I’ve read and heard several stories about them, included are the fact that these native indians were large people, in many cases reaching a height of 7 feet tall and that they were cannibals, eating the flesh of their defeated enemies. Whether Laffitte saw them as a threat is not certain, but in 1819, some of his men kidnapped a Karawankan woman. In some of my readings it was stated that the woman in question was a chieftan’s daughter. The Karawanka gathered a force of 300 warriors to attempt a rescue, while Laffite responded by sending some 200 men and a couple of cannon to meet them in combat.      Part 2 coming soon…

McPike Mansion: The Most Haunted House in America?

September 14, 2011 by J-Serf


        Just north of St. Louis, Missouri, in the historical town of Alton, sitting on the highest point of this town, stands the McPike House. Built in 1869  and once a proud addition to the small town, the McPike Mansion hasn’t been occupied since the 1950′s. Since then,  the ravages of time, weather, and vandals has taken a toll on the house. Present day owners, Sharyn and George Luedke are planning to restore the house back to it’s original glory. Oh yeah…the McPike Mansion has a history of paranormal activity and is widely beleived to be haunted. Pictures of balls of light, ghostly images that have been seen in the windows, and images in pictures that were not visible at the time the photo was taken. These events have yet to be explained by experts.

      Built by architect Lucas Pfeiffenberger, the original owner of the house was Henry Guest McPike. Along with the mansion, the McPike family owned 15 acres of land known as Mount Lookout Park. Henry McPike was devoted to politics much of his life. A staunch Federalist, McPike supported the Union throughout the American Civil War. He  traveled in high political circles, even meeting Abraham Lincoln towards the end of the war. McPike was elected and served one term as Mayor of  Alton. He was also an avid horticulturist. It was said he had an aversion to dogs and would not allow any on the property, as he was afraid they would disturb and scare away the many birds he loved having nested in the trees. McPike studied and documented the many species of birds that had made the McPike property their home. He also created and cultivated his own grape. Of course it was called the McPike Grape.

      Henry McPike died in 1910, but his family remained in the house until 1936. Over the next decade and a half, the house had several different owners. For a short time it became the Browns Business College, afterwards, Paul Laichinger bought the mansion and turned it into a boarding house. By the ’50′s however, the McPike house was comepletely vacated.

      Over time the house began to fall into disrepair and became victim to vandalism. For instance, the mansion had 11 marble fireplaces and exquisitely carved stairway banisters, which were stolen at some period during this time.

      As far as the McPike home being haunted, there are many documented accounts of psychics and mediums that have visited the property and felt the presence of what they believe to be the McPike family servants as well as the presence of Henry McPike’s wife Eleanor. Some accounts have concluded that there is also a male presence in the house, who may have been ill-tempered and abusive. Could this be Henry McPike? All agree though that the focal point is the house’s cellar. Then there’s the many pictures of mysterious white orbs, shadowy figures, and a strange mist that was caught on tape. The house has been visited by many ghost hunters, and many of them have walked away impressed, if not creeped out.

The Gamble Plantation: The Only Antebellum Plantation in South Florida

August 26, 2011 by J-Serf

      Since writing articles for the site, I have often wondered if there were any plantations as far south as Florida. The answer to my question is ‘Gamble Plantation.’ The only surviving plantation from the antebellum period in south Florida. The plantation’s mansion is also the oldest building in Florida’s Mantee County.

      Now an Historic State Park open to visitors and tourist, Gamble Plantation was created by the plantation’s namesake, Major Robert Gamble. In 1843, after the Seminole War, Major Gamble snatched up 160 acres of land along the Mantee River. He was able to do this through the Armed Occupation Act. Gamble’s goal? To build a sugar plantation and make his fortune, as sugar was a high comodity during these times. First on his list was building a mansion.

      The mansion took six years to build. Slaves and construction workers built the mansion using red brick and tabby brick, which is a mixture of shells, sand, and oyster shell with lime. The mansion with it’s original walls and columns still stands today. Other parts of the house, such as the floors were replaced when the state refurbished the mansion for visitors.

      The six years of construction was well worth it. In it’s day, the Gamble mansion was one of the most lavish in Florida, if not the entire south. The north or rear section was built first and was separated from the main house by a breezeway, or “dogtrot” as it was known by then. The breezeway was connected  directly to the kitchen. The name dogtrot must come from the fact that dogs used to hang around there outside the kitchen, throwing a fit at the scent of all the cooking. To quiet the dogs, the cooks would feed them deep fried cornmeal, hence a famous food name was born.  What was the name? ”Hush puppies”. 

      There is no spiral stairway to the upstairs. Instead there are two staircases on either side of the mansion. The staircases start out narrow and widen at the the top. Upstairs there are two bedrooms and a day room and a dining room and sitting room downstairs.

      Today, there are none of Major Gamble’s furniture at the mansion. He packed up everything when he sold the property in 1856. Everything was lost in a fire while in storage. However, the Historical Society has furnished the mansion with successful replicas of mid-19th century style furniture. 

      The plantation also played host to a man on the ‘lamb’. His name was Judah P. Benjamin.(In the the picture shown to the left) He was a lawyer, a state senator, and a member of the Confederate congress. Benjamin, who was on the run from Union authorities, hid in the Gamble mansion for a few days, until he could catch a boat to his native England.

       In the 1890s, Dudley A. Patten, son of previous owner Major George Patten, built a more modern home to avoid having to pay to keep the mansion up.  Eventually, the land was subdivided and sold.

      Today the house is furnished and operated by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The plantation is open to the public all year, except for major holidays.

Boone Hall Plantation: Charleston, S.C. Pt. 3

August 15, 2011 by J-Serf

      As written in the final lines of part two of this three part article, Thomas Stone kept a diary describing he and his wife, Alexandra, time as owners of Boone Hall plantation. Stone wrote in detail about the new house they were building on the property. There was also other inserts in the diary about other goings-on on the plantation. The diary itself,  titled ‘A Diary of Boone Hall’, can be found in its complete form at the South Carolina Historical Society in Charleston.

      For reasons unknown and a bit strange to me, but after all the work they put into the new house, in 1940, just five years after purchasing Boone Hall,  the Stones sold the property to Dimitri and Audrey Djordjadze. The Djordjadzes purchased the same amount of acreage the Stones had back in ’35. Again only after five years of ownership, the Djordjadzes sold Boone Hall to  a P.O. Mead Jr. for $120,000 in 1940.     

  Mead held on to the plantation for ten years. Then, in 1955, Harris and Nancy McCrae bought Boone Hall. Their original goal was to concentrate on farming, with the hopes of planting and growing peach trees. In ’59 the McCrae family opened the plantation to the public and began conducting tours. And why not? Boone Hall is truly a trip back to another time. You can feel it immediately as you walk or ride down  the 3,900 foot Avenue of Oaks. With Spanish moss hanging from each tree, the trip back to the old south begins. It doesn’t take long for one to notice the rich history stored here at Boone Hall.

       Hollywood took a notice as well. Since the early 1980′s, three movies have used Boone Hall as a location for filming. And for obvious reasons. Boone Hall is one out of just a small number of still working plantations in the south. The first movie, a television mini-series called “North and South”, starring Patrick Swayze and Kirstie Alley. Move-makers did some on location shooting at the plantation in 1984. The second film, another television mini-series and sequel to Alex Haley’s “Roots”, called “Queen”, starred Halle Berry. Filming at Boone Hall was done in 1992. The third and final movie to use the plantation for filming was a theatrical release called “The Notebook”. Starring Gena Rowlands, James Garner, Rachel McAdams, and Ryan Gosling, filming at Boone Hall took place in 2002. 

      Today, the Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens is owned by Wiiliam H. McCrae. The public tours of the historic grounds are still operating. The part of the plantation not used in the tours is still being farmed to this day.

Boone Hall Plantation: Charleston, S.C. Pt. 2

August 8, 2011 by J-Serf

      The Horlbeck brothers were in the brick business. Since Boone Hall had an established brickyard on it’s property, the purchase was a smart and accessible one. Using brick from the plantation they built many houses, churches, and business buildings in the downtown Charleston area. Some of which are still standing today. Henry, the elder of the two, died in 1837. He left his half of Boone Hall to his brother, John. Two years later, John sold the plantation to Henry’s children. Four of the brothers, Henry, Daniel, Edward, and John took control of the plantation in 1842. 

      A year later, the Horlbeck brothers began to build the beautiful Avenue of Oaks that lead to the plantation’s main house.  There is some dispute about who actually constructed the duel lines of oaks. Some argue that the Boone family were the first to plant the oaks in 1743. The research however, gives proof that it was indeed,  the Holbecks who first began the avenue.

      By 1850, Boone Hall plantation was producing 4,000,000 bricks a year. Doing the majority of the work were 85 slaves who lived and worked on the platation. In 1872 Henry Horlbeck’s sons, Frederick Henry and John bougbt the plantation from their father. The sale included 1,514 acres of land and a town lot with buildings in Mt. Pleasant. Sometime after the purchase, pecan trees were planted on the property. By the end of the 1800′s Boone Hall Plantation was one of the largest producers of pecans in the United States.

      In 1902, John Horlbeck leased timber rights to the Dorchester Land and Timber Company. The deal stated that the timber company was allowed to cut down oak trees 10 or more in diameter for the following five years. Also,  there was very clear instructions to the company not to cut down any oaks that were considered decorative to the property. 

      John S. Horlbeck died on May 7, 1916. He left the Boone Hall estate to his two children, Frederick and Elizabeth. The plantation would remain in the Horlbeck famiy’s possession for another 19 years.

      In 1935, Thomas A. Stone and wife Alexandra purchased Boone Hall from the Horlbeck family. Besides the original property, the Stones gained the adjoining plantation known as Laurel Hill and part of Elm Grove and Parker Island. All in all the Stones had bought just over 4,039 acres of land including highland and marsh.

      Thomas Stone kept a journal during most of his ownership of Boone Hall.  Called ‘A Diary of Boone Hall’, in it Stone writes about how he and his came to own Boone Hall.                Stay tuned for part 3 of this article…