This past week I’ve been watching with the kids a number of movies based on history such as The Patriot and the John Adams mini-series. I love history and was very fortunate that my parents took me to a number of historic treasures when I was young. While watching these movies it got me thinking: were we surrounded by ghosts while we visited these landmarks? Have I been surrounded by anyone of historic significance while researching for my books?
According to some of the stories, I could have encountered the likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson; however, I have to question the validity of hose claims. Yes, I still believe in ghosts, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be a skeptic about specific stories. In my opinion it’s better to enter a location a skeptic than to instantly believe all the claims are true. Get some proof. That’s what we do as investigators.
My books have been a little different. While I do cover ghost hunting, the books are about the stories, claims, and history of the locations. For instance, in Ghosts and Legends of Maryland I cover Montpelier Mansion in Laurel, a Georgian-style mansion built by the Snowden family. It is said that the ghosts of George Washington, Martha Washington, and Thomas Jefferson have been spotted there. Why? Sure, Washington did business with the Snowden’s on occasion and spent the night at Montpelier a couple times, but what sort of significant connection could he have to the place that would cause his spirit to haunt it? I just don’t see it. References to Jefferson there are even more obscure, so I certainly don’t see that one.
I’m not saying that Montpelier Mansion isn’t haunted. In fact, I believe it is, but I’m more confident that it is haunted by the Snowden and Ridgley family ghosts, people that actually lived there, than our Founding Fathers. If I were to participate in a paranormal investigation there, those are the names on which I’d concentrate.
Back to Washington and Jefferson, I’ve been to both of their homes at Mount Vernon and Monticello, respectively. They’re both very well preserved, beautiful and majestic. If I’d have owned either mansion during my lifetime those are the places I’d haunt in the afterlife. Both are purported to be haunted, although I can’t say that I witnessed anything unusual there during my visits. Of course, I was at those places while on vacation and they were rather crowded at the time, so there wasn’t much to notice outside of the beautiful architecture and historic artifacts.
I think sometimes we’re too eager to name drop. Sure, it’s fantastic that different establishments across the country can claim that they’ve had a famous historic person stop in for a little while. That’s all good. But I wouldn’t buy into a George Washington ghost sighting at every bed and watering hole he ever visited. Now if I’m offered the opportunity to investigate these places just to make sure, I’d be quite happy to do so.