Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Madie Carroll House

The Madie Carroll House is notably the oldest house in Guyandotte...but it wasn't actually built IN Guyandotte!  The wooden, saltbox home was built in 1810 in Gallipolis, Ohio, and floated down the river by flatboat by Mr. James Gallaher.  In its early years, ownership passed hands several times, but the home's most noted residents are the Carrolls. 

Thomas Carroll and his first wife Anne, lived in the home, running a tavern and ordinary out of it.  The Carrolls, who had immigrated from Ireland, were also the first Catholic family in the area, and thus, the first Catholic church services in Cabell County were held in the home.  After Anne died of pneumonia in the home in her early 40s, Thomas remarried...this time to a fiery Irish red-head named Mary Fee.  Mary Fee Carroll is the one who is credited with saving the home during the burning of Guyandotte.

On the night of November 11, 1861, Federal troops stormed the town under the direction of Col. Ziegler.  After finding the Union recruitment camp had been attacked by the Confederates the night before, and many of their comrades killed, wounded, or taken prison, the orders were given to burn the entire town in retaliation for its strong Confederate sympathies.  Mary Carroll locked herself and her small children into the home, and refused to let the Federals burn her house down.  She succeeded in saving the home, but the barn was set ablaze.

It is Mary's step-granddaughter, Mary "Madie" Carroll for whom the house is named.  Madie came to live with Mary at an early age, when her mother passed away.  She was raised by Mary, and continued to live into the home up until about 2 years before her death.  Madie Carroll was a local piano teacher, having graduated from Marshall College and attending Juliard.  She never married, as her fiance was killed in WWI.  After Madie's death, the home went briefly to her nephews, but is now home to the Madie Carroll House museum.

The home is also said to be one of the most haunted in the sleepy little hamlet of Guyandotte.  Like many historic homes in the area dating from the Civil War era, activity is said to increase around the time of the anniversary of the raid and burning of Guyandotte (November 10-11).  In one incident, a reenactor getting dressed in the home heard the distinct rustle and bustle of petticoats and hoopskirts, and assumed another reenactor was also getting ready.  However, when she went to go see if the lady needed anything, no one was found.  A man in a black trench coat and wide brimmed had has recently been seen in the home, as well as another apparition of a man, possibly a Confederate soldier. 

However, Civil War era ghosts aren't the only ones said to make their lasting home here.  Madie Carroll has also been heard, and even seen.  Phantom piano music is often heard drifting from the empty home, while one couple got up close and personal with Madie's spirit.  While parked out back, doing what couples do in dark alleys at night, the gentleman looked up at the back porch and claimed to see an elderly lady in the rocking chair.  Being from out of town, he didn't know who Madie Carroll was, but his girlfriend, a local, was able to confirm her identity from the description...despite the fact that she could see NOTHING on the porch at the time.

Another bit of interesting lore about the home is an upstairs bedroom nicknamed the "birthing room."  It was the room where several Carroll family children were born...and where one member of the family, Ellen, died in childbirth.  Legend states that ladies who visit the room will be overcome by a physical sensation of cramps and the pains of labor.  Several years ago, I was 28 weeks pregnant and working a fundraiser at the home, when I decided to see for myself if these legends were true.  Being pregnant with my first child, I had NO idea what to expect, and wanted to find out.  I was disappointed when nothing happened in the room.  Well, they always say be careful what you wish for...

The fundraiser was on Saturday.  On Tuesday, I went in for my regular doctor's appointment and found out that I was in early labor.  They managed to hold it off for another month or so, and I gave birth to a healthy, yet slightly premature little boy named Luke...named after Lucian Wolcott, the owner of the home from whom the Carrolls rented before taking ownership on their own.  Interestingly enough, another member of HPIR in a separate incident, DID feel horrible cramps in the room, so much that she actually had to lie down to overcome the pain.

Fun Fact:  One story that is often told about the house most likely isn't true...but it makes for a darn fine story!  It is said that when Collis P. Huntington came to the Cabell County area to find a location for his railroad, the busy and prosperous town of Guyandotte was a prime location.  Huntington stayed overnight at the Carroll House, and hitched his horse to the post out front.  Sometime during the night, the horse ended up on the sidewalk, and the mayor slapped a fine on Mr. Huntington.  Mr. Huntington, outraged, basically said to hell with Guyandotte...he would just make his own town to the west...and he did.  Huntington, WV was incorporated around 1871, and Guyandotte was later incorporated into it.



Madie Carroll House website

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