Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Haunted History of Maryland's Landon House: Guest Blog #3

From Wikipedia
Theresa's Note: Today is another absolutely fascinating guest blog! I met the author, Jen, several years ago at a local festival and I'm thrilled she has decided to share these ghost stories with us! These stories are from the historic Landon/Stancioff House, located in Urbana, MD. The home has a looong history. Among other historical facts of note, at various times the house was used as a silk mill, a private residence, several educational institutions, and a field hospital during the Civil War. After reading this collection of experiences from Jen's husband and mother-in-law, I'm inclined to believe that this location may be Maryland's most haunted location! As always, please enjoy this wonderful guest submission. A huge THANK YOU goes to Jen and her family for sharing these wonderful tales with us!

Jen writes:

These stories come from my husband, Dave, and his mom and pertain to the Landon House in Urbana, MD circa the early 1980's. Dave remembers hearing about a few of these right after they happened, but most of the stories were told to him later in life by my mother-in-law. He says he doesn’t remember anything that happened to him directly, outside of the last story. The women of the family were the focus for most of the hauntings as the men were usually at work when they happened.

Dave's biological father was the caretaker of the Landon House for half a year in 1982 when Dave was 5 years old. Dave, his parents, and his siblings lived in the updated left side of the house. The right side was kept original to the time period of the mansion’s heyday, with most of the original furnishings, or historic replicas, decorating it. The incidents didn’t start out small and escalate like you hear from a lot of hauntings. They started strong and stayed that way until the family left six months later.

Cherry Tobacco
Every once in a while, there was a strong smell of cherry tobacco. No one in the family smoked a pipe. The owners said that the previous owner had smoked cherry tobacco and had died in the house.

The Attic
Dave’s aunt and uncle had been living with the family prior, so naturally moved to the sprawling Landon House with them. They originally chose to stay in the attic, but soon moved to the basement as they were hearing inexplicable cannon fire from their attic room.

The Man in the Basement
The basement seemed to be worse than the attic. One day, his mom heard his aunt screaming for her from the basement. When she opened the door, the aunt ran past her, white as a ghost. She said that she couldn’t get out of the basement because there was a man blocking the door.

Footsteps on Tape
Dave’s mom wanted to see if she could record some of the noises they were hearing, so she put a blank tape into a tape player to start recording while she and the aunt took the kids to the mall. When they got back, they checked the tape. About midway through, there was the sound of walking throughout the hallway. No one had been home during that time.

Confederate Sighting
This one’s a bit short, but apparently Dave’s uncle saw a Confederate soldier run across the front yard.

They’re Heeeeeere
The kids were outside trying to climb the rope to the treehouse. Their mom went to the basement to talk to their aunt. She was down there for maybe three minutes and came back to the kitchen to find all of the cabinets open. The kids were still outside and no one else was in the house besides the two ladies.

The Dresses
There was a costume party being held in the house and Dave’s mom and aunt found a couple of dresses in a trunk in the basement. After the party, neither woman returned their dresses. Dave’s aunt kept hearing a voice telling her to put the dress back. His mom had put her dress in a box with one of the kid’s basketballs, and the basketball started bouncing on its own. They both put their dresses back into the basement trunk. His aunt and uncle were done and moved out of the house shortly afterwards.

Kick in the Butt
One of the family’s guests was laughing at an old portrait on the wall because he thought the man’s hair looked ridiculous. As he said so out loud, he felt someone kick him in the behind. He ran out of the house and never came back.

The Lady
Incidentally, living in that house is what made my husband interested in the paranormal. He says he doesn’t remember this, but his mom claims she heard him talking to someone when he was in his room playing by himself. Take that with a grain of salt, though. Kids at that age tend to talk to themselves when they’re playing. However, Dave’s mom also tells a story about Dave coming downstairs and telling his parents that there was a lady in his room. Maybe this is who he was talking to?

Soap Moving
There was an old claw foot bathtub in the upstairs bathroom. Dave’s mom was taking a bath and closed her eyes for a moment. She heard a “skreeeeech” and when she opened her eyes, the metal soap dish was on the other side of the bathtub. She was understandably upset and very sternly told whoever moved it that she was going to close her eyes, and that thing had better be back where it belonged when she opened them. She closed her eyes again, and heard the “skreeeeech”. When she peeked, the soap dish was back on the other side. No word on whether she took quick showers after that. But she did tell the ghost off for peeking at her in the bath.

Exorcism
After all of this, the family had a priest come and exorcise the house. For some reason, he had a psychic with him. In the basement, the psychic said “something bad happened down here”. Dave’s mom pointed to the shackles on the wall like they hadn’t already figured that out. Dave’s parents owned a used toy store at the time, so they took the kids there to stay overnight while the exorcism was taking place at Landon. On their way back home early the next morning, the family stopped at the local convenience store across the street from the house and two of the employees joked that they weren’t invited to the party. Apparently, after the priest and his assistant had left the night before, there were the unmistakable sounds of a party, complete with loud music and all of the lights in the house turning on and off. Dave’s aunt and uncle had already moved out by this point. Unless the priest had an impromptu dance party, there was no one in the house. Dave’s family moved out soon after this incident.
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As both Dave and his mom have pointed out, the experiences of the family sound like a classic 1980's horror movie and can be a little hard to swallow. I asked about the cherry tobacco and he said that there was something about the former owners in one of the Frederick County ghost books. Not only did I possibly find some answers as to what they experienced, but I’m a little creeped out that several of the hauntings they claim to have gone through have also happened to other tenants.

There is a book called “Ghosts and Legends of Frederick County” that talks about the previous owners. The book was written in 1979 by Timothy L. Cannon and Nancy F. Whitmore. I pulled out my copy to check for Landon House stories and I got chills when I read this excerpt on page 17"

“In 1862, Landon served briefly as the headquarters of General J.E.B. Stuart, until overtaken by northern troops.  During this time, Stuart was accompanied by a Colonel Luke Tiernan Brien, his chief of staff. Brien, a native of Frederick County, liked the area so much that almost 20 years after the war he and his wife purchased 180 acres of rich farm land surrounding Landon, calling their estate Tyrone.

Since the deaths of the Briens in the early 1900’s, there are those who say that Landon is haunted. Porch rockers move for no explainable reason, and on occasion an old man has been seen walking in the basement.

Recently, while in the basement, the grown son of the present owner and a friend were frightened by the appearance of the upper torso and head of an old man floating about.

The old man is believed to be the ghost of Colonel Brien.

However, Mrs. Brien is usually the more visible of the two. Children are often tucked into bed and when questioned, they insist that an old woman wearing a shawl was in their room.”

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Does this mean that Dave’s lady friend was the ghostly Mrs. Brien and Mr. Brien was angry that Dave’s aunt had taken over the basement?

There was also an article in our local paper that tells the same story of the ghostly woman tucking the kids in. Katherine Marks of the Frederick News-Post wrote in a 1998 article that a woman in white was known for tucking in the children and/or bringing them milk. 

That's a whole lotta activity! Since Dave and his family's time in the house, it has changed owners several times. It became a popular wedding venue and for a time, even offered ghost tours to the public! The house has been written about in numerous books and articles, and may even be home to some additional sightings not experienced by Dave's family! Jen writes that one of the more popular contemporary tales involves ghost dogs. While in residence at the home, Dave and his mother noted that there was a living hound named Ollie on site, but no ghostly ones! Once again, thank you so much Jen!

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