Drink with the Ghost of Poe at the Historic Deer Park Tavern

Deer Park Tavern not only shares the physical location of the old St. Patrick’s Inn, many patrons and staff insist it shares something of the metaphysical as well.

Deer Park Tavern, 108 W Main Street in Newark, Delaware, towers above the intersection of W Main Street and London Avenue at the northwest edge of the University of Delaware campus. For nearly 170 years, it has been at the social center of Newark, but the location’s history goes back even farther. The current red-brick, ‘U-shaped’ building sits near the site of St. Patrick’s Inn, which was built circa 1747 and hosted storied figures including Edgar Allan Poe. Many patrons and staff believe a few of their spirits remained behind, even after the original structure disappeared.

Some sources say St. Patrick’s Inn was built as early as 1743, but historians disagree. A man named John Pritchard owned it in 1750, and it was sometimes referred to as “Pritchard’s Hotel”. The hotel was a hot spot for travelers in the Colonial days, and it even (supposedly) quartered George Washington. Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon based their operations out of the hotel while surveying the boundary line between Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware between 1763 and 1767. The “Mason–Dixon line” later became famous as shorthand for the border between slave states and free states.

But St. Patrick’s Inn is most famous for playing host to legendary Dark Romantic poet and storyteller Edgar Allan Poe. On December 23, 1843, Poe gave a lecture at the Newark Academy and spent the night at St. Patrick’s. According to legend, upon returning to the inn, he tripped while exiting his carriage and fell in the mud. “A curse upon this place!” he said. “All who enter shall have to return!” Onlookers were so amused they carried him inside. Later, it was said Poe either wrote or was inspired to write his famous poem “The Raven” while staying there. Poe spent another week lecturing on poetry at Newark Academy in 1849, shortly before his death.

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Is Peyton Randolph House the Most Haunted House in America?

A colonial-era home sits on a quiet plaza in America’s most historic town, but storytellers say something sinister lurks inside.

Without the misfortune of dying right before the Declaration of Independence, Peyton Randolph (1721-1775) would be considered one of our country’s most prominent founding fathers. He was elected president of the First and Second Continental Congress, before dying of a stroke while dining with Thomas Jefferson. His home, expanded and modified over the intervening decades, still stands in Colonial Williamsburg.

The Georgian-style house, at least the western wing at the corner of Nicholson and North England Streets, was built in 1715 by William Robertson. Sir John Randolph, Peyton’s father, purchased it in 1721 and willed it to his son, who took ownership at the age of 24. John had built a second house, what became the east wing, in 1724, and Peyton connected the two homes with a spacious hall, though the east wing still had to be accessed from outside.

Peyton’s sister, Susannah Beverley, lived in the home until her death circa 1754, and Peyton’s window retained it after his death. It served as temporary headquarters to French general Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau during the Siege of Yorktown in 1781. It was sold at auction in 1783, and served as a military hospital at the Battle of Williamsburg on May 5, 1862 during the American Civil War.

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Yorktown Battlefield in Colonial National Historical Park

In this decisive Revolutionary War battle, George Washington triumphed over British General Charles Cornwallis, effectively ending the war in North America.

The Siege of Yorktown was fought from September 28 to October 19, 1781 between American and French forces commanded by General George Washington and Marshal Comte de Rochambeau, and British forces commanded by Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was a complete American and French victory, with Cornwallis and his army surrendering. Approximately 1,200 soldiers from either side were killed or wounded.

In July 1781, American forces commanded by George Washington met French forces commanded by Comte de Rochambeau north of New York City, where they faced a decision. They could either use their combined force to besiege British controlled New York City, or move south to confront a British army under Charles Cornwallis, which had won a costly victory in North Carolina at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse before marching north into Virginia. They chose to move south.

Cornwallis, commanding approximately 7,000 British and 3,000 Hessian troops, had been ordered to build a deep water port at Yorktown on the Virginia Peninsula. On September 26, Washington and De Rochambeau consolidated a force of 18,900 men in nearby Williamsburg. With help from François Joseph Paul, comte de Grasse’s fleet, they bottled up Cornwallis’ men and settled in for a siege.

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Crampton’s Gap Battlefield at South Mountain, Maryland

Overly cautious leadership led to a missed opportunity for Union forces in this often-overlooked Civil War battle.

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The Battle for Crampton’s Gap (aka Battle of Burkittsville), part of the larger Battle of South Mountain, was fought on September 14, 1862 between Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin and Confederate forces commanded by Col. William A. Parham and Brig. Gen. Howell Cobb in Frederick and Washington counties, Maryland during the American Civil War. The battle was a tactical Union victory, with Union troops seizing the gap but failing to relieve the besieged Union garrison at Harpers Ferry.

After General Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia destroyed the Union Army of Virginia at the Second Battle of Manassas, Lee saw an opportunity to invade Maryland, threaten Washington, DC, and possibly influence European powers to recognize Confederate independence. Lee divided his army and sent one wing to capture Harper’s Ferry, Virginia and the other into Maryland. A copy of his orders fell into enemy hands, however, and for once Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan acted swiftly to catch Lee off guard.

McClellan sent elements of his reconstituted Army of the Potomac to capture three strategic gaps in South Mountain, hoping to sever Lee’s army and destroy it in detail. The mountain passes were known as Turner’s Gap, Fox’s Gap, and Crampton’s Gap. Because of the difficult terrain and distance between them, the Battle of South Mountain was actually three separate engagements, though they all took place in a single day.

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The Battle of Sag Harbor, May 1777

A daring raid on Long Island loyalists results in a bloodless victory for colonial rebels during the Revolutionary War.

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The Battle of Sag Harbor (aka Meigs’ Raid) was fought on May 24, 1777 between American patriot forces led by Col. Return Jonathan Meigs and British loyalist forces commanded by Cpt. James Raymond near Sag Harbor on Long Island, New York during the American Revolutionary War. The raid was a stunning success, with the Americans capturing British fortifications at bayonet point without a single casualty.

During the Revolutionary War, Sag Harbor was an important port on Long Island used to resupply British troops and launch raids across Long Island Sound on states like Connecticut. In May 1777, one such raiding party docked at Sag Harbor to join the 70-man Loyalist battalion stationed in a palisade on Meeting House Hill. Patriot Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs assembled a force of 234 men to attack the garrison and spoil their plans, although only 170 made it to Long Island.

Meigs’ small force landed in the early morning hours and divided into two parties. The first headed to the harbor to destroy British boats, and the second, with bayonets fixed, aimed to take the garrison on Meeting House Hill. The attacks took the Loyalists by surprise and only one shot was fired. The Patriots killed six men, captured 90, and destroyed a dozen boats before returning triumphantly to Connecticut.

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Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia

Designed by William H. Pratt and dedicated in 1849, Hollywood Cemetery at 412 S. Cherry Street in Richmond, Virginia, contains a veritable who’s who of Virginia history, including two U.S. presidents, two Supreme Court justices, six governors, and 22 Confederate generals. Its 130 undulating acres are the final resting place for approximately 65,000 people, including up to 18,000 Confederate veterans who fought in the American Civil War. The cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.

James Monroe (1758-1831)

This lovely, open air mausoleum contains the body of President James Monroe. Monroe (1758-1831) served in the Revolutionary War and was fifth president of the United States, from 1817 to 1825. He is best known for presiding over the “Era of Good Feelings,” when political partisanship was low. He supported recolonization of freed black slaves back to Africa, resulting in the country of Liberia, which named its capitol Monrovia after him. He was married to Elizabeth Kortright Monroe and the couple had three children.

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Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland

Green Mount Cemetery, at 1501 Greenmount Avenue in Baltimore, Maryland, was dedicated in 1839 and contains the remains of approximately 65,000 former residents. While not as large as other rural cemeteries, Green Mount’s Gothic Revival structures and funerary art and sculpture are a sight to behold. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

Elijah Jefferson Bond (1847-1921)

Elijah Jefferson Bond (1847-1921) was a lawyer and inventor who patented a “spirit board”, or ouija board, in 1890. He served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and was a co-founder of the Kennard Novelty Company, which produced ouija boards for the growing Spiritualist movement. Bond married a Maryland woman named Mary Peters, and the couple had one child. They were buried in an unmarked grave until 2007, when an admirer located it and raised funds for this unique headstone.

Lawrason Riggs (1814-1884)

The bronze figure of a woman wrapped in a thin, flowing gown mourns over the graves of Lawrason Riggs (1814-1884) and Mary Turpin Bright Riggs (1837-1919) and their family. Mary, the daughter of Sen. Jesse D. Bright, was Lawrason’s third wife. Their Art Nouveau-style sculpture, titled “Memory” and installed in 1911, was designed by Hans Schuler, a graduate of the Rinehart School of Sculpture.

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Fairfax Court House Battlefield in Fairfax, Virginia

Visit this antebellum courthouse and site of an early Civil War skirmish, fought weeks before the Battle of Bull Run.

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The First Battle of Fairfax Court House was fought on June 1, 1861 between Union forces commanded by Lt. Charles H. Tompkins and Confederate forces commanded by Capt. John Q. Marr at Fairfax Court House, Virginia during the American Civil War. This small and inconclusive battle was the first land engagement of the war with fatal casualties, resulting in 24 total dead, wounded, or captured.

On May 31, 1861, Union Brig. Gen. David Hunter ordered Lt. Charles Henry Tompkins of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry Regiment to recon Confederate forces around Fairfax Court House. Early the next morning, June 1, his 50 to 86-man force ran into approximately 210 untrained and ill-equipped Confederate militia in the village, some of whom didn’t even have weapons or ammunition. The militia scattered.

Nearby, Confederate Capt. John Q. Marr attempted to rally his men, but he was shot and killed in a field west of the Methodist church. Lt. Col. Richard S. Ewell, a future Confederate general, was wounded as he emerged from a hotel, but escaped, and 64-year-old William “Extra Billy” Smith, a politician and another future general, helped him take charge. Together, their rag-tag force repelled several more Union attempts to ride through town.

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