Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 18, 1976 · Page 71
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July 18, 1976

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 71

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Charleston, West Virginia
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Sunday, July 18, 1976
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England's Most Haunted House By Doane R. Hoag BORLEY, England, July 18, 1869--Late this evening Edward Cooper, the gardener at Borley rectory, was closing up his cottage for the night when he happened to glance outside the window. There, in the full moonlight falling across the grounds of the ancient, 12th century church, he saw the lights of a carriage approaching. To his utter astonishment, the . big, old-fashioned coach-and-four turned off the road and drove at full gallop right across the rectory lawn! Indignant, as any conscientious gardener would be, Edward flung open the door and rushed outside shouting angrily and shaking his fist. But by this time the mysterious coach had disappeared into the night and was nowhere in sight. He was still looking after it when lis wife Sarah, clad in a night robe 3nd with her hair in braids, came out carrying a lamp to see what all :he commotion was about. Her hus- 3and, still panting with rage, told her about the carriage. "But, Luv," said Sarah, pulling the robe about her against the light's chill and looking around, 'how is it possible for a coach-and:our such as you describe to have massed across the lawn without leaving a single wheel track?" She was right. The lawn was soft and a light frost had fallen. It would lave been impossible for a snail to have crawled across it without caving a mark. Yet in all that whole expanse of lawn the only tracks were Edward's and Sarah's own footprints! Edward decided shamefacedly that he must have been dreaming. And there the matter have rested. Dxcept that the next n i g h t the coach came again. This time Sarah saw it, too. It came again the next night, and the next. It was seen by iterally dozens of townspeople. Including the Reverend Harry Bull, he rector himself. The Ghostly Coach of Borley was ust the first of over 70 years of nexplicable happenings at the famous old English rectory. The mysterious coach appeared and r e a p p e a r e d . A sad-faced nun dressed in black, was often seen strolling across the lawn in the night, telling her beads. An old man, whom Mr. Bull believed was Amos, a gardener his family had employed many generations earlier, was frequently seen tending the shrubbery just as he had done in life. There were gruesome tales of a disembodied hand that crawled up doorways and along the floor, frightening the Rector's children out of their wits. There was a mysterious stranger who wandered through the halls in the dead of night. No one could figure out who he was, because he had ho head. Every rector who inhabited the house from the time it was built in 1863 experienced the same chilling goings-on. The-sad-faced nun who wandered about saying her beads was believed to be Marie Lairre, a French nun who had renounced her vows to marry a 17th century English lord and came to live with him in his manse on the very spot where the rectory later was built. She was strangled to death in the cellar, and often in the still of the night, she c o u l d be heard in the c h a p e l screaming, "Don't, Carlos, don't!" England, of course, has hundreds of ghosts and haunted houses, and each one is cherished with as much devotion as the Loch Ness Monster. But Borley Rectory is considered to be the most thoroughly haunted house in the whole of the British Isles. The ghostly visitors that prowl the grounds are the least of Borley's manifestations. Church music is heard in the night when no hands are on the organ keys. Raps, taps, bumps, and thuds have made sleep difficult for every rector's family. People have been pelted with · rocks; slates, candlesticks, and bars of soap. Mrs. L.A. Foster, the semi-invalid wife of the last rector, was hit on the head by flying metal and twice flung out of her bed. Over 100 witnesses, including professors from Oxford and Cambridge, have sworn they have seen the eerie specters. In 1929, Harry Price, a professional "ghost-hunter" who had exploded dozens of alleged hauntings elsewhere, came to Borley determined to put an end to the nonsense once and for all. He stayed a year investigating the phenomena, and left baffled and shaken, saying he had no explanation for the things that were happening there. In 1939, the last rector refused to live there any longer, and the old manse was sold to a tough-minded British flying officer named Captain W.H Gregson. He had barely moved in when an oil lamp mysteriously exploded, set the place afire burned it to the ground. People were rather relieved, for they felt this would end the haunt- ings. It didn't. They still go on today. The sad-faced nun wanders the grounds telling her beads and is h e a r d i n t h e n i g h t s c r e a m i n g "Don't, Carlos, don't!" The organ plays at midnight and the disembodied hand crawls along the sills, of the blackened ruins. Or so people say. (Copyright Donne Hoag 1976) ' Soldiers' wives and families of Fort Sumter were evacuated by Major Anderson in February, 1861. Abraham Lincoln: Seward's First Folly By Sid Moody The president-elect was sitting in his home in Springfield, 111., talking to a newsman when his young son Willie burst into the room demanding a quarter. Abraham Lincoln had only five pennies and put them on his desk. Willie spurned them and ran off. "As soon as he finds I will give him no more, he will come and get it.," Lincoln said. Willie did. A few months later, the waiting game was not so effective. The election of the Republican Lincoln had made secession a foregone conclusion. South Carolina declared her independence Dec. 20, 1860, and Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana had followed soon after. But Virginia had not, and as the Old Dominion went, most likely so would go the South. Even as Lincoln headed East for his inaugural, the seceding states had declared a Confederacy at Montgomery and named Jefferson Davis president. For all its euphoria, the South w a s n o t w i t h o u t i t s s k e p t i c s . "South Carolina is too small for a republic and too big for a lunatic asylum," said Judge James Louis Petigru, a unionist. But James Buchanan, a lame duck President, could only waddle helplessly. He said in his annual message in December 1860 that the federal.''government could not coerce the Southern-states; but nei- · ther could they legally secede. William Seward, the Secretary of State-designate, was of the opinion, however, that secession would "wither in the sunlight" under the benign guidance of himself, not Lincoln. Instead it was Seward's highly irregular maneuverings behind Lincoln's back that created the uncertainty that helped make Civil War a certainty. Lincoln really entered the convention at Chicago, a bustling new city of 110,000, as a favorite son candidate to prop up his chances for the 1864 Illinois senatorial race. He emerged something of a surprise winner over Seward: He had fewer illusions than Seward about Southern intransigence. "You think slavery is right and ought to be extended," he wrote a friend in the South, "while we think it is wrong and ought to be restricted. That I suppose is the rub." And the more immediate chafing point was an unready bastion in Charleston harbor, Fort Sumter. Work on Sumter had begun in 1829 when granite leavings from New England were first piled on a sandbar. In 1860, it was still uncompleted and so thinly manned that the wife of Capt. Abner Doubleday. the alleged father of baseball, took a turn at sentry duty. To the South and particularly South Carolinians, Sumter was a federal intrusion on .stales".rjghts,,Tp,Linboln,;.it.was a possible bargaining chip to keep Virginia in the Union. To Seward, it was an element in his grandiose and unauthorized diplomacy with a Confederate peace commission. Seward thought Lincoln a gangling rustic. One of the secretary's first acts had been to propose to Lincoln provoking possible war with England or Spain over their intervention in Santo Domingo and Mexico, thereby reinstilling.nation- al patriotism. Seward volunteered to become Lincoln's prime minister in the business. Lincoln politely but firmly said he would continue as President, thank you. Meanwhile, he consulted with his Cabinet about the advisability of supplying the 68 soldiers at Sumter under the command of Maj. Robert Anderson, who had once taught artillery to his new opponent in Charleston, Gen. Pierre Beauregard, C.S.A., formerly Maj. Beauregard, U.S.A. Buchanan had tried to supply the fort in January, but the relief ship had been turned back by Southern cannon fire. Gen. Winfield Scott, Lincoln's Army commandant, now advised the post be surrendered. Most of the Cabinet agreed. Only Postmaster General Montgomery Blair, from the border state of Maryland, argued violently that federal honor and Sumter be maintained. On March 29, 1861, Anderson issued the last barrel of flour to his mess. The next day, Lincoln finally made/up his, mind and ordered a July. /.«.· 1976. Sunday Gazette-Mail

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