Last week, a friend and I were traveling south to Nashville, Tennessee by car. We decided we would break the drive midway in Abingdon, VA. I looked online and the Martha Washington Inn came up again and again. I looked at the website and it seemed very charming, historical and comfortable. I booked it.
The evening before we left I decided to do a little more research on the town and its history, starting with the Martha Washington Inn. The Inn had been built in the late 1700's by a wealthy military man for his wife and nine children. It later became a college for women and was named after Martha Washington.
During the Civil War, it became a hospital and some of the female students stayed on and put to work as nurses. It was during this time that a wounded union soldier was smuggled in by way of underground passages and housed in one of the rooms overlooking the garden. He was nursed by a young woman who used music to soothe his suffering and calm his spirits.
The union Captain lingered some time in his mortally wounded state but was tenderly nursed by Elizabeth the young girl stayed by his side night and day until he took his final breath. It is said the two fell in love during this time and today guests have declared they hear violin music playing in room 217, where he is said to have died.
Being Irish I have grown up with stories of the supernatural so this story did not really concern me too much but I was surprised when we were handed the key to room 217 when we checked in the following day!
My friend and I decided not to change rooms and promptly made our way down the hallway to the room. It was garden level and comfortable, nicely appointed with pleasant decor. Nothing about the room would suggest anything otherworldly.
As we moved through the doorway we noticed that the small entrance hallway led to an alcove that housed a sink and vanity and beyond that a bathroom. The bedroom faced us.
As my friend moved through the door she called to me and asked me to come back and check out a shadow that was silhouetted across the exterior of the entrance to the room. I did so but did not see the shadow. We went outside and looked about to see if the shadow may have been caused by someone going to another room.
There was no one there but as we stood trying to figure out where the figure may have gone, we heard a woman cough. We could not determine where the cough was coming from and dismissed it coming from another room somewhere along the hallway.
We chided each other on our imaginations getting the best of us and settled in. We got ready and made our way out to the town for some exploration and decided to walk up to the tavern for an early supper.
The Tavern is the oldest building in Abingdon and was built in 1777. A year after America declared its independence from Britain.
We had a decent dinner and a bottle of wine. The restaurant is definitely worth a visit and the staff are very pleasant and offered to show us the attics where during the war between the north and south, there was a field hospital.
We left and came back to the inn and had a small glass of port before heading to bed. We had a long drive ahead of us the next day and wanted to sleep early.
We spoke to our friends in Nashville and told them we planned to be there late afternoon and would leave first thing in the morning.
After falling asleep about ten I woke up feeling very, very cold. I was also very groggy with sleep and instead of getting up to turn on the heat, I just pulled the duvet up closer and grabbed a pillow around my body to create warmth. I fell back asleep and had a nightmare. I woke up at 2.45 and noticed my friend was also awake in the other bed. I asked her if she was okay and she said she had woken up freezing cold and couldn't get back to sleep again.
I started to relate the dream when I notice in the semi-darkness (we had left a light on in the bathroom) that there was something draped over her bed and billowed between the distance from her bed to mine and was also covering my bed. I sat up and couldn't quite make it out. It looked like wide white ribbons or bandages but as I looked closer it turned out to be toilet paper.
Now, as I mentioned before the bathroom, where the toilet was located was some distance from the bedroom and was accessed via the hall and the anti-room where the sink and vanity were.
It would have been quite a feat to pull the paper from the toilet roll holder and to spool it out across the three spaces without breaking or twisting and in fact in order to do this would have had to have been removed from the spool and then put back on the holder.
The other disconcerting thing was that it covered my upper torso over the bed covers and was neatly tucked in behind me. It was unbroken and only tore off when I sat up.
There was a thickness in the room and we both had headaches and my friend was finding it a little difficult to breathe. After some time, we decided it was better to try and sleep and calm our fears so we did so and after a few fitful hours woke to the sun rising outside our garden window.
We both still complained of a heavy head and quickly got dressed and went downstairs to breakfast. We mentioned to the staff what had occurred and they were not that surprised. One member related stories from the previous week of a business man who had a much more frightening experience which left him very shaken and swearing never to return.
Another was a nurse traveling to see her family who woke up with the sensation of her ankles been tugged. The same happened to a Japanese businessman traveling with his boss. He changed rooms but the nurse decided to check out.
Relating our story, another guest said that there was supposedly a little girl who had been seen in the corridor of the inn and had reported drowning in a creek when she was six years old. We believe that it may have been her spirit who visited up that evening as it seemed like a childish gesture. Our headaches returned again when we went to pack our bags and once again dissipated when we left the room.
I am sure we experienced a haunting and when I went to check my toiletries noticed that my creams and some of my lotion had been reduced by half. Seems like maybe a little girl may have been playing with our perfumes and potions that evening as well.
That’s our story and this is the first written retelling of it so far.