Monday, August 15, 2011

The Ghost of Margaret Varrick

This is the story of a misplaced body. The haunting takes place at Liberty Hall in Frankfurt, Kentucky. The ghost who resides at Liberty Hall is known as the “Lady in Gray”. 

Senator John Brown, the first senator from Kentucky, in 1796 built a beautiful Federal brick mansion, just above the Kentucky River. The Browns entertained many important luminaries including General Lafayette and Aaron Burr. Several generations of the Brown family inherited Liberty Hall until 1934 when the last descendant sold the mansion to a group of concerned citizens, in 1937 it became a historical museum. Liberty Hall today is a National Historic Landmark.

The Lady in Gray tale begins when Margaret Varrick, Mrs. Browns’ aunt, traveled 800 miles from New York to Liberty Hall in 1817 to assist and comfort the Browns when one of their children died. Margaret was 65 years old at the time and unfortunately three days after she arrived she died of a heart attack in one of the mansion’s bedrooms. She was buried in the small family plot in Liberty Hall’s gardens.

Later when the family plot was moved, Margaret’s remains were lost. It was after this that her ghost, small and prim, dressed all in gray, began to appear in various rooms throughout the mansion. Margaret's ghost is considered an intelligent haunting. She has often interacted with people. While the Brown family still owned the mansion the ghost of Margaret woke several of their guests; they were startled to see she was tucking them in. Staff members at the hall found blankets folded and mending tasks completed in the morning.

Margaret's ghost has been attributed to opening and closing doors, and turning light switches on and off. Strange lights have been seen moving around the mansion at night. Other activity has been noted through the years-- visitors and staff have reported feeling cold spots and Margaret has been seen peering out of the mansions’ upstairs windows.

A new bride, married to Senator Brown’s grandson, Benjamin was the first to encounter the Lady in Gray. She was staying in the bedroom where Margaret died when she saw her walk across the room. Since this sighting many more have occurred in this same room. One visitor, Rebecca Averill, saw Margaret standing by the fireplace, frightened she ducked under the covers when she looked again the ghost had vanished. Benjamin’s niece, Mary Mason Scott, saw Margaret on several occasions. In the early 1930s as Mary slept in the haunted room she awoke to see Margaret’s ghost standing by her bed.

Since the Lady in Gray’s ghost had been seen numerous times standing at an upstairs window in the hall, a college professor wanted to determine if moonlit nights could cause ghostly optical illusions in the window pane. He stayed at the mansion through one moon cycle and found it couldn’t. During one of the last nights he slept in the mansion he felt a gentle touch, he woke up and saw Margaret’s ghost smiling at him.

One of the
In recent times during a restoration of Liberty Hall a curator of the museum was taking pictures to document the progress. In one picture there was a faint image of a woman coming down the staircase. No one was on the stairs when this picture was taken. This same curator found three antique gold bracelets, from the 1800s, on the nightstand in the haunted bedroom. No one had ever noticed them before and they were not listed on the museums’ inventory.

Some say Margaret’s presence has been seen and felt all these years because her peace was disturbed. Her spirit seems to be benevolent--so maybe she just enjoys hanging around.

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