Monday, November 12, 2012

First Snowfall Ghost

I first heard the following ghost ‘legend’ many years ago. A ghost legend typically has a real haunting connected to it. 

This story is a love story that includes tragic love and mistaken death. It happened during American colonial times. 

It is similar to a YouTube story I shared called “The Cripplegate Ghost,” which is connected to a London legend. This story, once heard, is not easily forgotten. 

Tears in the Snow

Throckmorton family in 1690 gave
the land for this church.
In Gloucester, Virginia, there sits a large wooden frame house that was built in the 19th Century on the foundation of the original brick house that burned down. 

The Throckmorton family, who owned this land, were prominent citizens in early Virginia history. Their house became known as “Church Hill.”  

A daughter from this family married a Mr. William Taliaferro, who gained ownership of the property. 

This couple had a daughter. Early one fall, the father took his beautiful young daughter, Elizabeth Taliaferro to London to visit friends. 

While there Elizabeth fell deeply in love with an English gentleman. The two became engaged and pledged to stay in touch through letters since Elizabeth’s family was due to return to America.

Back at Church Hill, Elizabeth waited anxiously to hear from her betrothed since she wanted to plan her wedding. The letters she sent to her lover were intercepted by her father, who did not want her to marry this Englishman. 

Months past and Elizabeth longed to hear news from her fiance. She fell ill, and friends were alarmed to note she didn’t seem to have the will to live. 

Shocked, the family found her lifeless body one late November day. They buried her in the family plot near the plantations withering flower garden.

That same evening the family’s butler who felt he had been ill-treated by the family decided to take revenge. He snuck into the family plot and removed the fresh earth that lay over Elizabeth’s grave. He opened her coffin with the intent of stealing the jewelry that had been buried with her. 

As he removed her necklace and earrings, the first snow of the season began to fall. He then struggled to slip the ring she wore off her finger, but it wouldn't budge. He used more force in an attempt to pry it loose. With his last violent tug, he was startled to see he had yanked her finger off her hand.

Frozen, he watched as Elizabeth stirred, she was not dead. She had been in a coma, and having her finger severed had awakened her. Terrified, he would be discovered he ran off and never returned to the plantation. 

Elizabeth dazed, barefoot, and thinly dressed, managed to pull herself out of the grave. As she headed toward the house, her hand dripped blood onto the newly fallen snow. 

When she reached Church Hill’s doorstep, she weakly raised her arm to pound upon the door as the wind swirled the snow around her. 

Her father, distracted by his grief, heard the noise and thinking it was his hounds scratching to come in, ignored the sound, and went back to his agonized thoughts. *

The next morning Elizabeth’s body was discovered upon the front steps in several inches of snow. She had frozen to death. 

So tragedy struck the Taliaferro family twice. 

The following generations of this family who lived at Church Hill experienced unusual incidents that led them to believe that Elizabeth’s ghost haunts the plantation. 

Her ghost is said to become active with each year’s first snow.

Family members, as well as their servants, claim that Elizabeth is heard walking down the main staircase at Church Hill. She is then heard picking up firewood and placing it in the downstairs fireplace. Lastly, the crackling of this fire is heard, but when people go downstairs to investigate, this fireplace is empty and cold. 

For many years the residents also reported seeing a trail of blood in the newly fallen snow that led from the family plot up to the home's front door. 

In the spring, violets that grow in profusion around the plantation are always the most lovely near the doorstep where Elizabeth froze to death. It is claimed that Elizabeth’s tears must water these violets. 

As late as the 1870s many witnesses reported seeing the lights on in Church Hill when no one was at home. These lights are always seen during fierce storms.

*  Elements of being buried alive, having a finger cut off or detached during an attempt to steal a ring, freezing to death at the doorstep, while the people within ignore the pleas, are all common themes found in other ghost stories.

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