Sunday, February 9, 2014

Mount St. Mary’s Poltergeist

Father Daniels, a professor at Mount St. Mary’s College * located in the northern Blue Ridge Mountains of Maryland spent 33 years collecting ghost stories that were told on this campus near Emmitsburg.

St. Mary at the turn of the century.
St. Mary is the oldest independent Catholic College in America. Its academic standards are as solid as the old stone structures that dot its campus. The school proudly dates its history back to the 1700s.

Father Daniels states he never had any interest in ghosts, but when as a young teacher **, he was required to live in an assigned room on campus. He quickly found out his place was known to be haunted. 

His baffling experiences in this room began his interest in the paranormal--though he openly admits he does not have “an explanation for ghosts.” But he does enjoy telling a good story.

One of Father Daniel’s favorites is about “Sister Innocent,” who was Mother Superior on the campus in the 1930s. After she passed, many of the nuns reported hearing her walking through the convent. They took this activity in stride--as they stated they would just pray for her and the activity would settle down.

Another story he shares is about one of the founding priests of the college. This priest is known as “the guardian angel of the mount.” The story states that if a student showed signs of being distressed that this father would appear to comfort them. Legend says his appearances have never frightened anyone.

Photo in Library of Congress
Father Daniel’s favorite story by far to tell is the one that happened to him.

His first year on campus, he was assigned Room 252 in Brute Hall, which was actually a suite that included a living space, bedroom, and bathroom. Over the next twelve months, he had numerous encounters with an apparent poltergeist or a noisy ghost.

In the mornings, he would find objects had moved during the night while he slept. One constant occurrence involved a clock he had placed on his bedroom mantelpiece. He would find this clock moved to the middle or other end--he would often awaken to the sounds of it falling, but he never saw it on the floor.

His bed was another item that was moved. He would return to find it had scooted across the room. He also heard doors opening and closing within the suite.

Curious, the father did some research and discovered that the campus did not experience tremors, nor did Brute hall have any mines or caves beneath it. He considered that it might be the old building settling for it was built on the side of a mountain. But the problem with this theory was when he checked with other priests in the hall, none of them were experiencing similar odd activity.

Yet another strange occurrence that happened in the suite occurred regularity for weeks and then would stop and then start up again. In the middle of the night, Father Daniels would be awakened by the squeaking sound of his bathroom door opening, the light would be turned on, and then the door would close. When he would go to investigate, no one was there.

The father ponders with humor why a ghost would need a light or need to use a bathroom.

After Father Daniel moved out of Brute Hall, it was turned into a student residence. For years afterward, students would approach him that lived in Room 252 and tell him stories of what they had experienced. It was always mentioned that things moved around by themselves.

* Today Mount St. Mary’s is a University.

** When Father Daniels was first assigned to St. Mary, all priests lived on campus with the students.

I originally read this story in a wonderful collection of ghost stories entitled Haunted Heritage: A Definitive Collection of North American Ghost Stories by Michael Norman & Beth Scott. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in true ghost stories. It is available on Amazon as an e-book or in paperback.

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