Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Williamsburg’s George Wythe House

George Wythe House
Two ghosts are said to haunt this house located in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.

Ann Skipwith and her husband Sir Peyton Skipwith were friends with George Wythe, who was one of America’s first law professors. Wythe was Thomas Jefferson’s mentor.

The Skipwiths, in the late 1700s, often enjoyed extended visits in Wythe’s home in Williamsburg.

When Ann died in 1779, she was laid to rest in Bruton Parish graveyard. Why she died remains a mystery. Two stories are told. The first states she died in her husband’s arms after a miscarriage.

The second story is more dramatic.

It states that Ann, while attending a ball, down the street from the Wythe House, at the Governor’s Palace, got into an argument with her husband. She accused him of having an affair with her sister.

After they argued, it is said she ran home through the snow--losing one of her slippers along the way. Shortly afterward, she committed suicide in her room at the Wythe House.

After Ann’s death, her husband married her sister. It is said that her ghost lingers at the Wythe House out of jealousy.

One account of her presence states witnesses have heard her running up the stairs. They report hearing one sharp heel hit the step then the more muted sound of a barefoot.

Face peering out of George Wythe House
Several reports state people have seen her ghost wearing the ball gown she wore on the night of her death.

The room she stayed in is also active. The closet door swings open on its own, and the aroma of a lavender perfume is noted.

One witness describes her encounter in this bedroom. She Ann’s ghost exit the closet, wearing a cream-colored satin dress and one red shoe.

She walked to the mirror, where she gazed blankly at herself. She then just vanished.

Yet, another ghost said to haunt this house is the owner, George Wythe.

George Wythe
In 1806, when George was 80 years old, his grandnephew and his only heir, George Sweeney, poisoned him.

Sweeney was deep in gambling debts and facing financial ruin at the time. He thought killing his elderly great-uncle would solve his problem.

What he didn’t count on was Wythe’s loyal former slave, Lydia Broadnax. She saw Sweeney poison Wythe’s cereal. She then arranged for Wythe to change his will just before he died.

Sweeney was charged with Wythe’s murder but the only witness, Lydia being a former slave could not testify against him.

Many believe, George Wythe’s ghost returns to his home on the anniversary of his death- June 8th. Guests who have slept in his old bedroom on this date, report feeling a firm, cold hand press down on their foreheads.

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