Things That Go Bump in the Night

Ferry at night

SPOILER ALERT to Paranormal investigators!  If you do not want any foreknowledge of Ferry’s spirit activity before you personally investigate, please do not read!


It is not known how long ago Spirits first began to inhabit Ferry Plantation House.  There have been rumors of activity throughout the 20th Century and now into the 21st.  We do know that the peninsula upon which Ferry sits has been lived on since at least the 1500s when the Native Americans, probably the Chesepian, who also built towns across the Lynnhaven River, used the area as hunting grounds.  Our Director, Belinda Nash, personally found dozens of arrowheads while gardening out on the property and during the construction of the Old Donation Farms neighborhood construction crews found what is believed a Native American graveyard.

For many years, local residents said that even while the house was unoccupied, lights inside the house would turn themselves on.  They still do, according to several Volunteers.  One of the duties is go to every room in the house making sure the lights are off when Ferry closes for the day.  Many times, when opening the house for the next day of tours, volunteers will find the lights on in the third floor.

In the pitch black darkness that surrounded the house in the days before the Old Donation Farms development was built, strange balls of lights could be seen, dancing around the roof.

A year or so ago, the Oddity Files, a paranormal group from Indiana with a Paranormal TV show arranged to investigate the house for an episode of their series.

One of the rooms they investigated was the Gift Shop.  When the time came time to play back the video recording made during that session, a strange glowing ball floated by, outside the land-side window behind them.  The globe appeared to be illuminated from within.  Replay after replay, and soliciting opinions from many people, no one could figure out just what it was nor could they come up with a reasonable explanation.

Orb Gift Shop snap

It is possible that the Oddity Files inadvertently caught one of these lights that dance around the roof on their video camera?  They were completely unaware of the anomaly until after they reviewed the footage.   The entire episode can be viewed at:

For many years in the 1980s, the last owner of the house, Mrs. Howren, hired caretakers to watch over the house because she was moving to a nursing home.   One night, while the Caretakers were leaving the farm, their car stalled out at the exit and a white, wispy figure hovered in front of their vehicle.

Was this the Lady in White starting to form in front of them?

The Lady in White has been seen several times about the property.  Many of these sightings have been recorded in Ghosts, Witches, and Weird Tales of Virginia Beach written by Lillian Gilbert, Belinda Nash and Deni Norred.

The caretakers would regularly see particular residual ghostly scene play out, usually on Saturday evenings.  The spirit of an old African-American gentleman would come up from the basement , cross the room, and kneel in front of the west wall apparently intent on some long ago task. After a few minutes, he would rise up and go back through the door through which he came.  Years later, restorations in that room revealed a fireplace behind the wall.

In the course of the investigation through EVPs, Paranormal investigators discovered that his name was Henry and that he had lived in the slave’s quarters on the 3rd floor of the Old Kitchen.   He’d lived out his entire life on the plantation even after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863.  Further EVPs picked up by investigators from the 3rd floor suggest that he was content with his life, had nowhere better to go, and that his favorite pastime was “goin’ fishin’!”.

In February of 1997, a medium from the Edgar Cayce Foundation picked up name Sally while investigating the Best Parlor.   Sally manifested to the medium as a very tall, raven haired beauty dressed in grey and black leaning her head in grief against the mantle of the fireplace.  Family informs us that a young woman named Sally Walke had waited out the Civil War at Ferry, the home of her cousins the McIntoshes, and that it was in April of 1863 when Sally received word that her fiancé had lost his life.   Sally planted the big Magnolia tree that stands outside on the Land side of the House in her fiancé’s memory.

Years later, a paranormal group in the course of their investigation addressed her and asked, “Why do you stand at the fireplace?”  On the recording a young woman’s mournful voice can be plainly heard saying, “I’m so chilled”.

Mrs. Nash used to bring her granddaughter Kathlene to Ferry from the time she was an infant.    When Kathlene was a toddler, she would periodically mention the presence of a  man with a beard wearing a dirty shirt and painting a picture on the 2nd floor landing of the staircase.

One day Mrs. Nash was given a copy of a watercolor of the Walke Manor house and farm as it appeared in the early 1800s painted from memory by General Thomas H. Williamson (1813 – 1888) the son of former owners Thomas and Anne Walke Williamson.

Williamson painting

We’ve since located a photograph of General Williamson and though he’s not wearing a “dirty shirt”, he otherwise seems to match Kathlene’s description.

Thomas Hoomes Williamson


The Caretakers reported that there were at least two children in the House during their time in the house.  There is evidence of even more.

Two children, a boy and a girl, were seen by a former Docent on the 2nd story landing, pressed up against the wall at the top of the stairs.  After their brief appearance, startling the docent, they disappeared.

Did one of these children save Belinda Nash from toppling down those stairs when she lost her balance while running up the stairs, her arms full of costumes, leaving the impression of a hand on her sweater?

One child favored by many Paranormal Investigators is Eric, a young boy who allegedly lost his life by falling from a low window in what is now known as the Conference Room.  Children’s voices have been picked up in that room, both as EVPs and as audible voices.   Toys sometimes move on their own.   One time in the Gift Shop, a toy hoop fell off the wall and rolled across the room, hitting one of the investigators.  A candy bar belonging to a design student in 1997 flew across the room.

Eric’s demise had to have taken place after 1850, when the west addition was added to the house.

One day a volunteer stopped by with a friend of hers on a day Ferry wasn’t open for tours to show her around the grounds.  Her friend began to act nervous so the volunteer asked her if she was alright.

“Let’s go.  Let’s just go right now!“, she replied.  Mystified, the volunteer agreed.  They made their way back to the parking lot to go home.  Once they got to the car, the volunteer asked her friend, “Did you see something, is that what the problem is?”

“Yes!  There was a little girl with hair in ringlets and Mary Jane shoes standing in front of the Brick Oven!” she replied.

Could this be the same little girl that was seen in the doorway of the Library by the Oddity Files crew while they were investigating here for their TV show?

Could one of these little girls, or both, have been the spirit of Bessie McIntosh, daughter of Charles F. and Isabella McIntosh, who passed away in 1860 at the age of 5?  The Oddity File’s crew member was positive that the little girl she saw looked just like the little girl in this photograph.



Bessie does fit the description of several sightings of a little girl with ringlets wearing Mary Jane shoes.

And there are other children who do not.

Another little girl was seen by a clergyman attending the 297th anniversary of the trial of Grace Sherwood.  He’d never been to the plantation before, nor had he heard any of the stories about Ferry being haunted.  Walking into the Dining Room, a little girl with dark ringlets looked at him with sad eyes, then disappeared through a wall.   The minister guessed that the little girl he saw was aged 6 to 8.

A psychic once claimed that there was the spirit of a little girl named Mary on the grounds.  The only little girl name Mary found in the records is George and Elizabeth Walke McIntosh’s little girl named Mary Isabella McIntosh, born 1802 and who passed away in 1805.  She would have been born across the Lynnhaven River at the McIntosh’s Summerville Plantation, but there is every reason to believe that she would have visited the Walke Manor house with her parents.


While the above “little girls” were described as having dark hair, little blond girls have also been seen.

One Docent  saw who she thought was Belinda Nash’s granddaughter Kathlene skipping through the hall through the Library and into the Best Parlor.  She followed her, but when she got to the Best Parlor expecting to find Kathlene playing Hide and Seek, the room was completely empty.  Kathlene was in another part of the house altogether, and had not even been downstairs.

Port City Paranormal based in Wilmington, NC has investigated Ferry many times.  The team photo-documents each room beforehand.  In one of the photos of the Green Room, they noticed an anomaly in the window.  They lightened the picture and zoomed in on the image.  What they found standing in the window is mind boggling.

The photograph and Port City Paranormal’s discussion of it can be found on their website.  The link is below.

Another photograph taken in the Best Parlor shows a sad looking pregnant woman dressed in blue reflected in the window.  There was no one in the room matching that description at the time the photo was taken.


We do know that Mrs. Charles F. McIntosh was eight months pregnant at the time of her husband’s death in the Civil War serving in the Confederate Navy.  He was the captain of the Ironclad “Louisiana” when it was destroyed by David Farragut’s Union armies in 1862.  Captain McIntosh died from his injuries on May 13th and his son Charles, Jr. was born the following June.

Is the figure in the window Mrs. McIntosh?  Perhaps the energy of the trauma of learning of her husband’s death caused her image to be forever recorded in that room.

On the mantle in the Library is a very old leather box with brass hobnails and lined with newsprint.  It was donated by a descendent of the Walke family members who’d moved to Chillicothe, Ohio in the early 1800s, before the Manor House burned down.  A psychic from the Edgar Cayce foundation touring Ferry heard the name Mary-Margaret in connection with the box, but the name rang no bells.


(to be continued)