ime t' was the
old folks would sit around on evenings in the dim light of a candle -- or maybe a kerosene
lamp -- with the flickering flame of the fire in the fireplace, surrounded by the
portraits of folks long passed and relate to each other these tales.
Aunt Bessie Pierce told this tale. It took place at Maple Lawn when Bessie and my
father were children.
" One day, all of the family were eating the midday meal in the dining room when a
female relation arrived for a visit. As she came down the hall, she looked in the parlor
and saw an old lady sitting in the rocking chair. 'Hmm,' she thought, ' it's strange that
this person is sitting in here alone while the rest of the family are all at the table.'
When she got to the dining room, she asked, 'Cousin Arthur, who is the guest in the
He was very surprised and declared 'But there's nobody in the parlor'. He jumped up and
rushed in there, and sure enough the room was empty. Arthur then turned to his cousin and
asked 'What did this person look like?'
The cousin described in some detail, 'She was an elderly woman dressed in black, trimmed
in white lace and sitting in the rocking chair.'
When he heard these words, he exclaimed 'If only I could have seen her, I would have asked
her where the money was!!!'
The cousin asked 'What are you talking about?'
He explained, 'Many years ago, my grandmother was saving all of her money to send her
young daughter to school in England. One day, the little girl was running and playing in
the yard. She tripped over a tree root and fell. She was severely injured and she died
shortly thereafter. My grandmother was very distracted by her grief. She hid the money
away and refused to tell anyone where it had been placed. She carried that secret with her
to the grave. However, she has been seen many times since. If you ever see her
again, you must ask her, ' where is the money?,' and she will tell you'."
Her sister Julia Moore then told this tale: "Some friends and I saw
this same apparition sometime later. We were grown young women, walking along
the farm path through the fields at Maple Lawn when we saw a strange woman in an
old-fashioned dress walking towards us. She swept past us never saying a word.
We all thought 'This is certainly a rude somebody.' Turning around to look
for her, we found that she had vanished! This left us feeling a bit odd as we were
standing in the middle of peanut fields and there was just no place for any mortal being
Aunt Nell's tale: "Shortly after the Civil War, Arie Rayner Lenow and her family
lived in the old Etheridge house upon the west bank of the Chowan River near
Colerain. The Etheridge family had moved elsewhere leaving the house furnished, including
the family portraits hanging on the walls.
One night a violent storm swept over the countryside. Lightning flashed continuously and
thunder jarred the house. Midway the storm the grandfather clock began striking while the
hands were on neither the hour nor half-hour. Amidst the bonging Mr. Etheridge's picture
quavered and then fell shattering to 'the floor, splattering the glass.
Next morning, the news came, and it was not unexpected. Mr. Etheridge had died during the
night and at the exact time his picture had fallen."
Cousin Eunice relates Aunt Pat's tale of The Phantom Coach: "John Alexander
Rayner had two sisters, Pat and Sally, who lived at the old Rayner homeplace in
Bertie County between Powellsville and Cremo. A third sister (Arie), had married the
widower Lenow lived in a small house down the road apiece.
Before the War Lenow had lived in Rocky Mount with his first wife. He was rich then, and
now he delighted in telling the Rayners about his fine coach and many servants. Such
stories were just about the only riches either family had brought out of the war.
Having advanced in years, one Sunday afternoon Lenow became very sick and he was expected
to die at any time. Meanwhile Aunt Pat was sitting on the front porch of the Rayner home.
Suddenly she sees this elegant coach coming down the road, a beautiful coach with a red
capped coachman and two fashionably dressed black men standing behind, and drawn by fine
black horses, stepping high. The coach carried only one passenger, a woman; it comes on
down the road and goes around the corner towards where the Lenows lived.
Then, just about five minutes afterwards, word comes to the Rayner home that Lenow had
just died. Aunt Pat was much perturbed. She could find no other person who had seen the
coach although she inquired up and down the road several miles. Then she was convinced:
Lenow's first wife whom he seemed to have loved so dearly was waiting for him. When he
died 'she came and got him.' "
Raynor Moore would relate "In 1863 shortly after the old Doctor Godwin Moore had
returned from a very late house call and had retired to his chamber for the night.
Suddenly he heard someone going up the stairs. Looking out into the entry-way
he recognized his son Jim mounting the stairs.
Surprised to see him, his father said, 'Jim, you'll have to bed your horse yourself as
there is no one here to do it.'
And Jim said, 'All right, but first I want to see my sons.' and went on up the
The exhausted doctor returned to his chamber and never heard his son come back down the
The next morning they found Jim in the stable, still holding onto his horse and saddle
just as if he had just slipped off his horse --- dead.
His father the old doctor, always wondered 'What did I see on the stair?' "
Grandmother Parker would then tell : "Tim, my husband, heard his
mother call him very clearly, 'Tim, Come here.' He got out of his chair
and climbed the stair before he remembered that she was not there, but in Norfolk with his
sister. The next day word came that his mother had died at the exact moment he had heard
her calling him."
Mama then would tell: "One night my father Tim Parker was driving home
alone in his buggy through a very swampy area between Middle Swamp and Sarem when suddenly
the whole buggy lit up in a glow as bright as day which stayed with him all the way home.
By this time he was so panic stricken he turned his horse into the lot unhitched and
rushed into the house and just stood there shaking."
Aunt Bessie and Aunt Julia told about how their Grandmother Ann Ward Moore, shortly
after the death of one of her small daughters, saw one evening her daughter's image rise
at the foot of the garden and slowly ascend into the heavens.
They also told of the time one of the neighbors to celebrate the New Year SHOT his Farm
Bell and broke it into a thousand pieces.
From James Moore: The Strange Package: While Aunt Airy was living in the Etheridge
House at Colerain, her two sisters came to visit. While they were there, a wedding took
place in the neighborhood, and they were all invited to attend.
Since everybody was in reduced circumstances due to the recent War, it was customary for
people to lend their china, silver, cut glass and linens whenever there was a wedding or
similar festivity. Accordingly, Aunt Airy and her sisters bundled up the few valuables
they had and set off for the wedding.
It was a short distance away and they decided to walk. They had to pass over a small
branch in the woods. They had just crossed the stream when they saw a small package on the
ground. They assumed that somebody going on ahead of them had dropped something.
All three of them bent down to pick it up. All three of them said "I have it".
All three of them stood up. All three of them looked down to see that they were
empty-handed and that there was no package ANYWHERE.
They decided that this was not a place to linger in, and they hurried on to the wedding!
For many years tales have circulated claiming that Mulberry Grove is haunted by the
restless spirits of the Cottens and Moores:
J.T. Lewter, who rented the farm for many, many years told Margaret Colvin that when he
and his family first moved there about 1927 or 1928 they were standing in the East Room
upstairs and looked out onto the upper porch and saw a ghost woman in a rocking chair.
This ties in with a tradition that women ghosts can be heard rocking there.
Once the tenants were all sitting in front of the fire in Grandmother's Room, which was
at the back of the main part of the house downstairs. The wood ran out and a big girl
Irene Lewter offered to go and get some out of the wood box in the parlor. Just before she
opened the door, she heard a noise. However, she ignored it, thinking that it was a cat
which had knocked down some of the wood in the box. When she opened the door, she was
shocked to see a woman in white standing in the middle of the room. She glided instead of
walked across the floor. She appeared to be sunk down in the floor with only her body from
the knees up being visible. Irene declared that the ghost "fixed me with her
eye" and then glided over to the southeast window, where she vanished. Irene began
screaming and told her family she would never spend another night in that house. It was
only with the greatest difficulty that she was convinced to continue living at Mulberry
Grove. Irene told this herself to Margaret Colvin.
On another occasion, the Lewter family saw two ghost women leaning on the fence next to
the Office and looking towards the east.
Also, one of J.T. Lewter's daughters told Cousin Margaret that she tried to open a door
one day and something pushed against her from the other side. When the door was finally
opened, there was no one there!
Tenants weren't the only ones to "see things" at Mulberry Grove. Members of
the Moore family also had unusual experiences:
One night William Edward Moore was riding home in his buggy from a trip to Aulander. He
was coming down the road by Pleasant Grove Church and could see the house before turning
into the Rich Square-St. Johns road. Every room in the house was lighted up. Thinking that
a large number of guests had arrived, he hurried to the house. As he pulled into the front
yard, however, everything was dark. He then discovered that his family were the only
people there, and they were all in bed.
On another occasion, Uncle Will was off carousing in Aulander, so his wife Aunt Annie
had the two children Helen and Felix sleeping with her in the East Room. In the middle of
the night, she was awakened by a great knocking on the door. Then she clearly heard her
dead mother- in-law Julia Wheeler Moore calling to her " Annie, Annie, Get up!
Where's Will?" She was so unnerved by this experience that she sat up for the rest of
Dr. Godwin Cotten Moore's sister Emeline married the brother of Dr. Henry B. LeVert
lived in Alabama. When Henry's father died, he left a will that displeased the son.
Therefore, Henry went to court and broke the will and ended up with the entire estate.
Shortly afterwards, strange things started happening. Every night, the family would see
doors open and shut and hear people walking up and down. However, Henry LeVert could
actually SEE something - the ghost of his father. Night after night, Henry would pace the
halls quarrelling with the invisible phantom: "Why in the devil did you come back
here? Why are you bothering us? What do you want?" Becoming concerned for her
husband's brother's reason, Emeline wrote to her brother Dr. Moore in North Carolina. He
eventually went down to Alabama to investigate the situation. He later told his family
that he too saw the doors open and shut and heard the footsteps. But he never saw the
ghost of Old Man LeVert. Finally, the situation became so bad that the family had to sell
the place and move away. This was told by John Wheeler Moore to his grandson Raynor Moore.
Starting in 1855 John Wheeler Moore and his wife Ann Ward lived in a magnificent brick
mansion on the outskirts of Murfreesboro. It was called "Anniesdale" and
immediately behind Chowan College in the area now occupied by the dormitory Parker Hall.
Their daughter Helen Manly Moore was born there on November 17, 1862. The Civil War was in
its second year. The Union blockade was in force and prevented medicines and other
essential supplies from getting through not only to the Confederate army but also to needy
civilians. Little Helen fell ill with malaria, and her family was in despair. Then John's
brother Jule found a druggist who sold him some quinine, the medicine needed to treat
malaria. He hurried to Anniesdale, where they gave the drug to Helen. To everyone's
astonishment and horror, she died almost instantly. Later investigation revealed that the
druggist who sold Jule the medicine had been drunk. Instead of quinine, he had given him
morphine. Helen died on May 9, 1863 and was buried in the yard at Anniesdale. Uncle Jule
grieved greatly over her death and always blamed himself for it. Also, this was the first
child that John and Ann lost. They took it hard. One evening around dusk, Ann Ward thought
she saw something jumping around near her child's grave. She went down to see what it was.
She saw a sort of mist in which was in the form of her child. As she watched, it rose up
and then disappeared. This story was told to Margaret Colvin by her mother Helen Moore
Anniesdale burned in 1865, and the Moore family moved to Maple Lawn, which was Ann
Ward's property. Later they went back to transplant some roses from the Murfreesboro
garden. While they were digging up the bushes, they saw the old gardener, who was quite
dead! Bessie Pierce told this to Nancy Wertz.
Finally, I have the story my grandfather Raynor Moore told me of the one time he
thought he may have seen a ghost. This was at Maple Lawn when he was a small boy. One
evening towards dusk, Rosa Skinner was going to go check a hen's nest, which was down the
hill back behind the barn at the edge of the woods. She asked Raynor to walk with her.
They arrived at the right place and Rosa bent over to see how many eggs were in the nest.
While she was occupied, Raynor saw something rise up in the woods directly in front of
them. He described it as all white and looking like a cow with a sun bonnet on it! Raynor
gasped "Rosa, look at that!" Rosa stood up, saw the thing and screamed. Then
they both took off running for the house. Raynor himself confided that he was extremely
upset by this event and that it took a great deal to calm him down. In later years, Bessie
Pierce, his sister, discussed this happening with Margaret Colvin. She said "Raynor
was a perfectly normal, healthy country boy. If he had really seen a cow with a sun bonnet
on its head, he would have laughed. Obviously, what he saw was too terrible to ever be put
The blacks over in Mooretown tell us that Raby Woods is haunted by old Mr. Raby and his
It seems that the old man had hid his gold in the woods and when his wifes son
happened upon him one day counting it, they fell into fighting so fiercely they each
killed the other.
(You will find the two widows listed in the 1830 Hertford Co census next to each other. I
believe these to be James Jones IIs sister Sarah, who married first Wiggins and then
Raby, and her sons widow. smk)
You and I KNOW what Maple Lawn is like. When the house is full of people, it has an
almost beneficent aura to it, like a glow. However, when you're there with one or two
people or on your own, there is something creepy about it. It's like you're always just
slightly off balance, or just barely missing seeing something out of the corner of your
About the portraits: you remember how Esther Cotten and Richard Johnston glowered down
at you as you came through the front door. When Grandmama had her first baby, Granddaddy
got an old black woman from Mooretown on the place to help out during Grandmama's
10-day confinement. When my Daddy was born, Grand daddy went to get the woman again
,and she absolutely refused to come ("I'm not going back up there in that big house
and stay with Miss Annie's EYES following me every where I go.") The Bazemore
cousins have a portrait of Howell Jones, Ann Ward's step-father with jagged tears in it.
Seems the cook threw a stick of stove wood at it because HIS EYES followed her.
Esther Cotten's portrait in the front hall was eventually usurped by the Mulberry Grove
secretary which Cousin Margaret brought down from Washington in 1966/7. Some years later
she told me how it would make all kinds of strange knocks and noises. I told her that I
had never heard anything come out of it, so whatever was in it must have been happy to be
back in North Carolina. Well, some time later I went to Mulberry Grove for something and
then came straight to Maple Lawn. I came through the front door. As I turned into the
parlor, the secretary let out a mighty knock! It did it again the day Grandmama was
This leads me (James) to the strangest thing that ever happened to me at Maple Lawn. It
was in the summer of 1974 after Grandmama died. Phillip was up there visiting (his Uncle
Arthur.) At night, he and I would stay in Grandmama and Grand daddy's old room at the end
of the wing. Otherwise, the place was deserted, and he would spend most of the day up at
my parents' house with Michael and J.R. Anyway, one hot summer day, I spent the morning
out in my two acres of tobacco doing whatever. Around the middle of the day, I walked over
to the house and sat down on the screen porch to rest for a few minutes.
Suddenly, I heard something run through the Long Room upstairs. It sounded like a young
girl in satin slippers - like a ballet dancer.
This was immediately followed by three of the loudest, most crashing knocks that you can
ever imagine. They were so strong that it SHOOK the place where I was sitting. Then all
was quiet. I knew instinctively that they had come from the secretary, and I remembered
Cousin Margaret's statement that three knocks means that a spirit is near. I wasn't
frightened or upset, and in a few minutes walked up to my parents' house for lunch. I
didn't tell Phillip anything about it. That night I got him to go with me as I unlocked
the main part of the house and searched everything. As I suspected, everything was in
place and nothing was disturbed.
Just a few weeks before his death, I, Sally, heard my brother Arthur Cotton Moore
III tell his doctor "No, I don't sleep very well (at Maple Lawn) because all night
long the GHOSTS just keep waking me up ."