Town serves as home to ghosts from past
Strange lights. Black cats. Bumps in the night. These are things that can come to mind when thinking about Halloween. ‘Tis the season for ghouls and goblins all over, including Shepherdstown.
Steeped with history, “None of the town is spared of a ghost story,” according to Jim Price, Shepherdstown’s resident historian. These tales go from the top of town on Duke Street all the way past the day care center on River Road.
The Entler Hotel, now Shepherdstown’s visitor center and museum, holds the ghost of Peyton Smith. In the early 1800s, Smith and his best friend got into a disagreement during a poker game and challenged one another to a duel.
Death was not the intent, however.
“Peyton Smith did not load his pistol intentionally, because this was his very best friend,” Price said.
Smith’s friend attempted to shoot over his head to miss him but, instead, mortally wounded him.
Smith was brought back to the Entler for treatment and placed in Room 1 where he later died. Since then, it has been said that people have heard his cries of, “My mother, my mother! I want my mother. Where is my mother?”
“(These) sounds were reported to management by guests and patrons,” Price said.
Laird Marshall, the manager of the Yellow Brick Bank Restaurant, also reported ghostly activity at the Yellow Brick Bank, just across the street from the Entler.
Marshall spoke of a woman too afraid to sit at Table 25 in the mid-1990s.
“She grabbed my arm, and she said, ‘Oh no no no, I won’t sit there.’ I said, ‘Well, why?’ She said, ‘The ghost of a woman lives at this booth.’ … I could feel her hands start to tremble.”
After the woman left, Marshall mentioned it to the bartender who spoke of strange things happening at night while closing.
“‘I’ve had a glass on the hanging rack jump off to its own death,'” Marshall said the bartender recounted.
Other strange events have happened there, including a manager coming in to find the stereo left on, tuned to old-time music despite assurances from closing employees that it had been turned off.
“It all comes back to the ghost at Table 25,” Marshall said.
These strange occurrences are not exclusive to downtown Shepherdstown. Hauntings have also been reported on Shepherd University’s campus.
Christy Toms, the library learning assistant at the Scarborough Library, has been inventorying ghost stories for a historical cyber tour of the university. Toms spoke of an old man who haunts the clock tower of McMurran Hall.
“He comes out at night and looks through the shutters at the students walking,” Toms said.
McMurran Hall, originally built as the city hall for the town, was also used as a hospital during the Civil War. Toms did not seem surprised that there is a ghostly legend about the building.
“I would imagine there’s some residual, and it could be one of the soldiers,” she said.
With all the haunted tales that use Shepherdstown as their backdrop, it begs the question, “Are these accounts fact or fiction?”
That may be left up to the individual, but whether it is Peyton Smith’s cries for his mother, the mysterious lady-ghost of Table 25 or the man in the clock tower, locals are certain to be in for a spooky night this Halloween.