Maryland Hospitality

(from John Alexander's "GHOSTS: Washington's most famous ghost stories" Illustration by Harry Dierken)

Three unsuspecting soldiers were given sanctuary from the enemy and shelter from the elements in an old house just across the District line in Maryland. They had become separated from their group during a skirmish and decided not to try to find it again until morning. Morning never came for the three soldiers. Their host was of a different political persuasion. The welcome they had received was simply a trap. He bludgeoned all three to death as they slept soundly on the floor by the fire.

The host had an easy enough time disposing of the bodies and was never tried for the murder. The three soldiers were written off as battle casualties. But, legend says, their host had a difficult time removing the crimson stain on the floor of the bedroom where the three soldiers had died. No matter how hard he scrubbed, the bloodstains remained. Consequently, he kept a rug over the spot. After all, too many questions could be dangerous.

Whether the man died or moved away isn't known, but there were a series of owners down through the next few decades. Although none of them knew for certain just what the dark stains on the bedroom floor were, there is no denying that the strange things that occurred in that room may have led them to suspect the worst - particularly when it was discovered that even paint would not permanently cover the stains, if we accept one reporter's account of attempts to expunge them.

Another peculiarity of the room was that the large oak door to the hallway would never stay closed. As soon as you bolted it and turned away, the creaking of the bolt-action lock and the squeaking of the hinge sent the terrifying message. It wasn't necessary to turn around to know that the door was open again.

According to the story, the three soldiers have continued to keep watch in that room. Perhaps they are trying to atone for their careless mistake of not alternating as lookouts, of not bolting the large oak door; of trusting, in time of war, someone they did not know.

Some think a supernatural occurrence in that house caused the death of one owner. A yellowed newspaper report from the 1920's said that the man was seated in the bedroom where all the mysterious occurrences originated when suddenly the French doors onto the balcony were ripped from their hinges and flung to the ground. They did not break. Neighbors were quoted as saying that the man went into a state of shock from which he never recovered. What else he may have seen or heard was never revealed, for within a few days he died.

One version of this story has it that curious neighbors got to checking the background of the house after hearing the legend. They are supposed to have learned that their recently departed neighbor had the misfortune to have the same last name as the murderous host who had lived in the home during the Civil War.

Finding people willing to live in the old house became more difficult. It fell into a state of disrepair, and not too many years ago those owning the property decided the house must be torn down. It was - as so many local houses haunted by spirits have been over the years.