Come in, come in. Of course, my dears, you all come in and hurry – shut the door against the wind. Shake that rain from your coats and come here to the fire. There: a place for everyone. Now toast your toes and warm your hands, and listen. You notice a chill up your spine, a prickling? No, it’s not a draft. Just listen; and wait – there’ll be more.
Spirits of the dead come close to us now. It’s All Hallows’ Eve, the night of the ancient Britons’ new year and hilltop fire festivals; it’s a good time to placate those forces around that may not wish us well. Hush! Did you hear that? But no; sit – and listen. We’ll have an old tale.
I know you’ve heard it before, the mysterious, never-solved enigma of the haunting of poor John Schuyler Moon’s home for two terrible years after that awful war. 1866 to 1868 it was, and Church Hill was the place, out north of Scottsville, near Glendower Church. The house has since burned, but is remembered as two stories tall with a deep porch and – as Lawyer John’s niece Frances Moon Butts recalls, “many queer closets.” What? Ah – no, it’s nothing, just a log falling in the grate. Be still.
There were eight or nine rooms in the house – isn’t it odd we can’t remember the exact number; and a wing to one side. Above the front porch was a window to the upper hall. One of those odd closets gave off the roof of the wing, and this became known as the “Ghost Closet”; this is where the ghost got in the house.
Virginia Moore is one who’s told the tale. As she says, the times were troubled – the Civil War lost, Reconstruction an “agony,” and everything chaotic. Onto the scene, in the summer of 1866, ride two strangers, rough-looking white men, who knock at Church Hill’s front door and demand to see John Schuyler Moon. All the good adults were at church, so the disappointed men curse, turn, and spur their mounts to ride off – in the direction of a nearby grave yard.
Upon his return home, Moon attempted to find the unknown men, whose horses were distinctive. Though the neighborhood was searched as far as North Garden, no trace of them was ever found, and the incident might have been forgotten except that soon afterward the mystery began.