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Haunting happenings at Abram's Delight

By Elizabeth Libby - Daily Staff Writer

(Oct. 27, 1995) One of the most active local ghosts in recent years is Mary, one of two spirits haunting Abram's Delight in Winchester. Built in 1754, the limestone structure is the oldest house in Winchester and is home to the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society. The house was built by Isaac Hollingsworth, a Quaker whose grandfather, Thomas, came to America from England with William Penn in 1682.

When the home was restored in 1951, carpenters reported seeing the shadowy figure of a tall gentleman dressed in Quaker clothing and a hat walk up the front steps in to the home and come back out about 10 minutes later. The ghost then vanished.

The gentleman hasn't been seen for a while, but Mary, the daughter of David Hollingsworth, has.

Mediums visiting the house over the years have confirmed Mary's existence. The staff at Abram's Delight attributes a number of strange occurrences to Mary, who died in the house in 1917.

Mary lived an adventurous life for a woman in the early 20th century. A masculine woman of about 6 feet, Mary disguised herself as a man and drove a chuck wagon out West during the Civil War to make money for her family. While there, she became engaged to a woman, but returned home unmarried. The woman's father tracked mary back to Winchester and made her family pay money for the deception. When Mary died, her sister Annie didn't tell anyone until the next day, leaving Mary's body in the house. Her spirit remains there.

A couple of years ago, historical society volunteer Mary Lou Koontz locked up the home late one evening and was the first one to return the next morning. When she walked upstairs to the second floor, a vase that had been upright was laying flat on the shelf, and a nearby chest was pulled into the middle of the floor.

On another occasion, Mrs. Koontz said she and another volunteer were sitting downstairs during a thunderstorm when they both heard the loud sound of crystal breaking upstairs. They could find nothing and are certain it was Mary.

This July, Cissy Shull, executive secretary for the historical society, closed the office late one evening and returned the next morning to find the volume on her stereo turned all the way up. That same morning, the volume on the jukebox in the Winchester-Frederick County Chamber of Commerce office next door was also turned up loud. In August, the water in the second-0floor bathroom turned on by itself, and in September, a computer in the office adjacent to Mrs. Shull's turned on without assistance.

"I think she just wants attention," said Mrs. Shull, who said she often feels someone is watching her when she is alone in the office.

Note: This story is reprinted from The Northern Virginia Daily's Oct. 27, 1995 Real Estate section.

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