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Jenkins, the ghost, did it!

By Elizabeth Libby -- Daily Staff Writer

(Oct. 27, 1995) Joy Costello doesn't know if LaGrange Farm on U.S. Route 11 near Stephens City is haunted, but the stories suggest it is.

The home was built in 1770 and was purchased by the McCloud family in 1828. The Costellos bought the property in 1971 and are the home's fourth owners.

During the Civil War, a servant named Jenkins is said to have fled from the Union army that was roundup slaves, jumped into a well in the back yard and broke his neck.

Mrs. Costello said her children are convinced that Jenkins comes back occasionally for a visit.

The family had never heard any stories abut their home being haunted, but during their first night in the house, Mrs. Costello said she heard a loud crash. When she went to investigate in her young daughter's room, she found a large desk overturned and a broken lamp.

Her daughter sat up in bed and said "the ghost did it," Mrs. Costello said. What Mrs. Costello also knew was that the desk had been placed against a wall where a door had been before the family renovated the house.

That same day, a local woman arrived to help unpack the family's belongings and told Mrs. Costello that town residents told her she shouldn't help the family because the house was haunted.

"I don't really put a lot of stock (in the stories), but I recognize that there are things you can't explain at the time," Mrs. Costello said.

When the family first moved into the the house, a number of items were moved and broken by unexplained means, Mrs. Costello said. Once, a large mirror fell off the wall into the middle of the room. Mrs. Costello inspected the mirror, only to find that the wires on the back of the mirror were still intact and the hooks on the wall were in perfect shape.

On another occasion, Mrs. Costello's daughter borrowed a pin that she left on her dresser one evening. The next day, Mrs. Costello found the pin on her own dresser, but her daughter had not returned it yet.

"We were assured it was moved by an interested party," she said.

Apparently Jenkins also can speak. Mrs. Costello's late husband, Lew, once heard someone calling him from another room, but the room was empty. One of her five children often talked about the talking door when she was about 3 years old. Mrs. Costello now wonders if it was Jenkins.

After so many of her belongings had been damaged, Mrs. Costello decided one day to have a talk with the ghost. "I was by myself so I said, 'It's fine for you to stay here, but we're nice people and we like living here. I would appreciate it if you would stop breaking my things." It stopped.

Mrs. Costello said she never plans to sell LaGrange Farm, but if she did, she doesn't believe most people would be afraid to share their space with a ghost. Instead, she said, "I think they'd consider it quaint and kind of cute."

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

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