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Middletown farm has friendly ghosts

By Elizabeth Libby - Daily Staff Writer

(Oct. 27, 1995) Martha and Paul Dixon knew their house had a ghost when they purchased it in February 1983, but that didn't matter to them. Mrs. Dixon said she likes the feeling she gets when she arrives home. "It's a warm feeling," she said. "It's a happy house."

Although stories abound about ghosts at Western View Farm, built in 1830 near Middletown, Mrs. Dixon said at least one experience remains unexplainable. Before the Dixons moved in, Mrs. Dixon and a friend were scraping paint in separate rooms when her friend called to her from the bottom of the stairway. The doors and windows stood wide open in the unfurnished home and a breeze blew through the house, but the pair could smell the strong odor of men's cologne. The only place they could smell it was at the bottom of the steps. After about 30 minutes, the odor dissipated.

"It was real strange," said Mrs. Dixon. "There was no explanation for it."

Previous owners reportedly often heard noises in the house, such as the sound of people walking, items being moved, and the door to the widow's walk in the attic being opened. The owners also could never keep their shades down in the parlor of the house.

There's also speculation that a woman once seen floating down the steps in a long dress is Molly McCloud, a Southern sympathizer and spy for the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and girlfriend of John Mosby of Mosby's Rangers. Molly's family owned the house during the war. She allowed Confederate soldiers to use the house as a signal post, and is said to have entertained Union officers in an effort to obtain information for the South. In 1864, Molly was arrested by the Union army and charged as a spy. She was imprisoned for a time, and was last seen on the streets of Washington, D.C., prior to World War I.

Mrs. Dixon likes to think that the cologne belonged to one of Molly's friends.

Because the home is "warm, a fun house," said Mrs. Dixon, a Realtor, she doesn't think she'd have difficulty selling it. The ghost stories "would make it worth more money because it's a friendly ghost," she said. "It all depends on what kind of ghost you have."

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

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