Special Halloween Episode – Evelyn Byrd’s Ghost

Westover is one of the great James River Plantation manor homes. After the Byrd family purchased the land, they undertook the spectacular monument meant to reflect their prestigious colonial position. The Byrd’s left their mark all over the land, from William Byrd II’s grave to powerful eagles adorning the carriage entrance gates. A nearby graveyard once attached to Westover Parish also contains Byrd family remains.

Beyond the tangible reminders, however, the Byrd’s left a much more ethereal, paranormal reminder behind. William Byrd II’s daughter Evelyn Byrd, the colonial beauty, who, according to tradition, caught King George I’s attention, causing him to comment about all of the beautiful birds in his Virginia colony, fell in love during her English visit. Her love choice, however, was not met with William’s pleasure. He demanded their separation, which sent Evelyn into despair.

Upon the Byrds’ return to Virginia, William became more detached and Evelyn fell into melancholy. She never married. She did cultivate at least one close friendship and that was with neighbor Anne Harrison. The pair made a pact stating that whoever died first would visit the other who remained alive.

That pact was put to the test just before Evelyn’s 30th birthday, she caught smallpox and died soon thereafter. Evelyn honored her agreement, and ever since that first meeting between ghost and living, Evelyn has been witnessed by many.

LINKS TO THE PODCAST:

SPECIAL LINKS:

PREVIOUS HALLOWEEN EPISODES:





All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The featured image and subsequent images are from my various trips to Westover and Evelynton Plantations.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and Kevin MacLeod “Vanished” found on Soundcloud.

Special Halloween Podcast – Haunted Shirley

Shirley_004
John Carter’s Iconic “Great House” at Shirley Plantation, built between 1723 and 1738, is a Virginia Landmark

Shirley Plantation is the oldest James River Plantation, as well as North America’s longest continually running business. Having been founded in 1613, Shirley Plantation has been a part of Virginia’s history from Thomas Dale’s administration to the present, as the Hill-Carter Family treasure on the James River can attest. It is fitting, therefore, that one of the most famous Virginia ghost stories comes from her historic location.

Martha Hill, known better as Aunt Pratt, “Pratt” being a family pet name, was the daughter of Edward Hill III. She didn’t spend much time at Shirley, but she was part of the Hill family, which entitled her to have a portrait painted and added to the family collection.

Aunt Pratt moved to England after she finished her schooling, married one Hugh Griffin (Griffith and Gifford in some sources), before she passed away, never having returned to Shirley in her lifetime. But many believe that she returned after her death, as can be evidenced by the utterly bizarre happening centered upon that now famous family portrait.

Some of those paranormal activities are recorded in L.B. Taylor’s Essay – “The Haunted Portrait” from his 2011 book Ghost’s of Virginia’s Tidewater.

Shirley_019
Is Aunt Pratt watching me take this picture just outside of her window?

LINKS TO THE PODCAST:

Plan a visit to Shirley

More from L.B. Taylor Jr.

 

_DSC0123
Perhaps Aunt Pratt might like to stair out of her window to take in the calming landscape at Shirley Plantation. I don’t blame her.

 

 

 

All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The featured image is of Aunt Pratt’s famous portrait. All subsequent images are from my visits to Shirley Plantation.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and Kevin MacLeod “Vanished” found on Soundcloud.