The Beekman Mansion has stood for over two centuries, weathered attacks by Native Americans, was a stop on the underground railroad, and was abandoned twice in its lifetime. How could there not be some restless souls wandering around its rooms?
We’ve met many locals, including one who spent time living in The Beekman as a child, who state unequivocally that they would never spend a single night in the mansion. Local tales claim of lights that appear to mysteriously travel from room to room – even during the years when the mansion had been completely abandoned. Several mornings Farmer John has asked us “who’s the insomniac?” having seen lights on in The Beekman while we were both sound asleep in our bed.
Another popular local rumor is that there was once a tunnel leading from the basement to the Beekman Crypt – also on the property. We have not found any indication of its existence, but its purpose is widely thought to have been an escape route from the house during Indian raids. So prevalent were Indian raids that The Beekman’s original shutters were lined with tin to ward against arrows and hatchets. There are still some of these shutters in the barn.
One local story tells of a young child who, during the chaos of such an attack, ran upwards rather than to the basement tunnel. She was reportedly scalped on the attic stairs.
When we heard that a local woman was a ghost whisperer, we wasted no time in inviting her to the farm. When she arrived, she told us that for years she had been having conversations with the spirit of an African-American man, likely a slave, who resided in our front yard. When she asked what he was doing, he replied that he was going to see the lady of the house for some salve for his injured leg. Since the house was on the underground railroad, and runaway slaves were known to have undergone the brutal torturing of “hobbling” of the legs, was he perhaps a lucky escapee?
The ghost whisperer had never been inside the house, and she was as eager to come inside as we were to have her.
Here are the presences she felt during the tour:
Door through which the angry man passes…
In the dining room, there is the energy of an older man with a beard. He’s dressed in full buckskin. He endlessly paces back and forth between the dining room and the kitchen. He is very angry and yelling at someone.
Josh’s mother, Jacqueline, and two of her friends were recently staying at The Beekman. His mother arose early and went down to the kitchen. Her friend, Kay, followed soon after and asked why Jacqueline was in the kitchen in the middle of the night clanging dishes. A bit later, the third guest, Rhema, came downstairs and asked the same question…without having spoken one word to Kay.
Jacqueline had gone to bed early that night and had never descended to the kitchen.
In the upstairs hallway, our Ghost Whisperer felt a petite, dark-skinned woman – perhaps West Indian – no taller than 5 feet. She spends her days and nights traveling back and forth between the master bedroom and the guest room directly across the hall, tending to the fireplaces, poking at the dying embers in both rooms.
Several months after the reading, our friend Laura was visiting the farm for the first time. We installed her in that guest room directly across the hall from the master bedroom. Because it was an exceptionally chilly night, we built fires in both bedrooms. It was the very first time we’d lit fires in both fireplaces simultaneously. Laura brought her cat with her thinking that some fresh country air would be a special treat. The cat was mute, and she had never heard it make a sound.
At breakfast the next morning, we asked Laura how she had slept. “Fine,” she said. “But all night my cat kept walking back and forth from the doorway to the fireplace…meowing.” Laura did not know about the petite, West Indian cinder maid, but evidently her cat did.
While the ghost whisperer did not perceive any energy on the attic stairway where the Indian attack had reportedly occurred, she did feel a weak presence in the attic itself. The presence made itself known audibly, from deep in the rafters. She is humming an aimless tune, as one would hum while doing a simple task, such as knitting.
According to the ghost whisperer, none of the spirits are aware of our presence…except for one. Luckily for us, she happens to be the most delightful one.
She is, apparently, a young girl – no more than four or five years old. She can be felt throughout the house and walks around quietly on her tip toes. As the only spirit who can see us, she follows us both around and usually stands in the doorways, smiling and laughing at us. The Ghost Whisperer believes that Mary thinks of us as her imaginary friends.
We weren’t surprised to hear that there might be a young girl’s spirit in the house. Shortly after we moved in, the contractor who had done the massive restoration on the mansion stopped by to helpfully show us some features of the work he had done. He asked if we had ever seen “a little girl,” before describing a strange encounter he’d had. He was working alone, late at night, when he realized he’d misplaced his hammer. He looked all over the room for it before turning around and seeing a little girl in the doorway pointing to a pile of drop-cloths in the corner. After investigating, he found the missing hammer tucked underneath them. He reported that several other workers had had similar experiences with “the little girl.”
We wondered if the girl our Ghost Whisperer was sensing was the same one as the one the workers had seen. We asked if she could pick up the little girl’s name.
“I’m not sure,” the Ghost Whisperer said. “I think it begins with an ‘M’.”
What she didn’t know was that when the aforementioned contractor toured the house with us, one of the last things he showed us was a carving they’d found etched in the wood floor of the downstair’s hallway.
It read, simply: “Mary.”
We’ve not had the pleasure of formally introducing ourselves to Mary yet, but we have no doubt that we’ve offered her countless hours of amusement.
We are certain Mary has a lot to tell us about life at the Beekman Mansion, so we’ve given her her own blog – Mary Beekman’s Diary. In her childlike voice, she teaches us all about what life would have been like for a small girl in the early 19th century. For those of you with young children, or grandchildren, Mary’s blog can be a fun and education historic teaching tool.
People often ask us if we’re frightened by all the rumored ghostly activity in the house. And the answer is “no.” In fact we’re thrilled about it. It gives us hope that one day (hopefully far in the future) we’ll be able to join Mary and the rest, so that we can be forever at home in The Beekman.
Please post your ghost stories below. We’d love to share the scare.