Haunted History Tour
In 1847, the small town of Marietta was very different than it is today. Dirt streets, with small wooden buildings made up most of downtown. A few brick homes existed here and there, with pastures and gardens surrounding them. Settled on a flood plain, Marietta had natural rises and dips in the terrain, and every so often ‘freshets’ from the Ohio and Muskingum River flooded the multiple creeks that ran through town. Also in 1847, the town of Marietta that we see there across the Muskingum River was a different town than where we are standing right now. This area was actually the first area of white settlement. In 1785, Fort Harmar was established as a military base at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers. The area across the Ohio was once Indian Territory, and the militia was sent to protect the land from illegal white settlement. After the area was purchased by the Ohio Company and settled in 1788, the two towns grew up independently, often in competition. Now that you have an insight into the area, you know that most of the grand homes and buildings that we see today were built much later, after the oil and gas boom. When this house was first dreamed of and finally built, slavery still existed just across the Ohio in old Virginia. This house one of the first signals of the grandeur, prosperity and change that was to come to Marietta and Harmar after the Civil War.
In 1847, a woman named Eliza went on a trip back East to visit friends. In the more civilized New England towns, she saw beautiful homes and grand buildings. The friend she stayed with lived in a large Italianate home and Eliza fell in love with it. When she returned home she told her husband, Douglas Putnam, one of the richest men in town, that she MUST have a house just like it. And Douglas, like the good husband he was, acquiesced. The architect for the home was John Slocomb, the same man who built The Castle on Fourth Street and Henderson Hall in Williamstown, as well as many other beautiful buildings in town. Douglas Putnam spent $60,000 building the home. That doesn’t sound like much to us today, but if we convert that amount from 1860 into today’s money, it would be 1.7 million dollars. Douglas regretted building the house later, saying often that he was “$60,000 poorer but more than $60,000 wiser”. One of the reasons that he might have regretted building it was because his beloved Eliza who desired the house so much, died of heart disease within 3 years of its completion. It’s possible, however, that she is still enjoying the home today. She has been seen in the parlor, on the main staircase and standing in the tower.
Originally, there was no elevator attached to the front of the house, and this would have been a breezy stone walkway encased by vines. Thankfully, we have quite a few photos of what the house looked like in the 1940s when oil man Eddie MacTaggart lived here. From 1963 to 1986 the house was turned into a nursing home and many things were added or changed. It was abandoned for 10 years before becoming part of WCHS property. It has been undergoing renovation ever since.
Many of the rooms in the house we are unsure what the history is, but this room’s purpose was very clear. This is the parlor, the fanciest room in the house. We know this because of the bay window. Many parlors from this time featured a bay window. This one is especially ornate with built in shutters. This room would have been used for adult social get-togethers, with most of the furniture being covered with sheets until an important visitor came for a visit. It is the best looking room in the house, because it was thoroughly renovated by the Daughters of the American Revolution. However, the historical society has not been able to afford consistent heating and cooling and so there is damage even in this room now. There have been stories of hauntings in the Anchorage for many years, even back when it was a nursing home. We know Eliza and Douglas died here, and the later owners, Eddie MacTaggart and Sophia Russell, died here as well and we know that a woman is experienced in this room. A few years ago, a paranormal investigator was standing here by the bay window, and another was standing by the door. They were the only people in the room, and there were only about 5 other people in the house, all of them upstairs. They had an audio recorder in the middle of the room and were asking questions trying to get a response. Finally they asked, “are you female?” and a voice from the middle of the room, between the two investigators answered “yes”. They both heard it clearly, and captured it on their recorder as well. Because reports of the woman seen in this room state that she is a middle-aged woman wearing old fashioned clothing, we assume the woman they heard is Eliza. But we have experienced the same entities in different places in the house, so who knows who was actually in here at that time. Most of what is experienced in the house seems to come from the time it was a nursing home. We can assume many people passed away here during the 20+ years it operated for the elderly and we have been able to talk with nurses who worked here during that time.
This would have once been the dining room. We know this because the closet has a butler’s pantry in it. Do you know what that is? It is a sliding panel that allows warm food from the kitchen to be passed into the dining room to keep the food hot. Walking from the kitchen into the drafty hallway might have cooled the food down too quickly. In Victorian homes, the downstairs rooms are the ‘social’ rooms; places you will allow guests. Only very special friends and family were allowed to go upstairs. The Victorians were all about rules and etiquette, especially when it came to their homes. This room is a good place to introduce you to Henrietta. A couple of years ago, we had a group on tour. It was a mix of about 3 men and 4 women. They had just come into this room, when they heard a little child cry out from the hallway “Hey!” It was loud and clear. All the women stopped and stared out the door. The men were confused. They asked the women why they were all staring. Apparently the men didn’t hear anything at all; only the women heard it. We believe the child’s voice was Henrietta. I will tell you some more about her later. She has been seen and heard all over the house.
We call this the music room because when Eddie MacTaggart lived here he had a grand piano in this room. He loved music, and funded musical activities at Marietta College. In the summers he would open the windows wide, invite talented musicians to the house to play and his Harmar neighbors would stop what they were doing to listen to the beautiful music drifting out of the house from this room. We usually use this as our base location during investigations. Base locations do not mean that the area is ‘safer’ than any other, the spirits can come and go anywhere they like. For example, for a while they would hold historical society board meetings in this room. Large, strange lights would appear in the room during meetings and then slowly drift out. Very different from what the headlights on a car would make, these lights were round and as large as your head. They would bob up and down around the room before slowly fading. This is also where the shadow of a man is often seen. No one ever seems to be able to make out his features, he is just the dark shape of a man with a top hat on. He wanders back and forth from this room, into the hallway and into the parlor. Years ago, one of the previous directors was closing up after a tour. He had gone around the house and turned the lights off and was just getting ready to leave. Suddenly he heard footsteps above his head, walking in the hallway upstairs. He thought perhaps he had accidentally shut someone in upstairs and went running to find them. When he got upstairs, he heard the footsteps again, this time downstairs walking in the same place he had just left. So back down the stairs he went and as he barged into the room he saw the outline of a man with a top hat on standing at the far door. The man disappeared, and the director was alone. He shivered all over and was out of there in no time! He no longer shut the house down by himself after that.
Let’s go upstairs, if you’re brave enough?
Main Staircase and Landing Room
This room was probably a bedroom at one time, and it was one of the patient rooms during the time of the nursing home. On a tour many years ago we had one of the nurses tell us that one of her favorite patients lived here until she passed away. The woman was very old but had the mental capacity of a child. Often at night, the nurse would be passing by the room and hear a conversation. She would peek in to make sure her patient was ok, and the patient would be animatedly talking to something sitting in a chair near her bed. But the nurse never saw anyone. The old woman never had any friends or family visit, and the nurse was afraid she was going to get lonely. So one day she asked the old woman how she was doing and if she was lonely. The old woman replied that she wasn’t lonely at all, because at night a little girl would visit her when she was wakeful. The little girl wore an old style dress, similar to what the woman herself had worn as a child. The girl would tell her stories and keep her company and she was happy to have a friend. She called the little girl Henrietta.
One of the weirdest experiences we’ve ever had reported also began in this room. A group of ghost hunters were in this room about 2 years ago and doing an EVP session. EVP means ‘Electronic Voice Phenomena’ and are voices that are captured on audio recorders that no one heard at the time. During this particular ghost hunt, one of the investigators angrily tells the group to stop breathing so loudly or they will ruin the audio recording. They all looked at her completely bewildered. None of them heard breathing, but she heard it like someone was sighing into her ear. Creeped out, they decided to leave the room. But the breathing followed that investigator all over the house. Finally, at the end of the investigation she was so frustrated that no one else heard it but her that they all stood in a circle and listened closely. One by one, each of them heard a sigh in their ear and then it was gone.
This is a great location to sit late at night and just listen. Of course the house makes normal old house noises like creaking and groaning but sometimes if you sit still and watch you can hear soft music, conversations, and you can see shadows moving here and there. Just as one group was closing up one night, the two staff members still had their audio recorder’s running. As they moved down the hallway, they passed by something or someone that they couldn’t see. They caught a man saying very nicely “Can I help you?”. Was it an orderly that once worked at the nursing home? A patient? Maybe it was Eddie MacTaggart or Douglas Putnam, wishing them a good night.
The bedrooms here were once beautiful, I’m sure, but we aren’t sure who slept where. One family gives us a great insight into the residential days of the house, however. The Roberts family moved into the house in 1911. Edward Roberts was an oil man and he was married to Anna. They had 4 children: Mary-Carter, Lewis, and twins Dorothy and Ann. Dorothy Roberts became a well-known author who published 14 books in her lifetime. Her book, Marshwood, is set in the home she grew up in, The Anchorage. She describes what the house looked like when she lived there, which will be a great help to the historical society as they continue to renovate. Take a look through the rooms and join me in the back hallway when you’re ready.
The Servant’s quarters
See how tiny these rooms are? There were once 4 rooms here, and another building in the back for the servants. We don’t have a record of how many servants once worked here but it probably would have been quite a few. When Eddie MacTaggart lived here, he had only one manservant and one cook. After the house became a nursing home, this area was used to house the family of management. There were bunkbeds up here, and a bathroom with running water was installed. Remember, this house was built in 1859 and electricity and plumbing had to be added later. So there was probably an outhouse located on the grounds somewhere too. A couple of spirits have been experienced in this area. People tend to get creeped out back here, a feeling of being watched. They don’t like to be alone in this area of the house. During EVP sessions, voices have been captured in the back room. One in particular sounds like an old man. When asked who he was, the investigators got sentences like “I am here” and “I miss my wife” in a very gruff, sad voice.
In the room with the brick wall: We also learned that a death took place here in 1909. A young man, only 32 years old, worked as the carriage driver for the Merydith family. He went to bed one night and left his gas lantern lit. The flame went out and gas continued to leak into the room. In the morning when he was supposed to drive the family, he never showed up. They grew very concerned and Mrs. Merydith went into the servant’s quarters to find him. She found him dead in his bed, suffocated. She had a nervous breakdown, fainting on the spot.
Activity in the servant’s quarters definitely has a masculine feel about it. Women will get their hair pulled, and get touched. A male voice will come through on the spirit box telling women they are pretty, and asking if he can kiss them. It is sad that this hardworking young man was cut down in the prime of life, but it seems as if he is still trying to make contact with us today.
This area is both the coolest and the creepiest part of the whole house. This is the where Henrietta is most often seen. One of our guides was assisting with tours and was trailing behind a group to make sure they didn’t get lost. The group had just come up into the attic and as the other guide started to speak, she looked to her left and saw a little girl standing in the doorway. She was tiny, with big round brown eyes and long brown hair. She had a light pink ruffle dress on, white stockings and black Mary Jane shoes. She stood watching the tour, then disappeared right in front of as the guide stood looking at her. This was the first tour the guide had helped with, and right after she saw the girl, the lead guide started talking about how people see children in the attic sometimes. She couldn’t believe it. Since then, this has become a favorite ‘haunt’ for investigations. They use teddy bears that read temperature change and respond to touch, they use music boxes, spirit boxes, audio recorders, anything they can to get a response. They have had the music box start playing on its own, captured shadows walking up here on video and had voices speak through the spirit box. A group investigating here heard a loud scream come from this empty room. We don’t know what this attic was used for, if there were additional servants rooms up here or if it was just for storage. But it is definitely creepy.
We don’t know who Henrietta is, but we have a theory. We call her Henrietta, one because the nurse reported that her patient used to have an invisible friend named Henrietta but also because that name was captured up here on audio. A local ghost hunter was investigating here and he was asking the little girl what her name was. On the recorder you can hear a little girl saying “Henrietta”. He didn’t hear this out loud so he asked again what the little girl’s name was. You can then hear “I told you it is Henrietta!”
When she is seen, her clothing reported to look like the early 1900s. The family living here at that time was the Knox family. They were a family of boatbuilders and they rearranged the driveway of the house in the shape of an Anchor, which is why it is called the Anchorage today. There is no record that we have been able to find of a Henrietta Knox, however, one of the current family members came across the name Henrietta in some of her family letters. We’re still waiting to find out more about little Henrietta’s story.
This is also how you get to the tower. People driving past on Route 7 have told us they have seen a woman in an old fashioned gown standing in the tower when no one is in the house. We believe it is Eliza, watching how the town is changing around her. Muffled conversations are also captured here, and people have reported feeling like they are not alone. Take some time to enjoy the view and we will head back downstairs.