In October of 1999, I wrote two stories for the Halloween section of the Loudoun-Times Mirror. The first directly inspired my short story, The Last Blog, which is FREE today through Nov. 1, 2015. The second heavily influenced my treatment of ghosts in The Sanheim Chronicles.
The following is the first article as it appeared in 1999. Check it out below:
America's Most Haunted
Lynch House Filled With Unearthly Visitors
By Rob Blackwell
Times-Mirror Staff Writer
Oct. 27, 1999
|Story as it was laid out|
For years, Martha Lynch denied there was anything strange going on in her house. She tried to explain the lights that would go on or off by themselves, found excuses for the odd noises at night when no one was around, and didn't worry about the pictures which seemed to take themselves off the wall. But after she saw the ghost, she didn't need any more convincing.
"It takes a long time to finally admit it," said Lynch, who bought the house in 1973. "You go through years where you tell yourself that you left the light on, or the kids did something. My youngest son continually talked about the lady at the end of his bed. Eventually, you just can't fight it any longer."
It was a late night several years ago when Lynch arrived home shortly before her husband, Tom. Her kids away, she wasn't expecting to see a woman standing at the top of the steps in the main foyer. For an instant, she believed it was an intruder, but when she called out, the woman walked away -- and disappeared.
"Eventually when people come in and ask why the lamp is swinging back and forth, the story of the haunted house leaks out," said Lynch. "Once you admit your house is haunted out loud, there is no backing away from it."
The Lynch home is now a regular stop on the Leesburg Hauntings tour, where strange things sometimes occur while a whole group of people are watching. Like the time tour guide Laura Dutton had to yell over the strange banging sound coming from the steps. Or the time a whole audience watched as a piece of lace floated down from the third story and landed on Dutton. Joe Holbert, a Leesburg resident who investigates hauntings in the area, singles the house out as extremely haunted.
"It is probably one of the most haunted houses in America," said Holbert. "You have multiple ghosts in different rooms with separate things going on."
But the ghost Lynch talks about most often is the one she believes is named Eliza Thompson. During Lynch's research into her home, she has found references to the house as early as 1811. In the 1860s, however, the house was the focus of a fiercely contested legal debate over ownership, with Thompson finally coming out on top.
"I think she loved the house so much and worked so hard to get it, she never wanted to leave," said Lynch.
Lynch and her family have all noted the times that the lamp in the hall would swing back and forth and suddenly stop, sometimes at a 45 degree angle to the ground. Or how the center cushion on the green couch in the living room will suddenly show the impression of someone sitting in it.
But Lynch has only heard the ghost speak a few times. Sometimes she would wake up in the middle of the night feeling someone poking her arm and saying "Martha! Martha!" One night she woke up to hear the sound of a woman crying and saying "Please don't let her make me go away."
The next morning, Lynch called the Loudoun Museum and asked how the Leesburg Haunting tour had gone the night before. She discovered that a self-proclaimed psychic had come on the tour and declared that the house should be exorcised, and that the Lynchs should make the spirit move on.
On another occasion, Lynch yelled up the stairs to her son, Kelley, and reminded him to bring the Civil War diary he was reading to school. As soon as she said the words "Civil War," the light above her head came on. Again and again, with her son looking on, the light would turn on only when she said the words "Civil War."
"You do get scared sometimes," said Lynch. "When I hear footsteps and I know I am here by myself. When the light kept coming on, it really raised the hair on the back of my neck."
But for the most part, Lynch and the rest of her family aren't frightened by the ghost in their home. She even considers it a bit of a blessing.
"I feel very fortunate," said Lynch. "Before I moved in here, I never thought about ghosts at all. Now our entire family believes something goes on in this house. This is the kind of thing you need to experience before you can believe it. But she and I get along because I love this house too. When I die, the house is going to have one more ghost in it."