Essex County, Virginia


Courtesy: Library of Congress

Likely, you’ve heard at least one story of a ghost bride – a young woman, who for any given reason, lost her life (or ended it) on her wedding day and still haunts a place looking for the love she couldn’t have while she was living. Some stories tell of a bride who waited for her betrothed who never showed up, so she waited and waited and waits still. Other stories tell of a bride who died on her way to the church and lingers until the day when she can finally reach her destination. Still others tell of a love lost either by a storm, a duel, or some ill twist of fate.

Bathurst sheltered its own ghost bride. It’s not quite clear who the young lady was or when the tragedy occurred, but the story has been told for many generations. The house was built in the late 1600s, possibly around 1692, by Francis Meriwether or his father-in-law Lancelot Bathurst, and was named, of course, for the Bathurst family. Francis lived there with his wife, Mary Bathurst, and raised several children. The home remained in the family, although changing hands several times, until 1800 when it was sold to an outsider.

Was the ghost a Bathurst or Meriwether descendant, or did she arrive after the house was sold out of the family? No one knows. What we do know is that she met a tragic end on her wedding day in her own bedroom and evidence remained in the house to the very end.

It was the morning of her wedding. The bride was dressing in her room. We are told it was a beautiful day. Outside, she heard men shouting, and she knew they were shouting about her. A man (a jealous ex-lover, perhaps) was trying to enter the house. The young woman barricaded herself in her room as she heard the man enter the house and run toward her room. Voices were raised. The bride’s mother pleaded for the man to go away, but he ran closer to the young woman’s room. He yelled for her to come out. Frightened, the bride stayed inside, trying to hide in a corner. The man’s temper raged. He yelled and spit. He gave her an ultimatum, but she wouldn’t open the door. He shot at the door determined to enter and reach the woman. The shot went through the door and hit the young woman. There she died on her wedding day.

Not long after that day, inhabitants of the house started noticing strange things, and the story of the ghost bride began. The young woman died in the house, but her spirit never left. The house was torn down in the 1930s not long after the photograph on this page was taken. No one ever thought to replace the door, and when the house was torn down, the door to the bride’s room was still there, showing the bullet holes from the deranged man who took the life of the young bride.

Even now, nearly a century after the house was torn down, locals point across the field where the house once stood, and say, “That’s where that house was,” and tell the tale of the ghost bride.

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