Haunted Houses Page 2

Susan Moore House

A battered yellow house on Grace Street, built in 1898, was apparently constructed as a flophouse with a shotgun floor plan and 20 separate rooms. Crime and violence were nightly events until a young couple bought the place in the early 1980s and moved in with a pair of large golden retrievers.

The dogs were frisky and sometimes ran amuck, crashing into walls and furniture, holding their chew toys in their jaws. The owners took away the gnawed playthings, which seemed to have a calming effect, and put them on top of the refrigerator. Minutes later the dogs had their toys back. On another occasion they put the toys on the top shelf of the closet and, after the dogs came trotting through the house with their toys in their mouths, they went to find the closet door still closed.

The owners noticed other strange things, like the tendency of the dogs to look up toward the ceiling, and they found the chew toys in odd places behind the couch or on top of a dresser. The couple moved out and some vagrants moved in. The inebriated trespassers were kicked in the face, stomach and groin by an invisible force, and they all reported that a man in a pea coat watched from about ten feet away.

Now the ghost tour guide takes his group to the lawn in front of the house and tells them the second floor is vacant. But from behind lace curtains a man in a dark coat looks out the window.

Cooke House

The Revenue Cutter Service was the precursor to the Coast Guard, and it was created under orders from George Washington to curb the piracy along the Carolina coast. Captain William Cooke was commissioned as the first master of the U.S. cutter Diligence and he built his house in Wilmingtonin 1784, a two-story frame house with a detached kitchen and candle shop. He seized and impounded many ships and brought any number of sketchy characters to justice, but his success was his undoing. He and his son permanently disappeared in 1796.

Another sea captain named Silas Martin moved into the old Cooke home and dreamed of taking his children on an epic voyage to circumnavigate the world. He secured contracts at various ports to finance the trip and, in 1857, set sail with his son John and daughter Nance. His daughter developed symptoms that appeared to be seasickness and she died of a fever in Cuba. They tied her body to an oak chair and immersed it in a cask of distilled spirits in order to preserve it and take it home, but they had contracts to honor and they sailed on.

Not long after that, John simply vanished from the ship, possibly swept overboard during a storm in the night, and the captain gave up the voyage. Upon his return to Wilmington he simply buried Nance in the hogshead cask, rather than open it and see what effect the rum and whiskey might have had, and she remains buried in that barrel in Oakdale Cemetery.

William Anderson, a silversmith, moved into the old Cooke home in 1866. The post-war economy of the Old South had completely collapsed and few people were buying fine silver. In debt and in poor health, Anderson hung himself from a pecan tree in the back yard in 1871.

It's hard to say which of these tortured souls continue to occupy the house, but many believe it is Nance's light footsteps heard pacing back and forth. The ghastly moaning is probably the ghost of William Anderson, and the alarming rate that light bulbs on the second floor fizzle and burn out is thought to be related to his act of extinguishing the lights in the house to conceal his desperate act. Captain Cooke appears and levitates, reportedly in a blue-black haze.

During a recent ghost walk one guest, who thought he'd turned off his cell phone, answered a call. He then told the group it had been a wrong number, somebody looking for someone by the name of Cooke. Another man's watch went haywire, flashing numbers at random, until it abruptly stopped and reset itself to the correct time.

Holloday-Whitehead House

The first concrete sidewalk in Wilmington was poured in front of the Holloday-Whitehead House. William Holloday lived there after his wife died and his two small children went off to live with relatives. In 1895 William Whitehead moved in and his family occupied the house for the next 75 years.

Children came from blocks away to play on the new sidewalk, but eventually other sidewalks were poured and the kids moved on. In 1971 a family with 18 children moved in and soon noted the presence of "others" who spilled cereal all over the breakfast table. In 1975 a divorced man moved in who shot himself to death in 1976. Nobody seemed to stay very long.

In 2003 a couple bought the house and began extensive renovations. The workmen were the first to notice the little girl in a long white cotton dress, ringing the doorbell at random, and the wife had one episode wherein the child hid her car keys. A former resident stopped by to ask if they'd met "the children" yet, and John Hirchak photographed the little girl's reflection in one of the house's windows.

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Terms: Wilmington Ghost Stories: Haunted Houses Page 2

Wilmington Ghost Stories: Haunted Houses Page 2

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