Posted on August 15, 2017
Why are ghost tours so popular in Williamsburg, Virginia? Why is Williamsburg so special, and, so haunted?
Video: Colonial Williamsburg 1936
Williamsburg is close to Jamestown, the first successful english settlement in America, and the capital of the largest English colony in America, Virginia. The capital of the Colony of Virginia was moved from Jamestown to Williamsburg in 1699, as the location was more suitable for living- less mosquitos and more and better land.
1) Indian Burial Grounds, Witch and Devil Accusations
There were concerns among many that witches and the devil haunted the land. There were witch accusations and trials in 17th century Williamsburg, and parts of Williamsburg, including Colonial Williamsburg, were built on top of Native American Indian burial grounds only recently discovered.
2) The Public Gaol (Prison and Jail) and Mental Hospital
Prisons and mental facilities, or insane asylums, are renowned locations for hauntings. The jail and prison in Williamsburg opened in 1704, and lasted until 1910. The jail only adds to more stories and violent deaths from execution, and what many today would consider today torture in the confines of this “public goal”. Blackbeard’s pirates were held at this jail in 1718, and most of them executed nearby on today’s Capital Landing Road. Several others had been hanged at a location on Nicholson Street in Colonial Williamsburg where the large tree behind the courthouse stands. It’s no surprise that Williamsburg ghosts are known to haunt the jail and surrounding areas. The first dedicated hospital for the mentally ill was also founded in Williamsburg in 1774, and the living conditions closely resembled that of the jail. Both locations are known to be haunted.
Williamsburg was shaped by two major wars: The Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Many of the city’s buildings, including the Governor’s Palace, Wren Building, William and Mary President’s House, and several others were used as hospitals for French and American forces wounded while fighting at the battle of Yorktown in 1781. Many of these soldiers died and were buried in the city. Spirits of the soldiers have reportedly haunted the area.
However, the Civil War was far more destructive on the city, and marked the darkest period in Williamsburg’s history.The Battle of Williamsburg took place on May 5, 1862, in which nearly 4,000 were killed. The Bruton Parish Church, Wren Building, Courthouse, several churches, and several private homes were used as hospitals for the wounded from both sides. Mass graves were dug to bury the bodies, as well as amputation pits to bury the limbs. Many other houses served as headquarters or barracks for the Union forces that occupied the city for the remainder of the war.
4) Years of Life and Death
Of course, longevity plays a role in the increased activity of hauntings. By its very nature, Williamsburg ghosts date back even before the 17th century, when the area was occupied by the Powhatan Indians. Nearly 350 years of people living, murdering, dying, being enslaved, and suffering are enough to make their mark on any area.
Williamsburg lost its role as a prominent city when the Capital was moved to Virginia in 1779. The Civil War damaged the city and community in such a way that it never recovered until the 20th century, and in some ways still has never fully healed. Today, its quiet streets and restored Colonial presentation remind us that while there is much that reminds us of the past, there is so much more that lurks about the deserted streets of Williamsburg at night, of now deceased people we cannot see and stories that we will never fully hear nor understand. When you take a ghost tour with Colonial Ghosts, this history, the city’s secrets, and hauntings will be revealed to portray a complete story of Williamsburg’s ghosts from the Native Americans to today. We don’t just focus on the Colonial Period, but Williamsburg’s entire history, to include today. This makes us the most comprehensive and complete ghost tour not typically found in other cities.