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The Berkeley Plantation Mansion is located in Charles City, Virginia near the James River. The mansion has three stories, and is built of brick. The mansion is now a museum. It is interesting to see the inside of this beautiful house where the woodwork was done by Benjamin Harrison IV, with advice from his friend, Thomas Jefferson. 18th-century furnishings adorn the house. There are five terraced gardens that were created during the Revolutionary War, and lead down to the James River.
Berkeley Plantation Mansion was built in 1726. General McClelland used the mansion as his headquarters during the Civil War, and President Lincoln used to visit him there. Usually, the house was filled with Union soldiers and captured Confederate soldiers were held in the cellar. The rooms were used as a hospital. After many years, The Berkeley Plantation Mansion began to fall into neglect until finally a private citizen purchased the plantation and restored it.
A terrible accident occurred in one of the upstairs rooms in 1744. It was a stormy evening, and William Harrison IV with his two daughters was trying to shut a window in a bedroom overlooking the James River. It happened unexpectedly, and with no warning when a thunderbolt struck the window, and killed all three of them on the spot. One of the daughters was holding Harrison’s infant son Benjamin Harrison V, and he was spared. Benjamin Harrison V grew up to become an important leader, and was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He became the father of the ninth US President William Henry Harrison, and the grandfather of the 23rd US President Benjamin Harrison.
In the attic of the mansion, footsteps can be heard pacing about. At the window of the upstairs bedroom where the tragedy occurred, a girl with a baby in her arms can be seen standing there. The window in front of which the tragedy occurred has been known to shut by itself, and will also slam shut if anyone speaks of the tragedy. The entity of William Harrison IV can be seen walking across the parlor. He enjoys playing jokes on the staff. The door to the linen press occasionally swings open hitting an unsuspecting tour guide on the shoulder, and sometimes the door swings back and forth on will. His presence can also be felt in the dining room. When fruit is placed into a fruit bowl it will fly through the air, and in time return to the fruit bowl, or it will roll on the table. Apples have fallen on the floor as if someone was tossing them.
An apparition of a tall, gaunt soldier can be seen walking along the river, sometimes in the company of a drummer boy.
Spirits of Children
In Alexandria, Virginia on Oronoco Street, one can find the lovely, southern style mansion that was the boyhood home of General Robert E. Lee—Arlington House.
When the mansion was owned by a Henry K. and family in 1967 they experienced ghostly occurrences. During the daylight hours, the family could hear the patter of a little child’s running feet, and hear giggling coming from upstairs, and up and down the stairway. Mrs. K estimated that the child could be about four years old. The entity walked along with various family members, and hugged them around the knees. This happened about two or three times a day for almost six months straight, and then tapered off.
A cigarette lighter which had been lost came flying out of nowhere, and landed at Mrs. K’s feet. The family also saw an apparition of a black dog trotting around the backyard. The K’s two beagles didn’t react to this ghostly intruder. When new neighbors came to visit the lady guest suddenly found snow falling on her head in the living room, and she began to become wet. Both Mr. and Mrs. K have heard beautiful music coming from an unidentified string instrument somewhere upstairs.
With other owners, the giggling voice of the four-year-old has also been heard all over the house, and his presence is most felt in the downstairs hall, underneath the second-floor landing. The doorbell has been rung, and no one has been there, objects have moved about, and snowflakes dropped on more visitors. More recent residents have seen a little boy playing with a black dog in the backyard, and two little girls have been seen as well.
There are three theories as to the identity of the ghost child—one is that supposedly he could be Lee’s four-year-old son who fell down the stairs, and died at Lee’s other house some 50 miles away, some feel that this could be Lee himself returning as a child, and others think it could be Lee’s brother Philip who died at the age of four in this house. The little girls could be Lee’s sisters who also died here in childhood.