In a city brimming with history, it is no surprise that Shepherd University serves as host to ghosts and phantoms that have been haunting the campus and its students for decades.
Shepherdstown is nestled miles from Antietam Battlefield, the location of the bloodiest battle during the Civil War. While Antietam is famous for its many ghostly hauntings, Shepherd students may not realize that they, too, share the streets and buildings with a few spirits from the past.
Ellisa Woodbrey, associate director of Residence Life, sheds some light on the dark mysteries that haunt the buildings and the students of Shepherd University.
It is here, in Miller Hall, that the ghost of a young girl resides. Legend has it that the girl is around the age of 12 with long, dark hair and dressed in Victorian-era fashion. She is said to be linked to the Schley Family, who owned the property before Shepherd University in 1915. The story is that the young girl fell from the hayloft of the barn on the property and died. Many report seeing her roam the halls of Miller and Turner.
“I’ve been at Shepherd for 15 years and have seen the little girl’s ghost regularly,” Woodbrey said. She also said that many students have reported seeing the Victorian girl at Turner Hall, Westwoods and the apartments on campus.
Miller Hall is also part of other legends on campus. One story has it that an unknown nursing student hung herself in the attic of the residence hall.
“No one has actually seen the nursing student’s ghost,” Woodbrey said, adding it’s just a legend that has stood the test of time.
Although this story has never been verified, many believe this ghost still haunts the dormitory’s attic today.
In the 1980s a Catholic priest reportedly performed an exorcism in room 201 of Miller Hall. This was an attempt to rid the room of any supernatural presence and make the residents feel more at ease in the room.
Woodbrey said that the exorcism that allegedly took place in Miller Hall was in more ways a blessing that was performed by a Catholic priest. The blessing was requested by the residents of room 201 in an attempt to subside any ghostly presence that the students were experiencing, she said.
According to lore, a little boy’s ghost walks the halls of Kenamond. The boy is said to be around 8 and wears knickers, a vest, and driving cap.
Supposedly, the boy was standing near a construction site for one of the bridges being built from Shepherdstown to Sharpsburg. It was here that the young boy was waiting on his father who was on the river. While waving to his father below, the young boy fell to his death. It is said that the ghost of the little boy roams the residence hall turning on and off the electronic equipment of the students.
“Kenamond Hall is my favorite ghost story,” Woodbrey said. “First year students report seeing him every year without knowing the legend.” The little boy has been known to take students’ keys and Rambler cards as well.
The B Wing of Thatcher Hall is said to be haunted by spirits of the dead who are buried in the cemetery adjacent to the building. It is thought that the hauntings occur because some of the tombstones of the dead were removed during construction of the B Wing of Thatcher.
Woodbrey confirmed this story. “Some of the tombstones were shifted when building Thatcher,” she said.
Legend has it that Turner Hall was built around the rocky grave of a construction worker. During the construction of the residence hall, it is said that a worker died after falling into the rocks. Instead of removing the body, Turner was built around the rocks that occupy the construction worker’s body. This legend is why Turner Hall does not have a basement but has a rock bottom instead.
Gardiner Hall also has a ghostly tale of its own. The ghost that dwells in this residence hall is Patty, a homecoming queen. According to the tale, Patty lived in Gardiner and slipped in the shower and hit her head, causing her death.
She is said to walk the halls of Gardiner, and to keep her spirit in good graces the portrait of Mabel Gardiner must be hung upside down. Legend also has it that Patty can be seen reliving her time at Shepherd as Homecoming Queen and crossing the football field on the evening after the Homecoming football game every year.
Woodbrey has done some research into this legend and said, “I do not believe the death of this girl took place on campus.”
There is no doubt that Shepherdstown has seen its fair share of deaths and history over the years and for some of these ghostly legends there seems to be no dead end in sight.
(Note: If anyone has seen someone on the second floor balcony of Miller Hall while driving or walking past it in the middle of night please contact Ellisa Woodbrey at the Office of Residence Life.)