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The Haw Branch Hauntings

The Haw Branch Plantation at one time was not far from a small town with the name of Amelia, Virginia. The plantation was spread over 15,000 acres on prime land, and the manor house, with its tall stately chimney, that seemingly touched the clouds; the moat; and numerous outbuildings that were larger than most homes, was certainly one of the gems of antebellum architecture. As days turned into years, the estate was gradually reduced, and the manor turned into a state of disrepair with its gardens and long rolling lawns becoming overgrown with weeds. Then, as it so happened in the year 1964, a couple by the name of Cary and Gibson McConnaughey, bought the property. Mrs. Gibson McConnaughey’s grandmother had lived in the manor many years before, and Gibson had visited the plantation when she was a child; but for over fifty years, no member of her family had lived there.

By August 1969, the manor had been restored to its original condition, and the McConnaugheys moved in. An elderly cousin gave Gibson a present which was a large portrait of a distant and long-deceased relative named Florence Wright. All Gibson’s cousin could tell her was that the portrait had been painted in a summer home belonging to the Wrights in Duxbury, Massachusetts, and that Florence had died suddenly just before the painting was finished – when she was still a young woman. He also told Gibson that the portrait had been painted using pastels and was beautifully colored.

When the McConnaugheys un-crated the painting and cleaned the glass, they were quite astonished to see that the portrait was in charcoal, instead of the pastels they were expecting to see. All they saw was a composition of blacks, grays, and dirty whites.

Despite their disturbing disappointment, they hung the portrait over the fireplace in the manor’s library. A few days later, when Gibson was in the basement, she heard women’s voices coming from the library, and supposing that some of her friends had arrived unannounced, she called out, “I’ll be right there,” and went upstairs to greet them. As she approached the library, she could still hear the voices, and just as she was about to enter, the voices stopped. When she opened the door to the library, the room was empty. She looked throughout the entire manor and found no one.

Several months later, in February 1970, Cary McConnaughey was sitting in the library reading a newspaper when he happened to look up at the painting of Florence Wright. If his eyes were not deceiving him, part of the portrait, of a rose standing in a vase on a table near the young woman, was no longer muddy gray in color. He got up from his chair for a closer look. Not only was the rose gaining color, but Florence’s formerly charcoal-black hair was lightening, her gray skin was taking on the hue of living flesh, and the color was eerily creeping into every gray and black color tone in the painting.

In the days to follow, the colors grew more and more vivid. From time to time, women’s voices could be heard coming from within the library, but upon examination, there wasn’t anyone in the room. In a few short months, the painting was fully transformed, revealing Florence Wright as a blue-eyed, red-haired young woman, sitting in an upholstered green chair. The flower vase in the portrait turned a pale green jade, and the rose to a soft pink.

When the painting’s transformation was finished, the McConnaugheys no longer heard the sound of women’s voices from within the library. According to a clairvoyant who had heard of the portrait and closely examined it, Florence’s spirit was ‘locked-up’ in the painting because she had died before it was finished. But, she had the power to drain it of its original pastel colors until her age had caught up with that of the painting’s. She had also enlisted the help of two dead female artist spirits to help her restore the portrait’s original colors – that’s why the McConnaughey’s kept hearing women’s voices from within the library.

If the spirit of Florence Wright was now content, than what of the other spirits that she unintentionally aroused – all that had originally lived or worked there. Shortly after the painting had been hung in the library, and Florence’s transformation began, the McConnaugheys were awakened by the loud screams of a woman coming from the floor just above them. They rushed upstairs to investigate, and found their children standing at the foot of the stairs to the attic where the scream had come from. The family dogs seemed especially terrified, as they wouldn’t go near the attic steps. Nobody went into the attic until sunrise the next morning – nothing was there.

Months later, the McConnaughey family again heard bloodcurdling screams, but could not find any source for it. This happened several times more, when finally it was replaced by an apparition of a young woman – it was the silhouette of a slim girl in a floor-length dress. She had been a resident of the manor when it was first built, which gave reason to the style of clothing worn by the ghostly figure. After a terrible accident which took her at an early age, she remained at the manor. On another occasion, one of the daughters of the McConnaughey’s was kept awake by the incessant barking of the dogs on the porch, so she went downstairs to let them in. At once they ran into the drawing room, where floating there was the ghost of a former housekeeper. When the McConnaugheys entered the room, she vanished into thin air.

There were also inexplicable noises heard on different occasions coming from the moat and from one of the outbuildings. Another time, a deceased farmhand was seen carrying a lantern, but would disappear when he was approached by the McConnaugheys.

The presence of unwanted companions proves very trying on one’s nerves. Moreover, multiple manifestations are rare when it comes to ‘Mind Creatures’. Robert L. Sheridan

.:Story originally published by:.
Authorsden.com / - Sep 12.04
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