The first ghost hunt for us in a while, we really looked forward to a visit to Waverly Mansion, in western Howard County, MD. Electronic voice phenomena (EVPs) are common. An inexplicable moving blue light has been seen indoors, a woman’s voice, and footsteps when no one has been there have been reported as part of the paranormal events that occur within this lovely old mansion.
But nevermind the ghost hunt — I think part of the thrill was the opportunity just to get a peek inside of this historic house!
Waverly Mansion, located in Marriottsville, was built in the mid 1700s and lived in by several generations of the Howard family, for which, of course, Howard County is named. John Eager Howard was born just a few years before Waverly Mansion was built, but is its most notable owner, although all the Maryland big names are associated with the property: Carrolls, Dorseys, Ridgelys, and of course, Howards.
Soldier and politician, John Eager Howard took part in the Revolutionary War and afterward, became fifth governor of Maryland (serving three one-year terms between 1788 – 90), served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and was a Federalist Party vice presidential candidate in 1816 (they lost); throughout his life he enslaved black people. The Howard family owned the Waverly Plantation between 1786 and 1846.
Howard’s son, George, also was a governor of Maryland, and is the only governor of Maryland to have been born in the Governor’s House and then later lived there as governor. He died in 1846, and the property passed to new owners. Like other members of his family, he enslaved a number of individuals on his various properties. I think it’s important to give the individuals the Howards enslaved their names, although we only have the names of the 25 men, women and children the Howards enslaved at the time of George’s death on Waverly: Elias, Jim, Peter, Henry, Jolen, Jake, Bell, Dan, William (Mimah’s son), Joshua, Henry, Joe, Mary, Prudence, Lizzie, Frances, Sidney, Sally & child, Mimah & child, Fanny & child, Betsey, and Old Nancy.
Also on the Waverly property are a small stone overseer’s cottage, a frame-and-stone barn, and the ruins of a log cabin that housed some of those the Howards enslaved. It is sad that the Howard’s house remains, but the buildings that sheltered those the Howards enslaved have been erased.
Today, Waverly Mansion is owned and managed by the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks for weddings, special events, paranormal investigations, interpretive history events, scout programs, school groups and living history summer camps.
- Likely living and working on the property between 1756 – 1773 (possibly longer): Peter, Robin, Joo, Ben, Hagar, Pol and Jenny
- Likely living and working on the property leading up to 1856: Elias, Jim, Peter, Henry, Jolen, Jake, Bell, Dan, William (Mimah’s son), Joshua, Henry, Joe, Mary, Prudence, Lizzie, Frances, Sidney, Sally & child, Mimah & child, Fanny & child, Betsey, and Old Nancy
- There were enslaved people on the property until the Civil War but only their ages and genders are recorded.
- Nathan Dorsey (1756 – 1773), married to Sophia Owings (who may have continued living on the property after her husband’s death
- Edward Dorsey (Nathan’s brother) (1773-1786)
- John Eager Howard (1786 – 1822), married to Margaret (“Peggy”) Chew
- James Frost, rented the mansion/plantation (1798 – ??)
- George Howard (1811 – 1846), married to Prudence Gough Ridgely (13 children, 8 of which survived to adulthood); Prudence died in 1857
- George Howard Jr (1847 – 1858)
- Joseph Judick (1858 – 1881)
- Frederick Brosenne (1881 – ??) Passed down within the Brosenne family until 1964.
Can’t get enough ghost hunts? Check out the following ghost hunts and paranormal investigations we’ve participated in!
Cape May – Lewis Ferry Terminal
East End Breakwater Lighthouse
Eastern State Penitentiary
Farnsworth House Inn