"The more enlightened our houses are, the
more their walls ooze ghosts." ~~
Liberty Lodge Bed & Breakfast
September 26, 2010
the rooms always occupied at Liberty Lodge?
Autumn was upon us when the GhostPRO team got the call asking if we would like to investigate a bed & breakfast in in Oconee County. Numerous reports of activity had been experienced by guests including a report of toiletries being rearranged on the sink in one suite. So off we went, and on a quiet byway in rural Walhalla we found Liberty Lodge, a Victorian-era manor home built in 1884 as a wedding gift from Judge John J. Norton to his daughter, Elizabeth (Lizzie), upon her marriage to Major William J. Stribling and later the summer residence of famed educator J. L. Mann. The inn has a presence like an elegant queen holding court amongst a stand of majestic and ancient hardwoods, and we thought it beautiful, even in the misting rain.
We were greeted by the proprietors of the inn, Betty and Patsy. They welcomed us into the foyer, with its sweeping staircase, and began their tour in the dining room, where once were held dances, parties and teas for the gentry of the community. One can still imagine the tinkling of glasses, happy laughter, and the shy smiles of blushing ladies as they swirled on the dance floor with their dapper gents. We continued to the elegant Oriental Suite, originally the library, where books have been reported to have fallen from a shelf in the nook. As Patsy announced, “This is where Isabella hangs out…..” we admonished her to say no more as the Ghost PRO team prefers to investigate “blind”, i.e., with limited or no prior knowledge of the history of the activity. But already we could imagine how it may have been – a turn-of-the-century lady reading contentedly in the sunny nook. Could this lady be one of the reported spirits seen and felt in the inn?
We next toured the upstairs rooms - the French Suite, the Nashville Room, the Daisy Suite, named for its ceiling medallion, and the Ladybug Room, so named because, in season, it is a favorite hangout for ladybugs. Yes, ladybugs!
We scouted the outside area while there was still daylight and the rain had abated. To the back of the property loomed the silo, a remnant of the lovely bank barn that once stood on that spot. Cat sensed the impression of an old lady and a child in the barn area. She also reported seeing a man dressed in livery attire watching us near the barn and from among the tall oaks in the front yard as if guarding the property.
The possible presence of apparitions was soon to be backed by evidence of a more tangible nature as, even before the investigation began, a short walk-through to record preliminary temperature and electromagnetic conditions of the rooms found Cat using her EMF detector to trace the figure of what she felt to be a little girl’s spirit present in the French Suite, and next, the Ladybug Room. Interestingly, a later attempt to repeat the incident elicited no response from the same device. Lights were switched back on in the rooms below to see if the earlier activity could be repeated but no response was forthcoming. Perhaps this was because it was past the little girl’s bedtime?
A session was held in the Nashville room, and as Lauren and Cat each experienced the sensation of a whisper-light touch to their hand and face respectively, Mariel reported the distinct sensation of strands of her hair being gently pulled UP. In the upstairs foyer near where the famous teddy bear tree would soon be decorated for the upcoming holidays, several orbs were also caught on video, lazily rolling through the atmosphere.
Each room, nook and cranny was investigated, including the attic and cupola and, speaking of nooks, Cat sensed in the nook in the Oriental room the impression of someone who stood in that cozy spot gazing out the window onto the lush lawn.
At the close of the investigation, our hostesses appeared and we were eager to learn at last the history of the property and the nature of the reported activity. We learned there had indeed been sightings of a man in livery attire. Subsequent research by Janet uncovered the story of Mr. Norton’s foreman, Sam Hyde, who had been murdered on the property. More history revealed the tale of J. L. Mann’s mother, Eliza, affectionately known as “Giggie”, who collapsed in the barn while engaging in her daily ritual of collecting eggs with the children who also resided on the property. Giggie died without ever regaining consciousness.
And what of Isabella? Legend presumes the Stribling family had a daughter, Isabella, who died at a young age. Our research, however, turned up nothing to corroborate this or to place an Isabella within the history of Liberty Lodge. How interesting, however, to discover that “Isabella” was not the book-loving lady we had imagined we might encounter but… a little girl! Yet Isabella seems to be as much a part of the inn as those of us in flesh and blood who pass through its doors, lending her own aura of enchantment to an already magical place.
Janet recounts this story as told to her by Betty: “On a Sunday afternoon one past November, Betty overheard a female diner gently admonishing her preschool-age daughter over the child's insistence on wanting to go upstairs into an area not open to restaurant patrons. "I have to go see the teddy bears," was the child's reasoning. The mother attempted to placate her daughter by saying that after eating they would ask the ladies if they could see if there might be a teddy bear upstairs, but the child remained quite adamant. Betty intervened, astutely recognizing an accommodation of a small request would likely avert the potentially larger disruption to other diners should insistent curiosity change to thwarted tantrums. The child told both her mother and Betty, "I have to go see the teddy bear tree. The little girl told me to." Betty recalled the hair on her arms standing on end and thinking, "Out of the mouths of babes....how did she know that?" especially as there was no other "little girl" present either with boarding guests or other diners.”¹
So come and experience for yourself the serenity of Liberty Lodge. Come for the delicious weekend buffet. Bring your little ones to see the teddy bear tree. Or stay a night or two. Betty, Patsy and the gentle spirits of Liberty Lodge are waiting to welcome you.
~~Mariel Barney Hunkeler, The CatHerderPHOTOS ¹ from Investigation Summary & Conclusions, Ghost PRO Investigation September 26, 2010 Liberty Lodge 105 Liberty Lane Walhalla, SC compiled by Janet McDonald