Whether you believe in ghosts or not, haunted tales are always entertaining, and there are some especially intriguing stories in the small town of Abingdon, Virginia.
The best way to hear about Abingdon’s ghosts is to take a ghost tour with the self-proclaimed Haint Mistress herself, Donnamarie Emmert of Abingdon Spirit Tours. She has a master’s degree in storytelling and has shared the spookiest of historical happenings for over 20 years.
Tips for your Abingdon VA Ghost Tour
- Bring your camera. You never know what you’ll capture at a haunted location!
- Every tour is unique and ghost stories will vary so it’s a fun thing to do in Abingdon every year.
- Private tours are available and should be scheduled in advance.
- Wear comfortable shoes. It’s a walking tour (with stops for stories) so be prepared to be on your feet for about 2 hours.
- Dress for the weather. It can be warm when the tour starts and chilly by evening’s end. Tours are typically canceled in event of rain.
- Due to uneven sidewalks, strollers and wheelchairs are not recommended.
- Unless prearranged, tours begin at Wolf Hills Coffee Shop at 112 Court Street. (We began ours at the gazebo outside the Martha Washington Inn & Spa.)
- Contact: Abingdon Spirit Tours (Website)
A Sampling of Abingdon Ghost Tour Stories
Ghosts of The Martha Washington Inn
During the Civil War, the Martha Washington Inn (then a finishing school) served as a hospital, and some of the Martha girls stayed on to help with the wounded soldiers. Of course, this sparked several romances. One of them involved a girl named Beth, who tended to a soldier and would play her violin to comfort him at night and ease him into sleep.
They fell in love, and he proposed to her from his bedside, but sadly, he passed away too soon and left Beth heartbroken. Shortly thereafter, she died of typhoid fever, but guests still report hearing her violin’s sweet sounds in the inn.
Another patient, a Union soldier, fell in love with one of the other Martha girls. He recovered and later returned to whisk his beloved away with him. Unfortunately, several Confederate soldiers shot him dead, and they say that one of the rooms in the Martha has a bloodstain that will not come out of the floor.
The Ghost Horse of Abingdon
Abingdon’s most-seen ghost is the horse of James Wyatt. After Stoneman’s Raid, Wyatt set fire to the courthouse and every building on the block in an act of revenge. Then he hopped on his horse and rode to the top of the hill to watch it all burn.
Unfortunately for him, he was spotted by a group of Confederate soldiers (dressed as Union soldiers), and they started shooting at him. He was hit in the back and killed, but his horse continues to ride through Abingdon to look for his master.
If you’re walking along Main Street in the quiet of the night, listen for the clip-clop of his hooves. You may even see his apparition on the Barter Green or the front lawn of the Martha.
The Ghosts of the Barter Theatre
We were told the theatre has “lots and lots of ghosts,” including Robert Porterfield, the theatre founder. He typically appears on opening night in the box seats wearing a three-piece white suit. Yikes!
The most famous Barter ghost haunts an underground tunnel running from the Barter to the Martha. One floor of the Martha was used as a hospital during the Civil War, and the rest of the building was used to store guns and ammunition. Soldiers used the tunnel to sneak the weapons out.
The story has it that the two soldiers working in the tunnel were discovered by the northern army and were shot and killed inside it. The tunnel collapsed years later, and now there’s a most unhappy ghost lingering inside the remaining section of the tunnel.
The Tavern Tart
The Tavern was established in 1779 as a waypoint along the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road, and if you go upstairs, you’ll see the old bed numbers written in pencil on the walls.
The Tavern Tart “entertained” the travelers, and one day after bringing a man up to her room, the bar patrons heard a bloodcurdling scream. They ran upstairs to find the woman lying in a pool of blood with a slashed throat. Her gentleman caller was nowhere to be found.
The Tavern Tart has been haunting the building ever since. The “tart” doesn’t like women and has thrown and broken things in the tavern. However, she likes men, and she’s been known to pinch a hiney or two, so look out, guys.
Our guide told us you should never say “tavern tart” when inside the Tavern. So please don’t say I didn’t warn you…