County Leader’s Home Has Ghostly Past
– October 16, 2012 11:00 am
Editor’s note: This is the third is a series of stories in October that will explore some of the more haunted places in and around Virginia’s Potomac Communities.
DALE CITY, Va. -- There is a historic mansion tucked away in Dale City with a long history – as well as a few spirits.
Bel Air Mansion is a 25-acre home that was constructed in 1740. It was first owned by the Ewell family, with one of the owners, Charles Ewell, having strong ties with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. After the Ewell family moved out, Bel Air ended up in the hands of Washington’s first biographer Reverend Mason Locke Weems.
For a long period after the Civil War, the home fell into disrepair and was abandoned, until the Flory family purchased the property in the 1940’s. Bel Air stayed in the family for several decades, until Bill Naedele, husband to one of the Flory descendants, decided to sell the mansion earlier this year.
The home was purchased this past summer by Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart.
As you would expect with the oldest manor home in Virginia, there have been more than a few reports of things that go bump in the night. The property seems untouched from its earliest days in the colonial period, complete with an old barn and a family cemetery on the property.
“We have not seen any ghosts, but what [Ann Flory] said back in the 50’s that there were many ghosts stories, including an old man who they had met, who said that when he was a young boy he came up here — and this was before the house was restored and reoccupied and when got to the house — he saw ghosts looking out at him from the windows,” Stewart said.
Many other people have stories to tell about the property, including those who have worked on and in the house.
“Some of the cleaning people, I met some of them and they came back here during the auction and they told me that there was a piano that played by itself, and it was not a player piano,” Stewart said.
People have also reported seeing people walking back from cemetery toward the house at night.
Because the Flory family lived in the home for many decades, it’s no surprise that they’ve had a few personal interactions with the spirits on the property.
“In the early 1950’s, Dr. Flory, who worked for the State Department, knew and was good friends with a lot of the diplomatic community, including the ambassador of Brazil. And the ambassador of Brazil, according to Flory, was staying in the guest bedroom upstairs and woke up in the middle of the night and saw an old woman in the rocking chair staring at him, rocking back and forth. He left the house the next morning, and would not come back,” Stewart said.
This closely mirrors a later experience a couple had, staying in the same room, where they had the covers torn off of their bed in the middle of the night.
There were two other particular experiences on the property that are sure to send a shiver up even the bravest ghost hunter’s spine. A very sad young woman, dressed in black, often wanders around the house in mourning, looking for her husband, who some believe was a casualty of the Civil War.
Many funerals were held on the property, and it was an old custom to host a funeral feast for the attendees of the time in the formal dining room. Several years ago, the Flory family entered the formal dining room, to find that the room had been set up for a funeral feast, yet no one had done so.
Overall, Stewart and others feel that the spirits aren’t malicious, but are kind and just want to remain in the home that they loved. The Stewart family said the home will continue to be preserved and cherished, with all of its history and colonial beauty.