Thursday, June 16, 2011

Aspen Grove: A Southern Tale of Haunting Part 3 of 3

Kiddies, this is the final installment. Next week, there will be a 3-parter about my summer home when I was a kid, which also had some haunting features...

We sold the estate when I was 15 and my siblings were 20, 21, 22 and 28. We moved to Arizona because father's heart was bad and the cold weather and the work on the estate was just too much. He only made it a little over a year before he passed on.

I was 16 and arrived home from a sleepover to find an ambulance outside. I rushed in and saw the paramedics working on my father on the kitchen floor. They announced he passed on and my mother ushered us outside to weep when about 4 minutes later, the paramedics rushed back to say the paddles worked and they brought him back. As they wheeled my father past me, he smiled. "It was beautiful. I was at a fiord" (father was from Norway) "all my family was there, mother, father, aunt, uncles, and there were flowers that don't exist and colors that don't exist." He died a few days later in the hospital.

We had just gotten home from the hospital and had celebrated because his vital signs were good and he was alert. I went to bed in my room and during the night woke up to someone pulling on my big toe. I looked up and at the end of my bed I saw my father's outline. My father always traveled in his work and I wasn't allowed to stay up to see him when he got home. He had a close call in a plane one time and I always worried. He would come in and pull on my toe to let me know he made it home without fully awakening me for a conversation. I smiled, thinking they must have let him home from the hospital early. The telephone rang and I turned to pick it up, but someone else picked it up in another room. I turned back and he was gone. The phone call was the hospital informing us we needed to hurry. We rushed there to find him deceased, lying quietly in his bed.

The people living at Aspen Grove reported seeing my father, in the suit and tie he was buried in (his favorite traveling suit). They were having an outdoor party. They went to attend to visitors, went back and he was gone. They didn't know at the time, he had passed on. He was standing just where I would imagine my father would stand, near the croquet set. He loved to play when he was in town.

My parents had a pact to haunt Aspen Grove. They never wanted to leave, but they did what they had to at the time. My mother died 20 years later having vowed to meet him there.

Seven years later, my brother died suddenly. Before he died, he took a nap, woke up and said he was flying around Aspen Grove and he saw our deceased cousin. He mentioned the tennis courts were gone (something owners added after we moved out and he was right, they were gone).

My sister died 4 years later suddenly and we had talked a great deal about my ghost hunting and she promised to be there, as well.

Then, a couple years later, a family friend contacted me. He was a professor at the university and lived at the end of our driveway in a cottage. He was a dear friend and had done my mother's eulogy. He promised to haunt the place. What he hadn't told me is that he was dying of pancreatic cancer.

It's hard to believe, but at one time a contractor bought the house, hoping to tear down the entire property and put up condos. Yes, the DC suburbs really grew up and the housing was very expensive. The neighbors and the historical society fought to protect this historic place.

A compromise was made; he had to leave the mansion and front boxwood maze gardens intact, but could build on the rest of the property. The greedy evil bastard tore up the cottages, the barn, the orchards, the rolling hills, covered over the creek, and sold his units. With a little curse applied his way, he did go bankrupt in the end, so there is some justice in life (or perhaps a bit of karmic mirroring his way in the form of ritual, hee hee). There wasn't even an archaeologist on site when the plowed up the former slave cottage/carriage house, the back boxwood maze or other parts of the property. Other owners had stripped the three huge Waterford crystal chandeliers and almost every artifact when they left.

The nice couple who live there now take excellent care of and love the home very much. They even had the show on an episode of HGTV's "If Walls Could Talk" medical mysteries episode. It feels good to know the place is in good hands.

So, Aspen Grove could potentially hold the soldiers that haunted it, as well as four family members and a family friend. My ultimate dream, of course, is to go there for a hunt with my team, the right equipment and a film crew to document a hunt like no other; a predetermined hunt with spirits waiting and willing to make contact. I don't know if such a situation has ever occurred, but it is rare and unique.

Hope you enjoyed this 3-part series. Next week, my summer home's story will be on Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday.


  1. I think you may want to write an autobiography.

  2. dang that sends chills down my spine. lol.

  3. Autobiography. I didn't even cover the family dynamics. It's so tragic, I doubt any publisher would believe it when reading it.

  4. Sharon, Thank you for sharing your memories and thoughts about your and your family's experiences living at Aspen Grove. I have a special interest in the property, since part of my father's family (William Sagar and his son, Andrew Jefferson Sagar)lived on the estate and in the house for nearly 70 years prior to their selling the property after Andrew's death in 1913. Despite their time spent there and having played a prominent role in building Fairfax City, including providing land for the first public school, the Sagar family name, including the street name throught the northern section of the property has been misspelled as "Sager". My grandfather told me stories of staying with the family there in the early 1900s, but surprisingly never mentioned the possibility of the house being haunted(and he loved to embellish stories to entertain his grandchildren). I first learned of the hauntings at Aspen Grove from a Washington Post Magazine article (May 5, 1996) by Bob Garfield that described his recent purchase and rennovation of the home after a period of some neglect. He and his wife were unaware of stories about the house being haunted, but quickly started experiencing may of the same sounds and sensations you have described. However, he tended to mix happenings that might be attributed to a ghost with problems one might encounter when rennovating an old house, so much so that it became unclear whether he actually thought the house could be haunted, or was just trying to tell a humorous story of a dream house turned into a "money pit." The sounds and other occurrences you have described, occurring over a prolonged period of time more than twenty years earlier, not only are similar to those described in Garfield's article, but offer far more credibility that Aspen Grove may, in fact, have one or more ghosts who have remained with the property for many years. Thank you for bringing life back to the many stories surrounding Aspen Grove and for doing it in such a revealing and personal way. I hope you will have an opportunity to bring a film crew back with you to Aspen Grove and, of course,the opportunity to reunite with members of your family who may now be there in spirt. I look forward to reading that blog!
    Dean Sagar

  5. Dean; Thanks so much for writing. My mother spoke in such reverence of the Sagars. Their name and the estate were tied together in history. Yes, I believe it was Bob who was living in the house and complaining (whining) about the heating and the issues with renovating a 1700s home (why he bought it, I have no clue). The people who moved in after us had as many issues with the home as we did as far as haunting features. I believe the dynamics of having 7 people living in a house together of varying ages probably brought more action to life. We do find that in haunted homes that the very energy of the occupants makes it quite potent. I know we did probably more to stir things up than others. Mom had film crews in, mediums doing seances, and we were constantly digging up relics, including the crawlspace under the house and put on some additions and renovated, all aggravating situations. You are from the most prominent family in Fairfax and I'm sure that has to be a source of great pride. My mother would be jumping for joy that I heard from a Sagar. Your family were historic celebrities to her. Yes, Sager Avenue. I remember walking that many times on the way up to Drug Fair store. Lots of great memories. I hope your family is doing well.

  6. Sorry about your dad and other family members. I am going to attend this weekend the funeral of my Grandma, she commited suicide,

  7. I'm sorry to hear that. I've lost a few people I love to suicide and it's one of those things that leaves a lot of guilt for those behind. We seem to get it in our heads we could prevent it somehow, but these things are usually made as a split second decision and no one could possible intervene. I'll be sending you healing energy your way for you and your family. The people I lost to suicide left a giant question mark in my life with unanswered questions. I'm sure you'll be feeling much the same open-ended sensation. Just know that it's perfectly normal in that situation. You are not alone.

  8. As I said before, your childhood at Aspen Grove is such a grand story. I still enjoy reading about it each time.

  9. What a great story! Thank you for sharing it!

  10. You're welcome Lewis. Enjoy the Newpoint-Comfort stories next Tue/Wed/Thur. Very cool Southern Chesapeake haunts.

  11. I also have to echo a lot of gratitude for this story, and I sincerely hope that one day you can go back and have a bit of a reunion with a very unique cast of characters that populated your early life. A lot of sadness transpired there, but this was by no means a sad story. I know I have a lot of catching up to do on your writings from my absence but this was a really nice treat to begin that with. Thank you.

  12. Aaron;
    Welcome back. You will enjoy today's afternoon post about Sex and the Single Ghost Hunter. More writing!

  13. Nice to see somebody who cares about a home they used to live in. The farm I grew up on was sold to a man who was going to turn it into a horse ranch. He did not like hills and trees. He took bulldozers and flattened the land as much as he could.
    Then he wondered why he could not get anything to grow on his so-called ranch. He'd pushed all the good topsoil off into a creek. He sold the place a year or so after ruining it.

    I sincerely hope that the ghosts of my grandpa, grandma, great grandpa, and great great grandpa ran him off.