What are the best ingredients for a good ghost story? Start with one creepy, 18th century church, add in one unsolved murder, and stir in one accidental death. Let it simmer for 250 years, and the end result becomes the legend of the haunted Aquia church in Stafford County, Virginia.
At first glance, the beautiful two story brick structure seems peaceful and inviting. But the church, with it's grand belfry, and adjoining peaceful cemetery, harbors a dark history. Soon after the revolutionary war, the church was abandoned due to lack of funding. When the church doors were reopened, the murdered body of a young woman was found in the belfry. It's not known exactly when she died, but it is reported that her hair was still in tact on her skeleton, as blond as it was on the day she died. Her blood stained the floor in the church for more than a century, until a new concrete floor was finally put it to cover it.
Soon after the woman's body was found, ghost stories began to filter through the small community. Parishioners refused to enter the church at night, and soon curious spectators began breaking in after dark, trying to witness the paranormal for themselves. During the 1920's, a vacationer to the area decided to investigate the claims herself. As she entered the church, an unseen hand slapped her face, leaving a bright red mark that is said to have lasted for days.
During the war, two soldiers broke into the church at night, not because they were trying to validate claims of the haunting, but because they had been traveling, and were tired. They fell asleep in the pews of the church, and woke to the sound of footsteps. They searched the church, but they were completely alone. Just as they were about to settle back down for some much needed rest, they heard someone- or something- whistling "The Campbell's are Coming". Once more they got up to search for the origin of the sound, but no one was in the church other than them. Sure that someone was playing a trick on them, one of the soldiers opened the door to peak outside, just in time to see the union army marching straight towards the church! As fast as they could move they climbed out of a window at the back of the church and escaped to the safety of the night.
Even after the war, rumors of ghostly appearances still surrounded the church. It's said that one young man, who claimed not to be afraid of ghosts, was dared to enter the church at night and walk all the way up to the belfry by himself. His friends handed him a hammer and nail, and instructed him that to prove that he could, in fact, brave the darkness of the church all the way up to the belfry, that he must nail into the wall as evidence. The young man, boasting that no ghost could get him, accepted the challenge, and in the cover of night headed into the church, alone. His friends were alarmed when they still had not heard from him the next day. Upon investigating, it was found that the young man had somehow accidentally nailed himself to the wall. Believing that the ghost in the belfry had latched on to him, it was assumed that he died of fright. Others believe that the ghost may have really appeared to him, causing him to scare himself to death.
Some claim that the young murder victim still haunts the church today. Footsteps can be heard running through the empty church, up to the belfry. Phantom struggling can be heard from downstairs, and a blond woman has been seen in the window upstairs. The former caretaker of the church claimed to have seen apparitions floating about in the graveyard at night time.
Is Aquia church really haunted? To find out you'll have to visit for yourself. But visitors must schedule a tour with the church in advance. After all, they wouldn't want to be responsible if you were to see something, and scare yourself to death!