Wilmington Ghost Stories

October 31, 2022

Thrills and Chills

It’s that time of year, Jack-o-lanterns lead a trail for children to make their yearly candy claim. That’s right, Halloween is here! Brunswick Forest is here to share chilling tales to put you in the spooky mood. So, grab something warm, turn off the lights, light a candle or two, and read on for some local Wilmington ghost stories. You’ve been warned!

Wilmington, North Carolina holds the title of being one of America’s most infamous historic cities. The old stones, cemeteries and battlefields have seen a lot. What is now referred to as ‘downtown’ was built upon thousands of graves. Sometimes those memories don’t die easily.

Emma Baldwin

Emma Baldwin was the well-to-do wife of a dentist, Dr. Andrew Baldwin. They originally lived in a home located on South Fourth Street in downtown Wilmington. Emma was a good woman but prided herself on being a shrewd judge of character. She was especially disapproving of unwed couples living in the same home together. Emma died of natural causes in her home, but to this day it is said her spirit never fully left and still wanders the darkened corridors. Since that time, those who have come into possession of the home have reported a presence or feelings of being watched. At one point, an unmarried couple lived in the home, and Emma’s ghost would angrily break objects or make terrifying noises. It is said that she leaves tokens of her approval or disapproval for guests and owners of the home. If you find yourself finding dimes everywhere, it means she approves of you. Those who do not are said to find human teeth instead.

The Tale of Samuel Jocelyn

Samuel Jocelyn, one of Wilmington’s most famous ghosts, was buried alive. Predating Mrs. Baldwin by a century and located just across the street from the same home, lies St. James Cemetery. The original church is no longer standing, but the graveyard remains and is known for a very specific specter. Samuel Jocelyn was a resident of 1800s Wilmington whom was met with a terrifying end. A nasty fall from his horse rendered him, by many medical accounts of the time, to be deceased. He was laid to rest in St. James Cemetery. However, it is said that Samuel was not actually dead. He constantly appeared in the nightmares of his best friend, begging to be dug up. After being tormented night after night, the friend had enough. The only way to know for sure was to dig up Samuel’s body. When they opened the lid to Samuel’s coffin, they found him with raw fingers and the entire lining of the coffin dug into. Samuel had been buried alive and suffocated to death trying to claw his way out. This event has never been historically documented, but if you go to the gate of the cemetery in the dead of night, you can hear faint scratching sounds and Samuel still screaming for his life.


Major General William H.C. Whiting Patrols Fort Fisher

Fort Fisher is one of Wilmington’s most famous locales, having been a major turning point in the final days of the American Civil War. One of its most dedicated officers was Major General William H.C. Whiting. It is said that he predicted the disaster that befell Fort Fisher. Days before the Union attack, he begged for more men, fearing a full-on invasion. His requests fell on deaf ears, and three days afterward in January 1865, the Fort fell in some of the bloodiest fighting of the war. Wounded but still alive, Major General Whiting was captured and held in New York before his death. Since that time, his body has been brought back home, but it is said he still patrols the sandy mounds that he helped build. Perhaps it is out of guilt, or a sense of duty to his state that he still patrols Fort Fisher. If you ever happen to visit the area on a moonlit night, you may see him still conducting his rounds from the afterlife.

Ellen Douglas Bellamy Frequents Her Childhood Home

One of downtown Wilmington’s finest Antebellum homes, the Bellamy Mansion, draws guests from all over the the country. From the beginning of the American Civil War to the reconstruction and modernization of Wilmington, Bellamy Mansion has seen Wilmington’s darkest days. Guests sometimes claim an uneasy feeling when visiting the top floors of the home. They have reason to be wary; Ellen Douglas Bellamy was the oldest owner of her family home, having stayed there until she died in 1946. During her days, Ellen stuck to a specific routine; she would read the daily newspaper, leaving her fingers darkened with fresh ink. Once she was finished, she would get up to flip the light switch off, leaving smudged fingerprints on the wall. To this day, it is said that Emma’s fingerprints still appear to curious guests.

Those were only a few of Wilmington’s most well-known ghost stories (research Thalian Hall if you want more!). Did you find yourself feeling spooked? Was that the wind you heard? Brunswick Forest wishes everyone a Happy Halloween!

(…And who’s that that’s been reading over your shoulder?)