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Marietta ghost mystery: Haunting of The Anchorage a well-known tale

October 26, 2012
Jasmine Rogers ( , The Marietta Times

Nestled low on the Oak Grove Cemetery hillside is the final resting place of Eliza Putnam.

That is, it would be the final resting place if Putnam were not so eternally restless, according to local tales.

A vocal abolitionist, who married into the well-known Marietta Putnam family in 1844, Putnam's haunting of her beloved home, The Anchorage, is one of the most well-known legends in Marietta's vast paranormal folklore, said Lynne Sturtevant, local history buff, author and Hidden Marietta tour guide.

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JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
Local history buff, author and tour guide Lynne Sturtevant tells the story of discontented Marietta socialite Eliza Putnam Thursday. Putnam, who was first buried in Harmar Cemetery upon her death in 1862, was disinterred in 1904 and moved to Oak Grove Cemetery with many of her family members. Local folklore has long said that Putnam haunts her beloved Harmar home, The Anchorage.

"She is like the most famous ghost in town," said Sturtevant.

Harmar residents have long reported seeing apparitions of Eliza staring out the tower or large glass windows of The Anchorage. When the home was bought by a nursing home in the 1960s, tales of Eliza's haunting became abundant. Many of the nurses who worked in or made trips to The Anchorage at that time have told Sturtevant they would be too afraid to return.

"There are plenty of women around here who worked up there when they were really young and they've all seen stuff," said Sturtevant who has heard many tales from people who claim to have encountered the discontented spirit of Eliza Putnam.

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On the surface, it is hard to see what reason Putnam would have had to be so discontent. Born in 1809 into the prominent and wealthy Whipple family of Zanesville, Putnam's social status and wealth only increased when she became the second wife of Douglas Putnam. Douglas was the richest man in town, and he was well ensconced in the upper-echelons of Marietta society, said Sturtevant.

He was also the great grandson of American Revolution hero General Israel Putnam. Israel is thought to have famously handed down the order-"Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes" -at The Battle of Bunker Hill, said Scott Britton, local historian and executive director of The Castle.

Though Eliza and Douglas were polar opposites, they seemed to have a happy marriage. Quiet and conservative, Douglas was quick to please his outspoken wife in any way possible.

Fact Box

At a glance

Eliza Whipple Putnam

1809 - 1862.

Married wealthy Marietta businessman, Douglas Putnam, in 1844.

Eliza, the Whipple family, and her brother-in-law David Putnam, were all vocal abolitionists and were known to be involved in the Underground Railroad.

Construction began on Eliza's dream home, now famously known as The Anchorage, in 1854 and finished in 1859.

Eliza got to enjoy her home, then called Putnam Villa, for less than three years before dying of heart disease.

ales and sightings of Eliza's ghost at the home have spread through Marietta for decades, making her one of the most popular stories of paranormal folklore in the area.

"Eliza was kind of in charge anyway. She was a really dominant character," explained Sturtevant.

Therefore, when Eliza fell in love with a friend's lavish, Tuscan-style villa in New Jersey, Douglas quickly agreed to build her an even grander version in Marietta. Douglas hired local architectural superstar John Slocum, who also designed The Castle and The Unitarian Church, and construction began on The Putnam Villa in 1854, said Sturtevant.

"She wanted to have all these big, swishy parties and balls, and all these big, society functions," said Sturtevant.

However, by the time Eliza's dream home was completed in 1859, her health was already declining. The parties she did throw were small, unassuming events. And less than three years after moving in, Eliza died of heart disease in her second-story bedroom.

Douglas soon remarried, and his new wife, Sara, quickly became the blossoming socialite and hostess that Eliza had dreamed of being. To add insult to injury, Sara hated Eliza's cherished home, and immediately sold it upon Douglas' death in 1894, said Sturtevant.

The home passed through the hands of many prominent Marietta families before being bought out by a nursing home in the 1960s. Then called The Christian Anchorage Nursing and Rest Home, the home began deteriorating at an alarming rate. By the time the Washington County Historical Society acquired the home in 1996, the vast, 22-room mansion was in need of millions of dollars in repairs.

On top of watching a century and a half of occupants enjoy and ruin her home, Eliza could not even find peace in her initial resting place.

First buried in Harmar Cemetery, the oldest settler's cemetery in town, Eliza and many of the Putnams were disinterred in 1904 due to constant flooding and upheaval in the cemetery. It was then that Eliza finally came to be buried at her current location in Oak Grove Cemetery.

As the WCHS slowly trudge through restorations on the home, they occasionally open the home up to ghost hunting groups.

Tonight the Mid-Ohio Valley Ghost Hunters are hosting a ghost hunt from 8 to 11 p.m. The group's co-founder, Tom Moore, will start by giving participants a quick tour and overview of the home's history.

Moore's group has been hosting ghost hunts every Friday night in October for the last four years, and attendees have experienced all sorts of paranormal activity, he said.

"This past weekend we had a group of people in the attic and a music box started playing by itself. Then the group distinctly heard a woman's voice go 'shhh'," he recalled.

Attendees for tonight's hunt should bring a flashlight to explore the dark, spacious manor. They can also bring cameras, recorders, or any other equipment that does not require an outlet, said Moore.

The cost is $15 and the proceeds go to the Anchorage's restoration costs.

Mid-Ohio Valley Ghost Hunters will also host an event at The Anchorage Halloween night. It begins with an child friendly haunted house at 6:30 p.m. and continues with a ghost hunt at 10 p.m. The cost for that event is $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under, said Moore.

For more information on Mid-Ohio Valley Ghost Hunter events, contact Moore at 304-834-4726 or Valerie Wright at 681-229-6105.



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