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“I love coming to Dorchester County, the folks are so friendly around here, and they’re full of stories,” said writer Andy Nunez as he began his recent presentation about the ghosts …
“I love coming to Dorchester County, the folks are so friendly around here, and they’re full of stories,” said writer Andy Nunez as he began his recent presentation about the ghosts of the Eastern Shore at the Dorchester County Historical Society. “I don’t know what it is about you folks, but you have a rich history and you love sharing it.”
Nunez knows a lot about stories. Retired from the Maryland Department of Social Services, he travels all over Delmarva, talking to people and recording their tales, be they “true” or legend. He has produced a number of books collecting what he’s been told, and a major part of his writing deals with ghosts, because he has been curious about the unknown since his childhood in Somerset County. After immersing himself in the works of horror masters Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, he grew up to develop friendships with people interested in the supernatural.
As he related to the attendees of his lecture, the human race has believed in ghosts since before written history. The first English settlers on the Eastern Shore discovered that the Native Americans already had tales of spirits, and by the time of the American Revolution ghost stories had become a tradition on this side of the Bay.
Probably the best-known specter on the Eastern Shore is right here in Dorchester County: Big Liz. She was supposedly a large enslaved woman on a plantation adjoining Greenbriar Swamp in Bucktown, and her enslaver was a cruel, avaricious man. According to one of the most common versions of the legend, the man armed himself with a sword one day and ordered Liz to carry a chest full of his valuables into the swamp.
After she had dug a deep hole and put the chest in it, the man beheaded her while her back was turned. It is said that Big Liz still haunts Greenbriar Swamp, and people can summon her by honking their car horn and flashing their headlights.
“I’ve heard so many Big Liz stories, it’s just crazy,” said Nunez, who has been told of sightings, sounds, smells and feelings.
Other Shore haunts included a pharmacy-school student who despondently slashed his own throat in an inn at the beginning of the 20th century, an abused hound that still chases his master, an unknown man captured in a photograph at a party, and a voice captured on tape by Nunez when no other male was in the room. Every tenant of an 18th-century house on the Maryland side of Assateague Island has reported inexplicable occurrences there, from violent sounds and moving objects to electrical phenomena and animals having fits.
The spirits flourish in Dorchester, as well, such as the woman in white spotted many times in the Toddville area. And, while there are supposedly many active in Cambridge alone, Nunez mentioned one in particular: George Woolford, the ghost of the old bank building that used to house the Richardson Maritime Museum on High Street. It is a known fact that the bank president was so upset over the stock market crash of 1929 that he hung himself from the rafters in the bank’s attic. Less concrete are the reports that he has never left the building.
“People say they hear him walking around up there,” revealed Nunez, who once was given permission to visit the attic and take photos. “I didn’t hear anybody walking. One volunteer over there said she believed it was the air handler.”
“I’m not here to tell you that there are ghosts,” he said when his presentation was over. “What I am telling you is that I have heard dozens and dozens of stories from perfectly rational people, just like you all — doctors, lawyers, policemen, postal workers, a state senator, pastors, pastors’ wives. Perfectly normal people looking at me, acting perfectly normal, telling me a story that’s ... unbelievable.”
Nunez’s books are available on Amazon and in select stores, but he can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 443-880-7283.