Haunted Eastern Shore: White House Farm Harbors Famous Ghosts, Grows Heirloom Tomatoes
A long white house rests on the land just as it has for nearly 300 years. Quite a few animals, a bumper crop of organic peppers, eggplants, fig trees, grapes, about 150 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, and a few infamous ghosts, call the grounds home. That’s right—ghosts.
White House Farm circa 1721, is the home of Dolly Baker a retired Biologist, also known by the moniker of The Tomato Lady, bestowed upon her by patrons of the Chestertown, MD Farmer’s Market, where Baker can be found from April through September. Baker once ran a Biology Lab for Anne Arundel County Public Schools, worked as a Botanical Illustrator—which means she can draw tiny organisms most of us don’t even know exist, among other things—and has grown plants for a number of organizations including the University of Maryland. In 2000, Baker was looking for a change.
“I’m into genealogy and was over here [near Chestertown], looking for old farms that were in my mother’s family. We looked at the Perkin’s Farm, which was the oldest, and the owner told me she wanted to sell.”
White House Farm, on the National Register of Historic Places, is the ancestral home of the Perkin’s family, who count a famous Revolutionary War hero and apparently, two ghosts, as their more famous descendants. The farm had been out of the family for about 150 years until Baker took ownership—a change that seems to sit well with the restless inhabitants.
“I’ve heard that they [the ghosts] bothered everybody else. I think they were happy to have the farm back in the family.”
White House Farm is one of the most notoriously haunted locations on the Eastern Shore. As the most famous tale goes, a young woman who lived at the house planned to elope. She climbed out of her bedroom window one January in the early 1800’s, and rode her horse to the end of the lane where it bucked her off. She hit her head on a large rock, meeting her demise. The bloodstains are said to return to the rock no matter how many times the owners throughout the centuries have tried to wash them away.
In Haunted Maryland: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Old Line State, Author Ed Okonowicz writes of the ghost of a woman in blue, seen to wonder the halls by a previous owner, and of the rumor that President George Washington, who stayed at the farm while very much alive, may in fact have visited much later, in ghostly form. The book’s account of a former lady of the house is very much accepted as local legend. Mary Perkins Stuart inherited White House Farm upon the death of her father when she just a small child, way back in 1768. Stuart later died at age 39 and was buried in the family plot beside her father. This excerpt from Okonowicz’s book describes Stuart’s posthumous fame:
“It is a well-known legend in Kent County that the ghost of Mary Stuart walks each year on the anniversary of her death. Some locals still visit the gravesite on that evening, run their fingers across the top of the curved stone marker, and make a wish, while others offer a toast in Mary’s honor.”
The ghost stories are part of local folklore, and as Baker says, “are good for publicity,” but these days the farm’s focus is on the 150 varieties of Heirloom tomatoes Baker cultivates from her kitchen table. She likely grows more varieties of organic heirlooms than anybody else in Maryland, and she doesn’t have a greenhouse—giving new meaning to the term kitchen table entrepreneur.
For those interested in the ghosts, or perhaps buying the seeds to Baker’s heirloom tomatoes, White House Farm is privately held, and isn’t open to the public. But, Baker sells about 120 varieties of Heirlooms on her website. She ships all over the country, and sells year-round, in keeping with the various growing seasons.
Photos from the MD Historical Scociety Library. Photos were taken by C. Engstrom in August of 1977 and by P. Kurtze in July of 1971. To see more photos, check out the gallery below.
Outside my Window - I don't care if it is foggy...more
Sea - Worthy Valentine's Ideas - This year, like many others,...more
99 post but the bitch ain't one - This could be the sympathetic...more
Outside my Window - Good glorious morning! ...more
2011 Movie Sequels - 2011 Movie SequelsOk, I am a...more
Nautical and Wildlife Art Festival & North American Craft Show - January 15 & 16, 2011: The...more
Outside my Window - Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...more
Outside my Window - I think winter sunsets are...more
A Valentine's Gripe - As January begins to come to...more