Ghent Porch

Ghent Porch

Saturday, October 9, 2010

"Haunted Evening" at the Attmore-Oliver House, October 8, 2010

There is a spooky pitch being felt inside the Attmore-Oliver House during Haunted Evenings.

This is how it went last night...

 The house was staged to look spooky without being at all theatrical. The whole program was informative and educational as to the Southern funerary customs during the period of the Union Occupation of New Bern.  The "cast" was made up of women folk of the family (who were wearing black "weeds") and a Union Army Doctor who was being perceived as a threatening party crasher--- in a way. The young son of the family, William Oliver, had died of yellow fever and the Doctor was under orders to visit the home and make sure that the boy was really dead!! There had been reports in New Bern where cases of yellow fever had put people into their graves, and  the folks were not yet dead. Yellow fever causes deep coma in the last stages and it was hard to tell if the folks were really dead or not. Still, the ladies of the house did not take kindly to the Yankee crashing their funeral. Those Yankee men were known by the women to have bad "sidewalk manners" and so the sight of them was of great offense to their dignities.

There was so, so much more that I learned. The stories were taken from word of mouth and documentation and would really make your blood curl. We saw a video of the paranormal people and what they had found in the house. The orbs were pretty hokey. I've seen better ones on my own photograph's---but the sounds that they caught on their equipment was another thing all together. There WAS a different kind of feeling in that house and the entire audience agreed on that fact.

Mary Taylor Oliver, the indomitable personality of the evening,  was the great grand-daughter of Isaac Taylor. (It is an interesting aside that she is thereby a distant relative of our beloved home state boys James and Livingston Taylor.)  Mary was born in the Attmore-Oliver house before the Civil War and lived in the house almost an entire century before she died sometime in the 1950's. It is hard to determine the real cause, but as a dynamic personality the New Bern people felt the need to stay clear of her in her older years. Her cook was a good one and as an African American of the Reconstructing South, was not allowed to attend the picture shows at the Athens Theater, a treat which Mary most expressively looked forward to each week. Mary would go to the picture show every Saturday and then eagerly  come home to her kitchen to tell her cook all about the picture. The cook got so excited hearing about the pictures, but she could not go into the theater because of the way things were in New Bern for the African Americans back then.. Mary Oliver figured out a way to get her cook in to the picture show. The cook talked about that experience for the rest of her life.

Mary Taylor Oliver is still remembered and recalled around our town.

If you enjoy this sort of thing, then "Haunted Night" is well worth the price of admission.

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