Shoal Creek Manor: Gone but not forgotten

Today, there is nothing left of Shoal Creek Manor except old stories and fading memories. The 1750 farmhouse once stood on 400 acres in East Cambridge near where the wastewater treatment plant now sits.

Today, there is nothing left of Shoal Creek Manor except old stories and fading memories. The 1750 farmhouse once stood on 400 acres in East Cambridge near where the wastewater treatment plant now sits.

CAMBRIDGE — Today, there is nothing left of Shoal Creek Manor, the home or John Woolford and Gov. Charles Goldsborough. This plantation house was built around 1750 and once stood on nearly 400 acres in East Cambridge.

Originally it was part of the Choptank Indian lands, and was purchased from the Indians by the Ennalls family. Many tales are associated with Shoal Creek Manor – tales that are still told today even though the building was razed in 1970 to make way for a new waste-water treatment plant.

The folklore collection at the Nabb Center in Salisbury University had the following transcripts of tales told by locals about Shoal Creek Manor.

• From Shirley Brannock of Cambridge (age 45) as told to student Virgina Meekins.
Shoal Creek Manor was known only as “The Haunted House.” Patty Cannon used it as a place to keep her slaves and she chained them to the walls in the cellar. You could go in the house at night and hear the chains rattling as the slaves were trying to escape. Manacles and chains were found in the basement and even now people hear the chains rattling.

• From William H. Moore of Cambridge (age 65) as told to student Virginia Meekins
Shoal Creek Manor was always “The Haunted House.” When the boys would go in there at night, you could hear people talking upstairs, although no one lived there. It was said that a former governor, Charles Goldsborough, had lived there and it was he and his wife that you could hear talking together.

• From Allen Dennis of Cambridge (age 48) as told to Cathy Wright
The house is known as the Shoal Creek Manor because it is on the Shoal Creek in East Cambridge. It was where the run-away slaves used the Underground Railroad to smuggle slaves out of the South. The house was empty for years and years when I was a kid. They called it the Haunted House because the leaders wanted to keep people from snooping. They would rattle chains and say that slaves were hidden between the walls in the basement. I remember as a kid, that the walls were real thick. Chains were on the walls of the basement.

• From Mrs. William H. Dail Sr. of Cambridge (age – late 60s) as told to K. Jeannette Robbins
The old house at Shoal Creek that they just tore down, was haunted. They said you could hear chains rattle in it and they claim there was a pump outside and the handle would go up and down when no one was near it. There were chains in the cellar of the house, where they used to bring slaves in the “dead hours of the night” and keep them there until they were sold. The man who sold the slaves buried his money in the yard instead of putting it in the bank, and the chains rattled because the slaves were trying to tell where the money was. Someone finally found the money and then no one ever heard the chains anymore because the slaves were satisfied.

What do folks say today?
I visited the site where the manor house used to stand and interviewed two city workers and one state employee that work at the waste-water treatment plant that now covers the site. Buddy and John — the city workers — had been at the plant since it was built and remembered the Manor House. John pointed out the spot where the house stood. He indicated that he’d found arrow heads near the shoreline there.

When I mentioned ghosts or the site being haunted, all of these men remarked that there were odd, unexplained noises, especially at night … and all three men had experiences of “being watched.”

Additionally, they noted that a small cemetery that was on the property of the Manor House had to be relocated in order to build the massive plant. I visited that cemetery. It sits on a slight incline in a grassy patch. A small, chain-link fence borders the square and two crooked headstones — one with the top corner broken off — protrude from the ground. Certainly, this is a “not so restful spot” being located in the middle of a huge industrial-like, noisy, busy plant.
The place has its uneasiness….

Editor’s note: More tales like these can be found in “Haunted Eastern Shore: Ghostly Tales East of the Chesapeake” by Mindie Burgoyne from which the above was taken.

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