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Haunted Eastern Shore: Ghostly Tales

A Mysterious Experience At Sea - Capt. Leonard Tawes
Crisfield, MD and Kent County, MD

Capt. L. S. Tawes, describes an interesting event - Did Ghost of Mate from Chestertown visit his Vessel? - Every indication that Man’s Soul paid Ship a visit at time of death in Foreign Hospital - Crisfield Skipper tells of Strange Experience.

Letter written by Capt. L.S. Tawes to the Editors of The Times, Crisfield, Md.


Should you care to use a little space in your paper, I will describe a mysterious occurrence which I experienced on one of my sea voyages, in the year 1893, which I would to ask some of the “Higher Kulter” to explain. This has been bearing on my mind considerable since Sir Oliver Lodge came to this country several weeks ago. I am not a believer in ghost stories. My theory is that when man dies he is bourne whence no traveler returns.

In the year 1893 I chartered with Messrs Tate Muller & Co., exporters out of Baltimore, to carry a general cargo, mostly bread stuff, to Demerara, British Gueana [Guiana]. I had a mate with me, Thomas Cosden, of Chestertown, who had been in the vessel with me for quite a long time, and who took much interest in the ship and in my general welfare. While loading the cargo, I could see that his health was failing him and that he was not keeping up with his work. He seemed delinquent and it began to worry me considerably, I having so much to attend to on shore such as buying stores, rigging, blocks, getting water cask put in order, shipping the crew and many other things too numerous to mention which befall a ship master and which cannot be neglected. But after the Mate’s long and faithful service on board, I disliked to tell him to leave, which I have since regretted. So I signed him up for the voyage, and after being loaded and getting on board our stores, water, crew, etc., we cleared and sailed.

After a passage of 22 days we arrived safely at Demerara, but about a week before arriving, the Mate became too ill to be of any service, and I had to put him off duty. After arriving I put him in the hospital there and visited him as much as possible, having to be both Captain and Mate kept me busy at the ship, looking after the discharge and count of the cargo when it was not raining, which it did fully half of the time. And every wet place steam with plenty of vapor arising- not much of a place for pleasure seekers in the rainy season, say in June, July, and August.

At last the day came when my cargo was out. I could obtain no cargo there and I must leave light. Before clearing for Barbados where I must go seeking, I went to the hospital to get my Mate. But much to my astonishment the doctor, a very nice Englishman, told me I could not take him that he was too ill to go aboard a ship. I was much grieved to hear this and I told him this man had a mother living near Chestertown, and I would like to take him back home with me. What encouragement can I give him, I asked, and the Doctor replied that he didn’t think the man would ever recover.

I forgot what name he gave the disease, but he said that if it broke out on the outside he might recover, and that if it broke out on the inside, it would kill him. And he feared it would eventually turn into consumption. The Doctor told me to break the news to the Mate, of his condition, and it was a trying experience- to tell the young man whom I must sail without, of his impending death and I must leave him there in a foreign country to face the unknown alone. But if I must, I must. So I went upstairs and after some conversation, I had to tell him what the Doctor said. He took it very hard, as I knew he would. I gave the Nurse a little money and asked them to take special interest in him. I told him I would leave all of his wages with the American Consul which is what our Marine laws require to be done when leaving an American seaman in a foreign land.

The time now comes to say goodbye, and I will always see the last look he gave me as I walked down the stairs; he raised up in bed to take a last glance at me, and those eyes I will see as long as my facilities remain with me.

I sailed for Barbados, but I could not ship a Mate, as there were none to be secured. I arrived at Barbados and after staying there about a week, I chartered to go to Antigua to load sugar for Philadelphia. It was the later part of July and hurricane season was in full blast. When four days out, on a Sunday, I was to the windward to the Island of Martinique, the lighthouse showing plainly at 12 o’clock noon; the wind was blowing very hard and the sea running high, the appeared just ahead on the bow a low island which I had overlooked on the chart. I tried to tack ship and beat up to the windward of the island, but my vessel being light and such sea running that she would not tack. Finally I saw a little narrow channel running between this small island and the main land. I consulted my chart and saw that the channel was clear of obstructions and deep, so I kept her off and ran down the channel between the two islands.

Before dark set in on me I saw that I was clear of any land in sight, so I reefed her down and hove to for the night. I was now in a basin surrounded by a group of islands and a hurricane threatening to come upon me at any minute. If any reader was ever in a West India hurricane he can imagine my feeling- having no Mate and poor crew to help handle the ship. I kept the first watch, from 8 to 11 p.m. Then to get a little rest, I must go below. At 4 a.m. when two sailors I had left in charge of the Middle Watch, called me, a big sailor named Pete said to me “Captain, the Mate has been on board.” Nonsense, I answered “What are you trying to give me.” “Yes, sir,” he said, “he was certainly here and the other man saw him too. He walked all around these decks.” I asked the sailor what time it was that he saw the Mate on board, and he replied at 2 o’clock a.m. I asked the other man and he substantiated the story exactly as Peter had told it. When the day broke and light came I saw the Island of Antiqua bearing to the North West of me. I made more sail, kept off and ran down to the island to take a pilot and went into the harbor of St. Johns where I came to anchor.

I loaded there a cargo of sugar and went to Philadelphia, discharged the cargo and from there went to Kings Ferry, Florida, where I loaded lumber for Demerara. I had a long and rough passage and after rocking about on the ocean for 37 days I arrived safely at Demerara. As soon as the ship was safely moored and entered at the Custom House, and I had deposited my papers at the American Consulate, I went to the hospital to inquire for my Mate, who I had left there four months before. They told me he was dead. I asked them when he died and they gave me the day and hour and it tallied exactly with the day and hour that the two sailors saw him walking around.

If anyone wishes to substantiate this statement, they can do so by writing to the hospital in Demerara and getting the date and hour of his departure, and then referring to my log book up my garret at home. I will wager a fifty dollar suit of clothes that the date and hour will prove the same.

Trusting I have not worried you with too long a story, which I could (have) made much longer, I am

Respectfully yours,

Capt. L. S. Tawes.

Copied from the Kent News as published in the May or June issue 1920.
By Lieut. Thomas E. Cosden, U.S.C.G. December 29, 1943,Lieut. Thos. E. Cosden U.S.C.G.”

(Thomas E. Cosden was the son of James E. Cosden who was the brother of Capt. Benjamin Hopper Cosden.)

Article provided by Sue W. Thompson of Queen Anne's County; Cosden Family Genealogist.


Big Lizz | Capt. Leonard Tawes  |  Crisfield Tales   |  Hanging Tree  |  Hope House  | Kitty Knight House  |   Patty Cannon  |  Richardson Maritime Museum   |  Marshall Price -Murder of Sallie Dean  |  Shoal Creek Manor  |  St Paul's Cemetery - Rock Hall   |  Tales From Down Below, Lower Dorchester  |  Two Haunted Tales from Somerset  |  Whitemarsh Cemetery  |  Willson's Chance - Ghost of Annie Belle Carter  |  Wish Sheppard - Caroline Jail


Haunted Eastern Shore by Mindie Burgoyne

Haunted Eastern Shore
Ghostly Tales from East of the Chesapeake
by Mindie Burgoyne

ISBN: 1596297204
PRICE: $17.99
160 Pages
Published by History Press
Haunted America series

Order Your Copy Today
BECOME A FAN of Haunted Eastern Shore

Book Description:

They walk beside the murky waters of the Chesapeake Bay, linger among the fetid swamps and roam the manor halls. These are the tormented souls who refuse to leave the sites of their demise. From pitiless smugglers to reluctant brides, the ghostly figures of the Eastern Shore are at once terrifying and tragic. Mindie Burgoyne takes readers on a spine-tingling journey as she recounts the grisly events at the Cosden Murder Farm and the infamous legend of Patty Cannon. Tread the foggy lanes of Kent Manor Inn and linger among Revolutionary War dead to discover the otherworldly occupants of Maryland's most haunted shore.

Haunted sites mentioned in the book include:

  • Cecil County - Holly Hall, Old Bohemia, Mitchell House

  • Kent County - Cosden Murder Farm, White House Farm, St. Paul's Cemetery & Bridge, Kitty Knight House

  • Queen Anne's County - Bloomingdale, Kent Manor Inn

  • Caroline County - The Tale of Wish Shepherd, The Murder Sallie Dean, Athol - a Child's Ghost in Henderson, Willson's Chance

  • Talbot County - The Lost City of Dover, Whitemarsh Cemetery, The Wilderness, Tunis Mills Hanging Tree

  • Dorchester County - Shoal Creek Manor, Patty Cannon's Trail of Tears, Suicide Bridge, Green Briar Swamp & Big Lizz, Tales From Down Below

  • Wicomico County - The Ghost Light Road

  • Worcester County - Cellar House, the Snow Hill Inn

  • Somerset County - Ananias Crockett's House, Holland's Island, Vance Miles House.

Tales include narratives given to Salisbury University Folklore students thirty years ago, describing hauntings, ghosts and legends of the Eastern Shore.

Discuss Eastern Shore ghosts on the
Haunted Eastern Shore Facebook Fan Page.

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