By Asha Godfrey ’14
Students have shared ghost stories at Sweet Briar over a number of decades. The most popular amongst all the eerie tales of ghost sitings or bumps in the night are those involving the ghost of Daisy Williams, the sixteen year old girl to whom Sweet Briar’s construction is dedicated. On the 26th, 27th, and 28thof last month, newly tapped Chung Mung and Tau Phi babies hosted a series of said Ghost Tours, leading students, faculty, and staff members alike throughout the campus to reveal some of the most phantasmal stories of Sweet Briar’s history.
The Ghost Tours started in the Yellow Room of the campus museum, a room with daffodil colored walls with two cabinets filled with Chinese and Japanese figurines, pieces of jewelry, and what were some of Daisy’s toys as a young girl. A harp sat at the far corner of the space. Celeste Purvis ’13, a Tau Phi “neophyte,” explained to the group how historically, some of the museum guards would hear the strings of the harp quiver some nights while they stayed in the building till closing. The harp was once owned by Daisy, on which she would practice every day. Purvis also shared a few stories from her own experiences, particularly from her freshman year living in the Meta Glass residence building. Ebony Goines ’14, also a former resident of Meta Glass states “My roommate and I would hear really loud footsteps at like four o’clock in the morning sometimes. They sounded like they were running really fast paced. Then a door would slam.”
The tour would then move on to a room in the museum featuring a mannequin with black dress clothes. Here, the Chung Mung and Tau Phi babies would explain Indiana Fletcher’s process of mourning, when she would wear nothing but black attire and jewelry and line any calling cards she left with a black border. The tour guides then told of yet another ghost story featuring a music box that was once given to Daisy as a birthday gift. The cabinet in which it sits in the museum is always locked, but on separate occasions, the cabinet would open mysteriously and the music box would proceed to play.
From there, the group moved to the Sweet Briar house where tour guides told a number of ghost stories. One popular ghost siting was that of a fire that caused many of its residents to evacuate. It is rumored that a worker had seen a woman and a younger girl hold hands and walk into the building still afire and walk out unharmed. The two were said to be the ghosts of Indiana Fletcher and daughter, Daisy Williams. The group was then led to the Browsing Room of the library where yet another flurry of supernatural activity has been experienced. Celeste Purvis ’13 told the group about how students that have found themselves sleeping in the Browsing Room during finals week have heard noises and perhaps seen unknown figures during their stay.
As the tour came to a close, Ebony Goines ’14 turned to a portrait of Mary Helen Cochran hanging in the Browsing Room. “By, Miss Cochran,” she said. “I definitely know that ghost story.”