Mount St. Mary’s University was founded in 1808. According to Father Daniel Nusbaum, campus historian, in 1805, a circuit-riding priest, John DuBois, became tired while on a road between Frederick and Emmitsburg.
He saw a light on a mountain and thought it was a farmhouse, so he rode toward it. He couldn’t find the house and decided to sleep. When he awoke, he discovered a majestic scene of hills and fields. DuBois decided to stay to build a church and school. Today, its grounds are haunted.
Brute Hall, Room 252 Poltergeist
The dorm was named for the Rev. Simon Brute, a college president. Legend has it that he glides on the campus wearing a long black robe. He normally smiles, nods and moves on.
A priest lived in Room 252, actually, a suite with bedroom, sitting room/office and bathroom, when many of the professors lived on campus.
One night he straightened his room, went out for a few minutes and returned to find everything in total disorder. Lights and the television flashed on and off at random times. He moved out. Another priest moved in. When his cat began hissing at strange times and scurrying under the bed in fear, he moved out.
Father Daniel lived in the room. When he was sleeping, objects were moved around. A mantle clock would move from one end to another and, sometimes, to the middle. The bed moved, interior doors mysteriously opened and shut. At night, he heard the bathroom door squeakily open, saw the light turned on and the door shut. He wasn’t afraid of the phenomena.
After he moved out the room was turned into one for students. In 1997, three students moved in. They witnessed a falling mirror and flushing toilet.
Brendan McMahon lived in 252 and experienced weird happenings. He and some friends were watching TV and sometimes, for no reason, the TV began jumping from channel to channel.
He said the school put a bookshelf on the place where Brute died. Glasses fell off the shelves by themselves in the middle of the night.
Leander, a slave, worked for the college in the mid-1800s and lived on the first floor. He was accused of stealing. Because of this, his left hand was cut off and buried in the quadrangle.
While Leander was eventually freed, he stayed at the college. When he died, he was buried in the college’s cemetery.
To this day, residents of McCaffrey report seeing a severed hand here and there, or hearing fingers scratching on dorm windows. Nusbaum believes that the ghostly hand might be looking for reconciliation with the rest of the man’s body.
Civil War Soldier
One of the college’s most famous ghosts is a Civil War soldier who promised his beloved that he would think of her while in battle.
They agreed to look at the sky and gaze upon the same star every night. When the soldier was killed at Gettysburg, he was buried, face down, in an old well.
Now his spirit, people say, roams Mount Saint Mary’s, tapping folks on their shoulders and beseeching them to “turn me over.” He wants to see the star.
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
She was the first American-born person who was canonized. The ghost of Mother Seton, as she is known, frequents the halls of the college.
She moved to Emmitsburg in 1809 to establish the nation’s first parochial school and died in 1821. Her spirit is often spotted walking beside a man who looks like a doctor.
Some say that her vision appeared to wounded soldiers during the Civil War, when the school was used as a hospital and she joined forces with a doctor to heal the sick. Others believe that the man is her father, a physician.
She was seen by wounded Civil War soldiers when the school was used as a hospital and she helped doctors heal the patients.
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