The Moon Ghost is a name given to a series of bizarre incidents that took place in the home of Schulyer Moon, of Fluvanna County, Virginia. The house was once an estate called “Church Hill,” around 12 miles from Charlottesville. These events baffled even the brightest minds attending the nearby University of Virginia. So, how did a successful, level-headed attorney like Moon become the target of a supernatural event? That question has plagued researchers since the events occurred.
Schulyer Moon was a native of Fluvanna County, born in April of 1824. He married Mary Shores in 1849 and the couple had four children. The Moon household was never associated with strange or bizarre events before or after the witch.
Early accounts state the haunting started in 1863, while later information states the disturbances began in 1866. There wasn’t a dramatic start to the haunting. The activity escalated, just like with the Bell Witch, the Clip Wizard, or Bertha Sybert’s witch. Articles of Moon’s clothing began to disappear from the household. The random thefts didn’t draw much attention, at first. The family reinforced windows and changed the locks many times, but the small thefts continued.
In August of 1866, the family had a serious fright. A candle box filled with whiskey-soaked cloth was ignited by the Moon household. The fire seemed to be the spirit’s way to announce its arrival. The blaze was estimated to have started around 1:00 am. When the contents of the burned box were examined, the Moon family found remnants of the missing pieces of clothing.
A short time later, the entire household awoke to different noises in different rooms. The children all ran into the parents’ room and refused to leave. Moon lit a candle and went in search of the noise. He checked a few rooms, but the candle blew out. He relit the wick, but it always went out once he reached a certain spot.
Moon was irritated and figured he’d just examine everything the next morning. There hadn’t been any further disturbance, so he figured it was probably an animal outside or beneath the house.
He didn’t find anything amiss or broken the next morning. The rest of the day was normal, but the noises came again that night. The phantom crashes and thumps were now so loud the parents heard them. The family thought the furniture had overturned, or floors had caved in.
The noises came every night for several nights. The family slept together during that time. Moon finally had enough. He sent his wife and children to a neighbor’s home for the night. He gathered several neighbors to sit up with him. He was determined to find what caused the disruption.
Everyone was armed that night as they sat in the parlor. The group fell silent around midnight. A phantom mist formed in the middle of the room, it eventually took human form. It made a sweeping motion with one arm and the china flew off the table and crashed in the floor. There was a tremendous knocking at the front door, but no one was outside.
A few men drew their weapons and shot the phantom, but bullets passed through it. A loud scream came outside and the parlor ghost disappeared. Noise then came from the roof of the home. It sounded like someone was ripping shingles off the house.
The family owned a small store, but even it was subject to the haunting. Small items always went missing and were later found piled in haphazard places later. Petty vandalisms also occurred, but the vandal never left any evidence.
One account stated a full battalion of Lee’s soldiers was stationed around the house at one point, and the presence of so many potential witnesses had no impact on the frequency or degree of activity. The soldiers were just as susceptible to the events as the Moon family.
Moon began to keep a vigil around his house to see if anyone could spot a burglar or vandal. A standing reward was issued for anyone who apprehended a culprit, which eventually grew to $1,000. On several nights, as many as 40 men guarded the household outside. Many students from the University of Virginia frequently visited and tried to help the family solve the mystery.
Mary Schulyer sat on the front porch one evening with her nephew. They watched the specter in the yard. It first formed itself like a snake and crept towards the porch. It slithered through the yard and up the walkway. The nephew shot at it, but it didn’t make a sound when hit. It just morphed into a ball and bounced away.
A figure approached the house one morning just as dawn broke over the horizon. Several students fired their guns and heard a scream. They were convinced the shot the creature, and it was human after all. It left a large trail of blood behind as it ran into the woods. They decided to track them as soon as they had full daylight. No one could lose that amount of blood and travel far.
They waited around half an hour and followed what they believed to be blood. In direct light, they realized it wasn’t blood at all. The phantom tricked them.
The ghost was said to fire bullets at people, but never came close to actually shooting them. It also had a strange habit of gathering random objects from the house and piling them on the lawn.
The family heard scratches and knocks most of the time. Windows were frequently broken. Lights danced in and around the house. Groceries were dumped or mixed together and left in the yard, or on the roof. It’s estimated that over 40 people saw the physical form of the ghost, and 6 successfully shot the phantom, but no one stopped it.
Abraham Myers, of Frederick County, said the Moon ghost would be silenced if the family read the final three chapters of the Book of Daniel. They performed the reading and were successful for three days. The spirit returned, however, angrier than ever.
The disturbances continued until 1868. Several sources report the ghost left a good-bye note that read, “I will not pester you anymore.” It was signed, “Jack Ghost.” Whatever the truth is, the haunting ceased. Moon sold his estate two years later and the next family never had further issue with the supernatural.
Many blame the events on noted horse thief Lucian Beard. In 1871, Beard claimed that if Moon would help get him exonerated, he would unravel the mystery behind the haunting.
The Moon family didn’t believe Beard had anything to do with it. They said Beard was incarcerated most of the time during the haunting. Rumors also persisted of a gold mine on the property, somewhere, and there were people trying to scare the family away. This, also, has never been substantiated. No gold mines exist in that area.