Westover Plantation

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The eternal forever home of the spirit of
Evelyn Byrd, who keeps a loving eye on the living.

 

DESCRIPTION

Historic Westover Plantation today can be described as a private family residence on the second floor, a working farm, a place for social events, and a place for filming, photography and portrait sessions, and the eternal forever home of the spirit of Evelyn Byrd, who keeps a loving eye on the living.

Wow! Wealth and the love of beauty were the driving duo behind this glorious, two storied Georgian style architecture plantation house that has always been loved by its ten owners who always maintained its structure, made great improvements to the property and home, and loved the gardens; putting in their favorite flowers, shrubs and trees, as well as maintaining the old plantings. Walkways and trails are maintained for the public use. The family willingly and generously shares all the beauty and walking opportunities with visitors who pay a small fee on the honor system. Wow.

The Georgian architecture is considered a complete example of this early Georgian style of building structures. It has all the bells and whistles of early Georgian architecture, and hasn’t been updated architecturally like some structures have during the years. (Temple Heights – MS). Modern amenities have been added, but not structural changes. When the wings and other structures were connected to the main Westover Plantation House, that was the extent of the structural changes.

Westover Plantation has a reconstructed East Wing and the original West Wing. Inside the first floor of the main two story plantation house and the two wings, it is like the colonial owners just stepped outside for a walk. These areas are full of 18th century furniture of the Colonial well-to-do, and make a lovely show-case of Colonial way of life.

It is the best maintained and presented Colonial Plantation House, including out-buildings with a glorious view of the James River. There is an expansive lawn right by the water, that has been used for all kinds of social events here. The whole property knocked the socks off of the investigators from NRHP and the NRHL as well. Westover was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Westover Plantation on Oct. 15th, 1966. This happened when the Fisher family owned this property.

In 1972, Westover Plantation House was registered with National Register of National Landmarks as well, under the Nationals Parks Service. This may be one of the reasons why owners have been very inviting, and open to tourists and visitors. They don’t seem to mind. Westover Plantation House and its property is forever protected.

The owners are following in the footsteps of southern hospitality that Evelyn Byrd would approve. Westover Plantation is open year-round for self-guided tours of the grounds, out-buildings and gardens. On their website, a general invitation is given, and how to get an appointment for a private tour of the first floor that is a blast of the past.

“The Erda family invites you to visit Westover and hopes that you will enjoy your time on the banks of the James. Our grounds and gardens are open daily, 10am – 5pm, and interior house tours can be scheduled by appointment.”

 

HISTORY

This glorious piece of real estate was first settled by the brothers of the first Colonial Governor of Virginia; Lord Delaware. In 1607, brothers Francis, John and Nathaniel West were leaders of the settlers who came to this property. In 1637, the Colonial Governor patented 2000 acres to the Westover Plantation and gave it to Captain Thomas Pawlett, the first owner of Westover Plantation.This was a prime piece of real estate, with a great view of the St. James River.

Captain Pawlett sold Westover Plantation to the Richard Bland family, who eventually sold it to William Byrd I in 1688. William Byrd was trained as a lawyer, who was well thought of by the British monarchy. William was appointed to be “the Receiver General of His Majesty’s revenues from the colonies; In charge of all the tax revenue collected for the King. Three times he was appointed to be the public agent to the Court and Ministry of England.”

William Byrd I was also well-liked at home, and served as a member of the Virginia Colony Council. William Byrd I also served as President of the Virginia Colony Council, toward the end of his life. He had five surviving children from one marriage.

 

HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS

Past mistakes in life that are deeply regretted and have caused guilt, can cause restless spirits.

Hurtful actions can cause hauntings.

Mariah Taylor told her daughter-in-law, Elizabeth, that she could find the proof of her husband’s affairs in the top drawer of huge dresser. Elizabeth opened the drawers to use them as steps to try to get to the top drawer to see what was in there. The huge dresser fell over on her, crushing her.

Elizabeth never saw the love letters. She died a painful death. What an awful end; dying painfully and never seeing the proof of a wandering husband and having to leave her children in this world.

Losing the opportunity to marry a beloved because of family disapproval or premature death, can be earth-shattering to young people; some vow to never marry, some slowly waist away, some kill themselves, and others suck it up, and continue on in the family tradition; making the best of life.

Evelyn Byrd, eldest daughter of William Byrd 11, had a lot of experience handling hard situations, death and loss at an early age. She was old enough to feel the death of her two baby brothers. Her mother, Lucy Parke Bird loved her but wasn’t easy to live with. Lucy died of smallpox in London, when Evelyn was only 9 years old. Evelyn began her boarding school years in England, just a year after.

When her father married again when Evelyn was fourteen, her luck improved. He married a sweet, elegant woman, Marie Taylor Byrd, who became the mother that Evelyn needed as a role model in behavior and duty during the summers when Evelyn was home from English boarding school. She learned from her stepmother who loved her how to be a kind, giving person, and a mistress of the plantation; probably letting her help with the mistress duties.

Evelyn Byrd was eighteen years old when she went to London to be presented to the Queen; quite an honor for a young girl. While there, she had a whirlwind romance with an English gentleman, who unfortunately was either the wrong faith, had unacceptable weaknesses, or a gold-digger, sweeping an impressionable girl off her feet. Her father saw right through him, and did the hard “father duty” to say no to Evelyn’s proposed marriage and brought Evelyn home, to be with family.

Evelyn remained close to her father, respecting his wisdom and changed her perceptions. Perhaps her stepmother offered positive emotional support, helping her to focus on the positive elements of her life, and encouraged Evelyn in her strengths; being a mistress of Westover and a loving family member.

Evelyn did resolve to never marry, and to make the best of this life. She focused on the positive blessings that she did have. She relied on her faith for strength. She became a loving, kind big sister to her own sister, Wilhelmina, and to her step brother, William Byrd III, and step sisters. No time to pine away, but to be about the challenges and duties of her station, and enjoying her family. A deep sibling love existed between Evelyn and her step-brother William Byrd III. In his will, he requested to be buried next to his sister, Evelyn.

People who enjoy what they do in life, sometimes like to continue doing so, not willing to retire just yet, especially if they unexpectedly die.

Evelyn enjoyed being kind to others, fulfilling her duties as mistress and was a great hostess, seeing to the needs of her guests. She died early in life at 30, as her mother did at 29. She may have gotten a disease, or had a medical condition. We know she didn’t kill herself because she was buried in the family plot. She didn’t act as a woman pining away for a forbidden beloved. She did love Westover Plantation though with all her heart.

People while alive sometimes who had a calling while alive, try to live up to their calling even in spirit form. Evelyn Byrd had promised her friend, Anne Berkeley, that after she died, she would make appearances as a spirit in a friendly way, continuing doing what she did so well. The hope was that Anne would do the same, and visit her as a spirit.

 

MANIFESTATIONS

Spirit of Evelyn Byrd

Likes to be seen as a solid person as to not frighten anyone.

She wears either a long white dress or long green dress.

She likes to appear as a solid person with a warm, kind aura. She has appeared before visitors, tourists, owners, children and workers; always with a pleasant smile and kind eyes in a welcoming manner. She has been here for decades.

Evelyn likes to stand on the lawn by the lake, even in front of the living.

A tourist took a picture of her, thinking that she was a docent dressed in a costume. When he got his pictures developed, there was no one there.

Evelyn as Mistress of Westover

Evelyn goes about the duties of a mistress of the house and the life she had here while alive; very content with Westover Plantation House.

She was seen in the pantry by the maid.

The butler from an earlier time (1921) thought she was Mrs. Crane, and moved off to the side in the hallway, so she could pass. She vanished.

She was seen by a workman, in a third floor attic room, looking in a full-length mirror. The workman was very annoyed that someone alive was in the room he was going to work in.

Picture of Hospitality!

She does a bed check, going into the guest rooms, to be sure all is well.

Two guests of the present owners saw her walk through their rooms. Both thought the owner had walked through their rooms. They were mistaken.

After the present owners moved in, their young daughter was sleeping in the northwest bedroom on the second floor. The child woke up and saw a lady dressed in old fashioned clothes, kneeling by her bed, with a kind face, and pleasant smile. Then, the lady vanished. This didn’t scare the child, as she rolled over and went back to sleep.

Possible Other Hauntings

The spirit of Evelyn may also try to comfort visiting spectral family members who are still suffering from their misdeeds and ugly deaths. (Stranahan House, FL)

Some say the spirits of William Byrd the III, his first wife, Elizabeth Carter Byrd, and his guilt-filled mother, Moriah Taylor also reside or visit there.

PARANORMAL FINDINGS

Boatloads of people have seen her welcoming presence, probably since the day she died so long ago.

No hard evidence has been caught or shared with the public; just personal experiences are shared. Her image doesn’t appear on regular film.

Investigators/mediums are not allowed inside to talk to Evelyn. Evelyn is such a pleasant, polite spirit, no one wants to bother her.

 

STILL HAUNTED?

Yes Indeed! She is a strong, benign, friendly presence who enjoys her own memories and looks after the people who stay here; especially children.

Concerning the Other Spirits Here:

They all need the comfort of being at Westover Plantation, and seek the love and counseling from Evelyn. They stay in the shadows and avoid the living, so involved are they in their own pain.

As occurrences are very rare, I could only find one source that claims that they are there.

 

LOCATION

7000 Westover Road,
Charles City, VA 23030

Historic Westover Plantation is fifty minutes from Williamsburg and the East Interstate I-64 West.

It sits on a glorious piece of property with gorgeous views and land right next to the James River. It is also 7 miles west of Charles City, VA.

SOURCES INCLUDE

  • HAUNTED PLACES THE NATIONAL DIRECTORY, by Dennis William Hauck, Penguin Books, 2002.
  • The Ghosts of Williamsburg, and Nearby Environs, by L.B.Taylor, JR., Progress Printing Co. 1983.
  • findagrave.com/memorial/40885971/william-byrd
  • findagrave.com/memorial/7532012/william-byrd
  • dhr.virginia.gov
  • westover-plantation.com

 
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

Haunts in Virginia