Red Hill Legend

Red Hill Garden Club, founded in 1955, was named for the area of roads branching off old Braddock Road, which was originally known as Red Hill. Charter members of the club lived in this area.

Red Hill is featured in “Virginia Ghost Stories and Others” by Marguerite DuPont and Lee Publishers in Richmond, Virginia. All the names in the story have been forgotten except the name of the house. The story, entitled “The Anchorage,” is as follows:

Perhaps soon after the little port was called Belle Haven, when both the earlier names of Owl’s Creek and the Indian had been forgotten; when casks of tobacco were rolled down a lane now known as Oronoco Street, and the white covered wagons ended their journey at the river wharves, this ghost began to walk. In the far outskirts of town a rough path wended over the hill that later General Braddock was destined to follow in the Western Wilderness campaign. Close by on this hill amid trees and bushes stood a tiny cottage on what was called Red Lane. This was the home of a sea captain and his wife. They called their home “The Anchorage.” The sea captain’s wife would stand in the door of her home, shading her eyes with her hand, and watch her husband on his way to his ship, which was anchored out in the Potomac River. She would stand in this same doorway to watch for his return after many days at sea. One day he did not return from his voyage over the distant seas. When the news of his loss reached the widow, we are told that she went out into the garden and shot herself with a weapon, which she doubtless kept as her protection in that lonely spot where they lived. The ghost of that captain’s widow has apparently been seen from time to time throughout the years by a number of residents of that now populous neighborhood. Mrs. Niven, a former resident of the area, adds to the legend by writing, “This is a true ghost story. Our house was located on what is known as Red Hill adjoining the old Braddock Road, northwest of Alexandria, Virginia. One summer night as I was preparing to retire, I glanced out into the garden through an open window and saw a woman gazing towards the window out of which I was looking. Thinking she was a neighbor, I called out, ‘Hello! Come In!’ The figure vanished! The next day, I related this incident to a woman who was born and lived in the neighborhood all her life. She inquired, ‘What did the woman look like?’ I told her the woman was tall and rather slender and that she wore a cloak thrown over one shoulder. ‘That,’ my friend said, ‘is the ghost of the sea captain’s wife and more people than you have seen her wandering about your place and all over Red Hill.’” Then she told me the tragic story.