Francis Barnes House in Princess Anne

Spirit of Judge Stanford Lingers in Princess Anne

Spirits at the Francis Barnes House

The Francis Barnes House was built in 1853 on a parcel of land directly across the street from Teackle Mansion. Judge Henry Stanford bought the house in 1896. According to newspaper reports, he committed suicide in the upstairs bedroom by cutting his jugular vein.

Over the years there have been reports of Judge Stanford being seen in the house, happily reading his books and walking the halls. There are wonderful photos of Judge Stanford and his young family sitting on the porches and posing in the yard.Apparently, he loved this home.  But is he still there?  Ther are stories of weird events happening at the house. Even the present owners have reported paranormal activity.

Henry Laurenson Dashiell Stanford was born on the 2nd of October 1856 in Somerset County, Maryland. He died on the 10th of August in 1917 at the age of 60 on the second floor of the Francis Barnes House and left behind four children and a wife much younger than he. (20 yrs). His father and mother in law also lived with them.

Judge Stanford started out humbly, taking a job as a clerk in Washington Hotel (now the Washington Inn & Tavern) and then getting trained as a lawyer by Henry Page (John W. Crisfield’s son) and Joshua Miles. Thus started an illustrious career in law including a judgeship and a seat in the MD House of Delegates representing Princess Anne. Census’ show Judge Stanford living at Francis Barnes House in 1900 with his wife and three children.

Judge Stafford and his family beside the Francis Barnes House
Judge Stanford and his family beside the Francis Barnes House

It turns out the Judge Stanford was suffering from “Brights Disease” – a chronic inflammation of the kidneys that is treatable today but was terribly painful prior to more modern treatments.  Apparently, the pain was too much to bear and the good judge sought a way out with the edge of a razor.

After Judge Stanford’s death, the house was acquired by Dr. John T. Ruby of Oriole who moved in with his wife and young son sometime after 1930. Mrs. Ruby gave commentary about the house being haunted and that commentary is in the Folklore Collection at the Edward H. Nabb Research Center or Delmarva History and Culture.

Mrs. Ruby stated that she used to see Judge Stanford coming down the stairs reading his books, and even saw his house-keeper once. The house-keeper came into Mrs. Ruby’s son’s bedroom and sat on the bed. Mrs. Ruby also stated that one day she was on the porch of the Francis Barnes House rocking in the rocking chair when she felt a cold rush of air behind her, and suddenly the rocker stopped. She couldn’t rock back and forth. She thought it was her son playing a trick on her holding the chair still. Then Mrs. Ruby felt another cold wind go up her back and then she could rock again. When she turned around to look for her son, no one was there. Later she found out that her son wasn’t even in the house.

Mrs. Ruby also said that she sometimes saw what looked like a ball of fire in the basement.

The current owners have three generations living in the house and have been there for 30 years. They all have seen shadows passing them with nobody casting the shadow. The little granddaughter has seen the ghosts and she’s been seen talking to the shadows. the child’s mother – a 25-year-old- grew up in the house and sometimes finds it difficult to live there (according to her mother) because of the paranormal activity.

The owner admitted that she can’t take a shower in the upstairs bathroom. She hasn’t been able to in 30 years. 4 times she’s tried. Feels like she’s not alone. There’s baseboard heat —- but she’s felt a breeze blow through with the doors and window shut. She’ll hear something banging but she knows it’s not the heat. She feels a burst of energy and feels that movement in the air. Sometimes she see’s a person in her peripheral vision.

But through all the strange events, the owner clearly states that it’s a happy house and that she never feels a feeling of discomfort or dread. They all know they are not alone, but the happily coexist, because of the love for the Francis Barnes House.