American Folklore

American Folklore: Delaware

Delaware is not only one of the original thirteen colonies, it is the first official state in the union. It has thousands of years of human history behind it, both Native American and European. Therefore, it has plenty of its own, unique folklore. Here are some of the highlights of Delaware’s fascinating folklore.

Listen to the Genealogy Clips podcast on YouTube or iTunes.

As one of the original thirteen colonies, as well as the official first state in the union (being the first to ratify the Constitution), Delaware may be a tiny state, but it is big on folklore. With a European history going back more than three hundred years, and a Native American history going back thousands of years before that, Delaware has had plenty of time to rack up some intriguing stories all its own. Here are some of the most interesting stories from the folklore of Delaware.

Ghosts at Fort Delaware

Fort Delaware is located on Pea Patch Island on the Delaware River and was originally a prison for Confederate soldiers captured during the Civil War. It was notorious for its horrible conditions for prisoners, being something of an “Andersonville of the North.” Housing was ramshackle and minimal, rations of food were sparse, and the water was dirty. Rats were sometimes thrown to the prisoners, who scrambled over each other in an effort to be the first to tear a piece of meat off of the still-living creatures. During the war, around 2,700 prisoners died at Fort Delaware, and their spirits are rumored to still be there.

The story of ghosts at Fort Delaware is so deep and rich that the fort offers ghost tours in addition to its more abundant historical tours. Those who work there, as well as those who go on the paranormal tours, have reported things such as feeling creepy presences and hearing the ghosts of prisoners making noises in places where it should be quiet.

Creepy Lums Pond

The state park at Lums Pond is a popular location for canoeing and kayaking and has a beautiful lake on it. It is also rumored to be haunted, thanks to a tragedy that supposedly took place there.

The story goes back to the rumor of a young girl who ran away from home in nearby New Castle, Delaware in the 1870s. She hid in the woods at Lums Pond but came across an evil man who was camping in the park. He kidnapped her, beat her up, and killed her. While her body was found swiftly, the man who killed her was never captured.

Guests to the park often report seeing the ghost of the girl near the bridge which is rumored to be close to where she was killed. They also hear her screaming in the woods. Those who cross the bridge have sometimes reported the temperature on it dropping dramatically as they cross it, then going up to normal again once they exit it on the other side.

The Mysterious Addy-Sea Inn

The Addy-Sea Inn is located on Bethany Beach and was built in 1902. It is a charming bed and breakfast today. Because of the rumors of it being haunted, many guests come to the inn just for the hope of a ghostly experience.

There are certain rooms at the inn which are rumored to be more haunted than others, and these are popular rooms with guests. Room One was the room of John Addy, the original owner (and builder) of the inn. The tub in that room is prone to start shaking when used by guests. Room Six treats guests to the ghostly sounds of organ music, even though no organ is in the room or the building. Room Eleven is supposedly haunted by Paul Dulaney, who was the handyman for the Addy family. His ghost has been seen by guests in this room standing near, or even on the bed in the room.

The Dead Presidents Pub—It’s Haunted

Located in Wilmington, Delaware, The Dead Presidents Pub opened in the 1990s. However, the building has a longer history. It was a private residence in the past, and also the home of a variety of bars and other businesses. However, it was only when the building became The Dead Presidents Pub that guests began reporting paranormal activity there.

The pub sells craft beers named after past presidents of the United States, as well as presidential memorabilia and souvenirs. Guests sometimes report drops in temperature, the sound of ghostly laughter, the sound of glasses clinking on their own, the feeling of a dark presence, and feeling the presence of… and sometimes seeing….the ghost of Lemonade Mullery. Lemonade was a local guy who used to hang around the pub and died after breaking his neck by slipping on urine on the pub’s bathroom floor.

The Dead Presidents Pup in Wilmington, Delaware first opened its doors in the 1990s but had a long and rich history before that. The two story building had been a private residency and also housed various businesses and bars. The name chosen in the ’90s was apparently asking for trouble, however, because guests have reported paranormal activity ever since the Dead Presidents Pub made its debut.

Spirits Linger in the Governor’s Mansion

The governor’s mansion of Delaware, which is also known as Woodburn, dates all the way back to the 1790s and is located in Dover, Delaware. It is open to public tours, and guests have been reporting paranormal phenomenon in the mansion for decades (at least). The first one was reported twenty-five years after the mansion was built.

This first ghostly tale involved a visiting Methodist minister who suggested to the governor and his wife that they should wait for the other guest to join them before praying over their breakfast. Only, no other guest was in residence at the mansion. When the minister described the other guest he had seen, he precisely described Charles Hillyard III, the builder of the house who had died a little while after completing construction on it.

Charles Hillyard III is apparently still there today and will drink a glass of wine if you leave one out overnight for him on the stairs. There have also been reports of the ghost of a runaway slave who was captured and killed on the mansion grounds, as well as a young girl in a gingham dress and bonnet who carries a candle with her.



Will founded Ancestral Findings in 1995 and has been assisting researchers for over 25 years to reunite them with their ancestors.