DELMARVA ALMANAC

Mindie Burgoyne & Haunted Delmarva

by Dana Kester-McCabe

Meet Mindie Burgoyne a storyteller who tells Delmarva's haunted history.

I recently met Mindie Burgoyne, a writer who has made learning about history both fun and profitable. Her day job is working for the state of Maryland in economic development. In her spare time, Mindie writes about a number of topics but is most known for her ghost stories which grew out of her interest in history and has developed into a flourishing side business.

Here is what she had to say about her first book on this topic which was called "Haunted Eastern Shore" published by History Press. They had asked her to focus on just one town, because they did not think that this region would be recognized as a destination. But she persisted with her idea. They accepted the project publishing the book in 2009. Mindie was an early adopter of social media as a tool of marketing and this propelled the success of the book, which is in its tenth printing.

From this book and its Facebook page grew requests for tours. In 2013 she began doing walking tours in just a few towns. These began to sell out and the demand increased until she had tours running in ten towns. On the upper shore there was Cambridge, Easton, Denton, and St. Michael's. In Worcester County she wrote tours for Berlin, Ocean City Pocomoke City, and Snow Hill. And in Somerset she covered Crisfield and Princess Anne. In 2013 she did 40 ghost tours and all of them sold out.

Mindie Burgoyne:
"The second year we hired six guides and we did 200 tours. And this year we will probably do 400. The subject matter is really interesting to people. It's really interesting to me. It's a hot niche. There's a lot more demand than supply.

In Crisfield near where I live, there are lots of people whose families have been here for twelve generations. It's hard to find places in populated America where this happens. But wherever you have those small populations, and people who have been in there for a long time, you find a lot of history, and a lot of folk lore. They love their history. They love to tell their stories."


Mindie attributes the wealth of material on this topic regionally to the fact that except for a few places Delmarva remains by and large a rural community with a fairly small number of people living here.

Mindie Burgoyne:
"When you have low population you have more authenticity into one culture. And, that is what makes it so awesome. It hasn't been diluted. These bones of these old farms and plantations are still here.

So, the folklore is very rich because it hasn't been diluted. And there are still people telling it. And there are people who care about preserving it so there is an enormous amount of material on the folklore and the ghost stories."


Mindie suggests that the success of the tours near the beach resorts is because visitors are always looking for reasonable priced family friendly activities beyond the usual beaches, amusement parks, and bars.

Mindie Burgoyne:
"We walk by haunted sites and tell ghost stories. We're not ghost hunters. We don't guarantee ghost sightings. We don't dress up. We don't hire people to scare other people. It is simply a walking tour. And we believe (the guides and me) that these stories are scary enough. They're real. We didn't make 'em up. We tell them where the stories came from, where the most of the resources are. They are getting the history. And the wonderful bit about that with tourists is if you can put a tourist in your town for two hours and give them the town's stories of the heroes and the history, they'll never forget that town.

If you go to other historic destinations and visit a few nice places you don't create a lasting memory. But when you take one of the Chesapeake Ghost tours through a town like Berlin "you know who started it. You know about the Harrisons, you know about the old hoteliers, and how people lived, how people worked, how the town got started. And then you get to go by these buildings as you learn the story. So the town becomes like an old friend. And, that's really our goal."


Mindy pitched a series of books based on the tours to her publisher. Just a few weeks ago she released the second book in a three book series: The Haunted Mid-Shore: Spirits of Caroline, Dorchester & Talbot Counties. It has 25 stories about ghosts that haunt some of the oldest communities on Delmarva. Research is an important part of how Mindie chooses a story to include including a tour of the very spooky Denton Jail.

Mindie Burgoyne:
"I got the opportunity to go inside and go into the control room. The warden allowed that. I mean, it's story after story after story after story. It's not one here and one there. It's this presence that is there at this jail. That's pretty haunted."

Mindie offers this explanation for the existence of ghosts.

Mindie Burgoyne:
"I really believe, and most of these stories are based on the belief that the eternal world or whatever you want to call the afterlife, is right where we are. It's not out in space, it's here. Our conscious mind prohibits us form experiencing it.

Mindie says that our minds are more open to perceive these things at times when we are able to let go of rational thinking such as just before falling asleep. There are also locations where people are more likely to experience ghosts and other spirits. These are called "thin places" and Mindie says that Delmarva has quite a few.

Mindie Burgoyne:
"The Ocean City Life Saving Station Museum has activity. The Atlantic Hotel in Ocean City is another one. Foxley Hall in Easton - big haunted site.

"In Berlin we have some really weird stuff that we found in both the folk lore collection and the personal commentary. An elemental which is a nonhuman spirit has been seen between the warehouses near Adkins Hardware right near the railroad tracks. If you look at during the day it's just this empty lot. It doesn't look like anything. At night it looks very different. And people have seen this thing that looks like a black void that will pulsate towards them. And we've had people catch it in pictures on the ghost tours.

"When I was doing research for these walks, I was overwhelmed by the number of stories that come out of one street: High Street in Cambridge; where all those beautiful colonial homes are; where James Michener set Chesapeake, you know, there's fourteen haunted sites. And there are still people coming. (Laughing) We can't put another site on this tour. It's already too long!

"If somebody asked me what most haunted meant I would say that there were a couple of things. There were many reports from unrelated sources over generations - and still active."


Whether or not you believe in ghosts these walking tours are a fun way to learn more about our regional heritage and they are available all year long. To find out more visit Mindie's website: chesapeakeghostwalks.com and tune in for our Halloween show when Mindie will be back with a few more ghost stories.

Find out more at: chesapeakeghostwalks.com