DELMARVA ALMANAC

Somerset County’s Cry Baby Bridge

by Dana Kester-McCabe

Mindie Burgoyne tells us a ghost story about Tull's Corner Maryland, in honor of Halloween.

Halloween has its roots in the festival of Samhain a Gaelic harvest celebration. In ancient times it was believed that on October 31st, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead lifted allowing the dead to come back to take care of unfinished business. To scare away vengeful spirits, bonfires were lit, pumpkins were carved and people wore scary masks. In the Christian era this festival became known as All Hollow's Eve the night before All Saints Day.

Over time these festivals mostly evolved into a time for celebrating the end of harvest season and being together before harsh winter conditions kept people from visiting one another. But tell ghost stories has remained a popular part of the ancient tradition which helped people face their fears about death and connect them to the lives of those who have gone before us.

Here in the US and on Delmarva those traditions continue. In honor of Halloween here is storyteller, and ghost tour operator, Mindie Burgoyne who has a local ghost story about a little girl named Annie Conner who died in 1875.

Mindy Burgoyne:
One of my favorite stories is about where I live in Marion. Nobody really knows where Marion is but it is between Westover and Crisfield in Somerset County. It's all rural farmland. There really is no town. But there used to be a town called Tull's Corner. And, it's now just the end of a road with a couple of houses.

But near Tull's Corner is a bridge that goes over East Creek, I think. [It's] a small bridge with just the iron guard rails. And, it's known as Crybaby Bridge. So, Crybaby Bridge, The Lady In White, The Hitchhiker, these are all stories are found in every town. They are everywhere. Every [local ghost] book has those three things. I thought let me here what this one is. Fishermen, and people do fish off that bridge all the time, at night they will hear the sound of a child crying, really loud. And then it just stops. Like a child drowning. It sounds like a child drowning. And they get their lights out and they can't find it.

And this was told by Woodrow Wilson who chronicled a lot of the Somerset County history and genealogy. There was an accident on that bridge. Woodrow Wilson tells about it. There was a lady who was going over the bridge in a horse and buggy. She had her four year old daughter with her. The horse got spooked by lightning and thunder at the bridge and went over the edge. And so the cart went over. It wasn't even that deep but because of the rain the water was rushing. And so the mother couldn't get to the child and the child was swept away. They didn't find the child for days. The child's name was Annie.


It's interesting that right near Crybaby Bridge is this really haunted house, the Samuel Tull House, and Luke's Grave at the St. Paul's Cemetery. So al in a line are these three really haunted sites. So I told that story and a lady on the bus from Parksley, Virginia, said, "Can you find out the name of that child? Because I've heard this story; and I mean to tell you, I think that's my relative." So I said OK, I'll look. And I emailed her and she said. "That is my relative. I'll tell you what the story really was."

She said that her family lived right there near the bridge. And they did. They lived not just a mile down the road. It was a big family and this woman had a bunch of kids and this was her littlest. And that is exactly what happened. The little girl was lost and they didn't find her for days. And sadly a couple of years later one of their sons was killed in a store because he was standing underneath a cart that had been elevated because they were working on it and the cables broke it hit him.

So they had a lot of tragedy. And, so I thought, "Wow, I feel like I know this family." For the next bus tour I decided I wanted to go back and find Annie's grave so that I could say "here is Crybaby Bridge, here's what happened. Here is the house they lived in. Now we'll go to the grave yard and I will show you her grave." I found her whole family but I couldn't find her. I couldn't find her anywhere. I thought, "Where could she be?" Of course she would be buried here. She was the first one [in the family] to die. I couldn't find the grave. I was standing out there in frigid weather. Like, my hands were so cold I could barely hold my pen, looking for this grave. And I gave up. I felt like this Annie, she just follows me. You know? Always on my mind: imagining what that life must have been like for that mother when she lost that child. And this little child: and why I can't find her.

So finally on the ghost tour it wasn't quite as cold, I took them over to that grave which is marked by a big obelisk. It's a new granite monument. It has the parents' names. And the parents died a day apart. They were really old. They were like eighty. I could see they died a couple days apart from each other. The whole tragedy of this family, it just weighs on me!

So, I decided I was going to go around to the back of the obelisk so I could address the people [on the tour], and they could look onto the graves. And, when I walked around to the back of the obelisk, I saw the little name: Annie. So I could see, in fact, that she was buried there.

So anyway, that story isn't that scary. But, it's very thick. The presence of that child is very thick in that area. And the memory is very strong today. And, there are still people around that can retell that story. And it is so Somerset County, because Somerset County is so wide open. And there is almost no population except these two pockets on either end.

I went back to write about it and I picked up the Wilson Book to find the name again and I flipped it open and it opened right to it; (Laughs) right to the story about her. And I thought, "Wow, I feel like if I was ever attached to one of the spirits, like I couldn't shake it, like they talk about spirits attaching themselves to you, it would be Annie." I think about her all the time and she comes up when I drive so that's kind of scary...


The author, Woodrow Wilson, that Mindie refers to is not our late U.S. President but a Somerset County historian. Find a list of books by Wooodrow T. Wilson at your local Delmarva Library or on Amazon.com.

Find out more about Mindie Burgoyne and where the next ghost walk tour is in your area at: Chesapeakeghostwalks.com