Thomas Marr was a Scotsman who decided to go to America to make a better life for himself. In 1836 he arrived in West Virginia, where he founded a town that was named after him: Marrtown. Marr married a local woman, Mary, and they established a prosperous farm. Their happy life was ruined by the Civil War (1861–1865), which brought financial hardship and loss to many. There was scarcely a family not affected by the war. To make ends meet Marr got a job as a night watchman on a bridge near Marrtown. Every night he rode out on his horse to the bridge. He stood watch in the cold and often in miserable weather. It was dark and lonely, and the woods seemed full of mysterious life.
On several occasions Marr caught sight of a stranger on horseback as he traveled to and from work. The figure was huddled beneath a hooded shroud. Marr could not tell if it was a man or a woman. Whenever he rode closer both horse and rider abruptly vanished. Marr told Mary about the rider. Neither one of them realized the awful truth: the figure was not a living person but a banshee come to foretell Marr’s death.
On February 5, 1876, Marr went to work at the bridge. He did not come back at his usual time. As the hours passed Mary grew more and more worried. When she heard a horse approach the farmhouse, she thought that her beloved husband was home at last. But instead she was greeted by a horrible sight. A shrouded figure whose face remained hidden sat atop a horse that looked supernatural. The figure spoke in a chilling voice, announcing that Thomas Marr was dead. As Mary stood in shock, the horse and rider vanished. True to the spirit’s message, Marr was found dead. How he died is not known. He may have had a heart attack or a stroke. Or perhaps he was frightened to death by the banshee itself.
When Mary died many years later at age 90, the banshee appeared again, but only as a woman’s voice that shrieked and cried as Mary’s corpse was laid out in her house. The sounds of rattling chains came from the attic.
Mysteries, Legends, and Unexplained Phenomena: "Ghosts & Haunted Places" by Rosemary Ellen Guiley
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