Who Haunts the Beall-Dawson House

Posted by junketseo in Baltimore Ghosts
Who Haunts the Beall-Dawson House - Photo

The Beall-Dawson House was constructed in the lovely 1800s, conjured by Upton Beall, then Clerk of Courts in Montgomery, Maryland. It was the largest house in the area at the time and was built specifically to flaunt the wealth and good fortune of the Beall family.

Upton enjoyed the home with his wife and their three daughters in the lap of luxury. The home switched hands a few times and housed other well-to-do families.

Nowadays, the 1815 mansion is said to be haunted by a couple of former residents. Others believe that the spirits of the Bealls’ slaves still reside in the home.


History of the Beall-Dawson Home


The Beall-Dawson Home, constructed in 1815, is an immediate family heirloom. Upton wanted the best home in town and built it to reflect his status. Even though Rockville was the county seat and an important crossroads town, it remained a small rural community.

The large, federal-style brick mansion overlooks what once was called Commerce Lane, now West Montgomery Avenue. It was designed to impress, both inside and out. The home was made with the best materials money could buy, with colorful red brick for its exterior.

After Beall died in 1827, home ownership moved to his wife, Jane, and their three daughters, Jane Elizabeth, Mathilda, and Margaret. Jane never remarried after Upton’s death, and her three daughters followed that same path. They all lived at the home together until their deaths. After Mathilda and Jane Elizabeth’s deaths, the last remaining Beall daughter, Margaret, was lonely in the large, quiet home. 

She soon invited her cousin, Amelia Somervell, to live at the house with her. Amelia married a local landowner and farmer named John Dawson, and he came to reside in the house with the two women and he and Amelia’s nine children. When Margaret died in the late 1800s, she left the house to three Somervell-Dawson daughters, continuing the tradition of three sisters owning the property.

Soon, the Dawson girls’ money started to grow a bit tight. They turned to the home to provide for them and started a restaurant in the front yard. They also taught dance lessons at the home for the neighborhood children and even started taking on boarders. Despite their efforts, the home began to suffer from neglect.

After the last Dawson Three died, the home was sold to the Davis family in 1946. The Davis family set out to restore the house to its original glory. The family succeeded, returning most of the home to how it looked when it was first introduced to the city. They also added to the side of what used to be the slave and servant quarters.

The Beall family was one of the most prominent in Maryland and became one of the largest slave-owning families in Montgomery County.

After the Davis family patriarch’s death, his wife’s passion for the house waned, and she sold it to the City of Rockville. It soon became the home of the Montgomery County Historical Society. His slaves, however, were ‘passed down’ to the Beall daughters — all twenty-five of them — to work at the home and one of the family mills on Watts Branch.

The story doesn’t end there, however. Many locals and visitors alike swear that the Beall-Dawson home harbors more than one ghost. The only topic that’s disagreed upon is who these spirits are.


Hauntings of the Beall-Dawson House


There are a couple of theories about who the ghosts at the Beall-Dawson House are. One states that the ghosts are those of the Beall’s three daughters. Others say Upton Beall decided to spend his afterlife at the house he created with his earthly hands. Others claim that ghosts of formerly enslaved people are trapped at the home, begging visitors to pay them attention.


The Beall Daughters


The Beall daughters adored their family home. So much so that they denied marriage and lived together at the home as spinsters until their deaths. Reports of strange activity began shortly after Margaret Beall died.

Stories tell of knocking on doors, tapping on windows, footsteps, giggles, and smells of perfume wafting throughout the home.

Orbs and apparitions of just legs of women in dresses have also been reported, although these are less common.

Could these strange events be explained? Or are these just the manifestations of the three sisters, sticking around the place they loved best?


Upton Beall


The home was Upton Beall’s brainchild; his shining glory was during his life here on earth. He ensured everyone around him knew how important the house was to him, and it would be no surprise that he continued to show that same pride after death.

Upton Beall’s ghost (if he haunts the home) is said to keep a watchful eye on anyone who passes through the doors. He’s said to be very protective of the home and is known to nudge people slightly along as they walk through it or get too close to knocking over one of its antiques.


Slaves of the Family


The Beall Daughters ‘inherited’ the enslaved people that their mother and grandfather had purchased years before. The 1860 census shows that the Bealls owned 52 slaves in all, indicating that many children had been born into slavery while at the Beall home. The sisters never bought or sold any of the enslaved people, except for one — John Henson, who was sold to Josiah Henson in 1850 for $250.

The majority of the Beall slaves were housed in three slave quarters on the properties. They lived at Beall’s numerous properties in homes not much bigger than carriage houses.

In 1862, the Beall sisters freed seventeen enslaved people who worked in Washington, D.C. and received $9400 for them under a federal compensation program. The rest of them were not freed until emancipation was granted in Maryland on November 1st, 1864.

The Bealls sold parcels of land to the freed enslaved folks and other African American families in the area.

These days, visitors to the Beall-Dawson house claim that the ghosts inhabiting the home are those of slaves kept by the Beall family. One report tells of an apparition of an older black man who is said to walk back and forth across the front of the home. He’s always described as ‘searching’ and is known to vanish into thin air once spectators get too close.


Haunted Baltimore


Regardless of who is haunting the Beall-Dawson home, there’s no doubt that there is something otherworldly residing there. From phantom footsteps to full-bodied apparitions, the Beall-Dawson House remains a reminder of Maryland’s past as well as a time capsule of the Beall family and those they encountered in life.

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