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In 1961 my grandparents bought the abandoned farm on Maple Tree lane. We moved in shortly there after. Little did they know there was an unidentified cemetery right where they put their first garden. We never gave much thought to the many and sometimes mysterious farming accidents that happened over the years. Or why livestock would refuse to use the old horse barn for some unexplained reason. Things started making sense when odd bits of letters were found tucked inside walls and the diary of a high school student was discovered in the attic…

 Patty Dick Leonard, 2009

September 6th, 1862

Dearest brother, 
This past week they have been carting in soldiers from the recent battle at Manassas. Throughout Warrenton, makeshift hospitals have been established. I am stationed at an old farmhouse just outside the town. They operate on the kitchen table. The whole house smells of death. The lucky ones are taken to the Warrenton Cemetery. Most of them amputees, with mangled arms and legs already buried in the cattle pastures nearest to the house to prevent the spread of disease; I hope they are still able to rest in peace.

The true horrors of this war I dare not describe, even to you my brother. Every night I am haunted by the images of their dying faces, burned in my eyes. My cough keeps me awake most of the night and I lay listening to the quite groans, sometimes a solider will scream out in sudden pain, only to be quickly restrained. If I can regain my strength I hope to be back home before the cold weather set in Virginia. There are rumors that last year there were as many amputations from frost bite as fighting. Such are the conditions.

I confide this only to you. Please tell the family I am well and look forward to taking leave soon.

William Anderson

Letter found tucked in a now crumbling wall with old bottles, we’re not sure why it was never mailed.

the farm at maple tree lane

May 12, 1941

Dear diary,
I remember when I was much younger, one Christmas as we were gathered at the table, Grandpa softly whispered: ‘It’s hard to believe in this very kitchen they had to cut the legs and arms off of soldiers in the Civil War’. My mother made a scene and told him not to scare us with the hogwash… but today while digging in the flower garden she found the most disturbing discovery, a human hand bone! I can’t seem to get the sight of it out of my mind.

August 22, 1941

Dear diary, 
I can’t sleep tonight, I can still hear everyone arguing downstairs. Grandpa lost his arm today. When they brought him from the barn he was covered in blood. Mother said he was careless and is so upset with grandpa. I know Grandpa would never do anything stupid. Grandpa keeps telling me this place is haunted. Why are there so many accidents on our farm?

June 1, 1942

Dear diary, 
I can hardly wait until tomorrow! I am getting a new puppy. Grandpa says he hates to see me so lonely. Mother thinks it will run off like the rest of the dogs we have tried to keep on the farm. She said it will get spooked like the others and be gone within a few days. Grandpa says he doesn’t like to see me looking so lonely. Mother says it wasn’t her fault my brother died mysteriously.

June 9, 1942

Dear diary, 
Lucky is gone.

January 17, 1946

Dear diary, 
During lunch period I accidentally told Diana I was tired because of strange howling that seems to come from the main barn when the full moon is out keeps me awake at night. Big mistake, now she thinks I am crazy, and is telling everyone to call me ‘Werewolf Abby’. Grandpa warned me never to tell anyone. I wanted to ask his advice, but when I found him out at the barn he was fixing a broken window in the room I’m not allowed in… he told me to stay away.

October 16, 1949

Dear diary, 
I am meeting Charlie tonight in the empty silo after everyone goes to bed. Charlie isn’t scared of anything and said he would walk all the way to the farm. I am terrified to go out there alone at night. But the thought of being with Charlie sends tingles through my body. Maybe tonight will be the night!

This was the last entry. We found the diary when cleaning out the attic over the main house. We tried to locate Abigail to return her diary… but we found no one around these parts has ever heard of her…

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