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The Rocking Cradle House



The Rocking Cradle House

There is much more to this 19th-century home than meets the eye. The Rocking Cradle House sits unsuspectingly along Jackson Street in Lynchburg, Virginia and is one of the most haunted houses in a city chock full of spooky residences. 

 

The Rocking Cradle House got its unique name from a baby cradle known to rock on its own. It supported two newborn babies after its creation, both of whom met terrible ends. One died at an early age, unnamed, and the other was placed in an insane asylum at a young age. 

 

Stories of “the house where the cradle rocks” spread across Lynchburg and throughout America. The cradle was stored in the house’s attic after the residents discovered its unusual and otherwordly movements. 

 

It was passed down throughout the generations, along with the house on Jackson Street, before ending up in the Lynchburg Museum, where it sits today. 

 

People come from around the nation to learn about this terrifying story and hear about the other spirits haunting the Jackson Street home.

Venture on a tour of Lynchburg with US Ghost Adventures to hear about it and the rest of the haunted Civil War-era city on your next visit. 

 

The Haunted House on Jackson Street 

 

The house on Jackson Street wasn’t always known as The Rocking Cradle House. At one point, it was simply a home, like any other in the prospering city. 

 

Lynchburg was the second wealthiest city in the nation from the early 1800s until the Civil War. Large homes such as this were commonplace due to the large amount of Tobacco exported across the James River and the money it brought Lynchburg’s citizens. 

 

The home was built sometime before 1819, although the exact date remains unknown. It is believed that it was built by either Edmund B. Norvell or Thomas Wyatt. Both were planters, veterans of the Revolutionary War, and likely Quakers, a religious majority in early Lynchburg.

 

The home was built in Campbell County before it was annexed into the city of Lynchburg, and it has undergone many renovations since. The two-story gained a new addition in 1875 and a kitchen in 1905.  

 

Throughout the years, and after various owners, an eerie presence began to fall over the home. The first account of any spiritual entity, most notably the rocking cradle, was documented in 1858.



 

The Rocking Cradle of Lynchburg

 

Margot Anthony Cabell gave the first account of the Rocking Cradle in Sketches and Recollections, a collection of short stories and memories, in 1858. The story was well known around Lynchburg and needed little comment in her memoirs. 

 

The cradle’s legacy began with Methodist Preacher Reverend William A. Smith after it was introduced to the home in 1839 or 1840. The Smiths had just given birth to a new baby girl and borrowed the cradle from fellow Methodist leader Reverend John Early. 

 

One day, his wife called Smith into the room, and both were astonished to find the cradle empty and rocking by itself!

 

Smith moved the cradle from the middle of the room near the fireplace and exclaimed, “Now Geoffrey, rock!” The cradle began to rock on command, and the smiths feared that the devil lay within it. 

 

According to Lynchburg lore, all businesses closed for the day, and hundreds came to see the possessed cradle. It continued for about a month until it mysteriously stopped. 

 

The Smith’s young daughter died a few months later, followed by his beloved wife, Laura. Even more strange, Elizabeth Early, the girl whom the cradle was made for, was deemed mentally insane and placed in an asylum where she would eventually die. 

 

The story spread across Virginia and was noted in various newspapers over the coming decades. It was given back to the Earlys, who stored it in their attic until a descendant of John Early moved his home to Peakland Place in 1930. 

 

It stayed in the Early family for many years until it was recently donated to the Lynchburg Museum. The house earned its spooky new nickname over the years, and the story of the Rocking Cradle was never forgotten. 

 

But, many more spirits haunt the old house on Jackson Street. 

 

Other Spirits of The Rocking Cradle House

 

In 1937, the Works Progress Administration interviewed a man named Trueheart Poston. Poston revealed that the Rocking Cradle was far from the only spectral disturbance in the home. 

 

A Confederate major once lived in the house. He would drink heavily and fall into fits of rage, traumatizing and scaring his family and all those around home. Not knowing what to do, the family would lock the raging man in a room. 

 

The ever-clever Major attempted to escape with a fire poker, bashing the walls of his prison and trying to pick the locks. Poston reported that the dining room doors would unlatch at midnight, and loud bangs could be heard from the upper floor where the major was once imprisoned. 

 

Poston also told the WPA that a man named Walter Addison once lived in the Rocking Cradle House. He was the editor of the Lynchburg News at the start of the 20th century and was renting a room from the Postons. 

 

One evening, at 2 a.m., Addison met a woman at the top of the stairs. She was very old and dressed in clothing that seemed to be from another era. He believed that it was just a visiting relative of the Poston’s. 

 

That morning, however, he discovered that no such visitor was staying in the house. Many have heard the pattering of phantom feet in the same part of the house and seen cushions sinking as if someone was sitting in them. 

 

Haunted Lynchburg

 

The Rocking Cradle is available for all to see in the Lynchburg Museum, and the stories surrounding the Jackson Street house continue to fascinate visitors year after year. Come and see for yourself on a haunted tour of Lynchburg

 

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Sources:

 

https://www.lynchburgmuseum.org/blog/2021/10/28/the-haunted-house-on-jackson-street

 

https://www.lynchburgmuseum.org/blog/2021/10/1/the-early-family-rocking-cradle

 

https://image.lva.virginia.gov/VHI/html/05/0231.html

 

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=loc.ark:/13960/t2697dn0f&seq=356

 

https://www.lynchburgva.gov/history

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