September-October 2013 | MORE TALES FROM THE DARK SIDE



Written By: Nick Brandi

More Tales from the Darkside…

Though Denise Milko had many harrowing experiences at the Rackliffe House, there is one that for her was more chilling than anything else that had happened at the pre-Revolutionary War-era plantation.

When Denise was 19, she started a job at what is now Peninsula Regional Medical Center. The job required that Denise report for work very early in the morning, so she used to go to bed early as well. One particular evening, Denise was awakened by her Aunt Alma, who had been pounding on her bedroom door and telling her to “stop making such a racket in there.” It wasn’t until the next day, when Denise and Alma had seen each other for the first time, that Denise got clarification about what had so stirred up her aunt the night before.

According to Alma, there was a tremendous din of crashing drawers, doors and furniture emanating from Denise’s room that had echoed throughout the house that entire night. “It had gone on for quite awhile, according to my aunt, who said that it sounded like the place was being demolished from the inside.

“The thing is,” Denise recalls, “I had been in bed, asleep since 9 p.m., because of my job at the hospital, so it definitely wasn’t me making all that noise. But what I really don’t understand is how come I didn’t hear a thing all night long. That was really the last straw for me. After that night, I didn’t sleep in that bedroom again for about a year.”

An interesting epilogue to the story comes from Denise’s Aunt Alma, who had repaired to her own bedroom after admonishing her niece to declare a ceasefire to the war that appeared to be raging in her bedroom. Preparing to read a book on that cool evening, nestled snugly under her billowy eiderdown comforter, like she had done every other evening, Alma felt an ice-cold breeze pass over her, accompanied by the unmistakable scent of perfume, the kind of heavy, thick, expensive, oil-based perfume that women wore a century ago or more, as if the past were being resurrected in Alma’s bedroom. The feeling Aunt Alma had “alone” in her bedroom that night stayed with her the rest of her days.

In 1982, a writer arrived at Denise’s house in Captain’s Hill to interview Denise and her family about the Rackliffe House for an article he was preparing for a local newspaper. During that same time he had also interviewed the Whitlocks, who had been occupying the house. The story goes that when he was leaving the Rackliffe House one afternoon after an interview, he turned back toward it to take a picture. It was later reported to the Farmers that when he’d turned to look at the house, the figure of a woman draped in white was staring at him from the top-floor window. Denise avers that the photo the writer took that day captured the ghostly white image and that somewhere the photo still exists.

Photography came into play again about 20 years later, when Denise’s cousin Dale Pfeiffer came to visit on Halloween night. Knowing Denise and her family, where do you suppose they choose to go that evening? Correct. So, while they were at the Rackliffe House, Dale had taken several photographs. Days later, after Dale had developed them, the photos revealed something that had been invisible to the naked eye when the women were there: a strange crimson liquid running down the wall of the staircase, in slender rivulets that looked like blood. That picture ostensibly also exists, and the search for it continues.

Meanwhile, if you are to believe the president of the Rackliffe House Trust, Joan Jenkins, and the Peninsula Ghost Hunters Society out of Salisbury, there is in existence a recording of one of the investigations done at the Rackliffe House that allegedly captured not only the distinct sound of a baby crying but also the voice of James Dirickson himself, who had proclaimed “I’m still here” in response to a ghost hunter’s query.

As the strange happenings at the Rackliffe House continue to echo through the annals of time, we will keep our noses to the grindstone – as well as the tombstone – and report whatever we find to you.

If you have a story about an eerie occurrence at the Rackliffe House or any other location on the Eastern Shore, let us know at

Happy Halloween!

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