Guest Post: A Colonial Tavern, A Civil War Ghost & A Missing Person By Ellen Butler


A Colonial Tavern, A Civil War Ghost & A Missing Person By Ellen Butler

I had such fun writing the last book in the Karina Cardinal mystery series, Spectral Revelations. The story begins when Karina’s Aunt Vera supposedly goes on a trip, and even though her leaving initially appears above board, Karina soon realizes things are not what they seem. In the usual form, Karina must solve the mystery of her missing Aunt Vera, who lives and works in Colonial Williamsburg (CW). With the help of her sister, the intrepid Silverthorne Security fellows, and a mischievous Civil War ghost, Karina delves into the investigation. For those who haven’t been to CW, it was the capital of the Virginia Colony from 1699 to 1780 and played a significant role in the American Revolution. The heart of CW is a historic district and living-history museum where actors in period costume depict daily colonial life in the streets, stores, and workshops.

If you have visited CW in Virginia, you probably heard about the many ghosts that haunt the area. Plenty of tour companies offer spooky nighttime excursions throughout the Historic Triangle area which are very popular during the month of October. When I was brainstorming the latest Karina Cardinal mystery, and determined it would take place in Williamsburg, I knew I’d have to incorporate a ghost into my story.

The ghost I created for the story was inspired by Lieutenant Disosway, a ghost who is said to haunt the Palmer House, near the Capitol Building at the end of Duke of Gloucester Street. I read about Lieutenant Disosway in The Hauntings of Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown, by Jackie Eileen Behrend. In her book, Behrend recounts a haunting tale told by the Tuckers, a family who once lived in the Palmer House during the late 1800s. The Tuckers recounted a gentle soldier in Union garb who would turn up sitting in their parlor smoking a pipe. Further research led the Tuckers to identify the ghost as Lieutenant Disosway, who was appointed as a federal provost marshal to oversee the city of Williamsburg at the ripe age of twenty-four. He was billeted to Palmer House. However, one-night, inebriated Union soldiers began harassing some of the local ladies. Disosway ran to Market Square to put a stop to the threats. Unfortunately, this angered one of the drunk soldiers. He pulled a pistol and shot Disosway on sight. The lieutenant was carried back to Palmer House, where he died two hours later.

During their time in CW, I sent Karina and her entourage to eat at my favorite colonial restaurant, the King’s Arms Tavern on Duke of Gloucester Street. She had to eat my favorite dish on the menu, Peanut Soup. This thick and creamy soup is rich in flavor and texture, and the first time my husband and I ate it, we asked if the recipe was available to purchase. Our server kindly brought us a photocopy of the recipe. The soup is so popular, the tavern has put the recipe in books and made it publicly available online. Since it’s perfect for a cool fall day, I’m sharing it with you here.

If you ever get the chance to visit CW, be sure to take a ghost tour, and don’t miss eating at one of the Taverns. You won’t be disappointed! Bring along a copy of Spectral Revelations and visit all the places Karina goes. Be sure to tag me with your pics on social media.

King’s Arms Tavern Peanut Soup Recipe (Serves 10-12)

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 1 3/4 cups light cream or half-and-half
  • 1 tsp hot pepper sauce (optional)
  • Finely chopped salted peanuts, for garnish

In large saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion and celery and cook. Stir for three to five minutes until softened. Stir in flour and cook two minutes longer. Pour in chicken stock, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until slightly reduced and thickened – about 15 minutes. Pour into a sieve set over a large bowl and strain, pushing hard on the solids to extract as much flavor as possible.

Return liquid to the saucepan or pot. Whisk peanut butter and cream into liquid. Warm over low heat, whisking often for about five minutes. Do not boil. Serve warm, garnished with chopped peanuts. Peanut Soup is often served with a sippet – or a small piece of bread.

Recipe courtesy of King’s Arms Tavern, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

Ellen’s latest release Spectral Revelations is releasing this week……just in time for Halloweeeeennnnnn……here’s a peek……

Is Karina’s missing aunt on vacation…or on the lam?

Karina is trying to keep her mind on getting a cosponsor for a bill, but it’s tough with her Mom blowing up her phone. By the time Karina finally stops hitting “ignore”, Mom is frantic. It appears Karina’s Aunt Vera has disappeared, fibbed to her employer about the reason for her absence, even abandoned her beloved cat, Nightshade—which is completely out of character. Karina would bet her favorite pair of designer shoes that Vera is in some kind of trouble.

However, when Karina hauls her cookies from D.C. to historic Williamsburg to search Vera’s house, she finds nothing suspicious. Except for a mischievous Civil War ghost who scares the bejesus out of her and keeps trashing Vera’s office. Until Karina realizes his seemingly random ectoplasmic tantrums have a purpose—revealing key evidence.

Something is definitely fishy, but the clues aren’t adding up. And as the spirit’s visitations become more urgent, Karina calls on reinforcements for help—her latest squeeze Rick Donovan and her sister Jillian. Because the cops are following faulty leads, which could put Vera on the wrong end of an arrest warrant … if she’s found alive.

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Ellen Butler is the international bestselling author of the Karina Cardinal mystery series. Her experiences working on Capitol Hill and at a medical association in Washington, D.C. inspired the mystery-action series. Book critics call the Karina Cardinal mysteries, “intelligent escapism” and “unputdownable adventures that will take readers on an electrifying yet light-hearted and humorous journey.”

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