Web site explores Hoosier haunted inns, B&Bs

Friday, October 31, 2008

While many people steer clear of any place considered "haunted," some curious folks seek these places out.

Bedandbreakfast.com has a list of over 100 haunted inns in the United States, as well as a long list of Halloween specials for paranormal enthusiasts.

Here are a few of their descriptions of Indiana and Midwestern haunted inns.

At the Old Bridge Inn, Jeffersonville, a candleholder lost four years earlier reappeared in the middle of a room. Guests have reported seeing floating objects, canes being picked up and twirled around, tea cups floating across the room, and several candles raising up and down on their own. Two women reported seeing a bearded gentleman in the dining room as well as a small dog named Buttons.

The Inn at Aberdeen in Valparaiso is featured in the book "Haunted Hoosier Trails." Guests report seeing a little girl ghost, often observed late at night on the master staircase. She has been known to "mess with the guests' stuff" or turn on the fireplace in their rooms.

The Indiana Ghost Trackers investigated the inn and reported that Sarah Ritter, an original inhabitant, and her two children died in the home. The Ghost Trackers detected the presence of a young girl and a male with high EMF (electromagnetic field) meter readings and positive EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) recordings. A door repeatedly opened behind them when the girl's presence was felt during the Ghost Trackers' stay.

In nearby Ohio, the Colonel Taylor Inn Bed & Breakfast (B&B), Cambridge, which is named for the former Civil War soldier and four-term U.S. Congressman, the Colonel, still roams the household. The smoke from his pipe lingers in this non-smoking inn. His entire family also inhabits the inn, from the mischievous little boy to both wives of the Colonel, plus assorted adult children. Footsteps are often heard at night, images of former servants falling down the stairs are seen, and even the tabby cat has been spotted. Beds rock without reason, and toys move on their own, but the innkeepers are confident that these friendly spirits are glad that the house is being restored to its original Victorian opulence.

Mill House B&B, Grand Rapids, Ohio has had guests claiming that the inn is haunted. After hearing a noise in the attic, the son of the innkeepers checked it out and created a video for the Internet about his spooky adventure.

The C.M. Spitzer House B&B, in Medina, Ohio apparently has a nosy female apparition with limited facial features except for a heavy jaw. She was a short, stout woman, in her 20s, wearing what the Edwardians called a "wrapper" or housedress. She fired questions, asking her surprised witness about the family, and then disappeared as quickly as she came.

Visitors to the Honeybee Inn B&B in Horicon, Wisc. may feel the presence of a former resident named Coton and his female companions. The rocking chair where he supposedly sat rocks on its own, and the owners have reported sightings of a female spirit.

The Blue Belle Inn, Saint Ansgar, Iowa where the original floor plans to the house were mistakenly taken to the dump, reappeared later in the attic. A room was mysteriously locked - but no one was inside to have locked it. Every possible key was tried to no avail; finally, in desperation, the innkeeper called out, "Will whoever is in there please open the door?" The door immediately popped open.

Grand Avenue B&B, Carthage, Mo. where the "no smoking" rule is in effect for all guests, the former owner is exempt. A ghostly whiff of his trademark cigar smoke wafts through the rooms from time to time when he makes his visits to his 1893 Victorian mansion.

Hannibal Garden House B&B in Hannibal, Mo., the boyhood home of Mark Twain and his fictitious characters Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, is also home to playful spirits. One resides at the Garden House, where a male presence is most commonly felt in the stone basement playing music, talking, and sawing wood.

Recently one "ghost busting" guest who returns often in search of sightings saw an apparition cross in front of the TV, and disappear into the closet. This Halloween, take the "Haunted Historic Hannibal Trolley Tour" with stops in the cemetery where Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn played and the Old Jail Museum, that is home to many spirits.

Hannibal Bed and Breakfast at Rockcliffe Mansion in Hannibal, Mo. was built in 1898 and described as the "finest home in Missouri." This mansion was boarded up for 43 years after its owner, John J. Cruikshank Jr., died in 1924.

During the years of the vacancy, local children would run through the home, under the dare to make it all the way up to the third floor classroom, tear off a piece of the schoolroom map, and return outside to prove they had made it through Hannibal's most "haunted house."

Caretakers who watched over the vacant house would often be forced to leave their living quarters due to the strong smell of cigarette smoke that would sometimes appear at midnight. Now restored as a B&B, the housekeepers at Rockcliffe Mansion have to straighten the bed in the former owner's room, even when no one has been sleeping there, as it mysteriously retains the form of a 5'4" body. Mr. Cruikshank, who stood 5'4" while alive, died in that very bed! From time to time, guests have witnessed Mrs. Cruikshank floating through her grand music room.

The Rivercene Mansion B&B in Boonville, Mo. is the 1869 mansion home of riverboat captain Joseph Kinney and was owned by the Kinney family until the 1990s. Captain Kinney's son Noble met an untimely death at the age of 26, when he fell down the grand staircase. The heirs, along with guests, have reported very strange encounters with Noble. Not quite ready to leave, he is still hanging around playing pranks on guests and innkeepers.

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