Many people visit historic sites with the hope of finding ghosts. I don’t. However, I’ve always been envious of others who walk around a centuries old room on tours, let their fingers linger on a few of the do-not-touch pieces, nod, and say with confidence, “Oh, there’s a spirit here all right. I can feel it.” I’d never felt anything. Until my visit to Bardstown, Kentucky, that is.
The Spirits of Wickland
Wickland is a Federal-style three-story manor house built circa 1825 to 1828, by Charles A. Wickliffe. Wickcliffe, a Whig member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, and governor from 1839 to 1840 after Governor James Clark died in office, left the estate to his son, Robert C. Wickliffe. Robert served as the last pre-war Louisiana governor from 1856 to 1860. The third and last governor to occupy the mansion was John Crepps Wickliffe ( J.C.W.) Beckham, grandson of Charles A. who was the governor of Kentucky from 1900 to 1907. The full history of Wickland is available on the Bardstown site at: http://visitbardstown.com/wickland/history.html
Dixie Hibbs, local historian, took me through the mansion, room by room, sharing details about the Home of Three Governors (nickname for the estate). Its high ceilings and long windows full of the day’s last rays, created an atmosphere of cultured elegance.
Dixie saved the kitchen until last as it’s the room where the spirit of Waleta, the cook, is always found. Now, as I said, I’ve never had that gift of being able to feel a ghost or presence when I’m walking around, so I had to take Dixie’s word that Waleta was present. I watched with interest when Dixie picked up two divining rods and asked Waleta to cross them. Right on cue, the pieces of iron moved into place. Interesting, I thought, but not exactly evidence that would stand up for most folks to prove a spirit was present.
Dixie handed the divining rods to me. Arms out, I stood still and waited. Nothing much happened.
I could see a look of disappointment on Dixie’s face. She was obviously convinced that Waleta was there, so I said to the empty air, “Waleta, cross the rods.”
I felt a giggle — now I know it’s impossible to feel someone else’s giggle, but I did. Then, I sensed a gentle pressure against my hands and the rods began to move. I watched in amazement — me, a ghost was really responding to me? In a few seconds the rods were crossed.
“I guess she just needed my permission,” I said to Dixie, and dropped the rods. I couldn’t stop grinning. “Darn, I should have got a picture!”
Dixie grabbed my camera and I took the rods again — they immediately crossed when I held them out this second time. Once again I was surprised at the distinct sensation of my hands being pushed gently together.
Over dinner Dixie told me intriguing stories about the spirits of Wickland, then we shared coffee with the two young mediums who communicate with them — Michael and Katie Wilhite. Luckily, anyone can participate in the Spirit tours with these talented twins as they’re held weekly at Wickland. See: http://visitbardstown.com/wickland/tours.html
Here’s a video about the spirits of Wickland:
Ghosts at the Jailer’s Inn
During my trip to Bardstown I stayed at the Jailer’s Inn. For a history lover it was the perfect place — operating as a jail for 168 years, the walls certainly had many tales to tell. You don’t need to stay to hear them though, as visitors can also tour the Inn, peek in the cells, and hear about some of the prisoners who spent time behind the bars and walked in the stone fenced yard at the rear. On the far side of the fence, you can wander through the graveyard reading tombstones dating back to the 1700s.
My nights, as I expected, were peaceful — I didn’t even hear the high winds of a storm through the 30 inch stone walls! No ghosts at all.
On my last morning I lingered over breakfast, enjoying the fresh baked muffins and conversation with my host, Paul McCoy, and the two other visitors who’d spent the night. Deciding to take some photos of the upstairs rooms (my room was on the main floor), I grabbed my camera, climbed the stairs and opened the door to the first room. The camera — new batteries the night before — wouldn’t turn on.
Although I figured I’d somehow left the camera on, I called to Paul, “I guess your ghosts don’t want their pictures taken this morning.”
I changed the batteries and climbed the stairs once again. Before entering the bedroom, I stopped to take a photo of the long wooden table that filled the foyer.
Shock filled me as I stared at the three second display of the photo I’d snapped. There was no table. No chairs. Not even any walls or ceiling. Instead, the picture showed the two shapes in the photo below. I’m not sure which ghosts or spirits they were, but I’m sure they weren’t part of the realm I usually see!
If you’re interested in meeting ghosts, you may want to make Bardstown, Kentucky, a stop on your next holiday. I certainly found a few!
by Linda Aksomitis