There’s something uniquely beautiful about Bardstown in every season of the year. To many, as the features of the fall and the town’s signature spirit reflect one another, the best time to visit is right now. The town is not only covered in a canopy of bourbon’s hues, it’s filled with the distinctive aroma of autumn, scents that are often closely associated with the drink. And of course, with All Hallows Eve soon approaching, there are all sorts of bewitching activities.
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In Kentucky’s second oldest town, a lot of guests have come and gone. You may have heard of some of them, most notably Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln, General George Rogers Clark, French King Louis Philippe, and Jesse James. Legend has it that many Bardstown visitors have enjoyed their stay so much that some just refuse to leave – even after 200 years.
Wickland: Home of Three Governors and a Few Ghosts
One such place is the historic Home of Three Governors, also known as Wickland. Every Friday and Saturday night in October, you can tour this 190-year-old home during “A Visit with the Spirits of Wickland.”
The Spirits of Wickland Part 1
The Spirits of Wickland Part 2
“All we really ask is come with an open mind, and all we promise is entertainment,” Dixie Hibbs, a former mayor of Bardstown and respected historian in the area.
- Waleta is the strongest spirit in Wickland. She is the most consistent and is always in the kitchen. She was a large black woman who did most of the cooking. She wears her hair pulled back with a bonnet or scarf over it. Her dress is long and grayish brown. A bib apron covers the dress. Her sleeves are pushed up. Her arms are scarred with burns from cooking.
- Will is a 3 year old little boy who appeared with Dorsey. Very shy, he would not speak when questioned. When asked how old he was, he stuck out his hand with three fingers showing. Dorsey answered questions for him. His name, Will… did he have older sisters? Yes, Maggie and Nan-nan. William Thomas Beckham died at three years of age, with two older sisters. Their names were Margaret (or Maggie) and Nanny. His mother was Julia Wickliffe Beckham. Dorsey said she nursed him when he died of pneumonia. He is buried in the family plot at the Bardstown Cemetery.
- Sam is a little boy about 6, who died from a broken neck after falling from the stair railing. He had been told to stay in the first floor hallway while his father was visiting the office. He followed a white cat upstairs to the 2nd floor. Between the 2nd floor and the landing he climbed on the banister and slipped off. Father may be William? (We can’t seem to get a clear last name.) He said that he wasn’t allowed to see his mother much, as she was sick. Waleta found him. She said he was a “new face.”
The Tavern, The Jail and The Cemetery
Each Saturday, Certified Ghost Hunter Patti Star leads chill seekers to three of Bardstown’s most haunted historical places, starting with Talbott Tavern. Built in 1779, this former stagecoach stop is rumored to house the spirits of Jesse James and the infamous Lady in White. In the hallways and room of the Jailer’s Inn, visitors have reported hearing sounds of footsteps and crying.
Lastly, located directly behind Jailer’s Inn is Pioneer Cemetery. The caretakers of this final resting place, built in 1789, not only buried the dead, they buried the living – twice. And there’s your cliffhanger, so if you want to find out more, you’ll have to go on the trek. And just so you know, this isn’t your typical storytelling tour; it’s actually a lesson in paranormal investigation.
My Old Kentucky Dinner Train Murder Mystery
Speaking of investigations … be sure to check out the murder mystery events at both My Old Kentucky Dinner Train and the Kentucky Railway Museum. For both events, you’ll enjoy fine Southern cuisine as you get to be an active participant and detective. If you’d like to take part in a more family-friendly seasonal excursion, take a ride on the Kentucky Railway Museum’s Great Pumpkin Patch Express or My Old Kentucky Dinner Train’s Halloween ride.
On October 23 and 24, experience My Old Kentucky Home during a night like no other, The Shadows at Federal Hill. For two night only show, the Stephen Foster Story performers take on new roles as guests learn about the tragedies and deaths that occurred in the Rowan family.
So there you have it – a season of infamous spirits in the town that’s famous for its spirits. But this is only the beginning of Bardstown’s long list of fall events. For a complete schedule and for more information travel over to the Bardstown Kentucky visitor’s bureau web site here.
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