Often part of an old home’s character is the story of former residents, now deceased, who linger on through the years to keep watch over their former domain. It’s not that they don’t trust the newer generation, it’s just that the home was such an important part of their lives, they can’t seem to let go. In fact, many locals are of the opinion that an old house is not really the genuine article unless a ghost is in residence there.
The Old Stagecoach Inn is the genuine article, as its former proprietor, John Barwick, has come to believe. For many years there have been stories of strange goings on there, which the owners had dismissed as products of hyperactive imaginations. But as time passed a continuing series of “happenings” forced them to reconsider.
These “happenings” are usually benign, more like practical jokes—as though someone or something was having fun with a bewildered housekeeper or guest. As often as not, they would occur in broad daylight while people were present, at other times in the dead of night. But never was there anything sinister or malicious involved. For example, a rocking chair begins to rock suddenly, in an agitated manner, and continues for several minutes with no one near it; items of furniture are moved; beds linens are stripped and neatly folded while the housekeeper is working nearby, and other similar incidents too numerous to mention. The only ill effects have been the cleaning staff’s reluctance of to work alone upstairs.
Not long ago a professional “ghost hunter” came by the inn. Having heard rumors of strange phenomena here, his intent was to verify by objective methods the existence of paranormal activity. The tool for this purpose was a dowsing instrument. In the presence of an extra-sensory energy field, the stick behaves in an unusual, erratic fashion—different from the movement it exhibits near a concealed water source.
Although the best time for such research is at night, our ghost hunter proceeded slowly through the inn room by room, noting variations in energy activity. His pronounces that the force field in the inn was “the strongest in my experience.” This was particularly true for rooms two and eight. Oddly enough, most of the previous ghost sightings had been in room two, but at the time this researcher did not know that. Perhaps there are ways to account for such other-worldly phenomena. But one event still puzzles Mr. Barwick, who, by the way, remains a confirmed skeptic as far as ghosts are concerned.
It was a busy summer weekend and all rooms had been booked, although the reservation for room three had been canceled unexpectedly the previous evening. Mr. Barwick had taken the cancellation himself, and he alone knew about it. So here it was, Sunday morning breakfast was being served, and the dining room was still mostly full. Mr. Barwick was helping the waitress by keeping the coffee urn and orange juice pitcher full, and by removing dishes. As he was standing at the dining room entrance, two people came down for breakfast. They were unfamiliar to him. He had registered all the other guests and chatted with many of them, so he had a pretty good idea who was staying there. He thought perhaps this couple had come in off the street looking for breakfast, which occasionally happens. But it was odd that they had come down the stairs instead of through the side door.
To make sure, he asked if they were guests of the inn.
“Yes,” they replied. “We’re all in room three.”
“How many of you are there?” Mr. Barwick asked.
“Three,” they answered.
“Three,” said Mr. Barwick. “That room accommodates only two. Where did you all
“Oh, we managed,” they replied. “We couldn’t find a place to stay. This was the only one.”
Still puzzled, Mr. Barwick asked, “Well, what time did you come in?”
“Oh,” they said, “it was around two-thirty this morning.”
“Well, who let you in?” asked Mr. Barwick. “Why, it was a lady, an older lady. Very nice.”
More puzzled than ever, thinking it might have been one of the other guests who had been unaccountably awake at that hour, he now asked, “What did she look like?”
“Gray hair, kind of in a bun, and wearing a long dress,” they replied.
That didn’t match any of the other guests. But even if she had been a registered guest, it would have been highly unusual for someone to have unlocked the door and allowed three people to come in for the night. And how could she have known that the room was available? After the newcomers had been seated and their orders taken, Mr. Barwick queried the other guests as they left the dining room, to see if anyone had any knowledge of the incident. No, no one did. He thought for a long time about this. There was probably a logical explanation, but he couldn’t think of it then, and still can’t think of one now.
And there it stands, a small mystery among many. Maybe not enough to certify the inn is haunted, but very odd, nevertheless.