Friday, October 16, 2020


It’s October and that means time for the annual A Grave Interest haunting posts. Take a few moments and we'll stroll though some of the hotels that aren't normally talked about when it comes to hauntings ... and discover guests who refuse to check out.


In 1847, the Crutchfield family built a lodging house four stories tall across the
street from where the new railroad would be built. Thomas Crutchfield later became mayor of Chattanooga and his hotel prospered until the Civil War. During the war, brother William  Crutchfield, a Unionist, turned the hotel into a hospital for wounded soldiers - both Confederate and Union.  In early 1867, the inn’s lobby  was flooded when the Tennessee River rose 57-feet. In September of that year, the inn burned to the ground.


Fifty-four years later on New Year’s Day 1872, John Read opened The Read House on the site. It was destined to be a hotel of luxury with “terrazzo floors inlaid with marble, indoor paneling of quarter-sawed walnut, carved and gilded woodwork, mirrors recessed in massive arches and a lobby beautifully defined by its soaring columns.”

But the following year, the hotel was again flooded by rising river waters. And in

1875, the hotel served as a hospital for those suffering with yellow fever. A fourth story was added in 1886 and more renovations occurred in 1890.
By 1925 more rooms were needed so a new more modern brick structure was built on the site. Soaring up ten stories,  it remains one of the most popular hotels in the city - for the living, and the dead.

A number of famous people have stayed at The Read House during the past century including comedian Bob Hope, singer and actor Bing Crosby, Oprah Winfrey and gangster Al Capone. Capone spent time in Room 311 during his federal trial for tax evasion. Bars were placed on the windows and remained there until a 2004 renovation. He never reported an encounter with a ghost.

It was 1927 at the height of the Roaring Twenties, when Annalisa Netherly
checked into Room 311. There are several variations of the story of what happened to Annalisa. In one tale, she is a young married woman arriving with her husband. Annalisa Netherly was fashionable, pretty and flirtatious and as a lark, had accompanied her husband on a business trip. It is said that her husband returned to Room 311 unexpectedly and discovered his wife entertaining another man. Later, as she soaked in the bathtub, her husband came in and slit her throat leaving her to die. 

In another version, Annalisa was a local prostitute who had taken a client up to Room 311. In a jealous rage, he nearly severed her head from her body as she bathed in the clawfoot tub.

And of course there’s the homage paid to unrequited love. In this tale Annalisa’s advances were spurned by the man of her dreams so she checks into Room 311 and kills herself. (This one seems a bit of a stretch due to the amount of strength needed to come close to cutting her head off ... but it makes a good story.) 

For almost a century, guests have reported seeing shadows flit across the room,
covers moving on the bed, or being touched while sleeping. Some have said the room feels so oppressive, they couldn’t spend the night in it while others reportedly hear water running in the bathroom or lights that flicker on and off. It is said that Annalisa does not like men to be in the room, especially those who smoke.

Guests have also seen spirits in the lobby and dining room. Some say an older man looks like owner John Read. Others have felt misery and despair they attribute to those long-ago soldiers and hospital residents. Ghost soldiers have been seen roaming the fourth floor searching for something ...

Today, Room 311 has been  renovated back to the 1920s and the way it looked

at that time complete with a clawfoot tub, old light switches and an old phone. There are no modern conveniences like a television, radio, coffee maker or hair dryer. Room 311 is available for guests to spend one of five overnight stays each year, but only during the month of October. While this year is booked, mark your calendar for a spirited autumn stay in 2021. You might even check the dates for 2027 and celebrate a century of haunting with Annalisa.

The Haunted Room 311 package includes exclusive overnight accommodations in Room 311, complimentary valet parking, an in-room decanter of "Bathtub Gin," two Annalisa Cocktails at the Bar & Billiards Room, $100 dining credit at the hotel's Bridgeman's Chophouse restaurant and $40 in-room breakfast service - providing you make it through the night ...

If you’d prefer to see it in the light of day, you can take a complimentary tour of
the room based on availability. Call or email for more details.
The Read House
107 West MLK Blvd
Nashville, TN

Happy hauntings!
~ Joy

Saturday, October 10, 2020

The Haunted Brown Hotel - Louisville, Kentucky

It’s October and that means time for the annual A Grave Interest haunting posts. Take a few moments and we'll stroll though some of the hotels that aren't normally talked about when it comes to hauntings ... and discover guests who refuse to check out.


The Brown Hotel
It was 1923, during the Roaring Twenties, when The Brown Hotel was built. It was the place to be seen if you were someone in politics or society. There were sixteen floors with more than 600 guest rooms along with ball rooms, meeting rooms, restaurants and bars on the premises. 


Owner  James  Graham Brown resided in the hotel on the 15th floor in the Penthouse. More than 4-million dollars was spent during the 10 month construction of the hotel, and the English Renaissance opulence was derigger with crystal chandeliers and a soaring two story lobby with a wrap around balcony, Palladian-style windows,  Bottocino limestone floors, hand-painted coffered ceilings and mahogany furniture. The  former Prime Minister of Great Britain, David Lloyd George was the hotel’s first registered guest.

Dinner  dances were popular during the 20’s and The Brown was the place to  go with more than 1200 people attending in an evening. 

It was here in 1926 that the infamous “Hot Brown” was created by Chef Fred Schmidt. It is said that Schmidt wanted to serve something different to late night dancers so he did a riff on the traditional ham and and egg breakfast. Instead he took roast turkey and bacon served it on a piece of bread and smothered it with Mornay sauce before broiling it until the bread turned crisp and the sauce began to brown.

Then came the Great Depression and with it hard times for The Brown Hotel.

Employees worked during 1931 without wages just to keep the doors open. The Great Flood of 1937 flowed into the first floor of the hotel. But the hotel rebounded during the 1940s. With Fort Knox located south of the city, an influx of servicemen passing through stayed here on route to war assignments during WWII.

When  Brown died in 1969, the hotel began a death spiral.  It was closed in 1971 and sold to the Jefferson County Public School system as a home for its Board of Education.
 Several hotel chains have owned the structure since the 1980s but in 2006, 1859 Historic Hotels purchased the building and renovated it back to its 1920s splendor.

But as with most historic hotels, this one is haunted. Rumor has it that  James
Graham  Brown decided to stay on after his death. Although the  fifteenth floor is not open to guests, employees and staff have reported seeing footprints appear in the dust on the floor while they were there. Guests occupying rooms under the penthouse on the fourteenth floor report being awakened by the sounds of heavy furniture being moved about upstairs. The elevators are known to stop randomly on the 15th floor although no one gets on or off.


Others have reported the smell of cigar smoke lingering in the air throughout the hotel although it is designated “no smoking.” Employees have spotted Brown standing on the second floor Mezzanine watching guests. If he is approached, he steps behind a column and disappears. Cold spots are common on the Mezzanine. It's said he really “comes to life” during the weeks in April before the Kentucky Derby.

Today the hotel once again welcomes guests with the aura of a by-gone era and is known world-wide for its Southern hospitality.  For more information visit

The Brown Hotel is located at the corner of Fourth and Broadway in Louisville, Kentucky.

Happy October Hauntings!

~ Joy

Friday, October 2, 2020

Spirits of The Golden Lamb Inn - Ohio


It’s October and that means time for the annual A Grave Interest haunting posts. This year we’ll take a look at haunted hotels, and the guests who refuse to check out.

In the quiet community of Lebanon Ohio, north of Cincinnati, resides the oldest operating business in the Buckeye State. 



Built in 1803, The Golden Lamb was originally

a "house of public entertainment” where locals gathered to visit and trade news. In 1815, the log cabin gave way to a two-story brick building with rooms to let to travelers. By 1844, another floor was added with the fourth floor built in 1878 for the men working on the new railroad.


Several well-known people stayed at the inn including twelve American presidents from William Henry Harrison to Ronald Regan and George W. Bush. Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain along with Charles Dickens, Daniel Webster and Harriet Beecher Stowe also stopped in. But there are also others who came to spend the night and decided to stay ... indefinitely.


The most popular ghost at the Golden Lamb can be found in what is called “Sarah’s Room.” Named for Sarah Stubbs, the niece of one of the hotel mangers, who grew up at the inn. Sarah however lived to be quite old so its thought the young spirit is that of 12-year-old Eliza Clay.

Eliza was the daughter of Henry Clay, a statesman from Kentucky who served in both the House and the Senate during the 1800s. Clay

was traveling with his family from his home in Lexington, Kentucky to Washington D.C. when Eliza became ill with a fever. They stayed at The Golden Lamb for six weeks as Eliza’s condition worsened. On August 17, 1825 she died and was buried in the local cemetery. 

Today, the child appears in a white nightgown in a fourth floor room that’s actually not associated with Sarah Stubbs. The ghost has a reputation for moving things around, knocking pictures off the walls and stomping her feet when vexed. Maybe she’s still waiting for her family to return to take her home to Lexington. Or possibly she’s tired of her room being referred to by another child’s name. Either way, Eliza makes her presence known.

Another ghost of The Golden Lamb is that of Ohio Supreme Court Justice Charles R. Sherman. Sherman was “riding the circuit” and holding court in Lebanon in 1829 when he died suddenly. The 41-year-old judge was staying at the inn at the time. Sherman died leaving a wife and eleven children (one son who became the famous Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman) to fend for themselves. Many of the younger children had to be adopted out.

Sherman is seen as a thin, grey man who walks the halls. Many times, only the aroma of his cigar indicates he’s present or a deep sigh heard down the hall. Some say Sherman haunts the inn in misery that his family had to be separated after his death. 


And then there’s the ghost of the former U.S. Congressman from Ohio, Clement L. Vallandigham who died of a self-inflicted gunshot in 1871. Unfortunately, he didn’t intend to shoot himself. Vallandigham, an attorney, was defending Thomas McGehean, one of five men accused of fatally shooting Tom Myers the previous Christmas Eve at a Hamilton Ohio saloon. Vallandigham did far too good of a job showing the jury how Myers could have accidentally shot himself by pulling out what ended up being a loaded weapon and accidentally firing it into his abdomen. Vallandigham lived through the night but died in his room at the inn the next morning. Amazingly, McGehean was still found guilty and had to appeal the verdict.

It is said that Vallandigham’s spirit has been seen for decades throughout the hotel. While some ghosts prefer to remain unseen, Vallandigham’s face is usually what people see when he chooses to appear, and heavy footsteps have been heard outside the room which now bears his name. Maybe Vallandigham is sill trying to come to grips with how he managed to shoot himself in that long ago court case.


The Golden Lamb is open and taking reservations for its 17 historic rooms, each named after a famous guest. The Golden Lamb Restaurant serves seasonally fresh meals, and the newly renovated Black Horse Tavern offers numerous beers and wines along with their first branded brew - the Black Horse Tavern Golden Lager. The Golden Lamb is open for business with guests required to wear face masks when moving throughout the hotel. For more information, visit Maybe you’ll be luck enough to encounter one of the inn’s eternal guests.

~ Joy

Friday, July 10, 2020

Ledger, Box and Table-type Grave Markers

Ledger Stones

Ledger Stone in the Cathedral in Barcelona
Ledger stones have been used for centuries to mark graves. Many times the stone was laid in the floor of the cathedral or church to mark the burial spot of an important person. An inscription was usually chiseled into the top, which was adorned with intricate designs or a family coat of arms.

Ledger stones were made of black marble, white marble or Sussex marble, a fossilized limestone type of rock. Alabaster was popular for cathedral floors as was slate. Ledger stones were susceptible to wear when placed flush with a church floor but this designation indicated someone who had found favor within the church. Today, bronze and marble are popular for ledger tops.

Ledger gravestones lie flat on the ground. Full ledger stones cover the entire top of the grave. Ledger stones were also fitted on top of box or chest graves, and table or pedestal tombs. 

Box and Chest Tombs
Box Tombs in Perryville Kentucky
Box and chest tombs were popular during the early and middle 1800s. These rectangular boxes were usually made of local materials, usually stone or brick. Box tombs were smaller in size than chest tombs. In England, a box tomb designated someone of a poorer background. In the U.S., the size of the tomb did not have a hidden meaning. If the chest tomb was placed on a large flat base, it was known as an alter tomb. The body was not placed in either the box or chest but was buried underneath the memorial. The ledger stone could be heavily designed or left unadorned.

Pedestal and Table Tombs
Pedestal Tomb
A pedestal tomb is taller than a chest tomb and can come in several shapes including square, round, oval and three cornered.
Table Stone Marker
A table tomb has a raised ledger top, which looks like a tabletop, and is supported by four columns or legs that rest on a landing stone.

All of these grave markers were popular during the first part of the Nineteenth century. Today, ledger stones are once again in demand as cemeteries encourage monuments to be flush to the ground making lawn maintenance easier.
 ~ Joy

Friday, July 3, 2020

Worth a Trip: The Geode Grotto

In the small Southern Indiana town of Jasper resides an oddity well worth the trip – a Geode Grotto. Geodes are hollow mineral “rocks" found in limestone and shale  that is abundant in the region. The inside of the somewhat round rock is filled with inward-projecting crystals in a range of colors from deep purples, to lavenders to yellows to rich golds.

Geode Walls
At mid-century, Father Phillip Ottavi, an Italian immigrant, wanted to build something spiritual on the former grounds of the Providence House handball courts. He was seeking to construct something unique; a grotto similar to the one in Lourdes, France, but built from geodes.

Mother of God Shrine
Geode Fountain
The grotto was constructed over a ten year period from 1960-1970 using geodes from around the region including Heltonville. The stones were placed in limestone and plaster to form geode paths, a fountain, planters, and archways containing the Stations of the Cross. At one end is a shrine to St. Joseph, and at the other The Mother of God Shrine. Father Philip worked every day for ten years to complete the massive undertaking. The result is a grotto that covers four city blocks.

If you’re looking for awe-inspiring sites that offer a chance to get out and about, The Geode Grotto of Jasper is perfect. It is located at 13th and Bartley Streets behind St. John’s Cathedral. And be sure to take a camera, it’s worth the trip!
~ Joy

Friday, June 26, 2020

That Final Ride: Hearses

Written by Joy Neighbors

Hearses have been used to carry bodies for centuries, but not necessarily the type of hearse you may be thinking of. Our first hearses were hand-carried wooden or metal frames that the coffin was placed in and carried to the grave.Then came rolling carts for easier transportation over a distance.

In the 19th century came horse-drawn hearses, which were used until the early 20th century. Horse-drawn carriages are still used today for pomp and circumstance when royalty or famous people die.

With the invention of the automobile came the motorized hearse – a vehicle that could transport the deceased to the cemetery in style. But there are several other modes of transportation used to transport the body of the deceased.

When someone dies, a “first call vehicle” is sent out to collect the body and deliver it to a funeral home. Many times, the funeral home has a basic van for this purpose. In larger cities, there are companies that operate first call vehicles for delivery to funeral homes thereby saving the hearse for the actual trip to the cemetery.

There was also a combination car, which operated as an ambulance and a hearse. (Think Ghostbusters.) These combos were popular mid-century but fell out of favor by the end of the 1970s when vehicles were downsized to compact cars.

Motorcycle hearses may be equipped with a specialized sidecar to carry the casket, or in a tricycle formation so the casket rides behind the bike.

Rail cars have been used for transporting the deceased across the country to their final resting places. (Remember Lincoln’s funeral train?) During the 19th century, the City of Chicago had three trolley car that carried the dead on the elevated trains to cemeteries outside of town.

Modern hearses have an elegant look with padded interiors and a sleek design. In the U.S, we use luxury cars for the base of the hearse: mainly Cadillac, Lincoln and Mercedes.

Major hearse builders in America include S&S/Superior Coach Company of Lima, Ohio, and Specialty Hearse with locations in Alvarado, Texas and East Farmingdale, New York.

Hearses are also popular as collector cars and numerous hearse clubs throughout the U.S. hold shows and rallies each year. (Not sure what the plans are for this year with Covid. Check with the festival or rally before you head out.)

The National Museum of Funeral History in Houston Texas has a collection of rare historical funeral vehicles. Check out the video on their website showing a small part of their collection.

Regardless of how you feel about hearses, it will most likely be your ride to that final destination.
~ Joy

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Year Without a Summer

Summer at the Lake
Tomorrow, Saturday June 20th is the first day of summer – the Summer Solstice. And with summer comes thoughts of vacations, festivals, reunions and generally all-around good times. But this is the summer of Covid 19, of social distancing, of wearing masks and being responsible for ourselves, and each other. This may be a year many consider as not having a summer. And while that might be true figuratively, it won’t be what many suffered through in 1816, a time that went down in history as “The Year Without a Summer.”

Spring Becomes Winter
People talked about the spring of 1816 as being noticeable “odd.” What began as a normal spring changed abruptly as temperatures plunged into the low 30s and incessant rain made planting difficult for farmers. A dry “fog” had settled on the ground and remained there for most of the season into the summer and fall. People described it as walking through a gauzy veil. The fog helped keep temperatures cool and newly planted crops did not take root and grow.
            The year of 1816 was an agricultural disaster. In the Upper Eastern part of the country down into Virginia, temperatures stayed in the 30s for the month of May. In New York, snow fell on June 6. Frost killed off crops in New Jersey during the latter part of June. And in Massachusetts, frost occurred all summer right into September. Rivers and creeks throughout the Eastern US were filled with floating ice during this strange summer. 

 The spring plantings of corn, oats, wheat and barley were killed by the unprecedented frost and snow. Tree leaves took on a singed appearance from sudden freezing temperatures. Grain prices soared, and farmers suffered a year of intense hardship. Across the US, Canada and Europe food prices skyrocketed, and famine was reported. Outbreaks of a new strain of cholera and typhus plagued citizens in Europe, China and the United States taking millions of lives.
            The dismal cold, wet dreary weather led author Mary Shelley in Europe to pen her famous horror story, “Frankenstein.” 

Mount Tambora
Many blamed divine retribution for the bizarre weather conditions but 20th century scientists who have studied the event say the eruption of the Mount Tambora volcano in Indonesia is probably to blame. Erupting in April 1815, the violent blast sent sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere creating a volcanic winter across the world. Ash clouds filled the skies. It was the largest volcanic eruption in the past 2,000 years, and the most intense of the 19th century. Tens of thousands of people died but few people outside of the area knew much about it due to limited methods of communication. Mount Tambora had rose up 12,000 feet before 1815. After the explosion, one third of the top had been blown away. The magnitude of the explosion is difficult to ascertain. It took a year for the ash clouds to reach North America creating a devastating effect.
Tomorrow as you prepare to enjoy a summer that will be different from those you recall, remember those residents of 1816 who muddled through that Year Without a Summer. We are a hardy lot, and we will persevere. Have a happy summer!
~ Joy