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 originallya "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
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 GoldenLamb.com. Maybe you’ll be luck enough to encounter one of the inn’s eternal guests.