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The Spook House

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The Spook House


By: Troy Taylor

Ghosts of the Prairie




Located on a dusty road in eastern Kentucky was the "Spook House". This old road led from Manchester to Boonsville and saw many years of travel prior to the Civil War. The old mansion known as the "Spook House" was eventually destroyed in 1863 by stragglers from the column of General George W. Morgan while they were retreating from the Cumberland Gap to the Ohio River.


For a number of years before it was destroyed, the mansion was known locally by its eerie nickname due to the fact that the plantation owner and his family had all disappeared one night without a trace.


The trip they took was apparently not planned for all of their household goods and belongings had been left behind. All of their clothing, furniture, food and money had been left... their horses remained in the stable.... even the slaves were left in their quarters....


However, the owner of the house, along with his wife and five children had mysteriously vanished.


For some time after, the mansion stood empty and was avoided by those who lived in the area.


Then, one stormy night in 1859, two travelers came to the house, hoping to find shelter from the rain. They arrived, dripping wet from the road. Their names were Colonel J.C. McArdle and Judge Myron Veigh. McArdle was an attorney and the two men were close friends. They had been traveling together when they were caught in the storm.


Judge Veigh would never leave the house.....


According to the story related by McArdle, the moment the two men entered the house, the sound of the storm outside was immediately silenced. Both men were so stunned by this that they first thought they had lost their hearing!


In moments, they regained their senses and then stumbled into a terrifying scene!


As they entered a nearby room, they found the chamber and its contents bathed in green light. The room was made from stone and the only objects inside of it were eight to ten human corpses!


"They were of different ages," McArdle wrote in 1876, "or rather sizes, from infancy on up. All were prostrate on the floor, excepting one, apparently a young woman, who sat up, her back supported by an angle of the wall.


"One or two were nearly naked and the hand of a young girl held the fragment of a gown which she had torn open at the breast.


"The bodies were in various stages of decay, all greatly shrunken in the face and figure. Some were little more than skeletons."


Needless to say, the two men were stunned with horror. McArdle later wrote that he looked down at the door to the chamber and saw that it was constructed of metal and that no knob was located on the inside. Apparently, the door could only be opened from the outside! This would certainly explain the fate of those entombed within!


Ignoring his friend's warning, Judge Veigh walked into the room, distressed to see the bodies within. All at once, a strong, "disagreeable odor" overwhelmed McArdle and the last thing that he remembered was falling to the floor on the outside of the death chamber and the heavy door clicking shut behind him.


Six weeks later, McArdle came to his senses in a hotel in Manchester. He had been unconscious and in constant delirium since he had been found by strangers several miles from the "Spook House". They had brought him to the hotel, where he had been placed in a doctor's care.


"No one believed a word of my story," McArdle wrote.


Two months later, McArdle returned to Frankfort and to his horror, found that Judge Veigh had not been heard of since that terrible night.


McArdle demanded an examination of the "Spook House", especially as the authorities were leaning toward the idea that McArdle had done away with his friend during his period of mental disturbance.


The room that he described was never found and people began to believe that McArdle had killed the judge and had hidden the body away somewhere. It took nearly twenty years to clear his name and even then, it is most likely that no one believed his weird tale.... merely that they could not find evidence to prove it to be false.


McArdle never gave up though and for the next several years of his life attempted to find someone to excavate the ruins of the old mansion. He believed that not only could the body of Judge Veigh be found, but the corpses of the other people as well.... including the bodies of the original occupants of the house, who had disappeared so mysteriously years before.


But the excavation was never done and McArdle was never able to convince the family of Judge Veigh that he had not murdered his friend. Despite his own diggings in the ruins of the mansion, he was never able to find a trace of the eerie room.


Colonel McArdle died in Frankfort, Kentucky in December 1879.... and became another footnote in the annals of the unexplained.



This story was first transcribed by author Ambrose Bierce from an article by Colonel McArdle in the journal "The Advocate" (1876).


Strangely, Bierce himself disappeared without a trace in Mexico in 1913. Whatever became of him is a mystery....



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