As I do everyday since I vowed I would learn everything I could about all things haunted in Florida since I never did as a child growing up in California (huge regret), I poked around the internet looking to add places to my list of haunted locations I wanted to visit. (I needed to replace the most haunted corner in Orlando since I just went).
And it took me only one visit to Hauntedplaces.org (the most amazing catalogue of haunted sites and their origins) to find a list of three of the most haunted places in Florida splashed across the front page, a new (fantastic) addition to the algorithm.
There’s of course Robert the Doll who you can visit at Fort East Mortello. Trapper Nelson the “Wildman” of the Loxahatchee who likes to pat women on the rear and ask them for dates.
These legends are some of the core circulating Florida, and some of the first noobs like me will find out from locals or otherwise.
But the one that caught my eye was the only house on the list: The Harden House in Clermont Florida.
I’m a little embarrassed I missed this one, but also intrigued, because I have yet to find the most haunted house in Florida. There are a few competitors grappling for the title, but I hadn’t heard of the Harden House.
And honestly, a small part of me wishes I hadn’t, because the story is brutal. I mean, when you think about it, what do you expect from the (possibly) most haunted house in Florida?
For those who might not know the story (even natives can be surprised), we can learn together.
So, taking a moment to search the case on Google made me even more embarrassed because this case is so famous, it even earned a spot on Unsolved Mysteries. It’s also quite tragic, with multiple sources citing it as one of the most famous unsolved mysteries in Florida, and the only unsolved mystery in Clermont.
In 1975, John Harden was murdered after someone, who stil hasn’t been found, cut the phone lines and forced him out of the house by starting a truck fire. When Harden came close to the truck, he was shot in the back of the head.
The haunting started when June Farms moved her family into the house after seeing it in a dream. She reportedly saw a man “dressed in the same clothing Harden wore the nigiht of his end” and even following the same path down the back staircase that was the last he used before his death.
What’s really interesting is is the cold-case, though still unsolved, was reopened once Unsolved Mysteries and word of the haunting garnered public interest. But what I find most interisting of all is that some believe John Hardin isn’t even the ghost who haunts the Hardin house.
People have sited John’s strange behavior, like leaving his wife, as a sign that something else was afoot, though the haunting stopped conveniently after the case came out on Unsolved Mysteries. Still, the house has been verified haunted by CPSG, meaning it “met the critiqueria”, with photo evidence of the spirit who is believed to be John Harden.
And most will most likely never know what happened, as this is not a haunted place you can just roll up to or take a tour of. If you go, the only thing you’ll probably see are a couple of red and blue lights. Don’t trespass.
Still, it’s great to learn an important part of Florida history, even if you’ll never know the end of the story.