Walton, KY

The Legend of The Gaines Tavern

Sara B

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The Gaines TavernEnquirer File

The Gaines Tavern, or The Abner Gaines House, is located in Walton, Kentucky. It is the oldest house in Walton. The location of the home was a tavern as far back as 1795. Abner Gaines purchased the tavern in 1813 and then replaced it with the house in 1814. The following year he opened a post office inside the tavern, known as the ¨Gaines Crossroads¨. He then started the first stagecoach line between Cincinnati and Lexington. He and his wife had 13 children.

The locals refer to the house as ¨The Kentucky Horror House¨ because of the trauma behind the house's story. A string of murders and suicides, as well as natural deaths, have become associated with the house. Many believe the souls have never left the house and remain trapped.

Some of the rumors that surround the house are the following.

A man named Benjamin Runyan stopped to stay over. The man did not show up in the morning, and a servant went to see where he was. She found him dead when she got to his room; he had shot himself during the night.

In 1842, Robert Harrison and William Northcut attended a ball at the house. They both had their eye on the same woman. William wanted to embarrass Robert to impress this woman. Robert always wore a wig because he was balding. During the ball, William removed the wig of Robert. He was so angry that he instantly took his dagger and killed William Northcut.

Robert was a relative of President Harrison, so he had a good standing within the community, and the community felt the murder was justified. No charges were filed, and he never was placed in jail or paid for his crimes. It is rumored that he felt terrible, suffered depression, and never married. Some historians claim that you can still see the blood on the ballroom floor. It was also the first death on record in the Gaines house.

In 1869 Major Goodson stopped to visit and stay over at the tavern. It was typical for the mayor, as he frequently stopped at the Gaines's house and played cards with those who would spend the night there. This particular night, he played cards and went to bed, nothing out of the ordinary; suddenly, those in the house heard a gunshot. They found him dead when they got up to the mayor's room. It was the same room Ben Runyan had also taken his life 40 years prior.

1877 a man by the name of Parker Mayo, a black man who was a prisoner for allegedly assaulting a white woman. He was taken to the sheriff's office and hung on a tree 300 yards north of the house. Not long after, another man named Charles Smith, also a black man, was hung in the same spot.

On May 10, 1892, Lizzie Rice, another guest who stayed here for her last night, was also the sister of Robert Rice, a Kentucky state legislature. While staying at Gaines's house, she became discouraged and sad. Finally, she went out to the orchard, covered herself in kerosene, lit herself on fire, and died. It was rumored that she said before dying that she was ¨tired of living¨. Twenty years prior, her father had killed himself in the same way.

Visitors have reported seeing the ghost of a man and a baby in the front window. The baby died in the house and reportedly, one of Gaines's children who did not survive. The baby is buried in the family cemetery near the home.

The house has been in the spotlight recently as many TV shows such as Ghost Hunters on Discovery +

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I share legends, myths, and bizarre history, sometimes news. Living nomadically since 2018, currently in Colombia.

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