Franklin, KY

Octagon Hall is one of Kentucky's most haunted houses; mass graves surround the house.

Sara B
Octagon HallPhoto bySara B.

Octagon Hall is one of only two octagon houses left in Kentucky and is rumored to be haunted. Octagon Hall is located in Franklin, Kentucky, and was built by Andrew Jackson Caldwell; construction began in 1847 and was completed by 1859; the house sat on 1500 acres; Caldwell was a wealthy farmer and wanted his home to be opulent and displayed his wealth.

The house also had indoor plumbing and the only bathtub in Simpson County. The doors inside the house may seem upside down to some, as they are crosses and intentionally upside down. Caldwell was a mason, and it was said that the Masons did not like the Catholic Church due to the relationship between the Masons and the Knights Templar and the history of torture.

Caldwell wanted his part of deviance from the Catholic Church, so he had the crosses on the doors hung upside down. He was said to be attacking the Catholic Church, not Christ. However, could this have anything to do with the paranormal activity in the house and why it is surrounded by so much death and darkness?

The house was built to withstand the area's winds, with three bricks thick walls built by his slaves, as Caldwell was a confederate sympathizer. At this time, Caldwell was married to his first wife, Elizabeth, and they had three children, Francis, Mary Elizabeth, and Andrew Jackson Jr, also known as AJ.
Photo bySara B

Unfortunately, Elizabeth never had a chance to see the house as she died in 1850. Andrew remarried Harriet and had eleven children together; however, only seven or eight survived. Between 1859-1860 Caldwell and his family moved into Octagon Hall, and it wasn't soon after they moved in that trouble began.

When Mary Elizabeth was eleven years old, she was in the basement helping the cooks, and the hem of her dress caught on fire, and she caught on fire; she did not die immediately; she died seven days later in the nursery; some say it was an agonizing seven days for the child. Shortly after, Andrew Jackson Jr fell down the stairs and died.

The family moved into the house right at the start of the Civil War in 1861, yet Kentucky was said to be a neutral state, yet it is known that Caldwell was a Confederate. As well as Bowling Green was declared the capital of the confederacy; this violated the terms of neutrality.

The Union army invaded and took over, and they headed south toward Octagon Hall. The confederates were rumored to be hiding out there since Caldwell was a sympathizer, so the Union army attacked the area nearby, killing anyone they found. Many died, and those who were not either hid or fled.

Octagon hall was turned into a Union Hospital and, at the same time, harbored Confederate soldiers. When Caldwell built the house, he also made ¨hidey-holes¨ if he or his family needed to hide. The house has two tunnels located underneath so anyone inside could escape under the house and follow the tunnel outside; the tunnel is said to split off; some say one way leads to a cave system out to a river, and the other led to an alternate escape, unsure the ending, as the tunnels, have caved in since the war.

The house has other hiding spots, including underneath the front stairs and inside the walls. Confederate items have been found in the hiding spots. The house became a mass grave burial site due to soldiers dying of wounds, as well as diseases such as Typhoid.

After the Civil War, Caldwell had to give up his slaves; instead, he offered them 25 acres of land each to stay and work the farm, and most stayed. Caldwell died in 1866, and Harried was left to tend the 300 acres left she remained at Octagon Hall until 1918 when she moved to Bowling Green and died in 1920.

When Caldwell died, he was buried in the family plot behind the house with his first wife, Elizabeth; his daughter, Married Elizabeth; and son, AJ. However, Harried did not like the idea that he was buried with his ex-wife, and when she died, she left instructions to have Caldwell's body exhumed and buried next to her in Bowling Green, now Caldwell and Harriet buried together in Bowling Green.

After Harriet died, the house was sold, and Dr. Williams bought it; when he was modernizing the home, he discovered all the hiding spots and the tunnels used by the Confederates. Dr. Williams also covered the dirt basement floor with concrete and removed the hidden stairs used during the war. Unfortunately, Dr. Williams died in 1954. The house then became a rental up until 2001, when The Octagon Hall Foundation was formed, and dedicated to restoring the home.

Why is the house said to be haunted?

Octagon Hall has a sadness surrounding it when you step on the grounds. Thousands of soldiers were buried on the grounds, many in mass graves. Bones have been found until recent years; they are unsure how many have died or were buried here. There is a family cemetery as well as a slave cemetery.

Mary Elizabeth is said to haunt the house, sometimes in a playful mood; she is said to touch people's hair and follow little kids when they tour the home. There is also a discrepancy in her age in many documents. For example, some state she is 7, and while I was on a tour of the house, they stated 11, and paranormal hunters had asked her, and she states ¨ I'm 11¨.

AJ is also still in the place, and sometimes you can see a ball being pushed around the room, and some hear him laughing. The nursery is an area of paranormal activity as that is where Mary Elizabeth spent seven agonizing days before her death. Many have seen full-bodied apparitions of Civil War soldiers inside the house and walking the grounds.

While on a house tour, I felt a sense of sadness and dread; I did not see anything out of the ordinary. The entire house is freezing especially the basement. The volunteers who give tours showed us videos and photos of apparitions.

In one picture, a soldier appears to be standing next to a group of students to tour the house; another was a video of a shadow walking and slamming a door shut. I was there with two little kids, and he said Mary Elizabeth likes to follow children around; my niece stated she felt someone touch her neck and arm.

If you are interested in touring the house, it is donation based only, as they are trying to restore the place, and volunteers will give you tours; if you want to do a ghost hunt at night, they are offered on the website.

*Information obtained on the tour I took of the house* Thank you to the amazing volunteers for sharing all the stories.

Octagon Hall
6040 Bowling Green Rd,
Franklin, KY 42134
Phone: (270) 266-1294


Wednesday - Saturday
9AM - 11:30AM & 1PM - 3:30PM
Closed Major Holidays

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