Not only is the Wells Inn one of the oldest haunted hotels in West Virginia, but it is also one of the few old hotels still in operation. The Inn is located in Sistersville, a town along the Ohio River in Tyler County.
The city became popular when oil was found nearby in 1891, and turned this tiny farm town into the ¨oil capital of the world¨ for a brief period, which brought in some wanted and unwanted characters.
The Wells Inn was built in 1894 by Ephraim Wells, and his motivation for creating the hotel was to offer meals and lodging to the city and the workers during the oil boom. Wells was the grandson of the founder of Sistersville, Charles Wells.
Charles was the first to settle in this location in 1802, and the settlement was initially named Wells' Landing. He had 22 children by two different women, and Ephraim was one of his many grandchildren.
When Charles died in 1815, he left the property that makes up most of the current business district to his two daughters, Sarah and Delilah. They were good businesswomen and laid the land out into 96 lots with eight streets, and the town was named Sistersville after the two sisters.
Sistersville also has the oldest Ferry in West Virginia; it started operating in 1817 and still operates. Before the Civil War, a 51-man military unit, Sisterville Blues, was formed.
When the Civil War began, some men joined the Confederate Army, and others joined the Union Army. The great-granddaughters of Charles Wells hid their Confederate flag behind wallpaper.
After the war, Sistersville became a quiet farming community until oil was found in Pole Cat Hollow in 1891. The town grew from 300-600 to 12,000-20,000 residents, money and oil were plentiful.
This oil boom and growth brought all kinds of people; many lived in houseboats, which many called floating shanties. As well as in oil field shacks with outdoor toilets and only cold water.
With this boom, not only came hooligans, saloons, and gamblers, but it also brought the rich, who brought private social clubs, literary clubs, and the opening of nicer hotels, such as the Wells Inn.
The hotel had 35 rooms, a bar, and a dining room and was considered the most elegant hotel in Sisterville.
Who stayed at the INN during its heyday?
The elites and politicians lived on the 3rd floor in suites, and the workers and laborers were placed in the lower levels packed together. There are reports that there was even a ballroom in the hotel to serve the elite and oil barons.
The Wells Inn also housed workers during the oil boom; however, it was not as luxurious as one may think. They were stuck on the lower levels in cramped quarters, while the rich partied and dined on the upper levels.
It is also said that even though Ephraim built the hotel, there is a local legend that the control was given to the local mob during the oil days, as Sistersville was rumored to be a wild, unruly town with a town full of ghost stories and legends.
There are many stories about this hotel being haunted; some stories report that the original owner, Ephraim Wells, is the main ghost. Many have reported seeing him walking the halls of the hotel. Is everything up to his qualifications?
The bar is said to be the most haunted location; an employee claimed to have been oppressed by a spiritual attack by a male spirit. Employees have reported that, at one point, a jukebox used to go off and on by itself.
Another ghost reported to roam the halls is Clarence, who enjoys hanging in the bar area and taunting the bartenders; there are even ghost dogs. The hotel also has 1890s urinals inside the hotel, and it is reported that the door will mysteriously open when you use them in the bathroom—a ghostly peeping tom.
Room 204 (which has changed due to renovations) is also haunted, with a woman who used to come to meet her lover in this room. However, one day, when the woman came to meet him, he never showed up and stopped showing up; the woman committed suicide in the room.
It is reported that the lights in that room go off and on, as well as loud, unexplainable noises. One guest even reported smelling a woman's perfume when he spent the night.
A naughty little girl is also said to be seen playing in the halls and sometimes heard jumping rope in the rooms, and there are many reports of her playing with a hoop. According to one of the owners, he has had people check out in the middle of the night after seeing her playing in the halls.
In the kitchen, cans have fallen off shelves and walls, as well as cooking equipment falling off the wall, and nothing was seen. Other employees have heard footsteps in the dining room and have seen apparitions of the little girl in an old period dress.
There is also a rumor that where the Wooden Derrick is located was once a crawl space that went under the lobby and parlor, and when it was dug out in the 1960s, some weird things may have been found.
During the excavation, the team was instructed to take a week off from the dig, and when they returned to work, it was evident that someone had been digging in that location. What was found or what happened has yet to be determined.
Not only is the hotel haunted, but the town of Sistersville is haunted. People would go missing in the middle of the night. Shady, rough people once roamed the streets of Sistersville.
The Wells Inn has gone through many owners, as well as renovations, to keep up with modern-day amenities. The Inn was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, and you can still spend the night for around $52/a night.
The Inn is at 316 Charles St, Sisterville, WV, 26175.
Don´t worry Sistersville has gone back to its sleepy town of less than 1400 living residents, who knows how many ghosts roam the streets from its glory days?