The legend of the Travers Ghost hails from Bardstown, in Rockcastle County, Kentucky. The old “Ross Cabin,” was the scene of many paranormal events and home to countless families who tried to live there. It had gained the reputation as a supernatural “hot-spot” by the turn of the Twentieth Century.
The cabin sat high atop a hillside, but it was in ruins by the turn of the Twentieth Century. The windows were broken and the doors were hanging from their hinges. Even at the time, only a few people realized that this was the same cabin constructed by the Ross family in the Eighteenth Century. It passed into the hands of his children after his death, who then rented it to tenants.
The cabin had a perfectly normal start. There was no dubious history associated with the structure until almost the time of the Civil War. In 1859, the cabin housed a notorious family. The Holder family was suspected for a number of nefarious deeds, but no one had any proof. They were counterfeiters, robbers… and murderers.
A man stopped at a mercantile in Brodhead Station in 1859. He asked for directions to Cumberland Gap. The man introduced himself as James Travers, from Ohio. He and his family wanted to go into the mining business, since it was so successful. He was given the directions and no one heard from him again.
Locals assumed he reached his destination and didn’t think much more about it. Months later, another stranger came into the area and asked about his brother, James Travers. The shop owner said James had gone on to Cumberland, as far as he knew. The brother said he’d just come from that direction and his brother never made it.
The shop owner puzzled a moment. He then realized the Holder family lived along the road and one wrong turn would’ve taken James to their doorstep. He told the man of their reputation and suspected crimes. The brother immediately went to Cincinnati and got a detective to return to Brodhead Station. They went to the cabin, but the Holder family had fled.
Travers returned to Ohio without his brother. The Holder family, if that was their real name, seemed to vanish. He even circulated printed handbills with his brother’s description on them. No one ever stepped forward with information.
The cabin sat empty for years. Tom Ross, grandson of the builder, decided it would make a good house for his family. Neighbors had noticed strange things at the house, by this point. They tried to warn Tom, but he didn’t care. He worked on bringing the long-abandoned structure back up to a livable state. The neighbors eventually stopped warning him and started to think whatever it was had gone.
Tom soon discovered why they warned him. His family heard unearthly noises at night. Everyday at noon, someone called to him and he never found anyone around. He became so concerned he asked a neighboring farmer visit, to help him locate the source of the events. The neighbor brought a faithful watchdog with him, but the dog fled. Ross gave up the attempt to make it a home and just rented the troublesome place again.
No one stayed. Every family that moved in left describing the same events he experienced there. The typically haunting changed when German renter, John Dieteman, moved into the property. The noises came at night, but now there were sounds of something huge rolling down the steps and crashing into the fireplace. Dieteman said it sounded like a wooden flour barrel was thrown down the flight. A figure then appeared and stirred the embers of the fire. Dieteman abandoned the property and the house sat vacant from that point forward.
Years later, a group of young men passed through the area one evening. They’d just come from a dance and were on their way home. They saw a gleam from the direction of the cabin. The sky above was illuminated, as if a house was burning down. Since there were no other structures in the area, they believed the old shack had finally caught on fire. They ran through the woods to watch it burn, but when they exited the trees, the cabin stood intact. Any trace or glimmer of light had vanished. The light was gone. They returned to the road and the light they’d witnessed was gone.
The community heard of this and decided to take action. They were fed up with the activities in the area and the strange things that happened around the house. A group of men came together to take the house apart. They were going to figure out what was causing the disturbances. Most people suspected it was the ghost of James Travers, but they were not looking for spiritual proof.
They took the house apart and pulled up the floorboards. There was nothing below, but dirt. They began taking the outbuildings apart, first the shed, then the old outhouse that was once a corncrib. They dug up the ground around this structure and found a full human skeleton. The back the skull was crushed.
A few recalled the handbills that first circulated when Travers disappeared. One was still on record in the circuit court clerk’s office in Mount Vernon, the county seat. The bill even described Travers’s teeth, which had several defects. The skeleton’s teeth matched the description.
They gave the remains a proper burial in hopes it would palliate the spirit, but it was no good. The activity continued and the cabin remained deserted until it fell to ruin. The Holder family, and their life after the cabin, remains unknown.
Historic Veracity: Unknown