The Campbell County Horror

ky-bobby-mackeys-4145Country music singer Bobby Mackey owns “Bobby Mackey’s Music World” in Wilder, Kentucky. This Campbell County institution is globally renown for a variety of tragedies and horrific events. This article series explores the real history of this famous location alongside the myth.

Numerous individual stories have been woven together to create a standard “haunted house” mythology.The general lore has most of the common “haunted house” elements in circulation today: satanic worship, murder, suicide, and demonic possession.  It’s been called the “Gate to Hell” the “Portal to Hell” and the “most haunted nightclub in the USA.” Researchers can find a plethora of information on the club, however around 90% is repetitive misinformation. Because the lore covers two centuries, it’s best to break it down element-by-element for an in-depth exploration.



A Scene of Slaughter

[Collected from various sources]

“Bobby Mackey’s sits atop what was a slaughterhouse that operated between the 1850s and the 1890s. Once the slaughterhouse closed its doors, the building became a meeting place for satanic cults. They practiced frequent animal sacrifice.”


The structure was indeed once a slaughterhouse. The layout of the basement drains is sufficient proof. The dates are in question because Wilder was not a sizable place during the Nineteenth Century. The families involved in the meat packing industry around Wilder were in Newport, a few miles away. The families of Henry Hundinger, Michael Winstel, Sr., and Weidner all had stockyards and meat processing plants.

The slaughterhouse could’ve have very well been a small operation that was shut down with the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. The Act was in response to Upton Sinclair’s controversial novel, The Jungle. Jungle exposed the deplorable conditions in many era slaughterhouses.

Publications such as The National Provisioner did not relent in their quest for safer food. In 1912, many sources gave slaughterhouses across the state scathing reviews. By this point, local health departments had systematically closed many slaughterhouses for public safety. The report from the Provisioner stated:


“Conditions in Kentucky appear to be especially behind the times and in need of reformation, judging from the statement of the Louisville Courier-Journal that the State Food Inspector, in an address before the city council at Bowling Green, is reported as saying that he has visited every butcher shop and slaughter house that he could find in the State, and that Kentucky has the worst conditions in this respect he found anywhere.”


The satanic lore attached to most empty or abandoned buildings is a modern phenomenon. If any structure is abandoned long enough, it will inevitably draw urban legends of satanic rituals, witchcraft, devil worship, or other fakelore of an infernal nature. Adolescent vandals are typically eager to spray paint various signs and symbols as “proof” of nefarious doings. Kentucky had extensive newspaper coverage during the latter 1800s and no such controversies or suspicions existed.





This article series appears in Appalachian Curiosities.
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