Jul 312014

When you’re rolling down the highway headed to your next RV adventure, did you ever wonder for a moment about the interesting places you may be passing by that you will never know existed?

We love getting off the interstates to find those hidden gems on the back roads and in the small towns of America just waiting to be discovered. Stories of tragedy and triumph, history and mystery that are greater than any fiction author could ever dream up. I wrote about many of them in my two books, Highway History And Back Road Mystery and Highway History And Back Road Mystery II, but I barely scratched the surface of what there is out there just waiting for you or me to take a detour off the highway to discover.

Highway History Cover

Highway History II cover

We found just such a story in the charming small town of Lebanon, Ohio, where the handsome Golden Lamb Inn has been serving the traveling public since 1803, the oldest inn still in operation as a hotel in Ohio. Over the years the historic inn has hosted ten U.S. presidents: John Quincy Adams, Van Buren, both Benjamin and William Henry Harrison, Grant, McKinley, Hayes, Garfield, Taft, and Harding. Other notables who have stayed at the inn include: Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, Harriett Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and James Whitcomb Riley, to name just a few.

Golden Lamb hotel

Few pioneers could read or write, so many business owners gave their enterprises names that could be easily identified by a drawing on the sign, such as the Red Dog, Dancing Mule or Golden Lamb.

The original inn was a two story building located where the lobby of today’s brick building, erected in 1815, is currently located. As the business grew, a third story was added in 1844. When it was announced that the railroad was going to be passing through town in 1878, a fourth story was added to accommodate the workers who would be laying the tracks.

It’s not surprising that a building that old would have a ghost story or two attached to it, and the Golden Lamb is no exception. Among the specters supposedly seen are the ghosts of Ohio Supreme Court Justice Charles R. Sherman, the father of Civil War General William T. Sherman, who died while visiting the inn; and a little girl named Eliza, who was the daughter of statesman Henry Clay. She became ill while her family was passing through the area and they took a room at the inn, where she died soon after. Those are just two of many stories of hauntings at the Golden Lamb. You can read more in this article from CityBeat.

The Golden Inn has three special museum viewing rooms on its fourth floor that are set aside to remember the past. Sarah’s room, on the fourth floor, is a re-creation of a little girl’s bedroom. It was named in honor of Sarah Stubbs, the niece of inn manager Isaac Stubbs Jr. Sarah lived her life in the inn and some say her ghost was among those that have never left.

The Shaker Good Room is a re-creation of a typical Shaker keeping room and pantry reminiscent of Union Village, a Shaker settlement just four miles from Lebanon. Peg boards along the wall of the Shaker Retiring Room show the practical use of space in a Shaker home and the simpler lifestyle of those who followed the Shaker religion.

The next time you’re in south central Ohio, get off Interstate 71 and spend some time in Lebanon, where interesting stores and shops, and the historic Golden Lamb Inn, await you.

Don’t forget to enter this week’s Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Big Lake Blizzard, the fourth book in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on the Free Drawing link and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

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Nick Russell

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  2 Responses to “Ghosts And A Golden Lamb”

  1. I was in high school just north of The Golden Lamb in the 60s. I use to hate the place because of the family style of serving the food. Now 50 year has passed and I now appreciate the history and unique aspects of places such as the Golden Lamb. Whenyou are Iin the area again try going to Waynesville, Oh. This town is one big antique town with all the trappings of a tourist town.

  2. I live in Lebanon and am glad that you found us! The wide street on Broadway is because they wanted to be able to turn the stage around if needed. If you wander back downtown you can also check out the Ice Cream Parlor across the street from the Lamb down in the middle of the block.

    An interesting note regarding Waynesville – there is no mail delivery in the village. Everyone has walk over and stop by the post office to pick up their mail.

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