Note: since we can’t travel right now but I miss the open road, here is a repost of a blog from the summer of 2014.
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.
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.
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.
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. Pegboards 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.
Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Fight For the Kingdom by Victoria Schwimley. It’s the story of two boys who go on a camping trip and find themselves on a magical adventure in another land. This is one your grandkids will love. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) 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.