Stacey S. Manning
The Kentucky Standard
From laughter of children who aren’t really there to a door that opens and closes on its own, the Hughes House has had several unexplained occurrences since its new owners moved in.
Unexplainable Events in Pre-Civil War Home
A door in Ed and Phyllis O’Daniel’s pre-Civil War home has the mysterious habit of opening and closing on its own. Sometimes even when the door is locked it finds a way to open.
Sometimes the door is closed so securely that no matter how hard the O’Daniels try to open it they can’t, but they may return later and find the door standing open where there was no one around to open it.
The O’Daniels are socialites and enjoy having parties and gatherings in their historic home which they are renovating with the hope it will be a bed and breakfast.
On one particular evening the O’Daniels were giving a tour of the house to some guests. Ed led the group of men through the home – the women followed behind with Phyllis.
When the guys finished the tour of the back of the upstairs of the house Ed left the door open and the men all walked out of the room, Phyllis said. But when the women entered the room the door was not only shut, it was stuck so tightly they could not get it open.
The mysterious opening and closing door stands between two rooms of former slave quarters of the home built in the late 1860s.
According to local historian Dixie Hibbs in her book, "Nelson County A Portrait of the Civil War," in June 1864 Col. George M. Jesse of the Confederate Army and 150 men camped between Bloomfield and Bardstown.
A small group of the men ended up at Jones’ home and demanded a horse, saddle and bridle from him.
Jones refused and shot one of the men. The men shot back and killed Jones.
In August 1864, two Confederate soldiers who had nothing to do with the shooting, but were detained in a prison camp, were shot and killed as punishment for Jones’ death.
According to the book, the Bloomfield community grieved over the men because they were killed for another person’s crime.
The Jones’ family eventually sold the house to Dr. James R. Hughes and moved to a farm in Missouri.
Hughes used the home as an office for some time, Phyllis said.
The house’s link to the Civil War may explain another event that happened to Ed.
One day Ed was working with a trencher to run an electrical line from a pole to a building.
As the trencher was working away, white stones were kicking out from underneath of it, Ed said.
Not thinking much of it, Ed continued his work. When he was finished, just before dark, Ed decided to take a closer look at what came from the trench.
There before him Ed found pieces of white marble. Thinking of the history he knew, Ed recalled that many times during the Civil War people would take their valuables out of their home and bury them in their yard.
Ed assumed this is where the marble may have come from.
With a piece of the marble in his hand, Ed went inside and washed it off. Flipping it over, Ed was astonished at what he found – the word "Ed" etched into a side of the marble.
It was good enough omen for Ed to think he had made the right decision to purchase the house.
Other unexplainable occurrences have happened in the house – like a couple of chairs that have moved from one room to another when no one was home and the sounds of children’s laughter when only adults were inside the house.
One evening after a lively party for one of her granddaughter’s birthdays, Phyllis said she was in the mud room picking up torn wrapping paper and throwing it away.
All of the children had gone home for the evening when all of the sudden Phyllis heard the laughter of children.
"It was very distinguished," she said.
Later that evening when her adult son came back to the house he went into the kitchen to make some tea.
"All of a sudden his head jerks around and he says, ‘what is that?’" Phyllis recalled.
Not sure what he meant, Phyllis offered a number of suggestions about what noise her son may have heard, but after a few moments he finally told her he heard the laughter of children.
"We both heard the same thing at different times," she said.
Unexplainable activity often occurs after the O’Daniels have hosted a party, Phyllis said.
"We’ve never felt afraid," she said.
The events, however, have been enough to spark the O’Daniel’s curiosity and make them want to learn more about what may be inside their historic home.
To help them find out, they contacted certified ghost hunter Patti Starr who volunteered to spend an afternoon investigating the home.
Find out what happens when Starr investigates the house in Wednesday’s Kentucky Standard.
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