Editor’s note: This is the first of three haunted stories from local lore that this newspaper will present to readers now through Saturday – leading up to Halloween.
YELLOW SPRINGS — Officials at the Ye Old Trail Tavern in Yellow Springs don’t use their upstairs area as customer or office space, as they feel it houses a ghost and gives off a sad feeling.
Owner Cathy Christian of Ye Old Trail Tavern credits the story to urban legends and things she’s experienced first hand.
The back half of Ye Old Trail Tavern formerly stood as the first house in Yellow Springs, and later as a bakery. It was built by Francis Haffner, who Christian described as a philanthropist, but had a son who she described as a trouble maker and later lived in the house.
The son wanted to be with a woman who was engaged to a man who was away fighting in the Civil War. In order to do so, he made a deal with the local postmaster to withhold letters coming from the Civil War soldier to the woman. She wound up marrying Haffner’s son, but the soldier came back and discovered the deal her husband made with the postmaster.
She is now known as Mrs. Haffner, and lives upstairs of the Ye Old Tavern, according to Christian.
“The one upstairs is very, very sad,” she said. “You can’t go up there now, but the restrooms used to be upstairs — there were people who couldn’t even make it up there, wouldn’t go up the stairs from the feeling. It was such a feeling of sadness, dread and just bad feelings.”
Two ghosts have been spotted within the Tavern, but with different hairstyles. Christian said ghosts don’t change their hairstyle, and she believes one ghost to be Mrs. Haffner, or the woman in blue, who was married to Francis Haffner, and wears her hair in a bun and brings joy to the downstairs. The upstairs Mrs. Haffner brings sadness and dread to the area and wears her hair down.
“I don’t get the heavy, hard feeling that some people do,” she said. “But no one likes it up there. We aren’t scared to go up there, but you don’t feel good.”
Christian has not seen the Haffner women, but has experienced eerie feelings and her hair standing up on the back of her neck. However, three men, each with long hair pulled back into a ponytail, have seen the ghost.
Christian bought the Tavern in 1986, and didn’t know about the ghosts then. However, she became a believer after she came into the Tavern alone one morning and saw a light cord bang against the wall. She didn’t speak of her paranormal experiences until another cook approached her and said he was experiencing the same thing.
She said she later hosted a psychic fair, and was told to tell the ghosts what she wanted them to know, so she did. Later, a psychic came to her and relayed that same message to Christian word-for-word. The psychic also advised her that the ghosts like when she decorates. Therefore, Christian makes an effort to decorate for the holidays, utilizing a colonial-theme for Christmas “so she can understand,” Christian said.