Around this time of year, we find ourselves getting lost in monster movies and horror novels about swamp creatures and werewolves. We start thinking to ourselves, “What would I do if I came face-to-face with one?” The idea is scary, yes, but how would you react to seeing the ghost of Abraham Lincoln or a soldier stepping out of a painting, or hearing the disembodied scream of a prisoner?

Pull up a chair and lean in close as we tell you the true stories of five haunted places that are here to teach you a few spooky, historical facts that you won’t find in your textbook.


Winchester Mystery House: San Jose, California

Here’s a house that is said to have been built specifically for ghosts themselves. In 1884, construction began on the home of Sarah Winchester, widow of the famous William Winchester of Winchester Repeating Arms Company. After her husband’s death, she felt her family was being haunted by the spirits of Civil War soldiers and American Indians who died by her husband’s guns.

Photo courtesy of Naotake Murayama via Flickr
Photo courtesy of Naotake Murayama via Flickr

Sarah used her $23,000-a-day inheritance to build a house for those spirits. She had workers going day and night to build this seven-story sanctuary, all without an architect or blueprint! She had a unique plan to help defend her against her constant torment by these spirits: misdirection.

Sarah filled the Victorian mansion with 160 rooms, secret passages, doors that are dead ends, rooms overlooking other rooms, and staircases that lead nowhere. The idea was to confuse the spirits about her location in the house so she could find some peace. Go visit, and see if you can lose the spirits without getting lost yourself!

General Wayne Inn: Merion, Pennsylvania

Having first opened its doors in 1704 as a rest stop for travelers, General Wayne became a true landmark after hosting George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette during the Revolutionary War. It was a popular place to rest for a night, but not everyone who arrived was on their way in the morning.

Records show that for more than a few, it was a final stop, among them a Hessian soldier fighting for England and killed (and burned!) by revolutionaries who discovered him there.

Ever since, there have been hundreds of accounts of paranormal events at the Inn . . . apparitions, furniture shifting, and even sightings of a beheaded soldier’s head on a pantry shelf.

Photo courtesy of Dennis via Flickr
Photo courtesy of Dennis via Flickr

Benjamin Franklin was also a guest here, as was Edgar Allan Poe. He wrote part of The Raven at the Inn and carved his initials in a window frame during his stay in 1843.  The Inn is on the National Register of Historic Places and you can explore it for yourself.  If you dare.

Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary: Petros, Tennessee

Secluded high in the Tennessee mountains near Frozen Head State Park is the castle-like prison of Brushy Mountain State.

 For more than a century, its stone walls held some of the toughest, most dangerous criminals in Tennessee.  These inmates knew the only way they’d ever leave was in a box. (One inmate took that literally when he manipulated his body to fit into a 18inX14inbox disguised as roast beef!) Brushy’s most infamous inmate was James Earl Ray, the convicted killer of Martin Luther King Jr.

(left to right) Photo courtesy of United States Department of Justice via Wikipedia, Photo courtsey of Michael Hodge via flickr
(left to right) Photo courtesy of United States Department of Justice via Wikipedia, Photo courtesy of Michael Hodge via Flickr

Ray, who was serving a 99-year sentence, famously organized a breakout with a few other inmates, one of whom was gunned down trying to scale the concrete wall. Ray actually did escape, but his freedom only lasted eight miles and 54 hours before he was recaptured. His Shawshank-like escape route is said to have influenced the most difficult race ever designed, The Barkley Marathon.

Old Brushy has been shut down for seven years, but you gotta wonder how many inmates are still serving a life-AFTER-death sentence there.


Morris-Jumel Mansion: New York City, New York

The ghost game at this 1765 mansion is scaring people to the point of heart attacks and fainting at the sight of a soldier step out of a painting. As the oldest house in Manhatten, you can imagine that this place holds a lot of stories… and spirits.

Similar to the General Wayne Inn, Morris-Jumel served as a Revolutionary War headquarters for George Washington and again during The Battle of Harlem Heights. Being one of the highest points in Manhattan, the mansion offered clear views of Connecticut, New Jersey, and the entire New York harbor.

Photo courtesy of gigi_nyc via Flickr
Photo courtesy of gigi_nyc via Flickr

At one point, the mansion was seized by the British and the Hessians, but at the end of the war, it was ours. Twenty years later, Stephen Jumel and his wife Eliza Bowen moved in. Eliza, who later married Vice President Aaron Burr (the man who shot Alexander Hamilton in that famous duel in 1804), lived to be 90 and is one of several Revolutionary War ghosts who have been seen in the house over the years.

If you take a tour of the mansion and think you see Eliza, pull yourself together. She’s quite friendly.

And finally…

The White House: Washington DC

Yes. The White House. Built in 1800, 43 presidents have served under its historic roof. (George Washington chose the site for the house and approved the design, but left office in 1797 and never lived there.) Of those 43, eight died in office. 

There are piles of paranormal activity reports filed by staff, visitors, and presidents who have heard voices and seen apparitions within those hallowed walls. Abigail Adams, the first First Lady to live there, has been spied carrying laundry down the hall towards the East Wing. Andrew Jackson’s room, the Rose Room, is one of the most haunted, and of course Mary Todd Lincoln famously invited spirits into the house at séances where she attempted to communicate with her dead sons and the slain president.

Public Domain
Public Domain

Abraham Lincoln is the most frequently spotted ghost at the White House. He was often seen during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s term by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. She regularly felt Lincoln’s presence while reading in his old bedroom. Winston Churchill claims to have seen Lincoln sitting by the fireplace after emerging from his evening bath.  Even Michelle and Barack Obama report ghosts messing with their feet while they sleep!

Which of these places do you think you would most like to explore after dark? Let us know in the comments below.



54 thoughts on “Five Haunted Places That Will Teach You A History Lesson”

  1. Pat Champion

    I would like to know if during the show, if when Mike & Frank pick from different people, if they get more things than what they show putting in the van? Has Mike ever considered taking his daughter with him on road trips? Occasionally it would be nice if they showed customers in the shop/shops browsing & purchasing items Frank & Mike picked and saved. It seems sometimes they leave very valuable things, do they get more than it is shown. What is on that list of things they collect?

    1. Sarah Buckholtz Post Author

      The guys certainly pick more than what you see, Pat. Plan a visit to either LeClaire or Nashville real soon to see the picks in person!

  2. George Parsons

    Of the various haunted places you described above, the one I would enjoy seeing/visiting is the White House. I believe it would be a thrill seeing Abraham Lincoln or any other famous American there. Unfortunately, it is the one spot where I cannot go, unless I ran and was elected President, LOL. The other locations described would be fun and I am able to visit.

  3. Linda Mesic

    Hi Mike and Frank !!!
    I have been following you two, for a long time now. I truly enjoy the history and the finds behind those stories. My new website will be following many of those same ideas. I will be sending follow ups as soon as their ready.
    Keep up the good work, I truly enjoy your shows, and wouldn’t dream of missing one.
    Will keep you informed, Linda Mesic—–At the Golden-egg Nest-Antique’s

  4. Walt Giersbach

    Nice stories, guys. We have some hauntings here in New Jersey, like Flemington’s beautiful Union Hotel, home of reporters covering the trial of Bruno Hauptman, the Lindbergh baby kidnapper. The hotel stopped taking guests in the ’50s, but some may not have checked out. A former manager reported not too long ago that the doors were locked, but suddenly flew open, and when he went to close them “he saw a pair of disembodied pair of children’s black patent leather shoes walking up the stairs. He freaked out and ran across the street. He then called fellow employees and told them to get out of the hotel.” Sorry to say, this past February plans were announced to replace the Victorian hotel w3ith commercial development. No word as to where any ghosts might move to.
    Keep up the great work on the show. It’s my favorite, and that of my nine-year-old grandson who finds antiques grandpa might like.

  5. paula martin

    very interesting really enjoyed readin this spooky article lol i love history i believe i lived during medevil brittian and the untamed west . take care

  6. Alfina Redkoles

    I would love to visit the White House seems like thee place to to see real history and ghosts. Thanks for putting these stories for us to read.

  7. Steve smith

    I’m demolishing an old hotel in Paragould Arkansas and it was known to be a gangster hideout for legends like Bonnie and Clyde , Frank(jelly)Nash , he’s known as the most sucsessful bank robber , he ran with pretty boy Floyd , even Al Cappine was said to stay in this speak easy brothal .ive experienced a lot of paranormal activity during the demo. I have salvaged quite of bit of things from this haunted hotel and I want to sell it all if anybody wants to deal with ghostly items. Contact me and I’ll send you pics of what I’ve salvaged and paranormal pics as well during the demo. This is the Real Deal! Regards Steve Smith Paragould Arkansas

    1. Chris

      I love haunted memorabilia stuff. I have two cars that can drive themselves. An old fire chief’s truck and police car. And a knife that levitates across the room. Haunted collections are awesome especially around Halloween.

  8. Gayle Flinchum

    Good read! I look for interesting articles to read to my 86-year-old mother who lives with me. She has macular degeneration with very low vision in one eye, blind in the other. She was an avid reader her whole life with many interests. She is the one who found American Pickers on TV and thought we would watch. Well, we were hooked. I beg DH for a “picker van.” We DVR the show and have her “over” for dinner and watch together. Keep up the good work!

  9. Joann Walton

    would love to visit the White House and The Lincoln Room. Going to Gettysburg PA instead. Love your show and the respect you give all your finds.

  10. Cindy Tilton

    Great stories. I think the White House would be an awsome place to stay. Just the thought of seeing Abe or other presidents carousing about would be awfully scarey.
    I love history and old stuff. I have been watching your show for years. It never ceases to amaze me the monsterous and unique collections people have. Recycle or upcycleing is so important. I hope you can continue to inspire our youth with showing our past and it’s value or place it should continue to remain in our society. Thanks for your efforts.

  11. Cindy

    Great stories. I would love to stay at the White House. It would be scarey and awsome to see Lincoln and other presidents carousing about.
    Watched your show for years now and contine ti watch. Love it! Amazed at the enormous aspirations and collections people have. Keep up the good work preserving our past. Loved the show when Danny D had the kids put on a sale. Encouraging our youth to respect the past is awsome. Thanks

  12. Albert C. Kellyville, OK.

    I love the history behind it all and I want to say thanks for putting it up for us all to read. I think they all would be great to visit and even stay the night (yes, I’d stay over night at either ) but the one I think I’d enjoy the most would be the White House! Lots of history there for sure! Thanks Again! And keep up the great work, love the passion you guys have for keeping history alive!

  13. Dana

    Very interesting! I have been to the White House at night, but didn’t see any ghosts. However, I’d like to visit the Morris-Jumel Mansion and see Eliza.

  14. David Pokrywka

    Abraham Lincoln did not belong to any organised religion, claiming they were all involved in the slave trade. He considered the Bible to be a great book among many. His wife Mary Todd Lincoln held seances in the White House before her husbands untimely demise. Mary Todd Lincoln went as far as to invite a famous medium from Canada to preside at the seance.
    Then there is the now famous phone call President John F. Kennedy received on a secure phone in his bed room telling him, “the pizza you ordered is ready”.

  15. marcy bringen

    the Winchester Mystery House looks good to me! I’m not afraid of ghosts but I think their a little scary. By the way, your pictures and short explanations were really informative.

  16. Janet Warren

    I loved all of the spooky stories. I enjoy the show and DVR them. When our son comes to visit from Ohio, we watch them together.

  17. Dave Kellu

    Happy Halloween,

    Want to talk about scary?
    My business partner and I just finished a cleaning job at an abandoned psychiatric center in the northeast.
    While finishing up after mid night one evening, the power cord to our geneator kept falling out and landing 4 to 6 feet away from the machine. The really weird part was that this only happened after we explored the unused nonrenovated second floor.
    What made this even freakier was the second power cord was never moved. Only the cord that powered up the light was pulled from the generator.
    I have some photos of the interior I can send it you wish??

  18. Steve Hardin

    Enjoyed the stories. I’ve been watching AP since Day One. I Love it. I especially love the ones involving Motorcycles. I’ve been riding 49 Years since I was 11. Keep up the good Work. Mike Frank Danille & Robby & The Whole Crew are Just Amazing. Thank You.
    Steve Hardin.

  19. Pamela

    Thank you for the holiday stories. These are classic American haunts and are among the first that I read about many years ago.
    With all the objects Antique Archeology handles from all the sites with great personal history, I can’t help but wonder: have you ever brought home more than the object itself? If so, what did you do?

      1. Carol

        It is possible to have paranormal activity connected to an item that belonged to someone else previously. John Zaffis has a whole museum dedicated to objects that he has removed from people’s homes that are haunted and have caused a negative effect on the new owner’s household.

  20. JD

    I have been in brushy mt. State penitentiary it has a very intimidating feeling especially when they shut you in and the door is closed behind you it sends a shiver up your spine. There is definitely a strange atmosphere unlike other prisons I’ve visisted. Just to clarify I was doing a prison ministry softball program note a permanent guest!

  21. Mearl Rhinehimer

    I am going to be taking a vacation early next year and visiting the Iowa store. I live in Hillsboro, Ohio and would rather go to Iowa than Tennessee. Problem is, I’m taking the whole family (wife & two kids) and was wandering what are some good attractions in the area of the LeClaire store. The visit to your store will be the highlight for me but I want to be sure the rest of the family gets their kicks too. I would to here your options.
    Thanx and “Sweet Pickins”

  22. Dianne Kahm-Vardiman

    Love the show. As someone whose love has always been museums and “old stuff” I appreciate seeing the picks and learning from them. Thanks for bringing quality viewing into my home. I am ill with cancer so the TV is pretty much my constant companion. And I consider you friends who come to my living room not only to entertain but to teach.

    1. Sarah Buckholtz Post Author

      Thank you for watching Dianne. That makes us feel so good to hear you consider us friends. Sending you well wishes and a big hug from all of us!

  23. Melissa Marino

    Hello, we love your show, Monday nights at our home, and if we are out for the day, we always get back home in time for the new episode! In reference to your haunted places, I would love if the White House would be open to the public, I Love history and would enjoy a tour and maybe seeing a ghost or two. 🙂
    We live in Pennsylvania, and have made many trips to Gettysburg, first with my parents, then with my children. The atmosphere there is full of energy, still waiting for a civil war soldier to make abb appearance. Take care and thanks for such a family friendly important show!

  24. Brian Hegedus

    The whitehouse w out question! Growing up I always read stories about the ghost of the whitehouse and remember watching unsolved mysteries w the whitehouse haunting.

  25. Janet

    I’ve always wanted to visit the White House to see if I could spot my ancestor Mary Todd Lincoln, but my pick would have to be the Wincester House!

  26. Susan

    Another historic landmark to check out…the Old 76 House in Tappan, NY. A lot of paranormal activity reported there…it was a meeting place for Gen Washington and many historic figures as well.

  27. John

    Building a complete house only for ghosts seems really weird. But I believe in ghost and supernatural activities. If she believed that she was haunted by spirits then she might be right. Many times spirit haunt us and we have no escape plan. But she had one.

  28. Teresa Raines

    Love, love, love the show. I am such a history nut. I learn so much from watching you both anwhen sharing your never ending knowledge about so much. I just recently started watching so I am enjoying all of the past episodes. How did the producers find you two?
    Just curious Anyway, you have a new life long fan here. I’m hooked! I’m from a little town called Bonne Terre MO (60 miles
    South from downtown St. Louis) Hope to see your fan traveling through here sometime. You could do lots of freestyling down in these parts


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  30. Cyndi

    What a blessing for me I’ve loved your show from the beginning!! I lost a kidney had to retire early so many surgeries, so your like my family. I love Danny D and she’s so inspiring. I love picking been doing it all my life your show is the best!!!

  31. Diana Lavin

    Thank you for the information of these historical sites. I enjoyed greatly. I would like to visit all of them but think I would enjoy the Winchester Mystery House.

  32. Paul Gauthier

    Love the Show from the very beginning! Love the History of American Manufacturing! People working hard to make people’s lives better 1 car or spoon at a time.
    & History is great, it makes us who we are. If you don’t remember History, your bound to repeat it!

    Happy Halloween:

    My sister rented a house with her husband when they were first Married in Traverse City,MI. Old Logging town back in the day. Well the story would go if you visited them & went in there basement near the laundry. You‘d hear a creak at the top of the stairs & the light switch would be turned out.
    Well 2 of my older brothers one day in October went to go visit them. They Heard the story, & all 4 went to the laundry in the basement. My sister & husband went first & we’re standing by the washer/dryer. & when my older of the 2 brothers foot was just was off the last step. Sure enough, the stairs creaked at the top & the switch flicked OFF! pitch black!! My Brothers didn’t stop running till they hit the 7/11 next door & called back. LOL

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