Old historic cities are often filled with stories of spirits from days gone by. Corydon, Indiana, is no exception, as we learned on the Real Haunted Happenings Tour.
Corydon Capitol State Historic Site
The city of Corydon was Indiana’s first state capital. The capitol building still stands, which is where we met guides Laura, Denver, and Alex for the tour. The small building, built between 1814 and 1816, is constructed of limestone. Some believe that limestone holds in energy from time past and then replays over and over again, almost like a record player.
The capitol housed the Supreme Court downstairs and the House of Representatives and Senate upstairs. Some of those politicians apparently never left the building. Laura told us that she and other State Historic Site staff members sometimes hear footsteps on the upper floor. Occasionally, the sound of someone opening and closing a bookcase, then walking away from it, can be heard.
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Laura related the story of one staff member who worked late one night. A wedding was taking place on the grounds, and she was there mainly to keep an eye on the building from the outside. She busied herself with taking photos of the building. She noticed later in one of the photos the face of a man in a window. Laura showed us a copy of that photo, and sure enough, there is a shadowy, but obvious, man’s face. There was no one in the building that night. It was locked and alarmed.
Nearby spirited sites
Our guides led us by lantern light to several nearby sites in Historic Downtown Corydon. Laura or Denver told historic, yet eerie, stories at each of the sites. One story related to a doctor who treated patients tirelessly through a cholera epidemic. The epidemic wiped out entire families. The physician finally succumbed to the disease himself.
Another story is that of a young woman who became pregnant outside of marriage. She was accused of murdering her baby and was executed. Some say you can still see the woman walking in the area at night, crying for her dead baby.
Yet another story takes place in the local newspaper office. Some Corydon Democrat employees refuse to work in the building at night, especially alone. There have been sightings of shadows, a disembodied head coming out of a desk, and one story of a man walking through the door who looked like the founder of the newspaper.
After a few more stops and a few more ghostly stories, our last stop of the evening was the Governor’s Headquarters, the haunted building where our guides work. Governor William Hendricks, Indiana’s second elected governor, lived in the home. Many others lived—and died—there subsequently, as well. Judge William Porter, his wife, and seven daughters, lived there in the 1840s. The four eldest girls died of tuberculosis.
Footsteps are so commonly heard in the building that most of the staff don’t pay attention to them anymore. But other stories are more eerie.
The woman in red
A volunteer picked her daughter up from day care one day and brought her to the house. The little girl had been in the house before, but on this day she refused to enter. She said there was a lady in a red dress standing at the top of the stairs. No one else could see the woman.
On another occasion a school group started up the steps and then scrambled back down, also because of a lady in a red dress.
When a group of Boy Scouts toured the home, two boys hung back from their group as they left. When the guide went back in to find them, the boys were huddled in a corner under a piece of furniture. They had been frightened by a mean lady in a red dress.
Woman in a window
The local police called the “on-call” employee for the building one night. They said a woman was looking out of one of the second-floor windows. The employee went into the building with the police, but they found no one there. The man no sooner got home when he got a second call from the police. The woman was still in there, looking out the window. Again, they went in and found no one. However, a vase had been moved from one end of a dresser to the other.
When Laura was working alone in her upstairs office on a day the house was closed to tours, she heard the front doorknob rattle. She didn’t think anything of it, since tourists sometimes try the door. Then she heard the same thing at the back door. She looked out both windows, and didn’t see anyone around. Five minutes later it happened again. Laura looked outside and again saw no one at the door or down the street. Was someone trying to get out of the house instead of in?
Woman in the hallway
As a staff member was locking up for the day, setting the alarm near the back door, she turned and saw a woman standing in the hallway. The staff member beelined out of there as quickly as she could. She later spoke with an elderly gentleman from the last family to live in the house before it became a historic site. He brought out a family photo album. As the staff member looked through the photos, she found the likeness of the person she saw standing in the hallway. It was a servant who had worked for the family for years.
Ghost hunters brought in
A ghost hunter team visited the site a couple of times. On one occasion they set a motion detector. Denver played for us an audio recording of the motion detector alarm sounding. The ghost hunters and staff tried to debunk the theory that a spirit set off the alarm. They tried leaning against the door to the room where the motion detector was set. They tried opening the door and sticking their heads in. However, the only time the alarm went off was when they physically walked into the room. And no one had been in the room when the alarm first sounded.
We also saw a video from another ghost hunter experience. The ghost hunters had set up cameras in the Governor’s Headquarters, which they monitored from another building. The video captured huge bright white orbs floating through the air. They thought maybe the light was a reflection from a passing car’s headlights or that there some other rational explanation. But they debunked all the possibilities. There was no explanation besides the paranormal.
The tour ended with the video. Afterward, we were ushered outside into the dark night, a night that holds who knows what kinds of spirits.
More about the Real Haunted Happenings Tour
Corydon Capitol State Historic Sites conducts the Real Haunted Happenings Tour annually on a weekend near Halloween. The exact dates of future tours will be listed on the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites calendar and on the Historic Corydon events listing.
In the past, we’ve stayed at the Kintner House Inn in downtown Corydon. The Kintner House Inn is within walking distance of the Real Haunted Happenings Tour. The historic inn would be a great follow-on to the Real Haunted Happenings tour. (Check rates)
Disclosures: Historic Corydon & Harrison County hosted our visit to Corydon. Our Real Haunted Happenings Tour fee was waved. However, any opinions in this article are my own.
This article contains an affiliate link. If you book a room through the “check rates” link above, I will receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you.
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