In 1861, a distraught mother had the body of her young son, a Civil War casualty, returned home to Jackson County, Indiana, for burial. Instead of burying the boy, Sophia Wilson brought his coffin inside the house, where it remained for 12 years. The Wilson home was deemed “haunted” by neighbors, who swore they saw spirits and ghosts moving about the house at night. The Wilson haunted house is one of hundreds of haunted houses and spooky stories found within the pages of Newspapers.com™. During a month when ghosts and goblins reign supreme, have you searched Newspapers.com™ to see if there is a ghost story in your family tree?
Aesop C. Wilson was born in 1843, the son of Dr. Creed T. and Sophia Douglas Wilson. When Aesop was five, Dr. Wilson built a house atop Medora Hill in Jackson County. The two-story brick home had hardwood floors, beautiful woodwork, and fine furnishings, including imported Persian rugs and hanging kerosene lamps. A wrought iron fence surrounded the property, and flowers and shrubbery adorned the yard.
In April 1861, President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to suppress the growing rebellion in the South. In Jackson County, citizens began organizing. Aesop was determined to serve, but his mother begged him to stay, saying she needed his help to care for his ailing father. Without her knowledge, Aesop enlisted in Capt. Tanner’s Company B, Indiana 22nd regiment, as a drummer boy. He was 17.
In September 1861, Aesop wrote a letter home to his mother. He assured her he was well and regaled her with stories of soldier life. One month later, on October 21, Aesop died of typhoid fever in Booneville, Missouri. Before word of his death reached home, he was buried in Booneville.
When the Wilsons learned of their son’s death, Dr. Wilson shipped a metal casket, had Aesop’s body disinterred, and sent home. This was a common custom for families of fallen soldiers who could afford to do so.
When Aesop’s body arrived home, Sophia ordered the casket to be opened so she could verify it was her son. At her request and against the wishes of Dr. Wilson, Sophia had an undertaker pack Aesop’s body in charcoal, seal the casket, and bring it upstairs in front of a window. Sophia sat beside the casket each afternoon and talked to her dead son.
In 1873, Dr. Wilson employed a spiritualist named Mrs. Kegwin. She could supposedly speak with the dead for a fee. Mrs. Kegwin came to the Wilson home and held a séance. Curious neighbors gathered outside. During the séance, participants heard a voice, and Sophia was convinced it was her son. She asked him if he would like to be buried. “Yes, mother,” the voice replied. The Wilsons buried Aesop the next day.
Following the deaths of Dr. Creed Wilson in 1875 and Sophia Wilson in 1891, the Wilson home fell into disrepair and became known as a haunted house. Vandals damaged the home, which was eventually torn down. Now, all that remains are memories of Jackson County’s haunted house.
If you would like to search for the history of a haunted house in your hometown, or explore additional ghost stories, search Newspapers.com™ today!