Saturday, July 4, 2015

HGB Podcast, Ep. 54 - The Buxton Inn

Moment in Oddity - Animal Cults of Ancient Egypt

In ancient Egypt, a large temple was built to the jackal headed god named Anubis. Anubis was associated with the afterlife and because he had the head of a dog, a burial chamber was built next to his temple that has become known as the Canine Catacomb. The catacomb once held the bodies of eight million dogs and puppies. The fossil of an ancient sea creature millions of years old was embedded in the ceiling of the catacomb. The dogs were not just buried. They had undergone the mummification process. Archaeologists believe that the Canine Catacomb was the work of an animal cult. That cult held much significance in the Egyptian economy. Dogs were not the only animals mummified in reverence of the gods of Egypt. Other catacombs have contained the mummified remains of baboons, ibis, hawks, jackals, foxes, cats, mongooses and bulls. It is believed that young dogs were merely bred for sacrifice and mummification. These dogs were not killed by brutal force, but by starvation and dehydration. Aidan Dodson, a senior research fellow in archaeology at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, said of the animal cults of Ancient Egypt, "There's probably a vast amount of trade coming in, not only for producing the animal mummies, but people wanting food, lodging and drinks, It's probably an ancestor of a mass tourism industry." The idea that mummifying animals was once a major part of tourism certainly is odd.

This Day in History - American Independence

Well, of course, on this day, July 4, in 1776, the United States of America declared her independence from Great Britain. Independence Day did not become an official holiday until 1870, but the history of the day is a vital part of the American experience. Beginning in June of 1776, representatives from the thirteen colonies decided it was time to break free from Great Britain. The American Revolution was already underway. Thomas Jefferson was assigned the task of drafting a document that would state America's intention to become independent. Colonists were angry over taxation without representation and they no longer wanted to be under a monarchy. The Continental Congress voted on July 2nd in favor of independence and two days later they adopted the document Jefferson wrote that we know today as the Declaration of Independence. The most well known line from the Declaration is, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Such sentiments resonate with all people regardless of country.

The Buxton Inn

The Buxton Inn is the state of Ohio's oldest continuously operating inn that has stayed in the same location and same building. Since 1812 it has offered travelers a comfortable place to stay. Perhaps the inn is too comfortable. Based on the experiences of patrons and employees, it would seem that the inn is so inviting, many spirits have decided to stay here in the afterlife. Staying at the inn is like taking a step back in history. Join us as we step back and investigate the history and hauntings of this grand old inn.

The village of Granville is a New England style community found in the state of Ohio. Originally, the area was settled by Mound Builders and the evidence of this can be found in the various mounds located near Granville. Alligator Mound is one example. The Wyandotte tribe settled the area until white settlers moved onto the land. After the Revolutionary War, the US government surveyed the future home of Granville and laid aside many units for those who served during the war. Welsh immigrants arrived in the early 1800s and bought units of land, chasing off squatters that had taken up residence. The first of these was Sampson Davis, a Welshman from Philadelphia, and within a few years, the population of Welsh immigrants grew. Many of the roads in Granville have Welsh names due to these earlier settlers.

The Welsh were joined by New Englanders. Many of them arrived from Granville, Massachusetts and that is how Granville Village got its name. The New Englanders joined forces and formed The Licking Company and used that to purchase thousands of acres of land. They masterminded a community before they ventured to Ohio and when they arrived they quickly built a town square with churches on the corners, a saw mill, a corn mill, a school, library and homes. Some of the original structures still survive today and one of those buildings is the Buxton Inn.

Orrin Granger was one of the New Englanders that traveled from Granville, Massachusetts. He had been born in Massachusetts in 1788. He bought a unit of land and built a tavern on the site in 1812. He named it simply, "The Tavern." The Tavern offered more than just rooms. The inn held the first post office for Granville. It was also a stop on the stagecoach line that ran from Columbus to Newark. The stagecoach drivers would cook their meals in the stone fireplace located in the basement of the inn. After eating, they would curl up on pallets of straw that were located in the basement as well. Orrin was friends with General William H. Harrison and he stayed at the inn before he became President. Harrison rode his horse into the Buxton's ballroom on one occassion. Orrin was not the innkeeper for very long as he died in 1821. He was only 32 years-old at the time.

The inn changed hands several times right after Orrin's death. An east wing was added in 1829 and in 1851, a west wing was built. This gave the inn a horseshoe shape with a court in the middle. James W. Dilley bought The Tavern in 1858 and renamed it "The Dilley House." In 1865, Dilley sold the inn to Major Horton Buxton who again renamed the inn to "The Buxton Inn" and it has kept that name ever since. Major Buxton and his wife really brought the inn to life and were known for the warm hospitality. The inn gained a reputation as a good place to eat. Many Denison College students took up residence in the hotel while they were at school because it was just an inviting place.

Ethel Houston "Bonnie" Bounell had been an opera singer and when she retired she took ownership of the Buxton Inn in 1934. Bonnie bought a cat and named it Major Buxton, after the previous owner. The cat was beloved by guests. Bonnie ran the place until her death in 1960. A woman named Nell Schoeller had assisted Bonnie in running the inn and she continued on after Bonnie's death. By 1970, the inn was beginning to fall into disrepair. Discussions began that the building should be razed and replaced with, of course, a parking lot.

In 1972, Orville and Audrey Orr convinced Nell Schoeller to sell them the inn. She resisted until the Orrs detailed their plans to restore the structure. And restore the building they did. The Orrs also bought adjacent historic buildings and incorporated them into the property. The Buxton Inn now has four buildings, seven dining rooms and beautiful gardens with several fountains. The Orrs sold the property in 2014 to a partnership group led by Robert Schilling, a preservationist. Several other professionals in Granville are a part of the partnership and they are committed to the upkeep and preservation of the inn.

The Buxton Inn is host to more than just the living. Several ghosts have decided to make this their home in the afterlife. Disembodied footsteps, doors opening and closing on their own, full bodied apparitions and whispered names are all experiences reported at the inn. A ghost cat has even taken up residence. By most accounts, the ghosts at the inn are friendly.

The previous owners just cannot let the place go. Orrin Granger, who built the inn, is still here. His spirit started making the rounds in the 1920s with several sightings. One of these sightings was reported by Fred Sweet in 1920. His mother was the owner of the inn at this time. Fred got those late night munchies like so many of us do and he went to the kitchen seeking a snack. He was shocked to find a transparent figure eating the last piece of pie. He sat down with this figure at the table after his shock dissipated and had a conversation. Now most people would call this claim outlandish except for the fact that Fred knew nothing about the inn, especially about its early years of operation. When he told everyone about the ghost, he also shared information he could not possibly have known about the inn. He also told his mother that Orrin was pleased with the way she was running the place.

Major Horton Buxton has been seen as a full body apparition in many locations around the inn. And Bonnie Bounell has been seen and felt inside the room where she died, room number nine. Her full body apparition is seen wearing her favorite color, blue. People who see her spirit refer to as "The Lady in Blue." Workers who were renovating in the 1970s saw a ghost in blue and refused to work at the inn after dark. Bonnie likes to open windows and move items. Her cat also haunts the inn. Many people claim to have seen or felt a ghost cat.

The Ohio Ghost Hunters decided to check out the place and booked rooms seven and nine. Here are their experiences as reported on their website:
"After being shown to our rooms we were told if we wanted to see some photos of ghosts to visit the front desk. Someone had taken a photo of Bonnie Bounell's ghost. When we got to the desk and the lady showed us the photo she told us although others claim to see a ghost in the photo she could not see it. We agreed, we could not see it either. Then we were shown a photo of the Buxton Inn ghost cat. The photo was taken down in the tavern and it showed a cat's head which appeared to be hovering over a little girl. It looked like a blemish in the stone wall of the tavern to us. Upon inspection of the area where the photo was taken we saw that one of the stones had some blemishes that resembled a cat head. But that is all it was, a flaw in the stone, not a ghost cat.

When we made reservations we informed them that we were coming for a ghost investigation. We were told that we would have full access to the basement and other areas.

Since it was still early when we arrived, the inn was really busy so we decided to wait until the restaurant and tavern closed at midnight to do our investigating. We couldn't do a serious investigation with customers coming and going.

About 12:30 we saw that most of the lights were out and all seemed quiet so we gathered our equipment and headed for the main part of the inn. The rooms are separate from this part of the inn.

We soon discovered we were locked out of the of the inn. It was locked up tight. When we were told we would have full access we were not told that it was only until midnight. We called the desk and were told that after midnight the doors are locked and no one was allowed to enter the inn. We were greatly disappointed. We only had access to our rooms so that is where we had to stay.

When you enter room number nine, you enter a small room that opens into a larger room. While sitting in the larger room we heard what sounded like the outside door knob turning but when we checked it was always locked and no one was outside. The sound never happened when one of us was in the smaller room where the door was located. Several times we heard what sounded like someone walking outside the door but again no one was there. We were the only occupants on the entire wing that night.

We heard many sounds we couldn't find an explanation for but we didn't capture any evps and we didn't see any ghosts, cat ghosts or shadowy figures.

We did capture something on video. As I was sitting in a chair in the corner of the room I saw something through the view finder coming towards me. I told the others what I just saw. It appeared to come out of the mirror. If it was a piece of dust it was huge.

Some of us made the drive home that night and others stayed to sleep at the Buxton Inn. One of our members said she was awaken by something touching her. Perhaps it was one of the Buxton Inn ghosts."
Jennifer reported on TripAdvisor:
 "We did have experiences in both rooms 7 and 9. My sister had something jump on her foot in the bed (we suspect it may have been the reported ghost cat) We heard heavy footsteps in the middle of the night and something held my friend down to the bed for like 30 seconds (it really freaked her out). In the other room (9) one of the ladies was wearing a breathing mask for her sleep apnea and heard giggles right next to her and then something hit the mask while on her face!!"
Karri reported on TripAdvisor:
"We did encounter weird things... one of us felt shoving on a shoulder and one of us was literally pushed out of bed during sleep and fell on the floor!! no lie, it happened!"
Gretchen reported on TripAdvisor:
 "As I walked through the Inn to the dining area I started coughing, can't explain it... but felt like there were hands around my throat and I was being choked, same thing happened to my husband! The first night in our room I felt a sensation of fingers lightly touching my arms."
The Buxton Inn has stood for over 200 years. Thousands of people have stayed in the rooms. Could it be possible that some have stayed in the afterlife? Are those footsteps in the hall coming from the ghostly feet of a former owner making the rounds? Is The Buxton Inn haunted? That is for you to decide!


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