The Old Talbott Tavern has always been known for the ghostly stories told by the locals and some guests. The most famous ghostly visitor is supposedly Jesse James. Another is the lady in white. They always appear as apparitions. The other stories include round balls of light (orbs) moving around the room in the middle of the night, or flashes of light without cameras.
More stories include movements of objects without any cause, such as forks and glasses on dining tables moving without anyone touching them, keys disappearing from the front desk and showing up down the hall on the floor later that day. Furniture has been known to start jumping up and down without any reason. Some have seen shadows walk out of dark corners into the light before disappearing.
The sounds that are most heard are music, clocks chiming out during late night hours, doors opening and closing when no one else is in the building , and lots of footsteps all hours of the day. Knocking at doors with no one there when you open to see who is knocking. An old piano that was heard playing by its self, and voices calling out from empty areas.
A former bookkeeper tells this story. One night while closing she started up the stairs to take the money to the safe and was frightened when she saw a man standing in a long coat walk across the top landing. About the same time the cook came long from the kitchen and also saw the stranger. They both were surprised because no one else was supposed to be in the building. They went upstairs and followed him through several rooms and eventually saw him go through the fire escape door. When the bookkeeper and cook went to open the door to see if he had gone down the fire escape he was standing on the landing. He turned around to face her and started a hideous laugh and then disappeared right in front of their eyes.
About three weeks later she was watching a special on TV and they showed a picture of Jesse James. She grabbed her husband’s arm and said “Oh my God! That is the same face I saw the other night when the man disappeared!” Since then they call him Jesse James.
Two other employees have claimed to have seen this man walking in the halls at different times. I’m not disputing her word, but I can’t figure out why Jesse James would haunt this old building. He did come to Bardstown to visit family and his cousin Donnie Pence, who was the local sheriff at the time. Local lore has it Jesse stayed at the Tavern and he left bullet holes in the walls to prove his visit. These bullet holes did survive the fire.
Several people, including myself, have seen the lady in white. On one occasion a couple left in the middle of the night because of the terrifying experience with the lady. Later they called back to tell us why they left. They both woke up at the same time to see a lady in white hovering over them. She was looking down at them and then she turned and floated out the window beside the bed. That was enough for them.
During the day when I have been getting the dining room ready for the dinner hour, I have seen on three occasions a lady walk through the Audubon Dining Room. When I would go check to see who was there, I could never find her. She was always dressed the same. She was thin, long brown wavy hair, and had on a long white 1800’s dress on.
A few months before the Tavern burned, I was told that one of our guests was asking to speak to the manager. When I met with the guest he asked me if our rooms are haunted. I asked him why. He told me that during the night, balls of light hovering over his bed and then bounced around the room awaken him. He said that some of them were different colors, like red, yellow, and white. At one point, he tried to get up but felt as if something was holding him down. He said it was like electricity was running through him without pain. He wasn’t the first one it happened to. I was told the TV would come on and off all night and the heater was constantly turned up so hot they couldn’t sleep. They would get up and turn it down and then wake up again with it too hot to breathe.
If you have an experience with our ghostly residents please let us know so we can pass it down to those who follow.