Ghosts of Ohio
Lore & Legends

Spy House

Some researchers refer to New Jersey’s Spy House as one of the most haunted places in the area. And perhaps that is with good reason, as the building and surrounding grounds are said to be home to almost 20 spirits.

In the 1640s, Thomas Whitlock took the bulk of his inheritance and bought a large plot of land for use as a farm. During the later part of the 1600s, Whitlock continued to build several houses on the property, eventually combining his house with three others. In 1696, Whitlock sold the property to his son-in-law, Daniel Seabrook.

When the Revolutionary War began, the Seabrooks turned their home into a tavern and inn that catered exclusively to British soldiers. The reasoning behind this decision was because the Seabrooks, who were loyal to the Colonists, feared that unless they faked being loyal to the British, their house would be burned. It was this decision that would lead to the building becoming known as the Spy House.

As the British officers sat downstairs in the tavern, Colonist spies hid in the upstairs rooms and listened intently to their stories. It is said that that the spies would attempt to discern from the conversations downstairs which British ships were unmanned. Once that was learned, they would pass the information along and the Colonists would sneak onto those ships and sabotage them. It was not long before the British discovered the true function of the Seabrook’s inn and orders were given to burn the building. According to history, only the quick actions of the women of the house, who doused the flames with their laundry water, saved the building from burning completely to the ground.

During the 1800s, the inn actually operated for a brief period of time as a bordello. It was also home to a pirate known as Captain Morgan (not to be confused with the infamous Captain Henry Morgan from the 1600s). This Captain Morgan is alleged to have kidnapped a wealthy French family and hid them at the Spy House while he awaited a hefty ransom. When the ransom never materialized, Morgan ordered the family killed.

As noted in the introduction to this piece, the list of alleged spirits inhabiting the Spy House is quite lengthy. Perhaps the easiest way to catalogue all of them is to start at the beginning with Thomas Whitlock. Mr. Whitlock is one of the earliest spirits documented within the Spy House. Whitlock has been spotted walking through his old house. He is also developed a reputation as a feisty spirit, as he has been accused of fondling the hair of female guests and even pinching overweight ones. Whitlock is also one of the few spirits of Spy House who speaks, and he is said to have a deep, booming voice. Other spirits from Whitlock’s time include those of Indians, who often attacked Whitlock’s home. Visitors have reported seeing the ghostly faces of Indians peering in the windows at them.

There are several members of the Seabrook family that are alleged to still reside in the Spy House. A ghost believed to be Daniel Seabrook’s wife is often spotted moving from the attic down to a room on the second floor, where she sits next to an empty crib. She is known as "The Woman in White". Another of Daniel’s relatives, Lydia, has been known to stare out the windows of Spy House and is often spotted by guests outside the house.

The Revolutionary War seem to have brought the most ghosts to Spy House. Perhaps the best-known is Lord Charles Cornwallis, the man who had the honors of surrendering the British at Yorktown. Cornwallis must have been quite the drinker when he was alive, as his spirit is said to still drunkenly wander the hallways of the Spy House. In addition, strange noises and footsteps are often heard coming from the area where the Colonists spies are believed to have hidden. But perhaps one of the most menacing figures dating from this time period is the tall, foreboding figure of a man in a black hat. He is known only as "The Bearded Man".

The pirate Captain Morgan is also reported to be in residence at the Spy House, as is the spirit of his first mate. While the first mate’s spirit quietly walks the hallways, Morgan’s ghost is often heard spewing forth obscene language. In addition to the pirates, several members of the family Morgan ordered executed are also witnessed in the building.

And as if the large numbers of ghosts inhabiting the Spy House wasn’t intriguing enough, there is the strange appearance of large amounts of ghostly children. Researchers are unsure of the reason why, but it appears as though the Spy House has become something of a magnet for the spirits of small children. Visitors to the house have witnessed large groups of ghost children playing in the yard. And while a few of these ghosts have been identified as those of children once associated with the house, the large majority of them appear to have no connection to the building. Perhaps it is just a case of the spirits learning that there is still room at the ghostly inn known as the Spy House.

The Spy House is open to the general public and The Ghosts of Ohio encourages its readers to visit this historic and ghostly site. Again, we ask that everyone conducts themselves in a professional manner and remembers that they are merely guests... and remember to tell them The Ghosts of Ohio sent you!

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