The haunted inn at the intersection of State Route 188 and Marietta Road was a well-known piece of Fairfield County lore for many years.

The place was built by John Baldwin, a mysterious man who moved to Lancaster in the early 1800s and purchased 1500 acres outside of town. It was rumored that he was a reformed pirate--one of those pardoned by the government after they assisted Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans. He built his brick inn at the corner of Zane's Trace (now Ohio 188) and the Marietta Road and opened for business, serving mostly farmers on their way to and from market.

Travellers who passed Baldwin's way seemed to disappear with alarming frequency. In those days it wasn't uncommon for somebody making the journey west to die or get eaten along the way, so no alarms were raised. And farmers on their way home from selling livestock in Lancaster would often be carrying quite a bit of money. They say Baldwin would book guests who he knew were carrying cash in the northwest bedroom. Then, after dark, he and his accomplices would kill the person and bury him in the woods nearby.

One well-documented case involved a tall, thin drover who was clubbed to death in the northwest bedroom. His blood stained the floor and walls of that room for the remainder of the building's life, no matter what effort was made to scrub it away. Thereafter, the inn acquired a reputation as haunted. It was said that the gaunt spirit of the drover appeared to guests and often made loud noises. The stove lids in the kitchen were known to pop up, making a ruckus in the middle of the night.

John Baldwin's Inn lost business because of his reputation for violence and his inn's ghost stories, and it closed in the 1840s. Later, one of his nephews--also named John Baldwin--tried to reopen it. By then people believed there to be gold hidden in the building, and many rented rooms just to try to find it. The younger John Baldwin was eventually beaten to death by neighbors after "a trivial argument."

Baldwin's ghost joined the tall man's, and the Inn's reputation grew. The Nisley family bought it and began digging all around the foundation, looking for pirate's gold. While they lived there they often saw a ghost who appeared particularly in the northwest bedroom. It would shove people out of bed and utter eerie laughs in the middle of the night.

After the Nisleys left, a suspicious investigator spent the night in the northwest bedroom, only to flee in the middle of the night when the tall, thin ghost appeared to him.

Now the Inn is gone and only the stories remain. It's said that the woods at 188 and Marietta Road (more commonly known as Route 37) are full of the bones of pioneer travellers who never reached their destinations. Perhaps their ghosts--and that of the tall, thin man--still haunt the corner of Fairfield County known as Baldwin's Run.



Beougher, Marjorie George. "The Baldwin House Ghost." Haunting Tales from Fairfield County. Lancaster: Fairfield County District Library, 1980.

Moyer, Tad. True Tales of Fairfield County. Bremen: Bremen Historical Society, 1987.

Wessa, Pauline. "Library Compiling the Chilling History of Fairfield Ghosts." Columbus Citizen-Journal 7 Nov. 1980, pp. 4.