Emmitt was an entrepreneuer who became Pike County's first millionaire. His money was earned largely from a distillery which he used to make whiskey and "Emmitt's Discovery," a snake oil cure-all he "discovered" when a mule kicked a can of fuel oil into a vat of spirits. (What made him want to drink it is anyone's guess.) He served two terms in the US Senate and died in 1893, at the age of 87.
Emmitt used his influence to have the county seat moved to Waverly from Piketon, and also had the Ohio & Erie Canal route changed between the two towns. He then built the Emmitt House along the canal in 1861, even though railroads had displaced the canal by then. His hotel did a brisk business with travelling salesmen and other people who passed through.
Today it houses a fancy restaurant. Employees smell James E. Emmitt's cigar smoke, and they sometimes see a woman in an old-fashioned "granny apron" cleaning things when no one should be there. Two ghostly children roam the building, possibly members of the Harper family (nearly wiped out by smallpox while staying at the hotel). And employees working in the basement often encounter the ghosts of slaves who may have died there en route on the Underground Railroad. They sometimes make loud noises or, more helpfully, change the syrups on the soda fountain--which any bar employee can tell you is a gross job. Visit the Emmitt House for dinner sometime and you might come face to face with one of the ghosts.
Columbus Dispatch: "Emmitt House Fire"
Chillicothe Gazette: "Historic Emmitt House Destroyed by Fire"
WOSU: "Historic Emmitt House Destroyed in Fire"