In another Facebook group I belong to, someone posted a photo of an old Victorian house being moved from one place to another on the back of a flatbed truck. The house had sat for years, it had been boarded up and no one was inside. Yet, there in the photo was an image of someone in the window of the house as it drove down the road. The information said the house was known as the “Hannah House,” so, of course, I had to check it out.
Funny thing, I found a Hannah House in Indiana, but it wasn’t this one. However, I think I like this story even more. This Hannah House had a secret. A secret that could have caused the original owners not only their livelihood, but their freedom. A secret that was only revealed years after the owner’s death.
The Hannah House was built in 1858 by Alexander Hannah. He not only built the 24-room Italianate mansion in Marion County, he also bought 240 acres surrounding the house in what has now become the south side of Indianapolis. Alexander had an interesting and varied life. When he was 29 years old, he left Indiana for the gold fields of California. He made enough money prospecting to become a part owner of a ranch in California. When he was in his mid-thirties, he sold off his interests in California and moved back home to Indiana and built his home. He served as a sheriff, a postmaster, a Circuit Court clerk and finally, as a member of the Indiana General Assembly. A shining example of civic duty, and a wonderful cover for his real passion – Hannah was an abolitionist.
According to the Hannah Mansion website, local legend, as well as verifiable history, say when the house was built in 1858, it was utilized as a passage for the Underground Railroad. Runaway slaves were welcomed; given food to eat and water to drink. The slaves felt for one moment they could rest before continuing on their incredible journey north to Canada.
This was not a safe pastime. According to Wikipedia, abolitionists who participated in the Underground Railroad were often the target of violence, and several in Indiana were murdered by slave catchers for helping slaves escape. Seth Concklin ferried runaway slaves from points in the south by boat to Evansville. After one of his transports, the slaves he had moved north had been captured and held in Vincennes to determine where they should be sent. Concklin moved to intercept the slaves and free them from the slave catchers. He was instead arrested also and taken in chains by the slave catchers. His friends moved quickly to try to get him released, but the slave catchers had already left with him. His body later washed up from the river, he had died after his skull was crushed in an apparent murder.
So, when tragedy struck one night in the Hannah House, the family feared for their lives. This is the account from the Hannah Mansion website: One fateful evening a small group of slaves, secretly traveling northward searching for freedom came to the Hannah House seeking solace. While the group slept, the oil lantern was accidentally turned over. Its oil soaked the floor and flames ignited. While some of the courageous men, women, and children burned while they slept, others were killed from the smoke inhalation.
The next morning when Alexander Hannah, owner of the house, learned what had happened and fearing retribution for assisting the Underground Railroad, he buried the charred bodies in the basement. In doing so, Hannah hid the secret not only to his participation, but also the identities of these courageous people. Some people believe when the bodies were hidden, it forever sealed their souls to the house. These poor lost souls still wandering and searching for freedom.
Ever since then, the cellar of the Hannah House has been known for its paranormal activity. Spectral slaves have been witnessed by several people. The Warsaw Indiana Paranormal Research Studies Group went through the house and have a great video on their website. The video shows a shadowy figure that I think looks like a woman dressed in clothing that replicates something a slave would wear.
Visitors to the house have heard moans and conversations. They have felt cold spots, especially in the basement.
Alexander Hannah also seems to be a visitor in his former home. He’s been seen in several areas of the property including the upstairs and the balcony. An older woman has also been reported upstairs, in and around one of the rooms. Whispering voices have been heard and one news crew was able to capture footage of a chandelier swinging on its own.
The Hannah House advertises paranormal investigative tour packages of the house, that not only includes an evening in the house with paranormal guides, but also throws in pizza and soda – such a deal! Check out their website for more information.
Like what you read? Find more stories by Terri Reid here.