Ghost vs The Box II: The Emmitt House Box

I own several ghost boxes, all of which I think have their own personalities. Typically I say that to denote the uniqueness in how they sound — except for one, my Andre’s Ghost Box crafted from timbers salvaged from the Emmitt House catastrophe and outfitted with an incredible tuner from IDC Devices. My friend Jeff Fent loved that place. As an act of endearment and preservation, he was gifted beams from the last Emmitt House owner, Pam Ison, after the tragic fire in 2014. From that wood he’s made several ghost box housings. But the Andre’s Box seems to have its own li’l spark.
The first time I ever saw it in action was at the Randolph County Infirmary. Jeff showed up with it and it blew me away. Not only did it give answers relevant to the location, but Jeff proceeded to take roll call of names associated with the Emmitt House and every single one replied and gave intelligent responses. Even more amazingly the sweep would speed and slow down on its own to suit the preference of whomever was at the “mic” at that moment. (You can see that video here: Ghost vs The Box I)
The ITC sessions that night were some of the most amazing moments I’d witnessed to date. It really opened my eyes to the fact that we still haven’t tapped ghost boxing to its fullest potential. I was fortunate enough that Jeff later sold me that Andre’s Box. I’ve had nothing but amazing results with it since. This video is from a session I recorded with it last fall in the Mysterious Monroe House. I was stoked that Jeff made the trip and we did this session together. Please enjoy. And long live the Emmitt House!

Emmitt House
Formerly 123 North Market Street
Waverly, OH 45690

Historic Timeline

• Historic three-story hotel/restaurant/tavern/store built for Waverly millionaire industrialist James Emmitt in 1861, becoming a popular stop for travelers on the Ohio-Erie Canal.

o Hotel business among Emmitt’s many successful ventures: during building of canal along the Scioto Valley in 1831-‘2 was appealed to to open home to engineering corps, which he enlarged to accommodate; in 1832 boarded drivers of stage teams; opened first hotel from boarding house known as Coach and Four (current Grand Restaurant & Tavern); purchased Valley House hotel in nearby Chillicothe in 1865 — location was also known as Emmitt House.

o Successfully used influence to have county seat moved to Waverly from Piketon and Ohio & Erie Canal route changed between the two towns. Emmitt House did brisk business with traveling salesmen and others passing through.

o Became center for hardware and dry goods salesmen, who would open their sample cases in front of a room set aside as the “Drummers Room,” so named for the 19th-century term for traveling salesmen.

o Work included that by master carpenter Madison Hemings, rumored illegitimate son of Thomas Jefferson and slave Sally Hemings.

• “He owns an immense amount of real estate in Waverly, among which is valuable hotel property, which he has recently remodeled, adding twelve excellent rooms to the ‘Emmitt House,’ and fitting up the entire establishment with modern improvements.” (Life and Reminiscences of Hon. James Emmitt, Carrigan)

• “Mr. Emmitt proposes to carry water all through the Emmitt House by means of pipes attached to the hydraulic pump at the mill.” (The Portsmouth Times, 5/27/1871)

• Samuel Elliott, former proprietor died in 1883; among mourners eldest son J.E. Elliott, present proprietor. (Pike County Republican, 10/19/1883; reprint Pike County News Watchman, 2/16/2017)

• 1891 advertisement for “New Emmitt Hotel” (referenced 1975, Pike County News Watchman; reprint, 3/31/2014)

o Also known as carryout/lounge/Stag Bar.

o Historic building tenants included grocery store, barber shops, bank, Greyhound bus ticket office, basement boxing ring.

o Rumors suggest tunnel running underneath structure part of Underground Railroad, used for bootlegging or for owner to get from business to home. (Chillicothe Gazette, 2/18/1998)

o Another section built in the early 1900s.

• Upon Emmitt’s death in 1893, Schwardt family bought 34-room hotel and restaurant from estate. (Chillicothe Gazette, 9/8/1990)

• Phyllis Rader, great-granddaughter of Katherine Schwardt, born in Emmitt House. Her family ran property until 1977. (Chillicothe Gazette, 9/8/1990)

• Mr. and Mrs. Frank Armbruster purchased in 1978 with plans to restore the structure. Previously operated by Rader family, as lifetime heirs from uncle, Phillip “Buck” Schwardt (Philip Schwartz); property was to transfer to their heirs but court proceedings opened way for sale. Mr. Armbruster noted special interest in embossed sheet metal walls and ceilings of ground-floor commercial rooms in restoration plans. They were installed by his grandfather, Theodore “Dor” Armbruster. (Chillicothe Gazette, 12/14/1978)

• Added to National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

• Hotel closed in harsh winter of 1978. (referenced 1975; reprint, Pike County News Watchman, 3/31/2014)

• Co-owned by Bill and Charlene Weil and Tom Burke in 1989 after two years of vacancy. Yearlong restoration project retained its historical design.

• Owned by Weil family for more than decade.

• Jason and Michele Brown purchased in 2000.

• Former owner Weil purchased building at sheriff’s sale in 2010. Then-most recent owners Browns. (Pike County News Watchman, 6/28/2010)

• Longtime employee Kathy (Kat) Houseman purchased in 2010, after closed for more than year.

• State Tax Commissioner temporarily closed down property, then known as Emmitt House Inn, in early 2012. Closed permanently later in year, then with no apparent plans to reopen and contents to be sold. (Pike County News Watchman, 2/3/2012)

• Reopened in 2013 under owner/operator Pam Ison. Building also included bakery and boutique/aerobics studio. (Pike County News Watchman, 6/28/2013)

• Remained in operation until destroyed by fire in 2014.

o Loss estimated at more than $1 million; gas furnace likely cause. (Pike County News Watchman, 4/2/2014)

• Property sold to LLC in 2014.

• Green park space created on site. (Pike County News Watchman, 7/31/2015)

James Emmitt

“It is not wise that those who preceded us in life should be forgotten.” – James Emmitt, preface, “Life and Reminiscences of Hon. James Emmitt: As Revised by Himself,” M.J. Carrigan, 1888

• Waverly’s main entrepreneur and first postmaster and Pike County’s first millionaire built Emmitt House in anticipation of his successful work to transfer county seat to Waverly, located on route of Ohio Erie Canal, after realizing business potential of the waterway.

• Made his fortune hauling grain, operating mill and distilling whiskey.

o “Emmitt’s Discovery” became popular patent medicine of late 1880s; accidental kerosene-tainted whiskey used by some as liniment. Some users reported amazing “cures” for ailments including rheumatism and paralysis. (Portsmouth Times, 8/15/1937)

• Married Louisa (Louise) Martin in 1829. Couple had nine children, six lived to reach maturity: Mary Adda, Joseph John, Elizabeth Ann, George Angus, William Wyly, James Madison, Floyd Robert, David Martin, Henry Clay.

• Distillery main source of wealth but heavy taxation and regulation decimated profits for small distilleries after Civil War.

o By time of death, much of fortune gone.

• Town mourned death in 1893; businesses closed and draped in black; hundreds attended funeral service; band led procession to cemetery, which Emmitt had given to town years before. (Chillicothe Gazette, 12/16/1893)

o “He was a close observer, and a reader of men, also had a keen relish for life, and saw the bright and humorous side of most everything.” (Portsmouth Daily Times, 12/23/1893)

o Louisa Emmitt died seven months later in 1894.

o Couple buried in Evergreen Union Cemetery in Waverly.

“Grave Unmarked: The stranger cannot go to the village cemetery and locate the grave of James Emmitt, the man who built and donated the courthouse to Waverly. For shame!” (Chillicothe Gazette, 10/2/1909)

▪ Emmitt employee and superintendent of cemetery George Welde knew which grave was Emmitt’s and one day when another gravestone broke, took half and placed in the ground where “the old gentleman was resting.” In 1922, one of Emmitt granddaughters erected monument with niche and took marble busts of James and Louisa from courthouse and had them placed inside. (The Portsmouth Times, 9/12/1937)

▪ Welde had been instructed by Louisa to dig grave on lot where her two brothers were buried, and he was surprised at how easy it was to dig the earth. He hit a coffin and went back to the widow, who instructed him to remove the coffin (whose it was remained unclear), and make the grave ready per her instruction. Welde was again surprised, this time at how light the coffin was, and when the cover fell back, he discovered it was empty. Remained a mystery for a decade until Welde heard story from one of two men who had placed it in the grave. When one of Emmitt’s half-brothers, Robert, had died, he gave the widow, Rufe, permission to bury him on the lot. The grave was not marked and forgotten. When Emmitt returned from Europe and found his business declining, he blamed the distillery’s yeast department, of which Rufe had been a yeast maker. He fired Rufe and shouted, “You go down to the cemetery and take your old man off my lot!” Rufe employed two men and told them to obey the orders exactly. So, as Emmitt had said nothing about the coffin, they left it and reburied Robert in another in a new grave. (The Portsmouth Times, 9/12/1937)

o Heirs disputed contents of will, claimed not of sound mind when drawn up. (Portsmouth Times, 8/15/1937)

Deaths, Notes of Interest

• “The event which makes the year 1837 memorable in the history of Waverly, was the prevalence of small-pox … the doctor knew nothing about the disease, and in fact insisted it was not small-pox, but one after another fell victim, and in some instances whole families were almost wiped out of existence. This was the case with the Harper family, who were in my hotel.* The greater number perished, only the father and one child surviving.” (Life and Reminiscences of Hon. James Emmitt, Carrigan) Two of Emmitt’s own children believed to have also died during smallpox epidemic. *Based on event date, may be referring to another of his hotel locations.

Death by Hanging: Matilda Badgeley, believed about age 35, found dead of apparent suicide. Reported to have suffered for several years under “aberration of mind, caused by religious excitement” and a couple of years prior, husband made unsuccessful attempt to have her placed in asylum for treatment. Couple recently had taken rooms at Emmitt House, thinking a town with “little excitement” would be beneficial to her. Days before death, made another attempt to hang herself … attempts at self-destruction occurred when unusually depressed; at other times, she was said to be a woman of superior refinement and intellect. After husband fell asleep, believed to have “slipped out of the room, taking the lamp, went quietly downstairs, procured a knife in the kitchen with which she cut a piece from the clothes line sufficient for her purpose, this she adjusted over a rafter in the wood shed, placed the chord around her neck, and her earthly cares were soon ended.” Husband discovered lifeless body, which he took down and placed on a sofa in the parlor, before he alarmed the household. Coroner’s jury summoned and ruled death by hanging. “During the day the room was thronged with persons of both sexes viewing the corpse.” (Waverly News, 2/11/1869; reprint, Pike County News Watchman, 10/17/2013)

• Rev. B.E. Thomas was sent for from the Emmitt House and found an anxious couple who were just dying with love for each other and they wanted the knot tied instantly. Mr. Edward Newman and Miss Lydia Krebs were pronounced man and wife and received congratulations of their friends and those present. (Pike County Republican, 9/6/1883; reprint, Pike County News Watchman, 2/16/2017)

• When robbers blew the door off the safe at Emmitt and Co. Bank, the noise awakened Theodore “Dora” Armbruster, who at that time was not married and was living at the Emmitt House Hotel across the street from the bank. And it was Theodore who took the coal-oil (soaked) gag out of night marshal Hix Schwardt’s mouth and untied him. The robbers were never apprehended for this robbery. (1886; reprint, Pike County News Watchman, 3/10/2014)

• Traveling salesman George E. Townsend, blind in left eye for 18 years after a sliver of hot iron had pierced his eye while a workman at a forge, went to bed at Emmitt House and woke the next morning with a “queer sensation.” After bathing his eye was astonished to find sight partially restored. “He is greatly elated over the wonderful transformation of a single night.” (Massillon Daily Independent, 4/10/1890)

• The Emmitt House of Waverly was discovered to be on fire last Saturday and for a time it looked as though our town was going to be treated to a high-toned fire, but it was luckily discovered in good time and was extinguished without trouble. (Waverly Watchman, 12/18/1890; reprint, Pike County News Watchman, 10/17/2016)

• A probable double murder occurred at the new Emmitt House. In a free-for-all fight between William Vulgamore, Isaac Snell, Charles Vulgamore, and one Hawkins, on one side, and William Woods, Stacey Woods and Frank Yahraus, on the other, the latter trio were fearfully cut. Yahraus’ breast was laid open for 15 inches. He will die. Stacey Woods had his back nearly cut in two, besides other slashes. He, too, will probably die. The knife which did the greatest damage is said to have been a 6-inch dirk with a large bone handle. The murderers mounted their horses … and left in a cloud of dust. (The Piqua Daily Call, 7/6/1896)

• Dr. Griffiths retired to room on third floor and was enjoying a “good sound and healthy sleep” when a prominent farmer entered hotel for lodging after getting a good size “jag,” and when in this condition, was always looking for an imaginary enemy and threatening the aforementioned enemy with instant destruction. The farmer was in this frame of mind, and, not finding anyone in the office, went about finding a room. He went all over the hotel trying the doors but found them all locked until he came to the room of Dr. Griffiths, which he entered and advanced upon the doctor with hands uplifted, his fists clenched and ready for battle. “The doctor, being suddenly awakened and beholding the disheveled appearance and threatening attitude of this would-be destroyer and being told that his day had come and to prepare for instant death … suffice it to say that the doctor gave a yell which awakened everybody in the house and with one spring — landed from the bed out into the hall and crying “Murder” at the top of his voice, ran for the stairs, cleared the first landing at one jump, and in less than one second was in the office on the first floor where he became exhausted and was found a few moments afterward perfectly terror-stricken and speechless by the excited guests and employees of the hotel. Attorney Middleton, who witnessed the doctor’s flight, said he passed the hall with the speed of a meteor and that the tail of his night shirt flapped and cracked like a pistol shot.” (Waverly News, 2/6/1896; reprint, Pike County News Watchman, 2/17/2014)

• Mr. Sherman Ross and Miss Mary Mann were married in the Emmitt House parlors. (Waverly News, 11/5/1896; reprint, Pike County News Watchman, 4/28/2017)

• Nude body of a newly born male child found in vault in the rear of the Emmitt House as the result of mere accident when two men were scuffling and one knocked the other’s hat into the vault. After lowering a light, they were horrified to see the foot of a child sticking up. An examination revealed the child was alive when he was thrown into the vault, born the previous week. Mrs. Coleman Hamilton, head waitress at the hotel, was held in the infanticide case. “She is in a precarious condition for lack of proper attention, and it is said that a prominent Waverly citizen is under surveillance also. Mrs. Coleman has not lived with her husband for several years.” (Chillicothe Gazette, 12/23/1913)

o Former mayor Chas. Vallery sued newspaper publishing company for $10,000, claiming alleged libelous article charging him with being responsible for “the condition of Mrs. Coleman Hamilton, who was the mother of the newly-born male child.” (Washington Court House Daily Herald, 1/8/1914)

• Miss Sadie Carr, 24, died of internal injuries suffered when pinned under a touring car. Local plumbers helped lift the automobile off her; was in state of coma when taken to Emmitt House where doctor called but not needed. Michael Immanuel Lewis, 27, driver of car fainted at hotel and taken to hospital with fractured skull. (Portsmouth Daily Times, 9/18/1924)

• Mrs. Charles Elliott aboard a Greyhound bus that stopped before the Emmitt House en route to Kentucky. Passengers hurried the expectant mother inside the hotel and summoned the doctor, who delivered a healthy baby girl. “With her mother, the young lady is now at the Emmitt House, both reported by Dr. Shrader as in fine fettle.” (Chillicothe Gazette, 3/16/1936)

• Florence Rader, 70, proprietor of the Emmitt House died at his home there after an illness of several months. (The Circleville Herald, 11/19/1945)

Salesman Dies in Hotel Room: J.B. Henry, 47, was found dead of a heart attack in a bathroom at the Emmitt House by a hotel employee. (Chillicothe Gazette, 5/6/1947)

• Mrs. Carrie Frances Rader, 72, died at her apartment in the Emmitt House, which she and her family have operated since the death of her husband, Florance (Florence). (Chillicothe Gazette, 10/7/1950)

• George McCandless, employee of Emmitt House for seven years died at age “about 69” after suffering heart attack at hotel short time previously. (Chillicothe Gazette, 12/4/1959)

• Ben L. Gates, 56, for 12 years owner and operator of barber shop in Emmitt House, died when stricken with a heart attack near his home while walking to lunch from his shop. (Chillicothe Gazette, 2/19/1962)

• Two policemen, resident of Emmitt House Hotel treated for smoke inhalation in mattress fire in 1975. (1975; reprint, Pike County News Watchman, 3/31/2014)

Additional sources: Garnet A. Wilson Waverly Library; Pike County Recorder’s Office;;;; “Life and Reminiscences of Hon. James Emmitt As Revised by Himself,” M.J. Carrigan; “History of Lower Scioto Valley, Ohio”;; Ross County Historical Society; City of Waverly; ohiogenealogyexpress.

Once again, a big shout out to the amazing Amy Eunice Specter and her efforts in putting together this historical info!

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