Ghost Stories From Stone’s

There is nothing better than reading a ghost story on a crisp fall night! So get your pumpkin spice ready and let’s go!

It was a dark and stormy night in 1834…. Actually, I have no idea about the weather conditions in 1834. I do know that a grand celebration happened on September 20 in that year at the very spot where our stories begin.  The celebration was to welcome the new Boston-Worcester Railroad which conveniently ran next to Captain John Stone’s new hotel, The Railroad House (Stone’s Public House today) which he ran for 1 year. The name of the property and its lessees/owners have changed over the years but it has always been connected to John Stone.   

Who was John Stone?  He married Experience Stimpson, had nine kids, served in the militia, and lived in Union Street, 175 Union to be exact. He was a farmer and owned most of the land that is now downtown Ashland, including Stone Park.

Tales about Stone’s Public House have evolved over time. As the stories are told, nuances are added; everyone likes to add their own flare. There are as many variations to these stories as there are personal testimonies!    

The Tale of the Little Girl in the White Dress – As the story goes, the ghost of a young girl can be heard running around, giggling, bouncing a ball, and looking out of a 2nd floor window at Stone’s. It is the ghost of a 10 year old child named Mary who was struck by a train in 1863 next to Stone’s and died. In the 1980’s-90’s a waitress was in a storage space and happened to notice a crumpled up white cloth. The waitress discovered that the cloth was a child’s white dress with red stains on it. She removed the dress from its location which opened up Pandora’s box of supernatural mayhem at Stone’s! Only when the garment was put back did everything calm down…. a little.

What are the facts? This story has a very sad ending. Genealogist Liesa Healy-Miller discovered that Mary J. Smith did exist! Sadly, she was “killed by RR cars in Ashland” on June 11, 1863 at the age of 10. As for the dress, rumor has it that there is one, but it might be safer if it stays put!  Finally, the part about hearing the child at Stone’s I can attest to that! One afternoon before my shift (only staff were there), I was walking down the stairs and heard something bouncing at the top of the stairs which started to follow me down. I looked around to see what was falling and nothing was there…I love when the facts turn into another story!    

The Deadly Poker Game– One dark and stormy evening, a group of men, including John Stone himself, were playing poker at the Inn. One of the men was caught cheating. There was a fight. The man was shot and killed! The body was buried somewhere in the Inn.

Aces are not high in this one, but it is a favorite of mine!  It is so far-fetched and yet possible at the same time. There would be no evidence to back the story- no news articles or death certificates.  Remember, this is shady illegal stuff, only the men in that room know what really happened! Some renditions of the story include John Stone, some don’t. Why would the man who ran the place for only 1 year, be hanging out at an illegal poker game- Doesn’t add up?! Would a devout Evangelical Baptist be playing cards, not to mention gambling? No Way! I believe a medium was brought in by previous owner, Cappy Fornier, to talk to John Stone about what really happened…but I am not going to play that hand today!  

Broadcasting Live from the Grave – These stories usually begin with…“My cousin’s buddy was at the bar at Stone’s”. Somehow, someone starts recording. It isn’t until the person is out of the noisy bar replaying the clip that they hear a voice who was NOT part of their group. “Leave”, “My name is John Stone”, “Don’t forget to tip your server” (I added that last one).

It happens, I have heard some, and I have no explanation!

Where is my Hammer? Oh Look a $20 Tip! – Staff have found tips left for them behind the bar after closing, usually from the ghost of John Stone.

First hand account- I can tell you, with all honestly, that I have never had my tab mysteriously paid for by John Stone. Maybe he left his wallet at Wildwood that night?      

Workers have discovered that their tools have been moved. Only after searching the building do they find it in an odd location! I have heard stories about this happening. At first I thought that it sounds very much like my house…. I put the keys right here, now where are they?! But the stories about relocated items is more than that. After the search, the worker goes back to where he started only to find the item on the floor in the middle of the room… or in the middle of a hallway that he was never in.

Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, these stories are intended to frighten us. Sometimes there is a bit of truth to them, or maybe a lesson to learn, or they are a tall tale that has developed over time! Either way, they are great stories to share with people.

Now it is your turn, email me your ghost stories from around Ashland! They don’t have to be about Stone’s Public House, anywhere in Ashland will do! I would love to hear them and add them to the Historical Society’s growing collection!   

Jennifer Lecesse

Ashland Directions

November 2017

Sources: Genealogist Liesa Healy-Mille, Genealogist Searches for Girl Behind the Ghost,

Stone’s, Steve Leacu, Ashland Directions, November 2011