Ghost stories surround Ohio tavern where U.S. presidents visited

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HANOVERTON, Ohio-- Hanoverton, Ohio is a small village in Columbiana County with a storied past and some say many lingering spirits.

Founded in the early 1800s by abolitionists, the village helped shape both a young nation and the early Republican Party.

“It’s just incredible history,” said David Johnson, owner of the Spread Eagle Tavern & Inn on Plymouth St. in Hanoverton, “This is remarkable; every neighbor on this street has a ghost story.”

Also, nearly every home and building on the street was part of the Underground Railroad including the Spread Eagle Tavern & Inn.

The Johnson family restored the property and reinforced the tunnel in the basement, preserving it for future generations.

“Where slaves would hide by day and then run by night to the next safe haven community,” said Johnson.

They’ve also protected many historical artifacts that are on display at the restaurant which still serves fine dining.

There is a 16th century French bread safe, an original ticket to the Ford Theater from the night of President Lincoln's assassination, and an original Revolutionary War flag.

Over the years many Republican leaders have visited the tavern including Presidents Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley and James Garfield.

But there are other souls some say have never left including the ghost of an escaped slave and an 8-year-old girl who died in a fire back in the 1800s.

“She’s happy-go-lucky, running through here playing like she doesn’t even know she’s dead,” said general manager Mike Ellis who didn’t believe in ghosts until he started working at the tavern.

However their most famous spirit is that of a young woman named Olevia Nicholas sometimes called Olevina Nichols, because of misprinted historical documents.

Olevia was one of the original owner's daughters who was pursuing an acting career in New York City in the mid 1800s.

She returned to the tavern depressed and despondent after her fiance left her.

“She came back here for comfort, I would imagine,” said Mike, but she found no solace, “And eventually her broken heart drove her insane and she took her life.”

There are numerous reports of Olevia pulling the covers off of guests staying in what was her third-floor bedroom.

The tavern is rich in history and replete with charm with something for everyone to see and enjoy. “This place is magical in so many ways,” said Mike.

Fox 8 News reporter Suzanne Stratford and videographer Russ Herbruck captured the photos below. Do you see anything?

Photo from Suzanne Stratford and Russ Herbruck

Photo from Suzanne Stratford and Russ Herbruck

Photo from Suzanne Stratford/Russ Herbruck- Spread Eagle Tavern & Inn

Read more here.


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