Haunts & Jaunts: Dreams of the Confederacy

Dreams of the Confederacy: Octagon Hall

The front entrance of Octagon Hall. Behind the front steps is an alcove once used to hide Confederate soldiers from visiting Union troops.

  Octagon Hall, in the southern Kentucky town of Franklin, is about as far removed from Indianapolis as you can get. Yet, in Civil War history, it holds the distinction of retaining it’s past involvement in a museum like setting. Within its walls time grinds to a stop, with the Confederacy taking a precedence. It’s one of my favorite places and one of my favorite owners. And from all reports—spirits remain behind.

   Back in its day, the antebellum eight sided, three story brick home, stood as safe haven by Confederate sympathizers, used as refuge and the occasional field hospital. “The Union army was well aware of what happened here,” owner Billy Byrd states. “Consequently, they were always paying a visit.” Billy’s the quintessential southern gentleman, quick with a smile and story. He’s also aware the home carries remnants from the past: the museum containing mannequins in period costumes moving; doors opening and closing; odors; footsteps on the stairs; voices and shadow movement; apparitions at the outbuildings and grounds; visiting children seeing other children in period clothing.

Welcome to Octagon Hall.

   Billy and Octagon House have bee n featured on several paranormal television shows, and all have concluded—this place is haunted! Billy smiles knowingly. This kind of stuff is no stranger to him, or anybody else that spends time here.

   A few years back four female investigators and I were given the keys to the mansion. I had been there before; they had not. Entering the home was like stepping back into time. He informed us of  activity from just the night before when a framed photo lifted off the wall and dropped to the floor. It had been caught on video. He showed us the footage and smiled. And then he left.

Investigator Elizabeth Wynn during the briefing by owner Billy Byrd.

   We experienced numerous oddities throughout the night. We heard footsteps frequently—on our level and upstairs. In the Loom House we witnessed a mannequin moving and felt the floors vibrating. A strong sense of unease permeated the interior of the house. Around 3 a.m. we decided to sleep, separating ourselves into sleeping bags across the floor of an upstairs bedroom. Separation, however, didn’t last!

   Within an hour we were all bundled together. The girls were experiencing hair being stroked, and being poked or touched. ‘They’ left me alone, but I couldn’t sleep because of the squealing of the girls. When I would go downstairs to the bathroom, they would go with me. When the girls had to go, I was required to accompany them.

       At dawn, as the sun broke across the grounds of Octagon Hall and we packed up for the long sojourn back to Indiana, we discovered an imprint on a mattress in an adjoining bedroom. It was in the shape of a foot—a small child’s foot!