Ghostly entities haunt this historic Yellow Springs tavern

A log cabin built in 1827, Ye Olde Trail Tavern on Xenia Avenue is the oldest building in Yellow Springs and is believed to be the second oldest existing tavern in Ohio. Staff photo by Jim Witmer
A log cabin built in 1827, Ye Olde Trail Tavern on Xenia Avenue is the oldest building in Yellow Springs and is believed to be the second oldest existing tavern in Ohio. Staff photo by Jim Witmer

Credit: Jim Witmer

Credit: Jim Witmer

Christine Monroe-Beard saw the same tall, dark-haired woman in a blue late-1800s dress nearly every morning she cleaned the then-upstairs bathroom at Ye Olde Trail Tavern located at 228 Xenia Ave. in Yellow Springs.

“She’d just walked down the hall,” Monroe-Beard said of the yet-to-be-identified spirit. “There were a lot of people who didn’t go to the bathroom because they didn’t want to interact with the ghost.”

Ye' Olde Trail Tavern in Yellow Springs is the oldest tavern in the state. It is said to have several ghosts.
Ye' Olde Trail Tavern in Yellow Springs is the oldest tavern in the state. It is said to have several ghosts.

Credit: Christine Monroe-Beard

Credit: Christine Monroe-Beard

Monroe-Beard and her husband, Don Beard, also the co-owners of nearby Peach’s Bar and Grill, purchased the tavern in January 2017.

She knows the ghost in the blue dress well. It has been known to move objects like her plants.

A history buff, Monroe-Beard says the woman in blue is far from the only ghost known to haunt the tavern that William Mills, commonly known as the father of Yellow Springs, opened in 1827 and named for his father Elijah.

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Franz Martin Hafner bought the tavern and much of the land that surrounds it in 1847.

Originally from Germany, Hafner built several outdoor ovens and became Antioch College’s baker, Monroe-Beard said.

The two-story brick home next to the Tavern was called the King house, named after Hafner’s granddaughter Leila King.

Ye' Olde Trail Tavern in Yellow Springs is the oldest tavern in the state. It is said to have several ghosts.
Ye' Olde Trail Tavern in Yellow Springs is the oldest tavern in the state. It is said to have several ghosts.

Credit: Christine Monroe-Beard

Credit: Christine Monroe-Beard

The tavern was briefly a bakery and later a restaurant.

Monroe-Beard said Hafner didn’t want to sell spirits and therefore didn’t want the property turned back into a tavern. He said so in his will, but Monroe-Beard said that is exactly what happened a month after he died in January 1895.

“We say that he is one of the entities that occupy the tavern because of this,” she said in an email.

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Monroe-Beard suspects that the golden-haired young woman who haunts the tavern’s lower level may be Hafner’s teenage niece.

The girl mysteriously disappeared from Census records, but perhaps not from this realm.

Walt Kumbusky, a Ye' Olde bartender for at least 10 years, is among those who have reported seeing the young blonde woman in the white nightgown, Monroe-Beard said.

Ye' Olde Trail Tavern in Yellow Springs is the oldest tavern in the state. It is said to have several ghosts.
Ye' Olde Trail Tavern in Yellow Springs is the oldest tavern in the state. It is said to have several ghosts.

Credit: Christine Monroe-Beard

Credit: Christine Monroe-Beard

On one such occasion, he mistook her for a customer.

“He saw her in the mirror in the bar back. He had told her that the tavern was closed and by the time he turned around to finish speaking to her, she was gone,” Monroe-Beard said.

Accustomed to ghosts since childhood because she saw ghosts around her parents' historic home outside of the village, Monroe-Beard said she has never seen the blonde woman.

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Since taking over the tavern — the oldest in the state — Monroe-Beard and her husband have found historic newspapers and other artifacts in the wall.

They consider themselves the tavern’s stewards and have added more German foods to the menu.

“I don’t get the impression that they are upset or angry,” she said of the ghost. “They approve of what we are doing and the energy.”

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