Clock Tower

Out of the Clock Tower



Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

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Oct 05

Haunting of Ye Olde Trail Tavern

Posted on October 5, 2018 at 6:15 PM by Melissa Dalton

Most people love a good ghost story. Almost every town has their own stories of hauntings or ghosts, and Greene County is no different. One of the most widely known hauntings in our county would be that of the Ye Olde Trail Tavern (Fig 1), and there is even a YouTube video of employees discussing the haunting at the Tavern. However, before we get into the ghost stories, how about a little background into the Hafner family.

Fig 1. Ye Olde Trail Tavern (JPG)
Fig 1. Ye Olde Trail Tavern (Greene County GIS Maps)

Francis (Frank) Hafner was born in Germany in 1819 and came to America in the 1830s. He made his way to Greene County, and settled in Yellow Springs to work at the Neff House in 1842. Within a year of arriving in Yellow Springs, Frank married Mary A. Scroufe. Frank built the family cabin in the newly founded village of Yellow Springs, and that is where he and his wife raised their four children – Mary Ellen, William, Charles, and Frank Jr (Fig 2).

Fig 2. 1860 U.S. Census with Hafner family outlined in red (JPG)
Fig 2. 1860 U.S. Census with Hafner family outlined in red (FamilySearch.org)

Prior to coming to Greene County, Hafner had been trained as a baker and confectioner. In 1852, Hafner decided to return to his previous training and started a bakery. Hafner was a well-known in Yellow Springs and served on village council for about thirty years. He owned a great deal of property as well. Frank Hafner passed away at his home on New Year’s Day 1895, at the age of 76 (Figs 3 & 4).

Notice of death of Francis Hafner in The Xenia Gazette, dated January 3, 1895 (JPG)
Fig 3. Notice of Francis Hafner’s death in The Xenia Gazette, dated January 3, 1895 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Notice of death of Francis Hafner in The Xenia Gazette, dated January 10, 1895 (JPG)
Fig 4. Notice of Francis Hafner’s Death in The Xenia Gazette, dated January 10, 1895 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)


Rumor has it that upon his deathbed, Frank asked Mary to take care of the homestead. Mary found this to be a great pressure on her, and she tried to keep her promise to him. Additionally, Frank made sure his will clearly defined his wishes for his estate. The real estate he owned was divided between his children, but no one was to take ownership until Mary’s death. One interesting part of his will was an article that stated the property was not to be transferred or sold for 15 years after Mary’s death, AND it was not to be sold to anyone who would “engage in liquor traffick [sic] either wholesale or retail” (Fig 5). Mary and her son, William, were co-executors, and William didn’t play nice. He tried to keep his mother from the accounts and books, but was ordered by the judge to stop his shenanigans and give his mother access to what she wanted.

Fig 5. Excerpt from Francis Hafner's Will (JPG)
Fig 5. Excerpt from Francis Hafner’s Will (Greene County Archives)

William seemed to be an interesting character. He had a child, Nettie, with Hattie Birch in 1874, but never had contact with the child. He became a physician and married Rebecca, who was over 20 years younger than him, around 1897. They never had children. Upon William’s death, he left all the entirety of his estate to Rebecca, besides the $10 that was to be given to Nettie. However, William added an unusual request – that Rebecca never remarry (Fig 6). Rebecca acquiesced, remaining a widow until her death.

Fig 6. Excerpt from William Hafner's Will (JPG)
Fig 6. Excerpt from William Hafner’s Will (Greene County Archives)

Mary Ellen and Charles were left the homestead (the current Ye Olde Trail Tavern). Myrtle Hafner (later King, and daughter of Frank Jr.), was to get the furniture she requested, as well as some property that was adjacent to the homestead. The others were left various properties as well. However, it is the homestead that is of consequence in this story. As far as I can tell, the homestead stayed in the Hafner/King family until 1965. In 1966, it was transferred to Edwin H. and Martha G. Luttrell, who in turn sold it to Upland Corporation in 1969. Upland Corporation sold the property in 2017 to Beardco LLC, who still owns it today.

Now that you have a little history into the family and property, how about those ghost stories? Let’s recount the claims. One story claims that there is a blond woman in a blue dress who roams the tavern. The stories usually don’t have her upset, but rather smiling as she floats from room to room. From what I’ve learned, many believe that this apparition is Mary Hafner, the wife of Francis Hafner, who continues to watch over the place even in death.

There is another story of a woman with long black hair, wearing all black, who haunts the upper floor. She is seen crying and unhappy. This was a new story to me, but some claim she is the daughter-in-law of Hafner, who was tricked into marrying one of the Hafner boys. One story claims it is Josephine, who married Frank Jr., while another story claims it is Rebecca.

I’m going to be honest, there was a great deal of family drama in the Hafner family, and I HAVE to do a future blog post to dig a little deeper… but what do you think? Who are these women? Do you believe one is Mary Hafner, fulfilling her promise to watch over the place? Do you think it is Josephine or Rebecca, saddened by a forced marriage or inability to remarry?

Next time you’re at Ye Olde Trail Tavern, keep your eyes, ears, and mind open. One of these apparitions just may decide to show themselves to you…

Until Next Time…

Sources:
Ancestry.com
FamilySearch.org
Greene County Archives / Greene County GIS Maps
NewspaperARCHIVE.com
Yellow Springs Heritage

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