Sunday, March 22, 2015

Haunted Kentucky: Aunt Polly's Crafts

 Today, the quaint log cabin sits alongside Hummel Road in Rockcastle County, Kentucky.  It houses a specialty shop called Aunt Polly's Crafts, and features goodies such as hand-dipped ice cream, homemade fudge, jams, quilts, unique gifts and various souvenirs.  But the small cabin hasn't always been home to one of Rockcastle County's many tourist spots---in fact, it hasn't always been located in the same spot!

Built in 1802, the cabin is believed to easily be Rockcastle's oldest building, but unfortunately the name of the original family to build and live in the home has been lost to history.  Therefore, when the small specialty shop opened in the late 1990s, it was named after another prominent resident of the home.  And, rightfully so, she's the main suspect for its resident ghost!

Aunt Polly was born Mary French on October 16, 1813.  She married William Peaslie Hiatt sometime around 1833 after William's first wife, Sarah Bailey, passed away.  The story quoted Jeffrey Holland is that Mary was randomly chosen and proposed to on the street by William immediately following Sarah's death. Not exactly a romantic engagement, but Mary made the most of it, and probably since she had a step-daughter named Mary, began to go by her nickname, Polly.

The Hiatts lived in the log cabin, which was at the time, part of the larger Hiatt lands encompassing almost 1200 acres.  William was a slave owner before the Civil War, which may or may not have played a role in his own death.  Various sources indicate that William died in 1865 under mysterious circumstances.  An article from 'Rockcastle County, Kentucky and its People' goes a step further and points out that William's body was found hanged in his own barn...the day he was forced to give his slaves their freedom.

Aunt Polly continued to work the farms on the Hiatt land until her own death on March 21, 1898.  In a somewhat weird coincidence, I'm actually writing this blog on March 21!  Anyway, after Polly's death, various other family members owned and lived in the cabin, until it was eventually abandoned.  It wasn't until around 1968 when Lake Linville was created that attention was brought to the house.  The man-made lake would have flooded the original Hiatt homestead, destroying the cabin, so a citizen named John Lair had it moved to safety across the street, where it sits today.

Since becoming a little specialty shop in the 1990s, the cabin has gained a reputation for being haunted...and many believe the culprit is none other than Aunt Polly herself.  Staff and guests have witnessed objects moving by themselves, the sounds of someone moving about in the empty upstairs rooms, cold spots, and a general sense of creepiness. It is thought that Aunt Polly is displeased with the fact that instead of being buried closer to her cabin on her farmland, she was buried in the nearby Hiatt Cemetery, which is literally almost across the road from where the store is today.

Aunt Polly's House. Article posted by Scott Trent, Jr.Originally published in Log Homes Illustrated Nov. 2002

Find-a-Grave Bio by Jeffrey Scott Holland

The Ghost Hunter's Field Guide by Rich Newman

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