Last week on The First Day, we talked about the urban legend of “The House of Blue Lights“, and this week I thought we’d venture out to my hometown of Knightstown in Henry County, where there is a historic house that sits on a hill, known for generations as the scary haunted “PEST HOUSE“. During a Small Pox outbreak, people were quarantined in the house, and many died. To this day, it has a reputation of being haunted.
Stephen & Melissa McCaffrey have owned the historic landmark more than 30 years. How old is THE PEST HOUSE? Melissa says they think it was built anywhere from 1867 to 1870. It has 17 rooms. ” It’s a Second French Empire. a sister to the Morris Butler House. It’s said to have cost $25,000 to build this very large country mansion.”
Why is it called “The Pest House“? “In 1902 there was an outbreak of Small Pox. A man named Jessie Swain came to Knightstown to visit family. He had been traveling with the circus and brought Small Pox with him, infecting the town. The Board of Health closed Knightstown for 10 weeks. The National guard was posted on each side of town to try to contain people in homes. As the Pestilence spread, they needed to quarantine people so the town purchased the “House on the Hill” for $2,500. Those that were sick moved in. 83 people got sick with Small Pox and 18 died. The doctors and nurses stayed in a house behind The Pest House to take care of the people . After it was over, the house stayed vacant. Nobody wanted to live in a house that had been filled with the disease. Legend says that Knightstown leaders were concerned enough that they even plastered over the medical equipment that was left in the house.”
Melissa believes that since there was so much suffering in The Pest House, people believe the place must be haunted!
Has anything scared her? “Only a couple of odd things have happened. There’s a weird painting of “The Pest House” on an interior wall (which are 3 bricks thick) and early in May, I was arguing with Stephen about moving this particular picture. It had been on this one wall for 17 years. Just as I started to move it, the frame began to drip. I took a picture of it and told my husband I’d never seen that before and all of a sudden, the other side began to drip!! So…I’ve never cleaned it, and I’ve never moved it. Clearly it wanted to stay on the wall! That’s the only chill I’ve ever had!”
Listen to the audio to hear Melissa McCaffrey explains her theory on who “The Lady In Black” might be! And if you’re interested in learning more about this beautiful, historic landmark called THE PEST HOUSE, click HERE.