Stones Public House

More From Massachusetts

The accidental death of a cheater at a card game is the cause of the hauntings.

One spirit wants his death be made known while six others guard their secret.

Accidents, and a man drinking too much, have caused paranormal activity.



Stone’s Public House from the outside looks much like it did two hundred plus years ago. It was built to last centuries. It is a large square brick square building with two floors and a full third floor in the attic. It has a two story addition built out of its left side. The structure reminds me very much of the Shelley House Saloon in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.

The restaurant and bar can be found on the first floor of both buildings. The second floor areas are for events. The third floor has stayed as it was from an earlier time, and is used for storage. Over the years, the interior has been changed and remodeled to suit previous owners, which means that it doesn’t qualify for the National Register of Historic Places.

It does have its original floors, wood paneling, beautiful fireplaces, and replicas of wooden tables and chairs, and a bar that reflects its history, which altogether creates a step back in time to the 18th and 19th centuries.

Tom and I visited this restaurant after a brutal day of travel and work on a road trip to get pictures for stories on our website, The food was fantastic, the service very prompt and friendly, and the beer was delicious.



Captain John Stone was a giant of a man who was a captain in the militia, a wealthy farmer, and an entrepreneur with a gift for business. He owned a lot of land in Ashland. When the railroad came to town, he built a hotel to hopefully be a place for train passengers to stop for the night. He opened his Railroad House on September 20th, 1834, to “an enthusiastic crowd of (some say) 300 people.”

Unfortunately, it was a little too close to the train tracks, causing vibrations in the rooms and noise that made a stay here unrestful. Instead of well-to-do travelers, he started to cater to middle to working class train travelers, mainly salesmen and people in need of a short-term stay.

Some tenants worked nearby in the mills. The hotel was successful and Stone made his money back, plus more funds for his bank account.

But, being too close to the train tracks caused the death of two children. A toddler got too close to a window when the train came by, and the vibrations shattered the glass all over the child, causing its death. In 1862, Mary Stone was run over by a train, dying inside the hotel. She may have been related to Napoleon Stone’s family.

After only two years as the Railroad House Innkeeper, Captain Stone leased the building in 1836 to his oldest son, Napoleon, who came with his family, though John still lived on the property.

In 1745, a murder here was covered up to prevent the guilty killer from hanging.

Captain John died in 1858, leaving the hotel to his family. The hotel was put back on the real estate market in 1868. William Scott bought the property, and ran the hotel and saloon with his three sons.

The hotel business was slowing down because of the dams built on the river, which cut the growth of mills, and slowed population influx. The railroad still brought in some salesmen and people looking for a reasonably priced place to stay. Plus, the saloon offered liquid refreshment which was enjoyed by everyone who worked and/or lived in Ashland.

With the popularity of highway driving on the rise, fewer people rode the trains. The saloon continued to be profitable, because railroad workers and others spent their paychecks on liquor. This development changed its reputation from being a place for weary travelers and temporary tenants on a budget, to just a saloon for drinking and perhaps carousing a bit to let off steam.

The Scotts didn’t end their lives well. Two of the sons drank themselves to death, and the third son wound up in a mental institution. The father became depressed and tried to kill himself repeatedly, but each time something odd went wrong. Perhaps the spirits of his sons or other residing spirits interfered. He eventually died of natural causes.

This establishment hung on through the 1900s, mainly because of the saloon, but not much money was put into its maintenance. When it became too creaky, the property was abandoned until it was bought by a restoration enthusiast, Leonard “Cappy” Fournier, in 1976. He restored the first and second floors.

Fournier opened his restaurant and saloon under the name of Stone’s Inn. The second floor hotel rooms were renovated into banquet and event spaces to help bring in funds, which meant some walls were taken down to create bigger spaces.

Renovations and change activated the spirits residing there. They made their appearances known by playing with the lights, opening and shutting doors, and other activity, making it clear that Stone’s Inn has spectral residents. He started to share what was happening and started allowing paranormal and psychic investigations, to try to establish which spirits were residing there.

When we visited in 2022, The Stone’s Inn had been renamed Stone’s Public House by its new owners. The owners and staff accept the residing spirits and tolerate all their activity, letting the spirits be themselves as they are not harmful.

Many paranormal enthusiasts frequent the restaurant and saloon, and pay to investigate, giving unhappy spirits a chance to share through EVP recordings. Only the spirit of John Stone dislikes ghost hunters, but he remembers his manners and orders them out in a nice but firm manner.


People who have had a favorite restaurant or tavern while alive, often like to reside or visit there as spirits.

Brother Sebastian’s Restaurant and Winery, NE (The spirit of patron Bill Walden still finds ways to enjoy himself at his favorite restaurant and winery).

Hotel Congress, IL (A long-time bar patron, a WW 2 veteran, loved to visit the bar every day. His spirit still does, according to the living).

The Pink House Bar, GA (The spirits of James Habersham Jr., his grandson, and his brother Joseph, love to visit the upscale bar that was constructed in their mansion’s basement to their delight).

Stone’s Public House, MA (Hard-drinking patron Burt Richard died in the restaurant in 1890, and has decided to stay here in spirit form as this was his favorite place to imbibe).


The spirits of children killed by cars or trains seem to always seek the nearest building, especially if they have had fun there.

Las Cruces Train Station, NM (A young boy was hit by a train just outside the train station. His spirit still plays there today).

Ashley’s of Rockledge, FL (A young girl was killed by a car on the highway, a stone’s throw from the front entrance. Her spirit moved inside where she felt loved).

(When a train station was located on the property, a boy was hit by a train and his spirit chose this building to reside in).

Orpheum Theatre, TN (Twelve-year-old Mary was killed in a road accident in front of The Grand Opera House, now known as the Orpheum Theatre. She enjoys the performances and has fun annoying the living).

Stone’s Public House, MA (Eleven-year-old Mary Stone was hit by a train, and died inside the hotel. Her spirit does its best to have fun).

(A very young child was killed on the hotel’s second floor when the window glass shattered on her or him).


Former owners of a business sometimes don’t let being in spirit form stop them from continuing with their duties and responsibilities.

Brick House Tavern, VA (The spirits of former owners or innkeepers like to see what is going on in their former business).

Otto’s Place Cafe, IL (The spirit of former owner Otto likes to visit to see how the new owners are running his cafe).

Bair Bistro, WA (The spirits of the original business, the Bair Drug and Hardware owner and his wife or daughter have tried to jump right in and help, but were frustrated with electrical devices).

Stone’s Public House, MA (The spirit of former owner John Stone is now a hands-on spectral owner, trying to avoid a repeat of the disaster that happened and changed lives. Other unhappy spirits may also try to do their jobs).


Spirits who were murdered and had their remains hidden, often want justice, their lives back, and perhaps a proper burial.

The Legal Tender Saloon and Eating House, NM (A local young woman was kidnapped, killed, and her remains buried in an unknown location. Her spirit found her way to this building, where she expresses her anger and frustration).

O’Henry’s Roadhouse Building, IL (Victims of the mob who were brutally killed in the basement were buried there and never heard of again. Their spirits are still restless).

Kahler Grand Hotel, MN (Soon after brutal gangsters beat Brach candy heiress Helen Vorhees to death and incinerated her body, her spirit began to be seen at her favorite hotel. She was restless because of her horrible end, the disappearance of her body, and the fact that her murderers got away with it at first).

Stone’s Public House, MA (The card shark who was killed and buried without a trace wants his story told, and his life back. He lets the living know that he is still there).


People who kill others sometimes are stuck in the same structures as their victims because of the evil committed, their own guilt, the fear of being found out, and what awaits them if they go to the spirit world.

Old Faithful Inn, WY (On their honeymoon, the groom with a gambling addiction cut off his bride’s head because she was leaving him. His spirit is grounded here on a different plain of existence than the spirit of his wife, which means he won’t be able to find her to apologize).

O’Henry’s Roadhouse Building, IL (The Spirit of the ruthless mob executioner who murdered in painful ways is grounded here with the spirits of his victims).

Joshua House, MA (The sadistic Sheriff George Corwin is grounded here because he used deadly torture methods to get either confessions or denials from prisoners accused of witchcraft. At least two resentful spirits who didn’t survive reside as well).

Stone’s Public House, MA (The spirits of John Stone, the killer, and three other witnesses findthemselves stuck in the same place as the spirit of New York’s Mike McPherson, the card shark. While the spirit of the killer remains silent, the rest suffer from guilt, remorse, and plead their case that it was an accident).

(In one version this story, John Stone confronted salesman Mike McPherson who was caught cheating during the card game, winning 3,000 dollars from John Stone alone. In a heated fight, John hit him on the back of the head with a revolver a little too hard).

(This has been refuted by many as being just an urban legend. John was an active Baptist and would never participate in card games or gambling. After the first two years, he wasn’t a hands-on ownerbecause he had leased the establishment out in 1736. Someone else organized it, and the killer was one of the cheated card players).

(My theory is that it was John’s on-site leasee Napoleon Stone who may have planned it, and perhaps killed the salesman. To protect his son and the reputation of the hotel and saloon, the killing was not reported, and evidence was hidden. Perhaps, John Stone allows the other spirits to finger him as the killer instead of his son. They would be willing to lie).



Spirit of Mary

The sound of running a young person’s running footsteps. are heard on the second floor.

One staff member heard someone jumping at the top of the staircase on the second floor.

As the staff member went down the stairs, someone was following her.

Mary has been seen looking out the kitchen windows, and playing throughout the restaurant.

She likes to play with the lights.

Spirit of little Child

She or he has fun floating around the restaurant and second floor examining the mirrors.

Baby hand prints have been seen on mirrors on the second floor that are too tall for a living toddler to reach.

Spirit of Burt Richard

He is a prankster, who loves to play jokes on patrons, the staff, and workmen.

He loves to tap people on their shoulders for chuckles.

He likes to turn on faucets.

Workers have discovered that their tools have been moved. Only after searching the building do they find them in odd locations!

One worker goes back to where he started only to find the item on the floor in the middle of the room.

Another worker found his missing tool in the middle of a hallway, a place where the worker was not even working.

Spirit of John Stone

He is stuck because of the cover up of the murder, and fearful that people who can deliver consequences to the guilty will find out the truth.

His spirit possibly sits in his portrait hanging in the dining room, and watches both the patrons and staff. Sensitives have felt his eyes watching the first floor.

Staff have found tips left for them behind the bar after closing, usually from the spirit of John Stone.

Get Out of Here!

The spirit of John tries to get paranormal investigators to leave, as he finds them annoying, and afraid that the truth will be told by one of the guilty spectral witnesses to the murder.

He communicates very clearly, by EVP recording, introducing himself as John Stone before telling them to get out of his place.

Occasionally, if a guest reminds him of a scalawag he had to deal with while alive, John will grab him by the neck, and try to drag the poor startled man toward the door.

The staff rescues the poor patron, explaining to the spirit of John that the patron is honest and will pay for his meal and drink.

Spirit of Mike McPherson

His spirit wanders restlessly in the halls, saloon and the restaurant.

He slams doors, which gives him some satisfaction.

He wants his death to be made known, wants those responsible to pay a price, and wants his body to be buried properly.

He freely speaks to paranormal investigators and psychics, wanting them to know the truth of his demise, and his anger about his own death, but not willing to admit his part in is own death, that he cheated.

I’m Frustrated

The spirit of Mike could be the force behind the breaking of the glasses in the bar out of frustration.

He also may crash dishes and plates.

Even after expressing himself to psychics, he is upset because he is still stuck here, and wants his life back. His body is still buried far from view, and the spirits of the killer and his cohorts who hid the crime haven’t been brought to justice.

Three Spirits of the Witnesses

The spirit of the hotel maid, Sadie, Sam Thompson the cook, and Will the bartender, wander around the restaurant and bar, perhaps trying to continue on in the jobs they had while alive.

Their apparitions have been described as being glum phantoms, stuck because of their shared guilty secret of helping to remove the body and bury it.

Their presences are strongly felt on the second floor by psychics.

The Spirit of the Real Killer

His spirit is still hiding in the structure, not talking to anyone, psychics or paranormal investigators.

He is still being protected by the spirits of John Stone and the witnesses, and can’t move on until he confesses what he did in a rage, though he didn’t mean to kill Mike.

So far, the story told to some psychics is the yarn about how John Stone is the killer, instead of his son, Napoleon who was leasing the building in 1745 when the murder and cover up happened.

Napoleon perhaps wasn’t a Baptist and believed in playing cards for money, until he found himself the victim of a cheater.


Paranormal activity has been taking place here for a very long time. Staff and patrons have experienced the spirits who want to communicate.

Many paranormal groups have done investigations here and have never left disappointed.

Ralph Bibbo, a professional hypnotist and founder of ECHO (Education Concerning a Higher Order), who visited the inn, is the one who helped to uncover the murder and cover-up.

Investigators sometimes do recording sessions or interviews when the bar is open and busy. After they moved to a quieter place to check their recording, a voice who was NOT part of their group proclaims “Leave,” “My name is John Stone.”



Yes indeed!

Guilt and remorse of the witnesses keeps them grounded here, though they try to help the living, doing what they did while alive. John Stone has to forgive himself for leasing his hotel to his son, not keeping a closer eye, and what he had to do to cover up the murder. He tries to be a diligent spectral owner, to make up for his absence while alive.

The spirit of barfly Burt is happy just to hang out and play pranks on the living. The spirits of Mary and the little toddler find ways to amuse themselves. The spirit of Mike McPherson is still upset and a bit angry about what happened to him, wanting the wrongs made right.

Although there is no proof, I believe the spirit of the real killer, whom I believe to be Napoleon Stone, is still there hiding. It makes it more understandable why John Stone hid the body of the card shark, to protect his son from prosecution.



179 Main St
Ashland, MA 01721

Stone’s Public House can be found in downtown Ashland on Main Street.


  • › haunted-places-in-massachusetts-1.html
  • NEWS Eerie tales and stories of paranormal activity at Stone’s Public House in Ashland , by Cesareo Contreras for MetroWest Daily News





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