Cobleskill New York
Bull’s Head Inn
Not a great idea to set up a bar in the old bedroom of a temperance leader. Oops!
Tipsy guests are hard not to react to…
Past trauma and violence has caused hauntings.
Past Owners like and dislike what they see happening.
The Bull’s Head Inn owners share on their website: “The Bull’s Head Inn provides a relaxed, family-friendly, comfortable and remarkably delightful experience for our guests with on-site dining & entertainment, as well as off-site catering. Bull’s Head Inn offers an authentic, early American feel to both casual and upscale environments.”
Formerly a bed and breakfast, The Bull’s Head Inn now is a first floor restaurant with two dining rooms, a rustic restaurant and tavern in the cellar, and is a banquet house, with banquet rooms on the second floor, and an attic is used for storage.
Much of its early American decor has been restored by the current owner, while being blended with plaster walls, electric items and modern conveniences. The outside of the inn looks much like it did when it was built in 1802. Yet, it is also much changed from what it was in 1802, very much like The David Finney Inn in Delaware, built in the 1600s.
Both of these structures are still used as a business, and haven’t been turned into a museum, meaning that they both have been updated to meets the needs of the communities they were a part of for such a long time.
While not historically correct enough to make it onto The National Register of Historic Places, The Bull’s Head Inn is still the oldest building in Cobleskill and is part of the Cobleskill Historic District.
The Bull’s Head Inn has spaces for any kind of event, upscale or informal, including: Birthdays, Anniversaries, Baby Showers, Wedding Showers, Engagement Parties, Rehearsal Dinners, Weddings, Retirements, Memorials, Family Reunions, Class Reunions, Baptisms or other religious ceremonies, Business Meetings, etc.
Depending on the size of the space needed, “Events at the Bull’s Head Inn can be hosted on any of the three floors including the second-floor banquet rooms, first-floor dining rooms, or even the cellar tavern.”
Being located conveniently within walking distance of the historic old town Main Street of Cobleskill, on Park Place, it is not surprising that three previous structures once stood on this same spot that the Bull’s Head Inn now occupies. The Revolutionary War wasn’t kind to this property. Its location probably was an easy target for the Tories and their Native American allies.
The first structure was a 1752 log cabin built by George Ferster, and was one of the first buildings constructed in Cobleskill. The first murder on the property happened when one Native American was stabbed to death by another Native American.
This cabin was burned down in the first raid done by the British during the Revolutionary War, along with quite a few homes of his neighbors.
“The dwelling of George Ferster, which stood where the Courter House now stands, that of John Bouck, John Schell, John King, Adam and Jacob Shafer, all within the immediate neighborhood, were but smoking ruins, and their occupants refugees in the cheerless forest.” (History of Schoharie County by William E. Roscoe)
Not to be discouraged, the town of Cobleskill rebuilt, including George Ferster, who built a new two story structure that was a tavern and inn, and included a grander private residence for him.
Unfortunately, a second raid by the British happened in the spring of 1781, which resulted in the town being burned again to the ground. The resilient townspeople rebuilt again, and Ferster rebuilt his two story tavern but sold it to Lambert Lawyer. Lawyer’s tavern was attacked in a third raid during the fall of 1781, and it burned again.
The fires started in all three raids killed people inside and outside the burning buildings Some of the attacking forces were also killed in the raids as well.
After the third fire, This lot remained vacant until the current building was built by architect and popular contractor Seth Wakeman in 1802, who constructed other structures such as Beekman Mansion in Sharon Springs, New York.
It was built to be a private residence on the first floor, for the Wakeman family, while offering the possibility of commercial opportunities in one of the upstairs rooms or the attic. Its busy location, made it convenient and popular for customers of all kinds. It once temporarily housed the Cobleskill Town Hall, and a courthouse, before the city fathers got their permanent public buildings constructed. It also served as a meeting hall, which was probably in the large third floor attic space.
During the early 1800s, there was a need for lodging because merchants were traveling on the Loonenburg Turnpike between central New York to New York City. It became an inn and a tavern, becoming a convenient stop for such travelers. The owners resided on the first floor, having their bedrooms and private space there.
However, when the Erie Canal was built in 1838, it redirected the Inn’s patrons further up the Hudson River to Albany, which changed the stop-over point for travelers, taking business from this once popular establishment, putting it out of business. However, it sort of stayed in the family.
In 1839 the Bull’s Head Inn was purchased by businessman and industrialist, Charles Courter, and his new wife, Helen Wakeman, to be used as their private residence. He and his large family lived on the first and second floor, leaving the huge attic room for social and perhaps civic events.
Perhaps the Masons met in the attic space, during his ownership. Many well-to-do community-minded people opened up their homes for weddings, receptions and parties as they had the only place in town that could handle large events. It was known as the Courter House.
Charles Courter died in the house on New Year’s Day in 1879 from pneumonia.
The house was sold in 1920 to John and Gracie Taylor Steacy, who used tit just for their personal residence, their forever home. They kept their bedrooms and living quarters on the first floor.
About John Steacy, Gracie Taylor Steacy and Frank P. Weiting
Gracie Taylor Steacy (born 1873) lived 82 of her 91 years in Cobleskill, New York. She first married in 1898 to the love of her life, Frank P. Weiting (born 1870), and they had three children, not wasting any time. Unfortunately, Frank suddenly died in 1905, leaving Gracie a widow with three young children to raise. She got involved in the community causes, especially the theatre community, and helped start the first theatre in Cobleskill.
Mr. John Steacy (born 1886) was Gracie’s second husband, thirteen years her junior. They married probably in the late teens when the Temperance Movement was in full swing. John enjoyed drinking, probably to self-medicate. John Steacy fought in World War One. By today’s standards of what is done to help veterans through bad experiences from active service, he needed some counseling, as he liked to drink to self-medicate. He died in 1960, living to the age of 73. I couldn’t find much more about him.
Gracie, on the other hand, was a mover and shaker in the anti-alcohol movement, and a strong member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. One wonders how their marriage lasted, but they worked things out and stayed together. They lived together in the Courter House for many years.
Gracie was the last to die in their forever home, in 1964. A new owner, the Mayor of Cobleskill, Monte Allen, bought it and renovated it at first to be an inn and restaurant. However, he decided to add a bar to the upscale restaurant located on the first floor. He successfully applied for a liquor license.
Another owner, Bob Young put a micro-brewery in the corner of the new first floor bar, a space that had been Gracie Steacy’s bedroom. OOPS!
At some point, to offer a more relaxed dining experience, Young added a second, more informal dining and bar area was added in the basement, which proved to be helpful to expand the business.
Several owners ran the inn and tavern here until the monster storms of 2011, which decimated most of Schoharie County. The Bull’s Head Inn was back on the real estate market, badly damaged but still standing.
The current owners bought this fixer-upper opportunity and decided to try to restore it to its former glory. The first and second floors’ original 1802 architecture and details were restored over a period of four years, They opened up for business in June of 2015. The Cellar Tavern that probably suffered massive flooding, was rebuilt with reclaimed 1802 bricks and other materials, reopening six years later in 2017.
At some point, the owners decided to drop the bed and breakfast part of the business, and turn all the upstairs rooms into extra dining space to be used not only for the restaurant when the demand was high, but also for social events or business gatherings as well, making them a banquet house for the community at large, which made great economic sense. More profits can be made in the banquet/dining niche than having just a few hotel rooms for guests.
While the spirits who reside here appreciate all the hard work in restoring their favorite structure, they all have their issues that they are working on, making The Bull’s Head Inn a lively place to visit.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
People who have a terrible or painful ends, usually at the hands of others while being totally terrified, often are stuck in this world. War and murder are the main culprits in these kind of killings. These spirits find the living positive distractions and possible tools for working through their issues.
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, MT (The Spirits of soldiers who were slaughtered at Reno’s Crossing relive their deaths. Some have moved into the rangers’ residences on site where they try to be helpful when they are not stuck in remembering their terrifying ends on earth).
Fort William Henry, NY (The wounded and others who were left at the fort when the British surrendered to the French were tortured and slaughtered by drunk, vengeful Native Americans, who were infuriated about not getting the promised spoils of war. British soldiers who were killed on the way to Fort Edwards also reside at the fort).
Rum Raisin National Battlefield Park, MI (During the War of 1812, American forces surrendered to the British and their Native American allies. When two British guards betrayed the wounded American soldiers and left, the Native Americans moved in and did what they usually did with survivors, taking those who could walk to be ransomed, and killing everyone else in not-so-nice ways).
Bull’s Head Inn, NY (The violence and suffering that happened on this property when the three structures were destroyed with some of their inhabitants burned alive, has caused some hauntings. Spirits who resided here and suffered violent ends, as well as the battle casualties outside are still present).
(One story says that after seeing the merciless killing going on outside, this young girl was too terrified to leave her room, so she died in the flames. The second version of her story says that she was locked inside her room to keep her safe at night, and couldn’t get out. Perhaps her would-be rescuer was already dead).
(An American Native guest of George was viciously stabbed to death by another Native American probably over an argument we will never know the details of).
When spirits are bound to the land, they have the habit of coming into any structure that is built on top of it.
Capitol Records building, Nashville, KY (Two elderly sisters who lived in a large mansion died. It was sold to Capitol Records who tore down their beloved home. When the new building was done, they moved into it).
Kolb Ridge Court, GA (Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War Kolb Farm skirmish have moved into the home built on top of their battle field).
Rivoli Theatre, IN (When this theater was built where a farmhouse once stood, the farmhouse spirits happily moved into it).
Bull’s Head Inn, NY (The Native American who was killed in George Ferster’s cabin bonded to the land where the cabin stood.Native Americans who died during the raids have apparently moved inside this structure).
When living owners of a beloved structure decide to use the property for something that the spirit owner strongly disapproves of, spectral activity can ramp up in startling ways.
Bullock Hotel, SD (When gambling machines were set up on the first floor, the spirit of former lawman Seth Bullock became enraged, going after the slot machine salesman. Seth then decided to stay front and center, directing the living).
Church Street Cafe, NM (When the new owner began to renovate this beloved, traditional adobe home of the Ruiz family into a restaurant, the spirit of matriarch Sarah Ruiz went ballistic, trying to disrupt the renovations, until the new owner had a soothing, reassuring conversation with her).
Stokes Adobe, CA (The spirit of James Stokes wonders, “What are the throngs of humanity doing on both levels of our house?” He has shown his displeasure when he loses his temper).
Bull’s Head Inn, NY (The spirit of Mrs. Gracie Steacy decided to spend her afterlife in her home, and was willing to share it peacefully with new owners, until they acquired a liquor license. The introduction of the bar in Gracie’s bed room wasn’t well received, which caused spectral signs of civil disobedience. Horrors!!!! This started the protests from tea-totaler and temperance advocate, Gracie).
When a spirit decides to stay in a favorite structure, family members may stay as well to support and/or keep them company.
Stranahan House, FL (The spirit of Mrs. Stranahan resides here to take care of her spectral family members and to be a gracious hostess to the living).
Old Allen House, AR (The unhappy spirit of LaDell has the company of her son, along with her parents who come to visit her).
Eldridge Hotel, KS (The spirit of Colonel Eldridge resides in his favorite structure that he had invested so much in, in his life. Spirits of his family come to visit him).
Bull’s Head Inn, NY (An EVP brings to light that the spirit of Gracie has a male spectral support person, someone she knows. Perhaps it is her first beloved husband, Frank, or even her second husband, John).
When an owner who loves his business loses it suddenly from circumstances beyond his or her control, he or she sometimes likes to reside in the new business.
Wayside Irish Pub, NY (The Spirit of Squire Munro, who died suddenly, likes to supervise the staff and observe all the people having a great time in this restaurant and pub built where his establishment once stood).
Ole Saint Andrews Inn, IL (Former owner Frank really loved his tavern, his Vodka, to flirt with women and to show hospitality to guests. When he died prematurely from alcohol abuse very suddenly, he wasn’t ready to quit just yet).
Bair Bistro, WA (The spirit of a former owner who ran his beloved hardware store here, still sticks around to try to help the staff who work in this new cafe that now occupies his old hardware structure).
Bull’s Head Inn, NY (The spirit of an early owner likes to see what is going on inside, very pleased that it is so successful. Perhaps this is the courageous soul, George Ferster, or Lambert Lawyer, or even Seth Wakeman, all of whom lost their businesses due to circumstances beyond their control).
Because this property has seen tragedy, unpleasant death via war, as well as good times, and great memories for many earthly souls, and has been a forever home for some owners, Bull’s Head Inn offers the full paranormal sports package, with many spirits residing or visiting, depending on the reasons why they are attached to this building and its property.
Personal Appearances of Gracie
She has been described as a strange see-through woman wearing a period white dress by staff and guests.
Years ago, one bed and breakfast guest saw a seemingly ordinary woman dressed in a white dress, standing near the second floor bathroom near the top of the stairs.
She liked to sit on the rocking chair in the second floor Lady’s room, looking much like a , living person.
Her favorite areas are the central staircase, the upper and lower landings, the Dining Room and the Cellar Tavern.
She floats down the halls and through the walls.
Her image has been seen briefly in mirrors.
Not Proud of Her Actions
When the spirit of Gracie is vexed about the drinking, she has been known to express it, though she has mellowed over the years and is sort of ashamed of losing her temper, though not her protesting.
When questioned by an investigator, she tearfully admitted that she had a temper. Her male spectral companion asked the investigator to leave her alone.
She has appeared before bartenders and thrown silverware at them.
She has hovered over the bar, before walking through it.
She throws napkins and silverware, slam doors, and will flicker the lights.
She also will throw glasses safely, not wanting to hurt anyone but she has to express her temper.
Such items sometimes flying across the room or being knocked to the floor are typical.
Some spirits like to perform parlor tricks for a laugh.
At one banquet in the Red Room, the lighted candles all levitated up in the air at once before going gracefully back down.
In the restaurant, water faucets and the cappuccino machine have a mind of their own, turning off and on at will.
The Spirit of Young Girl
She is described as having long, golden curls, wearing a white nightgown, and being four or 5 years old.
She is attracted to other children, and is perhaps a little lonely.
She has appeared to other children, and used to visit the bed and breakfast guests who stayed in her room.
She is here because of her trauma she suffered when she died so long ago inn of the raid-caused fires.
One Boy’s Experience
A boy became sick while his family stayed at the Bull’s Head Inn Bed and Breakfast.
His sister stayed with him while their parents explored the town.
He sat in the rocking chair and fell asleep.
He had a nightmare about not being able to get out of the room, and flames surrounding him.
He was awakened by a spirit girl who was see-through.
She told him,”Don’t sit in that chair.”
The Spirit of a Colonial Male
It could be either George Ferster or Lambert Lawyer, or Seth Wakeman who all lost their livelihood due to circumstances beyond their control.
He has been seen dressed in colonial clothes worn during the Revolutionary War era.
He apparently loves this place and feels this is heaven on earth.
Being a curious fellow, he likes to observe all the activities, which gives him a break from having to remember his own frustration.
When a paranormal group was investigating the attic, they saw a spectral Colonial man wearing period clothes and looking at them through the attic window, really curious as to what they were doing in the attic.
He especially must enjoy the Cellar Tavern and the group events that take place there.
Spirits of Native Americans
One Native American has been seen in the corner of the Red Room, staring at a man as he arrived to participate in an event here.
Other spirits of Native Americans have been seen wandering around the inn.
In the attic, paranormal investigators have recorded disembodied chanting and drums.
Spirits had been quiet until 1966 when a bar was added to the inn. This event has drawn them into this world, and not just Gracie. Visitors, ghost hunting groups, guests, banquet participants, and staff can attest to the activity experienced in this structure. Probably, even more activity happened during the restoration of this building after the big storm damage.
The owner Christopher J. Guldner has described that activity, which has been experienced by staff, visitors and owners on the Bull’s Head Inn website. He ends his statement, saying “Written with benevolent reverence for the structure, its history, and spirits that may reside within.”
The many Paranormal investigators who come here to catch hard evidence are never disappointed.
Orange County New York Paranormal Investigators, led by Dan and Emily Pacillo found a lot of energy in the attic and caught a lot of intelligent EVPs from a variety of spirit people, including a group of children who tugged on Emily’s hair to let her know that they were there.
In the Cellar Tavern, Dan and Emily were talking about how a friend as a child remembers a brewing tank being set up on the first floor. These two caught an EVP of Gracie saying, “That’s not funny!”
The spirit of Gracie was willing to have a conversation with Dan and Emily, revealing her shame about losing her temper. Her male companion told them that this line of questioning should end. He added a sentence, “It’s getting worse!”
A big Yes Indeed! The spirits with a connection to this structure’s many eras reside here for a variety of reasons.
Perhaps Gracie and her first husband Frank are spending time together to make up for all the years they missed living with each other because of Frank’s death at thirty-five years old. Perhaps it is Gracie and John spending their afterlife together as they both loved this place as their forever home.
The spirit of George Ferster may be working through his disappointment about his premature death and his frustration losing two structures by observing the living having fun in this successful Cellar Tavern, Restaurant and Banquet House, finding some peace by watching what he had hoped to achieve but was thwarted from doing in the end.
The spirit of Lambert Lawyer may also still be disappointed about his inn and tavern being burned to the ground. He would also be wearing a Colonial outfit.
The spirit of the little girl who doesn’t have her bedroom anymore, and other girl spirits may all be playing in the attic, dwelling on the happier moments of their lives and not the terror of their own ends.
The Native Americans like to observe the living, have some fun with the candles in the Red Room. They find solace and peace in the original attic where they can chant away undisturbed.
105 Park Place
Cobleskill, NY 12043
Bulls Head Inn is located in the first residential street of Cobleskill, just off Main Street in front of a public park on Park Place.
- HAUNTED PLACES: The National Directory, by Dennis William Hauck, Penguin Books, 2002
- The Big Book ofNew York Ghost Stories, by Cheri Revai, Stackpole Books,2009.
- www.bullsheadinncobleskill.com › haunting-historyHaunting History | Bull’s Head Inn in Cobleskill, NY
- hauntedhistorytrail.com › explore › bulls-head-innBull’s Head Inn – Haunted History Trail of New York State
The Curious History of Cobleskill’s Oldest Building – WGNA, Sept 21, 2016
- https://www.newyorkhauntedhouses.com › bulls-head-inn
Bull’s Head Inn video in index
Investigation of Orange County Paranormal groups -Dan and Emily PAchella
History of Schoharie County by William E. Roscoe, CHAPTER XXIII, HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF COBLESKILL