Former Morgan patriarch died suddenly before he finished a huge to-do list.
A much adored family nurse-maid didn’t let death get in the way.
In 1814, mercantile business millionaire John Wesley Hunt built this Federal style, red brick, two story mansion, which features a “specific emphasis on the geometric phase of the period.” Some of its many fine architectural features include a Palladian window with fan, sidelights around the front façade, and a large spiral staircase in the front entrance hall. John, his wife and children called his handsome mansion, Hopemont.
In 1831, daughter Henrietta and her husband, Calvin, moved into Hopemont with their children when Calvin’s business in Alabama failed. Calvin got a job with his father-in-law John Wesley managing one of the farms. Calvin and Henrietta’s eldest son, John Hunt Morgan was only 6 years old when he came to live in his grandparents home.
Henrietta must have had nerves of steel. I bet John Hunt Morgan was a handful. He was suspended from college for dueling with a fraternity brother. Henrietta had in total 10 children. Six of her sons went to war on the Confederate side. Some of John’s younger brothers were Col. Calvin Morgan, Capt. Charlton Hunt Morgan, and Lieut. Thomas Morgan. Her two daughters married Confederate officers.
When John Wesley Hunt died in 1849, the mansion was passed onto his daughter Henrietta, her husband Calvin and their children. Their eldest, John Hunt Morgan, grew up and did well in the army as a dashing warrior and was eventually promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. During the Civil War, he gained fame and popularity for his daring raids into Union territory, dismantling supply lines. He was shot in the back by Union soldiers during an escape attempt from a Greeneville Tennessee house.
Charlton Hunt Morgan (John’s brother) and Ellen Key Howard were the next to own the home. In 1866, their son, Thomas Hunt Morgan was born. He grew up to be a brilliant geneticist and embryologist and won the Nobel Prize in Physiology of Medicine in 1933.
In 1955, both the Hunt-Morgan House and the Col. Thomas Hart House across the street were in danger of being torn down. Preservationists quickly formed the Foundation for the Preservation of Historic Lexington and Fayette County in an effort to save both homes. While they were able to save the Hunt Morgan House, the Col. Thomas Hart House was torn down to make a parking lot! The foundation changed its name to the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation, and restored the Hunt-Morgan House to the way it looked originally in 1814.
The Hunt-Morgan House is now an “interpretive museum”, which gives the visitor a peek at the lifestyle and culture of well-to-do Kentuckians of this era. There is also a room on the second floor that housed the Alexander T. Hunt Civil War Museum. Tom and I enjoyed our tour of this restored home.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
John Wesley Hunt died suddenly from a bout of cholera in 1849, before he could finish the business at hand.
The Morgan children were cared for by a loving and dedicated nurse maid, Mammy Bouviette James, known as “Aunt Betty” or “Mam B’et.” She was adored by the Hunt Morgans and became like a member of the family. When she died sometime after the Civil War, she was laid out in the parlor and was buried in the family plot.
The entity of John Wesley Hunt has been seen walking down the halls of The Hunt Morgan House, going about his business.
The entity of Mammy Bouviette James
Had been known to appear to very sick children and sing to them, stroking their heads, years after she died. She was wearing the red shoes that John Hunt Morgan had given her. Even if the sick child died, the parents were comforted that Aunt Betty was still on the job, and would take care of their little ones even in heaven.
Her apparition is still seen on the third floor nursery room and the hallways of the Hunt Morgan House.
The spirit of John Wesley Hunt still has unfinished business, and can’t let go of this world. The spirit of Mammy Bouviette James still isn’t ready to leave the place where she dedicated her life and afterlife to children.
201 North Mill Street
Lexington, Kentucky 40507
The John Hunt Morgan House can be found at the corner of North Mill Street and West Second Street. The home is just across from the Second Street Park with a fountain. It is about a 10 minute walk from Transylvania University, and 1/2 block from the library. North Mill Street is just a block east of North Broadway and two blocks west of North Upper Street.
- HAUNTED PLACES: The National Directory
by Dennis William Hauk
- Morgan House page on National Park Service web site
- Lexington Kentucky Ghosts page on Angelfire.com
- “Women’s Work in Kentucky,” by Mrs. Eugenia Dunlap Potts
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr