Jerusha Howe, the Ghost of the Wayside Inn

Jerusha Howe (1797-1842)

If you want to meet Jerusha, it is recommended you stay in Room 9 at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn. It was our good fortune to be assigned that room during our reunion of some descendents of the Sudbury and  Marlborough Howes.

Jerusha's ghost

Room 9, Jetusha’s room, over the Old Kitchen.

The last family members to run the Howe’s Tavern/Inn were a brother and sister, Lyman and Jerusha Howe. By then it was called Longfellow’s Wayside Inn because Longfellow had written about it during their father, Adam’s time. (John How>Samuel How>Ezekial Howe>Adam Howe>Lyman and Jerusha).

Rooms 9 and ten, above the old kitchen in the right hand wing are rented today as historic rooms, the only original Howe rooms you can sleep in. (The other rooms are part of a later addition.)

Jerusha's ghost room from outside.

Room 9 appears in the top left of this wing, with room ten to the right.

Here are some appropriately spooky shots of the room of Jerusha’s ghost.

ghost room

Candle sconce in Jerusha’s room

stairs to ghost room

Back stairs directly to Old Kitchen (now a dining room.

Jerusha's ghost chair

Some people have seen Jerusha’s ghost in this chair.

Jerusha's door

Well worn door, one of many in Jerusha’s room.

The following  Is borrowed from Gothic Horror Stories, which bases it’s explanation on several books on the Wayside Inn.

“Rumors that the Wayside Inn is haunted date back prior to 1868. Found among the notes for the hostess of the inn was a report of an incident where a ghost was reported half floating half running through the room known ever since as the Hobgoblin Room. The room had been used for dancing parties and large group meetings, though later converted into a bedroom, was also known as the Old Hall.

“But the most famous ghost of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn would have to be that of Jerusha Howe …  Jerusha was far above the typical country girl of the period, according to Harper’s New Monthly Magazine “she possessed great common-sense, combined with refined tastes, musical accomplishments and rare domestic abilities. She was delicate in person, not of robust constitution, which kept her much at home under the care of watchful parents.”

“Known as the belle of Sudbury, Miss Jerusha was an arbiter of taste in the area …”

“She was known to have rejected all suitors, and it is from this that the story of Jerusha’s ghost first comes to life. According to legend, rumor or innuendo, it’s no longer known which, Miss Jerusha fell for a visitor from England, who  … pledged to return for her after his return to England. But he never did, and it’s not known whether he was lost at sea, lost on land or maybe betrothed back in England.”

Haunted Room at Wayside Inn

Notes left for Jerusha in haunted Room 9 at the Wayside Inn.

Today, people leave notes to Jerusha, tucked in ceiling joists, or they become members of the Secret Drawer Society, by discovering a secret place where notes are left. Did I find the hidden place? Where? I’m not telling.

Did I see Jerusha’s ghost? I think that would be a good Halloween Story, don’t you?

How I am Related

Jerusha Howe is my 1st cousin 6 times removed.

 Notes on my Research


  • As Ancient Is This Hostelry: The Story of the Wayside Inn, by Curtis F. Garfield and Alison R. Ridley(1988)
  • A History of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn by Brian E. Plumb (2011)
  • Howe Genealogies by Daniel Wait Howe (1929), Massachusetts Historical and Genealogical Society. This is said to be the best of the several genealogies of the family. Although I do not have a copy of the entire book, portions of it are available on the Internet.
  • Middlesex County records found on Birth, death and marriage.
  • Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County Massachusetts Vol. 1, ed by Ellery Bicknell Crane (1907) Available as a Google Books e-book.
  • I also have had assistance from the archivist and a historian at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn


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5 thoughts on “Jerusha Howe, the Ghost of the Wayside Inn

  1. Bro

    You were in Room 10? According to Brian E. Plum’s recent history the original Room 10 was “famous as being the place where those who were thought to be suspicious characters or unfit to lodge in the ‘traveler’s room’ were locked up for their night’s rest.” (Quoted page 161 from an 1868 report in A History of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn). If it’s the same Room 10, it was probably just in honor of that tradition that they locked you up in there each night. Another supposed haunting place of Jerusha’s was Room 9 across the hall. I stayed in this room in 1978 and again this year. It may have once been connected to 10 as part of Jerusha’s suite in the 1800’s. Jerusha never graced us with her presence on those visits. I found the secret drawer in No. 9 just before I left the Inn this time. There were about 300 notes there. Of the few I had time to read about fifty percent claimed a spectral encounter. The haughty Jerusha, by the way , is reported to be the reason her timid brother never married and left no little Howes to continue the line. It is said if he showed signs of affection for a local girl, his sister quickly informed him that the local products weren’t good enough for the Howes. Thus, he lingered into a dissipated bachelorhood. Poor Lyman. It’s a wonder his ghost doesn’t haunt the ladies lodging in the Inn today! Happy Halloween –

    1. Avatar photoVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      No, Bro, YOU were in room 10–the room for suspicious characters not fit for other rooms in the Inn. And you found notes in room 10, just as you had in a previous visit to room 9. And I thought I had trouble with numbers! (See the pictures of Room 9’s door above, to illustrate what room I was in.)

      1. Bro

        Surprised you didn’t know that Jerusha’s ghost is known to frequently switch room numbers around, perhaps just to frustrate Lyman’s ghost. Can’t believe you fell for this.

  2. Amanda Howe

    Love the pictures. I want to get my husband and son there. I wish there was a family website he could be a part of so he would know about reunions!


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