A Haunting at the Waverly Mansion

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by Kristina Domitrovich // photos by Lindsay Pace Daffron

This historic, four-storied, eight-roomed, 8,000-square-foot mansion was completed in 1858 for Colonel George Hampton Young. Col. Young lived there for the rest of his life, and after he died, his children took over the estate. One of his sons, Captain Billy, was a notorious playboy of his day who enjoyed a good party. 

At one point, the home sat vacant until Robert and Madonna (Donna) Snow bought the mansion. They moved in with their children, and opened the mansion for tours. They lived there for some-50-odd years, until Snow died in 2017. It was sold to Charlie and Dana Stephenson, who are now restoring the mansion and property while keeping it open to the public for tours. Jimmy Denning Jr. has been a tour guide at the mansion for 13 years. We sat down with Denning to talk about the mansion because, you see, it’s haunted.


Q: What does the ghost at Waverly do?

A: “Some say she climbs into the bed and leaves the imprint of her invisible body. I’ve even met a few ladies that say they see her floating down that staircase from the third story. A blonde-haired girl, they say, in a white nightgown. … Some say this girl ghost will move pennies around; some say they’ve seen her reflection in the glass … Ms. Donna said at times she’d hear a little girl behind her (say), “Momma.” She’d turn around, and there was no one there.”

Q: How did the little girl die?

A: “A little girl was visiting this house with her mother. She was only 18 months old. One night, when they were all asleep, the little girl got out of bed. She ran up one of the staircases … she fell down the staircase, and broke her neck.”

Q: Who is the little girl?

A: “She is the granddaughter of Dr. William Burt. Dr. Burt was Col. Young’s neighbor. According to this story, Dr. Burt was doing some business in Columbus. His daughter and granddaughter came to Col. Young’s, he was just a mile away, and they spent a couple days here. And then one night, that’s when the little girl got out of her bed and had her accident.”

Q: Who tends to see the ghost?

A: “Well, ladies seem to hear this girl ghost. It’s like she’s looking for her mother. I’ve never met a man who said they’ve heard it.”

Q: Are there any other ghosts at the Waverly?

A: “Some men have claimed they saw Captain Billy’s drinking buddies in the hallway, kind of walking kind of tipsy like they’re still enjoying a good drink – and then they notice them looking at them, and they disappear. College students, during the vacancy, said they saw a man on a dark horse galloping down the old dirt road toward the old ferry.”

Q: Did anything else eerie happen at the Waverly?

A: “Col. Young, he must have known that he was going to die. He died in November 1880, just a few weeks short of his 81st birthday, he was born Dec. of 1799. He had his haberdasher come out and he said, ‘I want a black suit.’ As he measured him, the haberdasher said, ‘Well, wait a minute, I’ve never gotten you a black suit before. Why not get a gray suit with pinstripes like I normally get you.’ He (Young) said, ‘No, no, no, I’m going to be buried in this one.’ About a week after his black suit was delivered by his haberdasher, he died. Must have had some kind of knowledge that he was going to die.”

Q: Have you ever seen the ghost?

A: “I’ve never seen her or met her, or any other ghost for that matter … The story, to me, is very believable. I think it really happened, but I don’t know about the ghost.”

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