These Haunted Places in and Around Cooperstown Will Send Chills Down Your Spine
October 7, 2020
October. One of the best months of the year. No, not for the candy and costumes, but for the revival of ghost stories and haunted happenings. It’s no secret that I love anything haunted or eerie. Heck, I’ve dedicated a whole section of the blog to haunted places! Luckily, New York State is full of history that makes the hairs on your arms stand up. An 8-foot tall painting that causes havoc when it’s taken off the wall. An actual wreath made of human hair. A mysterious women with a long braid. Whispers from long-gone baseball players. You can discover all this and more at these haunted places in Cooperstown and nearby areas.
Thank you to This is Cooperstown and Visit Schoharie County for hosting my husband and me on our haunted weekend in the area!
The Haunted History of Cooperstown
Before we dive too deep into the haunted places in Cooperstown and neighboring Schoharie County, first we need to talk a little about its history.
Most of the other notable residents of Cooperstown are members of the Cooper family, either by blood or marriage. Susan Fenimore Cooper, daughter of James, lived in Byberry Cottage in Cooperstown – and is said to have had unusual abilities. Jenny Cooper Worthington, another in the family line, is the most famous ghost that now haunts the village.
Located in Glimmerglass State Park, Hyde Hall was built by George Clarke after he acquired the land in 1817. Construction took 17 years to complete, and was finished just in time for George to die there in 1835. Today it remains one of the most traditionally British estate homes in the United States.
The History of the Clarke Family
The Clarke family owned 120,000 acres in Upstate New York – and contained several consecutive generations of George Clarkes and several Ann/Anne/Annas along the way. (Making research and genealogy a bit challenging!) The eldest George Clarke became Secretary of the Province of New York in 1703. The name of Hyde Hall comes from his wife, Anne Hyde. Being distantly related to the British royal family through Queen Anne, appearances and status continued to be important to them.
Advanced Technology & Elaborate Designs
The mansion remained in the family for over a century, with several generations transferring ownership. Today, visitors to the estate will be impressed by the well-maintained historical elements of the house as well as the advanced technology of the time. Hyde Hall remains the only place in the world with working vapor lamps. Our tour guide, John, was kind enough to show us how they work – and it’s incredible! Scientists from around the world come to study them.
Other luxuries that the family enjoyed include heated floors, running water, and a traditional English Kitchen. That doesn’t include the extensive servant staff that helped keep the house! Another way that George exuded his wealth over others was by installing an exterior door from his office. That way, when farmers came to pay the rent for their land, they would not go through the privacy of the family home.
The Ghosts of Hyde Hall
Easily the most famous ghost of Hyde Hall and all of Cooperstown, Jenny is hard to miss. Her 8-foot tall portrait, weighing over 400 pounds, hangs in the formal dining room of the estate. Jenny, formally known as Jane Storrs Cooper Worthington, was the granddaughter of Ann Cooper Clarke and niece of James Fenimore Cooper. She was briefly married to John Worthington before dying of Tuberculosis. Distraught, he commissioned her portrait to be painted by Carl Brandt.
John remarried not long after, but still hung the portrait of Jenny at his home, Greencrest, located in the Village of Cooperstown. His new wife, unhappy with the former’s wife presence, decided to take the portrait down. That’s when strange things started happening around the house… until the portrait was rehung. This pattern continued as each owner purchased Greencrest – Jenny did not like to be taken down.
When the Cooper family recently donated the portrait to Hyde Hall, they brought a priest in to bless the panting and the house. Since her departure, Greencrest has been peaceful. But Hyde Hall hasn’t. The night the painting was taken down for restorations to the dining room, the shutters swung open and the motion alarm was triggered.
Now, every staff member treats Jenny with the utmost respect. They greet her when the house is opened in the morning and bid her good night at the end of each day.
George Clarke & Ann Cooper Clarke
The patriarch of Hyde Hall has been seen on multiple occasions, roaming in the halls in his favorite gold, green, and red bathrobe. His wife, kicked out by her own son, promised to haunt the home upon her death. Did she keep her promise?
George & Susan Clarke
These two were among the later generations of the Clarke family. Both died decades ago in a plane crash. Yet, one day in recent history, a worker at the hall heard a radio play mayday calls, reminiscent of those from a former war.
They say love can make you do crazy things. And when Edward’s proposal was rejected for the second time by a Hyde Hall servant, he accidentally shot himself on the dock on Lake Otsego.
The Woman with the Long Braid
Several visitors to the hall have reported seeing a woman, dressed in period clothing, with a long braid down her back. Children said they liked to visit with her. A staff member saw her walk down the stairs. No such woman was ever present. Upon rifling through some very old photos in storage, staff members found her.
… And More!
While these are the most famous and noteworthy ghosts that haunt Hyde Hall, there are others. But, you’ll need to hear some stories when you visit yourself.
Plan Your Visit
Tours to Hyde Hall are currently available by reservation only. Guests are asked to be in groups of no more than 6, wear masks, and practice social distancing. For ghost hunters and haunted history seekers, Hyde Hall is also home to Hyde & Shriek! candlelight ghost tours through the mansion. The tours run nightly on Fridays and Saturdays in October.
Cooperstown Candlelight Ghost Tour
In every city I visit, I look for a ghost tour. Because whether you believe in spirits or not, ghost tours also provide interesting stories about the history of the area. Plus, it’s an option for something to do after dark!
Led by Bruce Markusen, a senior researcher at the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum, the Cooperstown Candlelight Ghost Tour takes you on a journey through the village’s eerie past. The stops include the museum, the Christ Episcopal Church cemetery, several houses on River Street, and ends on the shores of Lake Otsego – historically referred to as “Haunted Lake”.
Are the ghosts of famous baseball players walking through the exhibits in the baseball hall of fame? Do spirits float among the trees in the church’s cemetery? Did Susan Cooper really practice levitation at Byberry Cottage? Were the residents of Greencrest really haunted by the famous painting of Jenny? And did Anne Cooper Pomeroy really give directions to a traveling priest at Pomeroy Place over a century after her death?
These questions and more await you on your tour through Cooperstown. The only question left is: Do you believe?
You might be wondering what the heck the Dr. Best House and Medical Exhibit is. I’ll admit, I was too! But, I was so pleasantly surprised during my visit to discover one of the largest and most unique collections of historical medical equipment. The artifacts and stories within the house are fascinating.
The Victorian home, located in Middleburgh (an hour east of Cooperstown), was home to a father and son duo of doctors. They practiced medicine out of the house for over a century, from 1884 until 1991. When you step foot inside the house, you’ll be transported back in time, to the heyday of the family and their practice.
Step Back in Time
The original doctor’s office and pharmacy is preserved with impeccable detail. Everything from the medical bags and original appointment book to historic medicine and electrical probe machines remain in the same places they once were. (To be clear, any historic medicine that is now considered dangerous or illegal has been removed!)
The kitchen was by far the most intriguing room of the house. The original metal operating table still sits in the middle of the room. On top you’ll find an amputation set from the Civil War, an ancient style nebulizer, and a bowl of medical knives. The rest of the kitchen is a tribute to turn-of-the-century equipment.
Upstairs you’ll find the bedrooms, each dedicated to a different member of the Best family. It’s in the back corner of the house that my husband and I both got a strange feeling. There was nothing we could put our fingers on, but we both sensed… something. Perhaps it was because we were alone in the house with the mayor at night, or maybe there was another entity there with us. We’ll never know for sure, but the mayor, who guided us through the house, said that the back bedroom was where the most paranormal activity has been experienced and recorded.
Tours through the house and museum are available by appointment only. I highly encourage you to book one!
Antique Shopping in New York
I know, I know. You’re wondering what the heck antique shopping is doing on a list of haunted places. Well, there are a few reasons. One, who knows what kinds of objects have significant history, haunted pasts, or perhaps even spiritual connections? Secondly, have you seen some of the items in these antique collections? While some have been well-preserved over time, others…. not so much. These dolls, for instance, are definitely something worthy of nightmares!
Whether you’re searching for historical (potentially haunted) artifacts, or truly looking for hidden treasure, there are lots of antique shops in Upstate to browse. The town of Milford, just south of Cooperstown, has the largest antique collection I’ve ever seen. Located in an old barn from the late 1800s, Wood Bull Antiques houses four stories of collectibles – and that doesn’t include the basement or lawn! You could easily get lost for hours admiring it all.
Travel a little further south and you’ll find Old Gristmill Antiques in Portlandville. Although it houses a smaller collection, it is much more budget-friendly for antique and thrifty shoppers.
Hint: Walk across the bridge behind the Old Gristmill to get some beautiful views of the Susquehanna River!
Fly Creek Valley Corn Maze
If you’re looking for another seasonal activity, albeit less spooky, check out the Fly Creek Valley Corn Maze! It’s easily one of the best corn mazes I’ve ever done.
They cross-plant the corn so it’s extra thick and put a lot of thought into how the maze is designed. When we arrived, a group of friends was just leaving – and raving about how good the maze was. On average it takes about 45 minutes to find your way out, with times ranging from 13 minutes to 2 hours! But we did it in 35 minutes.
When you’re done, head down the hill to the pumpkin patch to pick out some to bring home!
Fly Creek Cider Mill
While you’re in Fly Creek, don’t miss the famous cider mill! Fly Creek Cider Mill is an experience in itself. Learn how the cider is made, visit with the ducks and geese by the pond, and sample some wine. Also buy an apple pie to take home. Tis the season after all!
Haunted Places in Cooperstown and Beyond
These haunted spots in Otsego and Schoharie counties can easily fill an October weekend for you. But if you’re craving more, don’t worry! There are plenty more sites in New York State that you can explore for all things spooky and macabre.
First, Rolling Hills Asylum, south of Rochester, is considered the most haunted place in New York. Also, several stops along the Finger Lakes wine trails have eerie pasts. And if that’s still not enough, check out a full list of spooky places through the Haunted History Trail of New York.