The oldest house on Key West was built around 1829. Now, you may ask: how is that possible? Where did people live here in the 15, 16 and 1700s? They lived in houses but none of them survived the major hurricanes. So, the right phrase is “the oldest surviving house in Key West”. Let’s get to the story of the haunted house that I wanted to tell you about.
The family that lived in this house was the Watlington family. Captain Watlington, his wife Emma and nine daughters. If you have 9 kids you have a lot to take care of. So he is guiding ships through the reefs, he is a captain for the confederate navy and a member of the U.S house of representatives. If you work so much, the wife has to take care of all the 9 kids by herself. Three of these girls ended up with yellow fever. Back then, nothing was known about the disease. Most people who got yellow fever would just die. If you got it, you’ll have constant headaches, back pain and would be throwing up all the time. Imagine being a little girl and getting yellow fever, you’d freak out because of these symptoms.
|Front view of the Oldest House in Key West|
So Emma would be sitting upstairs, in her rocking chair, with the kids in her lap and just rock them back and forth. She hoped this would soothe their minds. Sometimes, the kids would play with marbles upstairs. In spite of trying their best to save the kids, all three of them passed away.
|This is where one of the daughters breathed her last|
When this became a museum, the original caretaker lived on site. He would sleep in the downstairs bedroom. Each night he would hear something like this: Thump thump, Thump thump. Exactly how the rocking chair would make if somebody were using it above you. Sometimes he would hear marbles coming down the stairway. For the first few nights, he would freak out because he thought there was someone sniffing around. So, he turns on the lights, goes up and finds nothing. After so many sleepless night, he decides, he doesn’t need to live onsite anymore.
|A bedroom inside the Oldest House|
At the back of this house is a big garden, which has an interesting story on its own. Because of the heat, they always had the kitchen outside the houses back then. At nights, you might see a girl in a wedding dress speaking Cuban Spanish. It is not a real person of course, but who is it? It is rumored that the body of Elena Hoyos who was decomposing for 8 years was kept hidden here for a few weeks when Count Von Cosel was on trial.
|The kitchen in the backyard where the body of Elena Hoyos was stashed|
While the Oldest House serves as a lively museum during daytime, it has a very different energy after dark. Right in the middle of the downtown and even though the gates are never locked, you will never see locals hanging out in the garden. If you are truly into ghost hunting, visit this place during midnight.
|Back side view of the house at midnight|