Village History

Ridgeway – “Home of the Famous Ghost”

From 1840 to 1885 a ghost or spook was supposed to have been seen along the Military Road. No record has been kept of the stories, but a few have been handed down from generation to generation. The Ridgeway ghost stories are of interest today and will be in the future as one of the most unique and historic legends of the State of Wisconsin.

Historically the ghost came into being from the following facts:

Southwestern Wisconsin was rapidly populated between 1832 and 1845 with the development of the lead mines. Immigrant miners, particularly Cornish, Welsh, Irish, and German came at the rate of 10,000 a year to dig their fortunes from the ground and to live in this new land. Ox teams were the main source of transportation and the trip to Galena, Ill. required five days.

Along this wilderness, hotels, post-offices, and groceries (saloon and store), sprang up every 3 or 4 miles where teams could be fed and watered and travelers could rest.

The area was home to some undesirable characters, always alert for easy money. Mines dotted the country side and the nights were spent in the Saloons with gambling and drinking. Knifings, fights, and shootings were a daily occurrence.  Legal justice was slow, and whipping was the main punishment.

The Ghost made an appearance at the Sampsons Saloon in the 1840’s.  A peddler stopped at the saloon and was never seen again.  His horse saddled and bridled would try to gain entrance and could not be driven away.
Many stories like this one are famous in Ridgeway. Some were pranks, and some imagination, and then there were some who really saw and could not explain.

Come to Ridgeway, Wisconsin on Halloween or during the Labor Day Celebration and you too could see “The Ghost”.

Written by Historian

Melva Phillips

Other Accounts:

Wisconsin’s Ridgeway Ghost – by Horner, William For years, the residents of Ridgeway relished the pranks of their local ghost, until he finally left town via the railroad. (Book for Ages 5-8)

Some Wisconsin Ghosts – NY Times, 1907

Along the Military Ridge to Ridgeway, by Melva Phillips

Ghosts of Ridgeway

 Stories of Old

The Ridgeway Ghost – WI Historical Society Pamphlet

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