Village History



“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 have been handed down from generation to generation. The Ridgeway ghost stories are of the 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.

Many of the immigrants were 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 its 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 sway.  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 Labor Day Celebration and you too could see “The Ghost”.


Written by Historian

Melva Phillips