Columns and Editorials

Tales from the Haunted Historian

By Columnist Johnny Kelley
The Peter Kinney House
622 Front St.

Any list of influential families in Portsmouth would have the name Kinney near the top. They were active in local government, banking, river transportation and business, and were prominent in establishing All Saints Episcopal Church. Kinney’s Lane is named for them.

Patriarch Aaron Kinney came to Portsmouth in 1804. His homestead, the 1810 House on Waller, is a major focal point of historic preservation. His son Eli built the the massive brick home at the corner of 4th and Court.

Another son, Colonel Peter Kinney (1805-77), President of the Kinney National Bank of Portsmouth, and one of the originators of the Scioto and Hocking Valley Railroad, built the distinctive looking home at 622 Front St., in 1832.

Peter and his wife Elizabeth had 10 children, 8 of which died on the property. Perhaps that’s why the most frequently reported paranormal phenomena is the laughter of children. Less frequent, but a lot more chilling, are reports of waking up at night and seeing kids, in old time clothing, staring at you. Maybe the unfortunate Kinney kids are looking for playmates?

Behind the main residence is an old carriage house. It has frequently been used as apartments, and is the scene of most of the site’s paranormal reports. One such report comes from the daughter of a former owner, who occupied one of them. It started quietly. A missing item here and there. Lipstick, etc. Then clothing items began to disappear. Then school books and notebooks.

The weirdness climaxed with an encounter with the semi transparent figure of an elderly woman in 19th century clothing. She had deep hollow eyes and a very big grin. Our witness, very understandably, got out of there FAST. Following this encounter, she decided that enough was enough and told the unwelcome guests to knock it off. Within a week, everything was returned.

Other residents have reported hearing old time music playing, or people talking with no one present. Some have reported being pushed by unseen hands, or had the supremely creepy, creepy experience of feeling something VERY cold touch them while they tried to sleep.

Have you had any ghostly experiences at the Peter Kinney House? If so, visit my Haunted Boneyfiddle page on Facebook and tell me all about it.