Peach Valley Road used to curve closer to the bottom of those slick stone steps and a small pioneer cemetery sat on the other side of the road. When the county decided to widen the country lane and take out the sharp curve, the old families were moved to the Gallatin city cemetery.
What I heard about the house when I was a young man was merely that people died there. A lot of people. That was, I was told, why our family didn’t live there still. It was plainly unhealthy, though whether this was from tainted well-water, the dampness in the cellar, the strange molds that grew up the walls, the general unpleasant smell that permeated the house even when the windows were open, or the draft that seemed to follow visitors throughout the house, or something else who can say? These were each bad enough, and among my family, people had different pet theories for the house’s “true” problems, all of which were quite ordinary.
The files of my antiquarian uncle, Dr. Elias Allen, were the only source for the darker, vaguer rumors which spread among the old-time servants and country folks; stories which never travelled far, and which were largely forgotten by the time Gallatin grew out to the river. If our family knew of them, they never spoke of it.
The truth is that the house was never regarded as haunted by my family or by the good people of Gallatin. There were no widespread tales of rattling chains, extinguished lights, or faces at the window. Some might have been willing to concede that the house used to be unlucky. But what, really, had happened? The people who died weren’t struck down by some common cause. They seemed to die sooner from whatever they had already been sick with than they would otherwise. Among those who did not die, they did seem somewhat weak and confused, which seemed to indicate a mold problem. Even that’s not so unusual in this climate.
That is as much as I knew before I finally compelled my uncle to show me his notes on the place.