Just a few miles from campus, knocks and bumps can be heard from an old farmhouse called “The Candlelight House,” which holds an antique record player, rocking chairs and—the Owens family.
While its last inhabitant, Otho Henry Pritchard, passed away in 1995, homeowner Ella Casper seems to think he and his family never really left.
The Caspers bought the property, including The Candlelight House, in 2014, initially focused on building their dream home on the land. They were from Fort Wayne, so they didn’t grow up hearing the same spooky stories that many Johnson County residents still share about the property.
It was when Adam first went to work and showed his boss the property that the couple realized what they had gotten themselves into. Being a Franklin native, Adam’s boss knew about the house immediately, even asking him, “Do you have any idea what you just got yourself into?”
Adam’s boss even referred to it as the haunted house in Franklin, showing just how infamous the property was and still is.
Many of the ghoulish tales surrounding the house began in the mid-1900s. Without electricity, the house appeared abandoned to those who didn’t know any better.
People took to different Franklin Facebook groups to share vivid memories from their childhood where they recalled seeing glowing lights in the home’s windows.
Ella shared that during The Artcraft Theatre’s 2018 Historic Home Tour, she and her husband were told many ghost stories from people who had grown up hearing rumors about the home.
“That day, when we had all those people come through from Franklin, almost all of them had a story of their own experiences seeing a candle in a window or a rocking chair moving,” Ella said.
The couple has started making memories of their own in the house―even getting married in the home during quarantine. Despite Covid-19 restrictions, one can assume the Owens attended.
Their neighbors, the Owens
With the help of Prayer Hirn, Ella’s friend and a medium, the Caspers have communicated with and heard the names of multiple spirits within the house.
Hirn said that the spirits in the house have made it clear that they adore the Caspers because of their pure intentions with restoring the house.
“They love Ella and Adam because they want to keep it how it was. They didn’t want to come in and demo it. They don’t want to come in and make it something it’s not,” Hirn said. “They love them.”
Compared to other places Hirn has visited, she said The Candlelight House has a lighter atmosphere. In other words, they’re friendly ghosts.
“From the moment I walked into that house, the spirits were like, completely calm and ready to show who they were. It was so cool,” Hirn said.
Owens family history
The home was built in 1868 by John and Mary Owens. John’s father, James Owens, first received the homestead’s land in 1830. It was a 160-acre parcel from the U.S. government and eventually grew to become the home of The Candlelight House.
John passed away before construction was completed, though according to a Facebook post made by the owners who sold the house to the Caspers, his will specified that his remaining family members had to finish the house before they could distribute the remaining funds. Many Owens family members lived in the house at one point or another, but have they ever left?
Ghostbusters in Franklin
Matthew Jackson, head of the paranormal blog Paraholics, has brought his ghost-hunting crew out to the home multiple times. They have experienced some kind of paranormal activity during each visit. They’ve seen shadow people, heard disembodied voices and had a bunch of feedback from their sensors monitoring movement.
The ghouling question visitors of the house always ask is why are the spirits still in the house?
“If they [ghosts] want to be attached to location, it doesn’t always have to be something terrible or sad,” Jackson said. “It can be a place they were happy.”
Jackson mentioned how unique the house was because of its rather positive atmosphere, echoing Hirn’s thoughts on the home.
“I find it actually really intriguing that I can go to a place that has a different shade of haunting, so to speak, where it’s not a place something terrible happened and you can still go experience this really unexplainable phenomenon,” he said.
Ella said that while the future is still relatively up in the air, her dream is to build a living space behind The Candlelight House. In an ideal world, people would be able to rent out this space like an Airbnb and have access to tour the rest of the Owens homestead.
After years of giving tours to family and friends, Adam and Ella have their routine down. Adam shows off his storytelling skills while his wife backs him up with photographs, recalling spooky encounters that have gone on during previous walk-throughs of the home.
The couple has even considered hosting tours of the home as a business, though for now, renovation to restore the house continues as their main priority.
The Franklin perspective
Cobwebs glistening by flashlight, thuds across the hall, cold chills without a draft. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, bumps and knocks still echo in the home’s empty halls. The Franklin staff had the chance to visit the home, and I for one felt incredibly spooked.
While there didn’t appear to be any sort of negative spirits in the home, it still felt as though spirits were lurking in the shadows. The house felt lived in, but still lonely somehow. After learning about the lonesome life Otho Henry Pritchard lived in the late 1900s, the feelings of isolation and emptiness that encompass the house starts to make a lot more sense.
Despite the fact that we never heard any ghost whispers, there were moments where other staff members glanced over their shoulders, half expecting an Owens descendent to be looking back.
We’ll never know whether that was just our delusions, or instead, a few friendly ghosts.
Don’t think spirits are still around? Be on the lookout for the Caspers to open up tours someday, and go take a visit yourself. What you witness will be between you and the Owens family.