With fall officially here, McCracken County residents can add walking tours to a list of planned October festivities, as the Market House Theatre is set to once again share some spooky, grisly tales pulled from Paducah’s past.
The theatre’s annual River City Ghost Tours are scheduled for Oct. 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22 and 23 in downtown Paducah, while Oak Grove Cemetery ghost tours are planned for Oct. 29 and 30. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $8 for students. The tours aren’t recommended for children younger than 8, according to the theatre.
Michael Cochran, executive director of Market House Theatre and a tour guide, said attendees get a combination of things out of it.
“These are stories about horrific things that happened in Paducah or the darker side of Paducah’s history — learning about Paducah’s history is always fascinating,” he told The Sun. “I always get people who tell me about their experiences with ghosts. ... We always tell them, ‘We’re going to tell you the facts about what we know, and we’re always going to tell you the legend and it’s up to you what you want to believe on this.’ ”
He said people are interested in the supernatural, or in ghosts, and many join one of the tours because they want to hear stories about “real people that are said to still be present today.”
“For me, it is about giving them an appreciation of the history of Paducah while we’re doing these tours, and so, I think they show up not knowing what to expect and then they’re totally surprised about how fascinating the history is, with ghosts as a primary vehicle for that history,” Cochran added.
People can learn about murders and other incidents at various locations, such as the First National Bank building, Stella Cohen at the C.C. Cohen building, an attempted witch burning in Paducah, and “Devil” George Winston, who was executed in connection with the stabbing of Vina Stubblefield in the late 1890s.
“’Devil’ Winston is always a great story,” Cochran said. “He’s what we usually end the tour (with) because it’s one of the most horrific murders in Paducah history, and the story of his hanging, which was documented by The Paducah (Daily Sun). Irvin Cobb was the reporter for that. Telling that story is always my favorite because it’s a great, great ghost story.”
The Oak Grove Cemetery ghost tours feature history and stories about some of the historic cemetery’s residents, such as the Cobb family and others.
People are advised to get their tickets early and to dress weather appropriate. They should bring an umbrella if needed, as tours take place rain or shine. The downtown tour takes about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes, and the cemetery tour usually lasts about an hour and a half, Cochran estimated.
“If you want to go for a wonderful walk in the fall, and hear some scary stories and learn about Paducah’s history, it’s a great time,” he said.
Visit markethouse theatre.org for more details about tour times, and tickets.
Follow Kelly Farrell on Twitter, @KellyAFarrell11