The current structure of the Bull’s Head Inn was built in 1802 by Seth Wakeman, on the site of three previous structures dating back to 1752 when George Ferster built a log cabin here, one of the first buildings in Cobleskill. During the American Revolution in the Battle of Cobleskill in 1778, that cabin was burned to the ground by British, Tories and Indians led by Chief Joseph Brant. The site was rebuilt twice more and each one was also successively burned.
It is from this history of catastrophic destruction on this site that various stories are told of occupants perishing in one or more of the fires. It is also stated that an Indian was killed in the building during one of the conflicts. One story in particular centers around a girl in an upstairs bedroom who was too scared to run, froze in terror and perished in the blaze. These stories have led to some of the explanations for why it is commonly believed that the Bull’s Head Inn is haunted. (See NY State Haunted History Trail)
It was established as an inn and tavern in 1802 to host the growing traffic of merchants travelling on the then recently charted Loonenburg Turnpike which facilitated commerce between Central NY and New York City. When the Erie Canal was built, it redirected this traffic to go further up the Hudson River to Albany and then westward to Buffalo, bypassing this popular Cobleskill stop-over point. In 1839 the Bull’s Head Inn was purchased by businessman and industrialist, Charles Courter to be used as his private residence. From then until 1966 it was known as Courter Mansion.
The last private residents of the Bull’s Head Inn were Mr. John Steacy and Mrs. Grace Steacy. John reportedly liked to drink quite a bit and Mrs. Steacy was a member of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and loathed drinking. After passing away, the building was sold by their estate to Monte Allen, who served as mayor of Cobleskill for some time. When in 1966, Monte Allen reopened the Bull’s Head Inn as a restaurant, he added a bar on the first floor in the late Mrs. Steacy’s home. Since then, many guests and employees have encountered apparitions and experienced extremely unusual events, attributing the occurrences to Mrs. Steacy. Sightings of a woman in a white gown moving typically around the central staircase, and upper and lower landings are numerous. Mischievous activity such as food, plates, utensils and napkins being disrupted, sometimes flying across the room or being knocked to the floor were typical. Door slams, and faucets turning on by themselves are examples of recent experiences of the current ownership.
Since Monte’s days, the Bull’s Head Inn had operated continuously through as series of other ownerships until the great storms of 2011 which decimated much of Schoharie County. Purchased by the current owners, the building’s first and second floors underwent a complete restoration and reopened in June of 2015. The theme of the restoration was to restore the building to its original former glory, from the time it was built when Thomas Jefferson was our President. The Cellar Tavern, originally built in 1982 was rebuilt using historic reclaimed materials from around the county and reopened in May of 2017.
-Written with benevolent reverence for the structure, its history, and spirits that may reside within.
Christopher J. Guldner, Owner of the Bull’s Head Inn