The Haunting of the Mathias Ham House Museum

Ham House Museum– Dubuque County, Dubuque, Iowa

Photograph ©Online Tour of Dubuque

2241 Lincoln Avenue
Dubuque, Iowa 52001
(563) 557-9545

Built in 1837 by Mathias Ham, this home started out with two-stories and five rooms that overlooked the lazy Mississippi river. This, significantly smaller home, provided the shelter that Mathias needed for his wife and five children.

After the death of Mathias’s wife, an additional three-stories were added to the house; giving the family a total of twenty-three rooms!

Mathias made his fortune in the mining, lumber, agriculture and shipping vessels that floated down the Mississippi. Mathias spent quite a bit of time in the very top room of the house where he could see the river and he could keep an eye on his ships. On one particular day, Mathias spotted pirates on the river and alerted the authorities. The pirates were arrested and they made a vow to get revenge on Mr. Ham.

By the end of the eighteen-hundreds, the only living family member left was Sarah Ham, one of Mr. Ham’s daughters. Sarah lived in this enormous home by herself.

One night while Sarah was in bed reading, she heard someone moving around on the floor below her. She crept quietly down to investigate but the intruder had already vacated.

The next day, Sarah alerted her neighbors to the previous nights activities and told them if it happened again, she would place a light in the window to call on them for help.

That night she heard the intruder again. This time she called out to ask who was there. No answer came and she went back into her room and locked the door. Sarah then placed the lantern in the window and readied her shotgun to defend herself. Heavy footsteps made their way up the steps and stopped right outside her bedroom door. Sarah fired off two shots.

When the neighbors arrived, they followed a bloody trail down to the river and found the pirate captain who had threatened Mathias, dead along the river bank.

Today, the mansion is a museum and is said to be haunted by several restless apparitions. Unexplainable lights have been seen, floating down the dark corridors and stairways throughout the mansion.

Many have reported hearing strange and unidentifiable noises coming from the top room of the house. It is believed that Mathias himself haunts this room; still watching the river for his ships.

At least one of the spirit occupants is said to make visitors feel uneasy. Many have reported bodily chills or feeling as if someone were watching them. Others have reported eerie, cold spots or gusts of icy cold air that seems to come from nowhere. This may be the pirate that lost his life so unexpectedly here.

One of the employees here reported hearing the old pump organ play after the lights were turned out. When she turned the lights on, no one was there. The organ was not supposed to be in working order at that time and it was closed up!

The sounds of voices have been heard inside and outside of the museum, as well as, disembodied footsteps. Many employees have claimed to hear odd noises in the basement, close to where an old tunnel used to be located but, the tunnel caved in years ago.

It seems to me that this old home has its share of paranormal activity. However, no one has done any documented research on the place, as of yet.