The Dark History Behind Bobby Mackey’s

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Written By Madeline Guerra

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Wilder Kentucky, home to many things. One of them is Bobby Mackey’s Music World. A bar and nightclub that features a mechanical bull. 

When country singer Robert Randall Mackey, or Bobby for short, bought this large building to fulfill an old dream of his to play live at his own place, he had no idea what he was getting himself into. 

Deep below the building lurked a dark basement with a well that many call the gateway to hell. With all of the dark history that this building contains, it’s no surprise that Bobby Mackey’s is now one of the most haunted places in America.

Located next to a railroad track, the outside of the building looks like every other bar or restaurant you may visit in a small town, with white paint on one side and bricks on the other.

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 Once you enter, your senses are overtaken by the dimly lit red lights that run over the bar, red lights on the walls, and a red Bobby Mackey’s sign. After walking around a bit, any chance you had at having a normal night goes out the window when you read the sign that the staff put up that says:

“Warning to our patrons: this establishment is purported to be haunted. Management is not responsible and cannot be held liable for any actions of any ghosts/spirits on this premises.” 

In 1850, a slaughterhouse and meat packaging plant was constructed on that land. It was very large, and in the basement of the building sat a well. At the time, this well was used to dispose of the slaughtered animals’ blood, guts, and waste. 

Later, in the 1890s, for reasons unknown, the slaughterhouse was shut down, and the well was just left to sit there, day after day, year after year until it was made a key part in ritualistic sacrifices by many different satanic cults. 

Many of these rituals involved what researchers say to be both animal and human sacrifices, possibly even disabled children. The Satanists would do this in order to prove their loyalty to the devil himself and gain his favor.

Headless Pearl Bryan

A lot of this had been rumors and stories passed around town in order to scare children at the time, but it wasn’t until the town saw a truly horrifying crime in 1896, did they start to believe their own stories. Let’s dive into the story of what happened to Pearl Bryan. 

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Pearl Bryan was a young woman who was living in Greencastle, Indiana in 1896. Growing up in both a religious family and community, you can imagine how scared she was when she became pregnant by her boyfriend, William Wood, the son of the local Methodist minister. Wood then convinced her to get an abortion. 

He contacted his friend Scott Jackson who was a dental surgery student in Ohio, in hopes that he would be able to help with the procedure. Unknown to him though, Jackson was rumored to have ties to a satanic cult that practiced in the torn-down slaughterhouse in Wilder. 

Pearl left her home on February 1, 1896, and told her family that she was going to Indianapolis, but that was the last time they would ever see her alive. Since she was actually meeting Jackson and his roommate Alonzo Walling in Cincinnati. At the time, she was already five months pregnant. 

Unfortunately for her, Jackson’s skills were very incompetent. The first thing he and Alonzo had tried was to induce an abortion using cocaine, and it didn’t work. Then, they tried to use dental tools and ended up botching that as well. 

Nearly an hour later, they had a crying, frightened, and bleeding young woman on their hands, and no idea what to do. 

With little to no options left, they decided to take her across the Ohio River to Kentucky and snuck away to a secluded area near Fort Thomas. It was here that they killed Pearl by severing her head from her body with dental tools while she was still conscious. 

Afterward, they dumped her body about two miles from the abandoned slaughterhouse but kept her head. In fact, they were only able to identify her body by her shoes. 

This is because the company’s imprint was on the shoes she had been wearing at the time, and they were able to confirm with the authorities that they had sold them to her. 

Some of her blond hair was later found inside a valise in Jackson’s room. So where did Pearl’s head go? Many believe that it was used in a satanic ritual and dumped in the well at the old slaughterhouse due to the rumors about Jackson. 

Luckily, this story at least ended with some sort of justice. In 1897, both Jackson and Walling were put on trial and sentenced to death by public hanging. Her boyfriend Wood made a deal with authorities to save himself, but he had to testify against the two of them. 

The two of them were also offered a deal, life sentences for the location of Pearl’s head, but they refused. Perhaps they were afraid of Satan’s wrath if they revealed the location because the cult was involved. 

It is said that as the noose was being slipped around Walling’s neck, he said he would come back and haunt the area for all eternity, and it seems that he has followed through with promise.

Buck and Red

After standing for almost half a century, the old slaughterhouse was finally torn down, and in its place, stood a brand new casino and nightclub. Only this wasn’t just any ordinary nightclub, it was also a speakeasy, or in simpler terms, an illegal bar because it was the 1920s.

Buck Brady purchased the place in 1933 and renamed it the Primrose. Things went smoothly for about a decade, and then one of the frequent patrons, a shady mobster named Red Masterson, decided that he too wanted a piece of the profits.

So he did what mobsters did best, he tried to muscle his way into the business, but Buck wasn’t having it. He refused to sell anything to Red or his men, and soon things escalated. The mobsters began to threaten and harass the bar’s customers to the point where he decided to take matters into his own hands, and he drew a gun on Red. 

With his bad luck, the mobster of course ended up surviving, and poor Buck was charged with attempted murder and was forced to sell his bar in 1946. 

Most people assumed he left town on his own, ashamed to ever come back, but it wasn’t until authorities found his body in the building’s basement, right next to the well, that they knew they were wrong. 

Coroners ruled it death by suicide, another body to add to the land’s casualties.

Johanna and Her Lover

Fast forward to the 1950s, the bar was bought by a new man and renamed the Latin Quarter. Not much is known about who the man was himself, but his daughter is a whole different story. Johanna was her name, a beautiful name for a beautiful girl. 

Her father was very protective of her, so she was never allowed to go near men. But Johanna soon caught the eye of a performer at the bar that worked for her father. Her long, soft locks and the sweet smell of roses she left behind, was enough to tempt any man. 

With Johanna returning his affections, they began their forbidden love affair. Soon after, she became pregnant with his child. Both terrified of what would happen if her father found out, they quickly made plans to run away and begin their new life together. But someone else had found out, and the first thing they did was tell the father. 

Of course, he disapproved of the singer, so he had her lover murdered. 

Grief-stricken, she did the only logical thing she could think of at the time, she poisoned her father. Now left with no one in her life, she decided that life was no longer worth living. 

So, the same night that she killed her father, Johanna ended her own life, in the basement, right next to the well. Leaving nothing behind but the smell of her rose perfume, once sweet, but was now bitter with death.

Real Experiences

With how tragic her ending was, I’m not surprised that Johanna finds it difficult to leave the bar, even decades after her death. In fact, there are a number of people who claim to have seen her or felt her presence. 

One employee who worked there said that they have seen a woman who calls herself Johanna behind the bar, and when she disappears, apparently the sweet smell of roses lingers. 

But she wasn’t the only one who has had an experience with her spirit, because Bobby’s wife, who would help run the bar, claims that she would often be overcome with the scent of roses whenever she was in the basement.

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Also, according to her, when she was pregnant, she would still stay at the bar and help her husband manage the place. Then one day, while she was vacuuming the stairs of the building, she felt the arms of a man wrap around her waist. 

Her first thought was “Oh, it’s probably Bobby”, but when she turned around, there was no one there. Panic set in when she felt the arms pick her up, and the next things she knew, she had been thrown down the stairs. 

When asked what happened, she described the spirit as a man who fit the description of Alonzo Walling, one of the students that killed Pearl. She said he screamed at her “get out, get out!”. She now refuses to step foot in the bar ever again.

Not everything that happens at the bar is as sinister as what happened to Bobby’s wife, with multiple patrons coming forward constantly and describing the experiences they had in the bar. 

One patron claims to have experienced multiple things over a span of time, including feeling a suffocating heat, seeing a trash can fly across the room, and seeing a man with a handle-bar mustache yell at him “die game, die game”, in the men’s restroom, which is Latin for “dying well”. 

Perhaps slightly more scary, is the claim by the former caretaker of the building. According to the man, he was possessed by a demonic spirit when he was living there, and even according to Bobby, he witnessed his exorcism on-site by an ordained minister. 

Other staff have also come forward and shared their experiences with Bobby as well, although he remains a skeptic himself. 

According to one of his managers, she too has experienced unusual things in the bar. She said that when she normally closes the place for the night, she goes around the property to lock all of the doors, and turn off all of the lights and appliances.

But sometimes when she would return to open again, she would find all of the lights turned on, the doors unlocked, and the jukebox on, playing the song, Anniversary Waltz. 

A skeptic could say that maybe someone else had just arrived before her to open the business, which could be true. But it still doesn’t explain how the jukebox could be playing a song it doesn’t have or playing at all when it isn’t even plugged in. 

Some other ghosts that have been known to frequent the establishment are Buck Brady, the former owner of the nightclub before he killed himself, and the headless spirit of poor Pearl, still wandering around, looking for her head.

Paranormal Investigations

If you want to visit the place and try to see one of these lost souls for yourself, then good news. This place is open to everyone, just like a normal bar. 

One time, this place was featured on an episode of Ghost Adventures, and in the episode, they had the staff lock them inside overnight, so they could make sure they were getting the full experience.

Once night fell, they started to taunt the spirits in order to get a reaction to capture on camera, and they were most certainly not disappointed. 

The member of the crew who was leading the investigation ended up with three claw marks going down his back, with no explanation as to how they got there.

Bobby Mackey’s Music World is a great example of something that hides among us and feigns innocence before it sucks us into our waking nightmare. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. A place that has a history more bloody than some of us can stomach. 

Animals and humans being sacrificed, a woman being decapitated when she was still conscious, and one too many suicides in the basement, perhaps this place will never be able to outgrow the dark shadow cast upon it. 

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