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Z.D. Ramsdell House

Historic Sites, Monuments, Landmarks, and Public Art (National Register of Historic Places)


The iconic Ramsdell House was built in Ceredo, WV in 1857-1858 and was occupied by prominent early resident Z. D. Ramsdell. This house was the first brick home in Ceredo. It is said that this home was used by the Underground Railroad for those escaping freedom, this being the last stop before crossing the Ohio River. Today it is on the National Register of Historical Places.

House drawing by Z.D. Ramsdell's daughter. 1870's. Courtesy of "Lost Village of Barboursville" website.
Boot maker, Civil War veteran, postmaster, state senator, and education advocate, Z. D. Ramsdell was one of Ceredo's most prominent citizens. Courtesy of the Ceredo Historical Society Museum.


Zopher Deane Ramsdell (1816-1886) was a native of Massachusetts who moved with his family to Ceredo in 1858. They came at the invitation of Eli Thayer, who was attempting to establish an abolitionist, slave-free community in a southern slave state. Ramsdell started as a manufacturer of boots, saddles, and other leather goods. When the Civil War began he enlisted as a quartermaster in the 5th West Virginia Volunteer Infantry and rose through the ranks to become a captain under General Robert Milroy. After the war President Grant appointed him to be a postmaster. Ramsdell briefly served in the West Virginia state senate and was a delegate to the national conventions that nominated presidents Grant, Hayes, and Garfield. He was also an active proponent of education, helping to form one of the first Free School laws for the Ceredo Educational District.

The Greek Revival-style house was constructed in 1857-1858, allegedly on top of an Indian burial mound. It was built by Denney Shine and the Chase Brothers Contractors. The building materials included native stones and bricks produced in a local brickyard. Z. D. Ramsdell lived in the home until his death in 1886; the home was occupied by his descendants until 1977 and later acquired by the Ceredo Historic Landmark Commission. In the 1980s it underwent a two-year restoration thanks to donations and a grant from the West Virginia Department of Culture and History. The house was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1983.

Z. D. Ramsdell was an abolitionist and tradition holds that his home was part of the Underground Railroad. With Ceredo being so close to the free state of Ohio, the Ramsdell House would have made an ideal location. Slaves would hide in a hidden basement or in spaces underneath the floorboards, and then be smuggled at night across the Ohio River into Ohio. However no evidence has been found to support these claims. There have also been persistent rumors that the home is haunted by the spirits of slaves, Civil War soldiers, or Native Americans from the burial mound. Several paranormal activity investigators, including Original West Virginia Paranormal, have examined the home and claimed to have heard various noises and movements.

In April 2017, the Ramsdell House was closed to begin new renovations and repairs. A reopening date has not yet been announced. 


Guay, Jessica. "Paranormal investigations help preserve history of Ramsdell House in Ceredo." WCHS. October 31, 2016. Accessed January 24, 2017.

Little, Glade. "Z.D. Ramsdell." E-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. November 21, 2016. Accessed January 12, 2017.

Massey, Tim R. "Refurbishing the 'charm' of an old relic." The Herald-Dispatch (Huntington, West Virginia), May 08, 1984.

Z.D. Ramsdell-Quartermaster records of the regiment, including monthly property accounts, clothing and other supply records; animal return and acquisitions, etc. submitted by Z. D. Ramsdell: Special Collections, Marshall University.;id=987D4173-557D-4967-8ED9-2...

1108 B St.
Ceredo, WV 25507
Currently closed for renovations.
  • African American History
  • Historic Homes
User Created Tours That Include This Entry
This location was created on 2013-11-07 by Lora Rutherford .   It was last updated on 2017-05-23 by Steven Cody Straley .

This entry has been viewed 1756 times within the past year


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