It wasn’t psychic intervention that told of the story of the man who lived in the pantry but the story told to us by a cute, vibrant lady who had worked at the hotel for over twenty-five years. She knew all the stories and was happy to share them. We interviewed her
twice while we were at the Key and found her fascinating.
One of the ghosts that roam the Cedar Key Inn is found in the pantry area of the kitchen and has been seen and identified by chefs and servers who spend most of their time in this food preparation area. They identify the man as being about five foot- six inches with dark hair and a mustache. All those that report the ghost describe him exactly the same. The story goes like this:
Simon Feinberg once owned the hotel. He was married to Ella Bluestein in Velva, Russia which is now part of Poland. They had five sons and three daughters. They moved to Tallahassee, Florida and built general stores in small towns which he then leased out. In 1898 he came to Cedar Key and built the General Store. He leased it to a man named Marcus Markham. Markham proceeded to expand the business by putting in a still for making liquor and hid it with a false ceiling. The still could only be reached through the kitchen pantry. This story was verified in 1980 when workmen, while reroofing the Inn, discovered the false ceiling and remnants of the old still in the attic.
Feinberg came out to Cedar Key to check on his holding and while he was at the Inn,
discovered the still. He was furious and confronted Markham who offered to pay him additional rent but Feinberg was not to be compromised. He was a church-going man who didn’t believe that men should drink, for no good would ever come of it. Markham said he had a resolution and they would discuss it over dinner in the dining room later that evening. Feinberg then retired to his room where he dressed for dinner.
Markham went right to work in the kitchen and added a little something extra for spice to the meal that the chef had prepared. What that extra was is unknown but was known is that it was lethal for Feinberg was found dead in his bed in the morning as the maids made their rounds. He died on May 11, 1919, in the bed in Room 27 of the Island Key Hotel. All of Feinberg’s children are now gone but nine grandchildren and great grand children still live in Florida.
Markham also met his death in the room behind the bar as he was knifed during a heated argument with a steamer boat captain while they drank in the bar. It seems Feinberg was right about the liquor. Marcus didn’t realize he was hurt as badly as he was and stuffed his handkerchief over his wound and climbed up to his attic still to get away from all of the ruckus that resulted from the confrontation at the bar.
He was found dead, hours later dangling from the steep ladder that ran from the pantry to the liquor still in the attic. It is believed that it is because this is where he died, this is where he was trapped. He is a very strong, forceful ghost and made his presence known to four ghost investigations who met at the Cedar Key Inn for a week-end conference and investigation..
It was about eleven o’clock when totally unplanned, four members of the investigating group ended up in the kitchen. Everyone was wandering around taking pictures when one of the group used her dowsing rods to ask the presence where he was. After determining that the presence was in the kitchen, the rod instantly whipped around indicating the ghost was behind her. She asked the presence if he could come to the front and before another word could be spoken, one of the psychics in the group yelled, “Here he comes.” That psychic said later that she clearly saw the figures come from the back of the kitchen, down the side aisle, and pass directly in front of her leaving a freezing cold trail which was immediately felt and reacted to by each person in the kitchen as the unseen figure passed in front of the three other investigations, one by one. Each of us yelled and made comments about the freezing cold which made my legs shake.
In talking about the incident after the investigators caught their breath, all reported feeling a “freezing cold” which made their legs and arms shake uncontrollably and then as suddenly as it came, it left. I have experienced chills and cold spots but never anything like this as this presence whipped by me.
The incident took place between a freezer which was examined after the fact to make sure that the cold had nothing to do with it, and we found that although it was indeed a freezer, the sides of the unit were not cold, but warm, probably due to the action of the motor and compressor inside. Two of the four investigators were facing the infamous pantry where Markham was found dead following his stabbing during the encounter.
Two of the investigators later returned to the kitchen and played “chase me” with the cold spot which seemed to be playing a game as it led investigators on a merry chase around the kitchen. There is no doubt in this investigator’s mind that there is indeed “a man in the pantry.”
The groups that were present in the kitchen represented the South Florida Ghost Team, Tampa Division, the Peace River Ghost Trackers, and the Spirit Research Team of Florida.
See Simone Hagee Feinberg
Cedar Key Inn
128 Primrose Dr.
Longwood, Fl 32779