Category: Hauntings

Thrown Down A Well: An Attempted Murder in Kingsville

Thrown Down A Well: An Attempted Murder in Kingsville

June 27, 1850
Kingsville, Ashtabula County, Ohio

Kingsville is a quaint town in northern Ashtabula County, having been established in 1810, but has a profound history for the macabre as well. Residents were scandalized in 1853 by the suicide of one of its own, Abel Brumbley, who wound a rope around his neck, attached a stone to the end of it, and jumped in a pond to his death. Kingsville was also the seat of the county infirmary which burned down in 1858. The fire was started accidentally by one inmate who survived but caused the death of six other inmates. 

Not only does Kingsville have its store of tragedies, but is also home to several ghosts, one a railway spirit made famous when the Marion Daily Star remarked on the phenomenon.

Kingsville has a ghost that promenades the railway track and swings a blue lantern in its ghostly hands. An express train was stopped one night by the light, and the ghost disappeared into the woods.

Marion Daily Star, January 22, 1885 

The Kingsville Library on Academy Street has a resident ghost wearing a suit and top hat who has been spotted by a few librarians over the years. Also, mysterious occurrences have been recorded at the Simak Welcome Center on School Street. The building was once the old brick schoolhouse, originally built in 1908. After visitors experienced the sounds of children’s voices and other unexplained occurrences, a team of ghost hunters, Lakeview Paranormal, went to investigate. They caught EVP’s, strange noises, and even witnessed a flashlight operated by an unseen hand.

Yet prior to these known stories of Kingsville, one such story exists that without one newspaper article, would be lost to time. 

Rollin Harlow Harmon was born in about 1823 in Kingsville, the son of Reuben Harmon and Harriet Sheldon. Both of his parents had died prior to his marriage to Anna Mohr on March 19, 1850 in Kingsville. Anna was 24, having been born in Canada on October 15, 1825 to Thomas Mohr and Anna Elizabeth Yeager.

With Rollin’s marriage to Anna, he obtained a fine piece of property. There they lived for three months before Rollin decided he was quite weary of his new wife. Within the first month of marriage, Anna conceived a child, but whether or not Rollin was aware of the delicate condition of his wife before hatching his evil plan is quite unknown. Perhaps the information aided his decision to murder Anna and keep the parcel of land she had brought to their union. 

On June 26th, Rollin began to behave very oddly and often lost himself in thought. He eventually told Anna he very much wished to be rid of her, a comment that put her on edge. He ordered the hired man away from the vicinity, busying him with far off tasks. Rollin attempted to draw Anna out of the house by pulling her from about the waist. He told her that the bucket to the well had fallen in and he required her help to retrieve it. She obeyed, albeit with much suspicion, and stood at the side of the well opposite him. When she peered down to see if the bucket was truly down the deep hole, Rollin dashed around and shoved his wife. Despite his determination to pitch her forward, she managed to keep her footing and did not fall in. Trembling in fear, she hastened to the safety of the house and he followed. When she asked him why he had pushed her, he told her he was simply acting in jest and asked her to come back outside. She adamantly refused and spent the remainder of the day perplexed and frightened. Perhaps Anna eventually came to accept the notion that Rollin had been fooling with her, because she told no one and continued with her daily activities.

The following day, Rollin sent the hired man into the woods to fetch the cattle. Anna was engaged in the household chores when Rollin approached her, once again asking her assistance at the well. She rebuffed him and he reacted by scooping her up. He stifled her screams beneath the firm clamp of his hand, his fingernails causing cuts on her cheek and eyelid. Rollin carried her outdoors while Anna attempted to kick herself free. He brought her to the well where a struggle ensued. He could not lift her over the well’s curb, so he kicked the stones away and held her over the chasm, releasing her to the darkness below. She dropped headfirst thirty feet downward, twisting in midair so that her feet landed in three feet of water.  Following a great splash, Anna found herself overall unharmed but in the predicament of being trapped down a well while her murderous husband loomed overhead.

Rollin looked down at Anna in disbelief, angry that all his scheming and effort had come to naught. He called down to her that he would help her climb out, but she fretted that as soon as she was above, he would attempt to throw her down again. Yet she had no choice, unless she wished to remain standing waist-deep in cold water, so she complied by attempting to hold onto a pole he thrust down towards her. She could not grip it, therefore they abandoned that idea. Thinking industriously, Rollin fetched the ropes used for tying the cows and by using them was able to pull Anna up and out of the well. He ordered his shivering wife to immediately return to the house and change her clothing. However, the hired man came along at that moment and witnessed the battered and drenched woman retreating from the well, trembling with cold and fright. Rollin told his man that Anna had fallen into the well on accident, but there was no cause for alarm as he had managed to pull her out on his own. 

Perhaps to collect his emotions, Rollin left at once for his brother’s and returned a short time later. He harnessed the horses and commenced harrowing his field. Anna took this opportunity to escape; crossing a field, climbing over a fence, and finally collapsing at the doorstep of her neighbor’s, the Parkers. They pulled her inside and attempted to discern what horror had befallen young Anna, but she proved to be in such a state of shock that much time passed before she could begin to murmur of her husband’s attempt on her life. Dark bruises formed across her skin and her face bled from the lacerations caused by Rollin’s fingernails. After she could alas tell her story to the Parker’s, Mr. Parker walked to the field Rollin was working. Parker felt out the situation by first engaging Rollin in conversation concerning the crops and found the farmer to be calm, lacking any appearance of agitation. Parker then approached the subject of Anna falling down the well and Rollin assured his neighbor that she had fallen in quite by accident.

The Parkers notified the local esquire, J. G. Thurber, of the attempted murder and Rollin was arrested. During the first night of his incarceration, Rollin managed to escape, fleeing into the cover of the woods. After an arduous manhunt, a Mr. Benson came upon Rollin in his hiding place and the rogue man brandished a knife at his pursuer, threatening to “rip him up”. However, Rollin was alas subdued and booked into the county jail on charges of assault with intent to kill.

What happened after is a mystery lost to time, however we have a vital clue that tells us Rollin was most likely acquitted. In 1850, it was the year of the census and Kingsville’s census was recorded on the 4th of September. In this record, Rollin was shown as living in the home of his brother Catlin with their younger brother Hollis. Anna was listed living with her parents Thomas and Anna Mohr and brother Samuel. It appears that Rollin and Anna were blessedly living separately lives at this point, but Rollin was living a life of freedom with his family. It is possible Rollin received a light sentence that did not involve incarceration or was set free altogether, though we cannot say for sure. Had he been incarcerated at this time, he would have been listed as an “inmate” in the city of his imprisonment, not listed at his usual place of residence.

In January of 1851, Anna gave birth to a daughter, Ella.

Seven years after the attempted murder of his wife, Rollin died. He was a young man of 33 or 34, and was buried in East Lake Cemetery in North Kingsville. His brother Martin named his infant son after Rollin in 1860, but the child died when he was a year old.

Anna and her parents relocated to Erie, Pennsylvania. There, she married Isaac Mosher and they had at least one child for certain according to records, a son Frank in 1867. Anna spent the remainder of her life in Erie, raising her children and stepchildren. She died in 1888 at the age of 63 in Millcreek Township and was buried in Erie Cemetery. Rollin and Anna’s daughter Ella lived a long life and died an old woman.

Though it is frustrating to find no reports of what occurred to Rollin after his arrest and details of his trial—if there was a trial—it is comforting to know that Anna went on to enjoy a relatively long life. The fact that she survived falling down a well is truly remarkable. If it were not for the painstaking efforts of Find A Grave volunteers, we would not know what happened to Anna after her husband in his viciousness and complete lack of empathy, attempted to take the life of her and their unborn child. His actions were premeditated and not performed in a heightened emotional state as his failed attempt one day was carried out in a second attempt on the next. He was truly a cowardly, cold-hearted man who can be placed in the ranks with Ira Gardner in regards to the criminals of Northeast Ohio history. 


  • History of Ashtabula County, Ohio; Large, Moina W.; Topeka; Historical Pub. Co. 1924
  • Ohio Ghost Hunter Guide VI by Jannette Rae Quackenbush, 2014, pages 37-41
  • Marriage Record: “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2016,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 15 July 2014), Ashtabula > Marriage records 1849-1872 vol D > image 16 of 150; county courthouses, Ohio.
  • United States Census,1850: Rollin Harmon in the house of Catlin Harmon,
  • United States Census, 1850: Anna Harmon in home of Thomas Mohr,
  • Assault with Intent to Kill: Portage Sentinel, July 8, 1850

Ghost Hunt at Hotel Conneaut with Ghosts n’at Paranormal Adventures Team

Hotel Conneaut
Conneaut Lake, Crawford County, Pennsylvania
Saturday, October 18, 2019

During the Halloween season while Conneaut Lake Park hosted its Ghost Lake 13 Levels of Fear, Hotel Conneaut hosted a real haunted tour of its own. For the second time, I returned to Hotel Conneaut for a ghost hunt with Ghosts n’at Paranormal Adventures. 

The lobby
The stairwell with vintage park photos on the walls
Gauger family photo album

My husband Mark came with me, despite being one of the biggest skeptics and ridiculer of all things paranormal, but I was grateful for his company. We checked into the lobby around 5:30 p.m. where professional ghost hunter Patty assigned us to our room. After walking up two floors to the third level, we found our room along the same horizontal hallway as I stayed before. This time, the room was on the opposite side of the hall than last year and on the same wing and side as the most haunted room: suite 321-323. Our room was #305 and had been adopted by the Gauger family who took great care in remodeling it with a fresh coat of paint, new furniture, and all the knick-knacks to pull off a golf theme. A photo album on the dresser showed the progress of the remodel and noted the great memories this family has had at Hotel Conneaut. 

The view from our room

The doors to the ballroom opened at 6:30 for the dinner buffet and everything was set up quite differently than last year. Last year the ballroom had rows of chairs set up in the style of a wedding ceremony and this year the room read more like a wedding reception. Round tables draped with white tablecloths and surrounded by chairs filled the room. A buffet was set up along the wall right of the entrance past the Ghosts n’at booth and equipment at the head of the room. Last year the buffet had been in the basement, or the ballroom’s lower level. 

At 7:30, the event began after all the amateur ghost hunters filled the chairs and focused on the front of the room where Ghosts n’at began their presentation. Owner Brett McGinnis talked a bit about their group and how they started out by going to people’s homes to investigate. When they saw a desire for regular people to be able to investigate real haunted locations, they started Ghosts n’at Paranormal Adventures to make that idea possible. Over the past few years, they have hosted ghost hunting events at several haunted locations around Pennsylvania and New York such as Castle Blood, Hull Family Home and Farmstead, Hill View Manor, and Nemocolin Castle. Brett stated that Hotel Conneaut is by far their favorite location to investigate and they always find great evidence, though most of it is subtle. He did talk about the various ghosts and the legends behind them, stating that nothing to explain these ghosts has been recorded. Though these events cannot be substantiated, he said that did not mean they never happened. He introduced the team which was much the same as last year and included Tim, Patty, and Joshua. The older Tim that headed up the investigation in the basement last year had retired and now the other Tim’s son Ricky took his place. They divided us into groups and our group was sent off with Joshua for our first location.

Location #1 – Ballroom Lower Level

The stairs leading down to the ballroom’s lower level (doors at the left) and to the rear parking lot outside

Joshua led us out of the ballroom to the left and down the staircase leading to the lower level. The lower level ballroom was actually the dining room that I had described in the last ghost hunt. The windowed walls at the far end of the room looked out into the garden and beyond that, Lake Conneaut. Double swinging doors at the left of the entrance led to the kitchen and the room had a bar with a large screen television behind it. No doubt this location bore witness to countless weddings. 

Lower ballroom

I was disappointed with how the lower ballroom hunt went this year. Last year was very interactive and we had the chance to walk around and take photos, even explore the kitchen. This time, workers were going in and out of the kitchen and the screams from the Ghost Lake haunted amusement could regularly be heard from outside, so all of this was very disruptive.

I think we had a fairly bashful group, for though Josh encouraged us to ask questions to the Spirit Box, even providing us with a pile of folded papers containing pre-written questions, no one really spoke up. No one besides a fellow ghost hunter, Brent, who proved to be quite a distraction the entire night. It was initially Brent’s girlfriend who piped up, saying that she could feel someone stroking her hair. I inwardly rolled my eyes because I immediately took note that she was sitting directly under an air vent, something everyone else either failed to notice or did not mention. I did not speak up and break the bad news because I did not want to be subjected to nasty glares. Brent then decided that the spirits liked his girlfriend and were continuously flirting with her, thus setting the theme for the entire ghost hunt. At every single location he never failed to ask if the spirit liked his girlfriend or something of that nature. 

Location #2 – Ballroom Upper Level

Next, we returned to the Crystal Ballroom, or Elizabeth’s Ballroom where we sat facing the front of the room where Tim’s son Ricky led the second session. 

Ricky had the PhasmaBox app running on the computer. He also had a prop dog on the floor, a Vortex Trigger Basset Hound to be exact, of which when touched by a spirit, is supposed to trigger lights on its collar. Ricky said that this light had gone off during the last session. However, we sat there in awkwardness as nothing happened with the dog or the PhasmaBox. The only interesting tidbit about this session occurred when Ricky mentioned that the bodies of two men killed in a nearby fire were brought into the ballroom before they were picked up by the authorities or funeral home. They are said to haunt the ballroom. This is the first time I had ever heard of this. My mind immediately went to Arthur Bigelow and William Kleeb, the park employees killed in the 1936 cottage fire, and so badly I wanted to shout their names out, but I was far too shy to do so. I was feeling especially self conscious because I was there with my husband and I think if my friend Robin had been there instead, I would have piped up. Ricky invited us to ask questions for the spirits and I longed to ask Arthur and William by name if they were present. However, I did not want my husband to scoff at me and so I remained silent. Of this I regret and hope to gain some bravery before the next ghost hunt.

Location #3 – 2nd Floor Hallway and Room 182

We met Tim in the second floor hallway where he led an EVP session attempting to contact the little boy Nick who fell down the stairs on his tricycle. A toy tricycle was placed in the stairwell just outside the second floor hallway to see if it would move, but it never did. We each had the opportunity to ask a question. My husband Mark asked Nick if he missed his parents. I asked my tried and true, “Are you happy?” On playback, I did receive a couple syllable response, but it was unfortunately too garbled to make anything of it. Last year, I received a very clear “Of course!” in reply.

We had a boy in our group named Derek, about pre-teen age, who had come with his parents and they lived in our neighboring town of Warren. Derek asked Nick if he wanted to play with him and a voice on the recorder responded with a definitive, “Yes!”

We then filed into room 182 where we sat on the two beds. A grumpy old man ghost is said to haunt the room. Tim led another EVP session and we each had a turn of asking a question to the voice recorder. I asked, “Do you like it here?”. Brent asked, “Do you want to touch my girlfriend?” to which we all laughed uneasily. Mark asked “Were you married?” and on playback, the voice recorder had picked up a very slow, sardonic laugh that did not come from anyone in the room. We all thought that was amazing evidence and translated the laugh as being from someone who either had been unhappily married or never married because he thought of marriage as pointless. Someone asked where the spirit was in the room and an EVP was caught. I heard it as “By the window” but Tim was adamant that it said “In the bathroom right now.” With that information, Tim brought out the spirit box and asked the ghost if he was still in the bathroom which it replied, “Yes”. Tim asked jokingly, “Are you going #1 or #2?” The spirit box replied very distinctly, “Number one.” We considered this location to be quite the success despite it being one of the more lackluster spots on last year’s hunt.

Location #4 – Room 321-323

Our group headed to the third floor and into the most haunted room: suite 321-323. We spread out in the room, sitting on two beds and some chairs. Mark and I sat on the bed farthest from everyone else by ourselves. Brett McGinnis led the session and he talked a bit about the activity in the room. He said that on many occasions, people sleeping on the other bed across the room from where I was sitting had been touched in their sleep. One girl had woken up to her leg being tugged and the feeling that someone was attempting to pull her out of the bed. As Brett talked, his K2 meter and a ghost prop ball sitting on the dresser lit up at the same time. He laughed at that and said it was strange because the vibrations of him pacing in the floor would not be enough to set those off and something would have had to touch them. He went on to say that during a session in the February ghost hunt, a couple had been present where the girlfriend had dragged her boyfriend there despite him being a skeptic and he had come simply to appease her. The boyfriend had been standing against the partition separating the two doors that led out of the room. During that session, a white filmy humanoid creature rushed out from under the bed Mark and I were presently sitting on and shot out across the floor, disappearing through the door leading to the hallway. The boyfriend was so terrified that he spent the remainder of the session pressed against the door. I wish I had been there for that because our session turned out to be fairly stagnate and though Brett caught some EVPs, they were not anything noteworthy.  

Location #5 – 3rd Floor Employee Hallway

For our final location, we were directed around the corner and down the hall past the stairway to my favorite location from last year: the employee hallway. As Patty met us and invited us to walk down the long, dark hall, I realized how different it appeared from last time. A little nook had been opened up off of the left hand side that contained a seating area. We passed a glass door that revealed a large stairwell leading down to the bar that was for employees only. After that, to the left was a room we went into that had a couch at the opposite end. Patty had her laptop with the PhasmaBox app running within the small room that we all squeezed into. Patty said we were welcome to go in and explore any of the open rooms in the employee hall except for the ones that were locked and occupied by employees. However, no one accepted her invitation to do so and I felt trapped in the room and unable to explore. Instead, we chatted with the PhasmaBox but the voices coming through were very difficult to understand and when they could be understood, were speaking nonsense. Brent had reached the apex of his shenanigans and was continuously taunting the PhasmaBox. Derek and I held the two K2 meters while Derek and Brent sat on the couch where Derek’s K2 meter continuously lit all the way up. Whenever his meter lit all the way up, mine would light up partially and only once lit fully up. Brent decided that the spirit did not like him sitting on the couch because the spirit liked Derek and was trying to sit next to the boy. I could not decide if he really believed this or was just making a joke of it at this point. His girlfriend seemed quite embarrassed and disconnected at this point. This combined with the screams clearly heard directly below us from the Ghost Lake haunted tour that erupted every few minutes was extremely distracting and made for a very unproductive ghost hunt. I could not figure out where exactly in the hotel the Ghost Lake was set up, but I will never again pay all that money to do a ghost hunt in October while Ghost Lake is running. 

After Hours

After the session ended, we regrouped in the ballroom for closing remarks. The winner for the raffle was announced and the lucky person received a key to stay in the most haunted room in the hotel. It was 11 o’clock and time for the mingle in the Spirit Lounge but the Ghosts n’at crew separated off and there was no mingling at that point. The lounge and lobby were filled with locals and the atmosphere did not seem as welcoming as it had earlier. Tim and Patty came down the stairs with a large and gorgeous dog, no doubt leading it out the front doors for a bathroom break and exercise. They told us it was a Chow-Chow when Mark asked what kind of dog they had. Tim had told us earlier that Patty has to travel with her pets and they even had a rabbit in their room. I admired them all the more. We did not hang out for very long and did not ghost hunt on our own. I would have liked to but Mark was not interested and we needed to get some sleep in order to pick up our two young children from my parents’ house in the morning.

I was fairly disappointed with the entire experience, though Ghosts n’at did a wonderful job as they always do. In the future, I will avoid going to a ghost hunt at the hotel around Halloween because the Ghost Lake feature was so disruptive. However, seeing the hotel again and having an opportunity to explore its historical halls made me so happy. In the morning, as we headed down to the lower ballroom/dining room for breakfast, the sun could be seen shining through thick fog rolling off of Lake Conneaut. The image was simply breathtaking and I wish I could wake up every morning with such a view. I picture summer visitors of yesterday enjoying a hot beverage on the porch while watching nature’s spectacular morning show. 

After breakfast, Mark and I walked along the boardwalk on that chilly morning and soaked in our beautiful surroundings. As the fog dissipated the lake took shape and the gentle waters lolled in the breeze. Several boats in the harbor bobbed upon the meager waves and the atmosphere felt calm and embracing. I was greatly reluctant to leave my favorite hotel but I am so grateful for each opportunity to visit. Hopefully next time I will have my partner in crime, Robin, with me and our experience will be more eventful than this one!

Bench in memory of Courtney Shook, Hotel Conneaut’s bar manager who died tragically earlier this year.

Mesopotamia Walking Tour

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Mesopotamia is one of the most picturesque and quaint townships in Northeast Ohio. Its rich history is held up with pride by the locals and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It has one of the oldest and largest Amish communities in the country. The End of the Commons General Store is a historical landmark. Established in 1840, it is the oldest general store in Ohio and walking through its door is like stepping back in time. Traveling to the general store for old fashioned candy or a malted milkshake proves a novelty for children that live in the area. I myself once looked forward to an annual visit to the store on a hot summer day. A popular tourist destination, visitors from all over come to experience the nostalgia that the general store evokes. The surrounding homes in the town square, or Commons as it is thusly called, have historic significance as well and the center green is the site of many annual festivities including the Maple Syrup Festival and Ox Roast.

When Robin and I hear about a historic walking tour of Mesopotamia, or “Mespo” as the locals call it, we leap at the opportunity for a little adventure in the vicinity of our hometown. We meet with a group of other historians at the Old Stone House for the event that was organized by the Trumbull County Historical Society. The tour is hosted by Darcy Miller, owner and operator of the Old Stone House Bed and Breakfast just south of Mesopotamia Commons on Rt 534. She serves coffee and cinnamon buns and is as warm and friendly as the atmosphere of the bed and breakfast.

Virgin Earth

When our tour group assembles in the kitchen of the house at 10 a.m., Darcy provides us with a brief history of Mesopotamia and the Old Stone House. She relates how Pierpont Edwards acquired the acreage that eventually became Mesopotamia when the Connecticut Land Company distributed land. He appointed his son John Stark Edwards, a lawyer, to settle the unbroken wilderness. Soon after clearing away some of the trees and dense underbrush, settlers came to roost, if not temporarily then for good with their descendants walking the same rich earth decades later.

Darcy speaks of a tribe of Indians that remained in the area well after the settlers rooted themselves in Mesopotamia. They were of possible Chippewa descent, but were known by their totem, the Massasauga black rattlesnake. The white settlers did not care to be neighbors with the Indians, criticizing their ways of dress and customs. Attempts to Christianize them failed and their old chief Papua was known for bothering the settlers for food and drink. Before the war of 1812, the Indians vacated the area but following the war, they returned to camp just north of where the Commons sits today along the Grand River. One day, some of the settlers came to the camp and discovered the Indians gone temporarily. They took it upon themselves to send a message by vandalizing the camp, carving the silhouette of an Indian in the bark of a tree and shooting it in the head. When the Indians returned, saddened by the destruction and threats of violence, they proclaimed their desire to live in peace. They carved the figure of a white man in another tree trunk and let it be, but this proclamation was for naught as they soon gathered up their belongings and moved on, never to be seen in Mesopotamia again. 

The Old Stone House

Darcy estimates that the Old Stone House was built around 1823 because the 1824 tax records listed a dwelling on the property. She tracked down as many historic documents as she could to discern information on the prior owners of the home. It had been built by Jesse Holcomb, grandson of Hezekiah Holcomb, original owner of the property. George Arnold was also an owner before Mark and Aysley Ford acquired the property. Two of their sons, Hiram and George, continued living there after they reached maturity and inherited the property upon their parents’ deaths. Subsequent to the brothers’ deaths, the house was passed down to their nephew Jesse Ford while their other nephew Elsworth inherited the surrounding land. Eventually, the home was taken into possession by the Webbs and most likely passed through many hands in the decades before the Millers took on the establishment.

Google aerial map of Old Stone House

Darcy purchased the Old Stone House in 1985. She came here from Ontario, married an ex Amish man, Sam Miller, and together, they renovated the building that would become their home and later a bed and breakfast. Her mother teased her about moving far away into the middle of one of the biggest Amish communities in America, but Darcy was smitten with the property from the start. The structure is two stories tall with three bedrooms, one on the first floor with a king size bed and two bedrooms on the second floor with queen sized beds. The walls of the home are nearly two feet thick, but the stones are porous, leaving one to feel the chill breeze through the house on blustery winter days. Built in the Greek Revival style, circa 1815, the home is not only a thing of beauty for those passing by, but a historical landmark. An apt description of the house was written by historian Chris Klingemier from Hartford Township, Ohio, who specializes in architecture:

 “The stone house sited atop a rise south of Mesopotamia center is a 1-1/2 storey, two room deep center hall house, a common type found in both Pennsylvania and New York. What is uncommon is the quality of the stone and stonework. The facade of the building used stones carefully selected from one strata of the quarry, all exhibiting purple & blue mineral bands. The doorways are exceptional, with dressed stone used for the elements normally rendered in wood. The layout and scale of the interior, as well as the selection of strap and pintle hinges for doors, suggest a Germanic influence. Stone houses were rare in the Western Reserve and few survive, making this one of the most important early structures in the region.” 

Chris Klingemier

While performing renovations, the Millers preserved as much of the original woodwork as possible and today the home is full of charm and warmth. They have added a large addition onto the back of the house to accommodate a large living area. I am unable to snap photos while inside the home because there are so many bodies crammed into the space. We tour the home and go upstairs where we crowd on the landing, peering into the quaint rooms that Darcy has decorated so lovingly. 

Hiram & George Ford and Legends of Ghosts

Darcy regales us with the tale of the Ford brothers who lived here over a century ago. Hiram and George Ford lived alone for many years, operating the successful farm they inherited from their parents. Neither of them married or had children. They got along so well, that upon Hiram’s death in 1871, George could no longer bear to live there alone and walked away from the home and all his belongings in it. From then on, locals avoided the Old Ford Place as stories it was haunted took on a life of their own. Another rumor indicated money was left hidden in the house, but no thief or curiosity seeker had been brave enough to find out for themselves for fear Hiram’s ghost would chase them away. 

Due to rumors and legends, word of mouth as well as publications have misidentified these brothers as John and Jerry Ford, including a Plain Dealer article on the subject and in the book Legends and Lost Treasure of Northern Ohio. However, this inaccuracy most likely originated from an oral history passed down through the decades and like a game of telephone, the brothers’ names transformed. So in these publications’ defense, it is understandable that they would repeat these legends as told. In any case, the story continues on to say that decades after George, or “Jerry” abandoned the house, his niece asked him if she could take a look inside and he gave her the key. The year was 1900, or so it goes.

“Once inside, the niece experienced a sort of time warp. Entering the house, everything —all the way down to the dirty pots on the stove was left exactly as it had been thirty years prior. Lavish furnishings, clothes, and newspapers were virtually untouched.

“As the niece and her mom rummaged around the house, they stumbled upon a dark wooden chest. Inside, the pair found numerous faded legal documents, including deeds, bank records and medical records. Most interesting, they found a tin can with gold and silver coins totaling to $500.”

Legends and Lost Treasure of Northern Ohio, page 59

The niece and mother left without the coins and on a return trip, discovered that someone had broke in and stolen them.  To this day, locals continue to believe money is buried or hidden somewhere on the property. Rumors the home is haunted abound, though as Darcy tells her tale, she does not reveal if she has lived in the presence of ghosts through the past decades. A member of the press is on our walking tour taking notes as Darcy speaks and no doubt interviews Darcy at the close of the tour. This evening, an article will be published in the Tribune Chronicle that states Darcy has not seen any ghosts.

William G. Krejci reveals differently in his book, Ghosts and Legends of Northern Ohio. He begins by setting the record straight, not only to correct the brothers’ names, but to say that George had no niece by blood. Instead, he believes the women in the story to be his nephew’s wife Grace Ford and her mother Julia Brigden. Also, George died in 1896, so the year could not have been 1900 when the house was reopened, but an earlier date.

Krejci visited the Old Stone House and personally interviewed Darcy for the story in his book that was published in September of 2019, a month after our history walk. Darcy told him that initially the house had no activity to speak of, but things became noisy, most likely during renovations. Darcy sometimes hears noises of an unexplained origin and guests have even witnessed the ghost of a young boy in the house. Krejci states that paranormal investigators have stayed the night in the house, capturing EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon) and photo anomalies. With this information in hand, it makes sense why Darcy told the Tribune writer that she has not seen any ghosts on the property. Though she has heard noises, it has only been guests that witnessed the apparitions, not Darcy herself.

Google aerial map of the center of Mesopotamia

The Town Hall

As soon as we tour the house, Darcy directs us to our cars and we drive north to the old Town Hall that sits on the southeast corner of Routes 87 and 534. We park in the gravel parking lot behind the tall, red-bricked building. Stepping over the threshold into the two-story structure, we are taken to a period where neighbors come together for fellowship and entertainment. We take the stairway to the left of the interior entryway that leads upstairs into a large auditorium. A stage occupies the north end of the room while the floor slopes upward toward the south end of the room, an intentional construction detail to allow people sitting in the back to see over the heads of those in front. The seats have been pulled off to the sides of the auditorium as pieces of the ceiling fall away to scatter the floor with debris. The grand stage, once the center of excitement, is empty and coated in dust. I begin to imagine the political debates and Christmas programs that once took the stage, among all manner of community events and festivities.

A Walk around the Commons

We begin our walk around the commons of Mesopotamia village, starting with a stop at the Mesopotamia Historical Museum & Meeting House. Built in 1846, it was originally a Spiritualist Church. Nowadays, the Historical Society conducts their meetings in this building. Today during our tour, it hosts a rummage sale. Darcy explains that the upstairs of the meeting house holds boxes of historical documents that have been unfortunately water-damaged from a leaky roof. An upcoming project of hers will be to rummage through these boxes and salvage anything she can. 

Methodist Church, built in 1830. Interior restored in 1960.

From here, we walk next door to the Methodist Church built in 1818 and take a peek inside. The pastor explains that the pews are not original and that initially the church had the box type pews where men and women were separated. He also points out the antique chandelier that that forms a focal point towards the front of the church.

Fairview Cemetery & Artist Howard Brigden

The Western Reserve Chronicle,
June 2, 1869

Behind the Methodist Church lays Fairview Cemetery. With the first burial in 1818, most of the stones are made from white marble with their inscriptions worn away with time. However, many unusually shaped stones carved from sturdy granite stand out among the rows.

Born on November 29, 1841, Howard Bridgen was a local carver, political cartoonist, and satirist. He was the son of Charles Brigden and Mary Ann Sperry and enlisted in the Union Army where he served as a spy. He suffered a broken arm and upon discharge, he returned to Mespo where he made his living as an artist. Though he had guidance from his mentor, Walter Supple, Brigden had natural talent that many considered even genius.

Front and back of stone carved for Ira & Charlotte Sperry and their two-year-old son Ira

One of his first carvings was the eagle atop the Soldier’s Monument that stands on the Mespo Commons green. He also carved many of the ornate stones in Fairview Cemetery, including his own, a towering monument depicting a bear climbing a rock precipice. Shell–shaped stones mark the graves of family and friends, a trademark theme of Brigden’s. He even carved a trough that once sat on the village green but now rests against the outside wall of the meeting house. The front of the trough reads, “The Devils Own Hogs: John. D., Mark A., J. Pierpont” which expressed his disdain for tycoons with fortunes amassed by predatory means. The two names on the ends are John D. Rockefeller and John Pierpont Morgan Sr. (J.P. Morgan), but for the life of me, I have no idea who Mark A. could be. If anyone help me out with this one, I would be most grateful.

Brigden married Elsie Belden on February 18, 1865 and they had two sons, Earl and George. He died September 24, 1913 at the age of 71 after a long and memorable career. 

Howard & Effie’s stunning monument
The Western Reserve Chronicle, November 7, 1866
The Western Reserve Chronicle,
May 13, 1868
The Western Reserve Chronicle,
July 20, 1870

Dio Reynolds & Scarlet Fever

One of the most popular of Brigden’s sculptures in Fairview Cemetery is “The Dog Who Waits for His Master”, a black stone dog sitting vigil by the grave of its owner, Dio Lewis Reynolds, a six-year-old boy. It is said that when Dio died on March 12, 1875 and was buried in the cemetery, his dog often came to lay on the grave. Brigden later carved the sculpture in the loyal dog’s memory. Legend says that Dio died falling out of an apple tree and many publications have perpetuated this myth. For example, a Star Beacon article from 2012, reads:

“Nearby, in the Fairview Cemetery, many examples of Brigden’s stone carving skills mark the graves of cherished citizens. The most poignant of these stands as a memorial to Dio L. Reynolds. Dio was 6 when he died from a fall out of an apple tree. His dog was inconsolable, and for weeks lay under the tree, his paws holding fast to Dio’s hat. Brigden’s carving captures in stone that heart-breaking love between a dog and his master.”

“Sir Henry’s Last Ride” by Carl Feather of the Star Beacon, Feb 19, 2012

A romantic tale to be sure, but historical documents prove otherwise. When I track down Dio’s death certificate on, it names his cause of death as scarlet fever. 

Effie, Mearle, and Dio lined up in a row

Scarlet fever is a disease causing sore throat, fever, throat abscesses, and in children it can progress very quickly to the point where they succumb in 48 hours from the initial symptoms. It can be highly contagious. In the historical epidemics, infected dairy workers handling unpasteurized milk were found to be the cause of many outbreaks. Cemeteries from far and wide show the evidence from scarlet fever epidemics throughout history. Fairview Cemetery is one of them. Just months before Dio’s death, Howard Brigden lost a niece, Mina Tay Brigden, from the disease and two-year-old Bertie Easton perished from the illness in the same month as Dio. 

On December 28, 1874, the newspapers in nearby Hiram, Ohio reported an unusually malignant epidemic of scarlet fever sweeping through their town in the months prior, taking children of all ages, even multiples from a single household. A scarlet fever epidemic killed at least twelve young children in Jackson County in southern Ohio and several children in Ashtabula County just north of Mespo in the same month that Dio died. Cincinnati lost hordes of children to the disease throughout the year of 1875. These being just a few examples of how the epidemic devastated communities and destroyed families.

Unfortunately, Dio’s family suffered many tragedies. Dio’s parents, Job Reynolds and Altha Lewis, married on July 16, 1864 and lost Dio eleven years later. Dio’s brother Mearle died at age 2 months, 27 days in 1880 and his sister Effie died from pneumonia on April 28, 1885.

Clark Cemetery

After circling the commons and noting the nostalgia brought on by the rows of historic homes, including the Lyman House, we pass the general store and turn the corner to walk around route 87. We turn into the driveway of a private home where Darcy notifies the owner of our arrival. The man is not feeling up to coming out to chat, but allows us to stroll through his backyard and up a hill into a wooded area. There, covered in underbrush is an old burial ground. Clark Cemetery had once been a family cemetery and only a handful of stones remain, some inscribed with the manner of death. Isaac Clark, aged 22 years, died from an explosion of a cannon in 1844. Ruben Clark, aged 39 years, was struck by lightening in 1850. Bearing an unusual name, little Almond Clark died at the age of 2. The first known burial is Ephraim Clark who died in 1830, so Fairview Cemetery predates Clark Cemetery. Find A Grave lists twenty-four graves in all, though I suspect there are more.

With our final stop at Clark Cemetery, our tour is over and our group disbands, many returning to the End of the Commons General Store. Robin and I spend a great deal of time in the cemetery before heading back to the commons. The general store holds a feast for the eyes, and the stomach too. Besides unique toys and other novelties, the general store boasts the best fry pies around, jams and jellies, natural peanut and almond butters, a large candy and soda collection, maple sugar sweets, and ice cream and deli sandwiches that are served at the café. Adjoining rooms hold shelves of kitchenware, soaps, liniments and other remedies, beauty items, and home décor. I encourage anyone to visit Ohio’s oldest general store as you will not be disappointed with their selection and atmosphere. Be sure to take a walk across the commons and view Howard Brigden’s amazing sculptures at Fairview Cemetery as photos simply do not do them justice. Also, if you need a place to stay, I highly recommend the Old Stone House Bed and Breakfast. The Old Stone House is located at 8505 State Route 534, Mesopotamia, Ohio 44439.

The Trumbull County Historical Society began their second Saturday history tours in the summer of 2019 and I hope that they continue them in 2020. If so, I will visit as many as I can, if not all of them, and share my experiences with you.  


  • History of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties, Ohio by Williams (H.Z.) & Bro, p. 497
  • History of the Western Reserve, Volume 1by Harriet Taylor Upton
  • Ghosts and Legends of Northern Ohio by William G. Krejci, p. 79
  • Legends and Lost Treasure of Northern Ohio: Brother Bonds by Wendy Koile, p. 57-58
  • “Sir Henry’s Last Ride” by Carl Feather of the Star Beacon, Feb 19, 2012
  • Howard Brigden Find A Grave:
  • Dio Lewis Reynolds find a grave:
  • Dio Reynolds, Mina Tay Brigden, & Bertie Easton Death Records: “Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001.” Database with images. FamilySearch. : 18 April 2017. County courthouses, Ohio
  • Scarlet Fever Epidemics of the 19th Century by Alan Swedlund and Alison Donta
  • Jackson County Deaths In March: The Jackson Standard. (Jackson C.H., Ohio), June 17, 1875
  • Hiram Correspondence: The Democratic press. [volume], January 07, 1875
  • Ashtabula Deaths: Ashtabula telegraph. (Ashtabula, Ohio), March 26, 1875
  • Walking Tour of Mespo Engages History Buffs by Beth Shiller, The Tribune Chronicle, August 11, 2019

Hartford, Ohio Hauntings

Hartford, Trumbull County, Ohio

Hartford Volunteer Fire Station

Google Maps image of Hartford Fire Station

I once served on the Hartford Volunteer Fire Association in 2004 and 2005. I was 19-years-old the first time I visited the station and I was quickly left all alone when the volunteers left on a fire call. I remember how uneasy I felt sitting in the empty station not knowing the place to be haunted. Of course nothing happened to me that night, but I was quickly filled in by both Association members and Firefighters alike that the place was hopping with paranormal activity. They weren’t quite sure who could be haunting the fire station, but word was that a firefighter once suffered a heart attack and died in the station decades before.  The original station is on the right hand side if you are facing the front of the building. The original station encompasses the current tanker bay with the radio room behind the tanker bay and the Chief’s office behind the radio room. The new part of the fire station sits to the left and holds the bay for the other vehicles, the bathrooms, and the kitchen. At the time I served, the station sat across the street from the Elementary school before the school was leveled to the ground.

I heard many stories about the activity that went on at the station. The volunteers told me that the cupboard doors in the kitchen open themselves, objects go missing and turn up in the most unlikely places, and the lights turn on by themselves. In one instance, they walked into the kitchen to see all the cupboards and drawers were open. One fire fighter told me right after it happened that he had turned off all the lights and locked up the station before realizing he had forgot his lighter. He went back inside and all the lights were switched back on. He grabbed his lighter, turned the lights off, and ran out as quickly as possible.

Other than that uneasy feeling, I had trouble believing that all of these things were truly happening. For one thing, with so many people going in and out of there, things were bound to go missing and turn up in odd places and lights could be switched off and on and forgot about. I love a good ghost story, but for me I have to see it for myself. Unless I personally witnessed one of these occurrences happening without a proper explanation, I would remain a skeptic. The station’s ghost did me one better.

One Sunday a month, the Association held a pancake breakfast to raise money for the fire station. My job was to take orders, deliver the food, top off coffee, and bus the tables. We started at 5 a.m. so everything would be ready when our customers flooded in at 6 a.m. The fire trucks were parked across the street in the school parking lot and tables and chairs were set up in the empty bay. Rhonda manned the grill while Timmy washed dishes and the rest of the volunteers rushed back and forth tirelessly, eager for a lull in customer-flow. The first lull came at 7 a.m. so without any customers to tend to, I took the opportunity for a quick break in the radio room.

The radio room had a rocking chair facing away from the doorway that pointed at a TV in the corner. I sat down in the rocking chair and touched up my lipstick. I heard footsteps walking through the door and felt the whoosh of air the person brought with them when they walked into the room. I turned, expecting to see one of my friends, but instead I saw a man in a blue uniform with a cropped haircut who was completely transparent! He had walked up to the radio desk and was about to sit down, but apparently he wasn’t expecting me to be there, so he disappeared right before my eyes. I stared in shock at the radio desk, not believing what I saw with my own eyes. That moment, I noticed I hadn’t been frightened at all, but fascinated. Immediately, my legs turned to jelly as I realized I just saw my first full body apparition…they do exist, I thought! 

I stumbled out of the radio room and towards the kitchen where I whispered to my friends, “I just saw a ghost.” They immediately rushed in the radio room to investigate, but of course there was nothing to be found. In any case, my ghost sighting caused quite a bit of excitement that morning. After that, I always hoped to see the ghost again, but that was the one and only time he was seen by anyone. I believe I caught him off guard while he was in the act of duty and he wanted to be left alone to do his tasks. In life he must have been someone who was deeply attached to the station and perhaps spent all of his time there. If anybody knows who died at the Hartford Fire Station many years ago, please drop me a line! Though maybe he didn’t die there, but chose to stick around the station after his death because that was where he loved spending his time? Or if you’ve had your own experiences there, I’d love to hear from you! Also, if you’re in the Hartford area during one of their pancake breakfasts, please go enjoy a wonderful meal at the benefit of the station for without fundraisers and donations, the station wouldn’t exist.

5 Point Country Convenience/ BP Gas Station

Google Maps image of Country Convenience Gas Station
Google Maps aerial view of the five points intersection

While serving on the Volunteer Fire Association, I frequented the 5 Point Country Convenience Store/BP gas station on the intersection of Rt. 305, Rt. 718, and Rt. 318 on the Ohio/Pennsylvania line. My friends knew the owner and employees well, so we often stayed awhile after buying gas to chat. In 2004, Stephen (last name redacted for privacy to his family) was secretary-treasurer of the store while his father was owner and always seemed to be working, taking his position seriously. Despite his strong work ethic, he also had a sense of humor and while working late nights he enjoyed scaring his employees by making noises and jingling his keys when they thought they were alone. Stephen was set to assume ownership of the store on January 1, but tragically, on Sept. 29, 2004, he was killed in a single vehicle crash a few miles away. After his burial, his coworkers continued hearing the same noises that Stephen used to make, only this time he was not there to jump out and laugh. They worked in unease until about 9 p.m. one evening when the employees saw something so frightening that they closed the store early. They watched, paralyzed, while the freezer doors that held the cold beverages opened and shut one right after another. They were so terrified that they chose to not stick around until 11 p.m., quickly completing their closing duties, and locking up.  

I do not know if these activities continue to occur, or if Stephen was just giving his store one last walkthrough before moving on his way. If anyone has anything to add about Stephen and his visits to the store, please get in touch with me.

Reichard Cemetery & Hell’s Hollow

Though most people imagine hauntings to be attached to a building, some paranormal events can occur out in the wide open as if the spirits are attached to the land itself. I have been witness to some unusual activity surrounding Reichard Cemetery and Hell’s Hollow down the road from the burial ground. Before I tell my account of this spooky spot, I will describe the location to the best of my knowledge.

Coordinates for Reichard Cemetery:
Transfer, Pennsylvania 16125
Latitude:         41.3486578
Longitude:       -80.4981224

Coordinates for Hell’s Hollow:
West Salem Township, Pennsylvania 16125
Longitude:  -80.498315

Reichard Cemetery at night

Just over the Ohio/Pennsylvania border in South Pymatuning Twp. (city of Transfer, PA), walking distance from Orangeville, sits an old cemetery at the entrance of South Barry Road. Reichard Cemetery is named for the prominent headstone of the Reichard family that stands in front center, a family that remains in the vicinity to this day.  A cemetery of cultural and historic importance, it appears the first burials took place in 1869. Many of the stones are crumbling and illegible with some in the back of the cemetery becoming lost in the woods. It is a dismal place, but aren’t all old cemeteries places of unease?

The dense treelined gravel road of Hell’s Hollow

Past the cemetery, continuing down S. Barry Rd., you pass through the intersections of Rutledge Road and and Darien Road before hitting a point with a sign that declares “No Winter Maintenance”. This is where South Pymatuning Twp. turns into West Salem Twp. and the pavement disappears as the road turns to dirt. It is inadvisable to venture after this point when it’s wet because your car can become mired. It is all farmland at this area of the road with fields on each side. A wooded section lies where the road winds around a curve before a small bridge. The bridge is directly before a steep upturn in the road and past that are more fields before running into a purely wooded area. Here, homes begin to dot each side of the road and S. Barry Rd. winds through the woods for quite some time before running into Rt. 358 (Vernon Rd). The wooded area surrounding the bridge is where the local kids claim Hell’s Hollow sits.

Now, let’s address some of the local legends surrounding this area:

Local youths say that the cemetery was once moved from another location because it sat too close to a creek and when the water rose, it eroded the dirt and coffins began popping up out of the ground. All the graves had to be dug up and relocated to the present location on the corner of Barry and Carlisle roads. This seems an unlikely story, but if you’ll allow me to segue for a moment, this did happen to my great-great-grandpa’s coffin when he was buried too close to Mosquito Lake in Hillside Cemetery (Bazetta, Ohio), and he had to be relocated up the hill.

Another story is that a little neighborhood girl used to play in the cemetery and was often seen frolicking between the tombstones. One day, she didn’t return home and was discovered dead in the cemetery. I have no idea if this story has any validity or when it was supposed to have occurred, but she is alleged to have been buried there.  

 Many legends surround the spot where the bridge is in Hells Hollow, though I doubt there’s much truth to most of them. Apparently, in the 1800’s, a man was walking along S. Barry Rd. when he spotted his wife riding with her lover on a horse driven carriage as they crossed the bridge. The husband challenged the other man to a duel and so they fought. As the husband swung his sword around to chop off the man’s head, his wife threw herself between them to stop it and was immediately decapitated. In his rage the husband killed the other man as well. In a different version of the story, the husband shot his wife in a house that used to stand near the hollows and left her to bleed to death for two days.

This story could have been a molestation of a true event that occurred in the neighboring township of Vernon, OH on May 27, 1867 when William Holcomb was killed by gunshot. His friend, James Saywer, was present at his death and said that Holcomb had accidentally shot himself while squirrel hunting. However, Sawyer had been seen dallying with Holcomb’s wife the past year while Holcomb was in ill health. They were frequently observed riding in a buggy together as they drove to and from singing school and lyceum. Sawyer’s statement was doubted and he was charged with murder. After a lengthy trial where many friends and family were questioned about the so-called affair, no inappropriate behavior was confirmed, and Sawyer was acquitted. Read my post about the case here.

Another legend about the Hollow was that in the 1920’s, the hill leading down into the obscured gulley was a popular make out spot for the local teenagers. A bachelor farmer lived nearby and was enraged at their antics. After several times of walking into the ravine and yelling at the teenagers to get off of his property, they continued to return, laughing all the while at the crazed lonely farmer. The farmer planned his revenge on prom night when he knew the teens would return to the Hollow to make out. He murdered all of them but was not prosecuted due to lack of evidence. Fingers continued to point towards him throughout the years and he never moved away or was convicted. He had no guilt to flee from and was instead very satisfied with his gruesome crime. 

Yet another story is of the man that committed suicide by hanging himself from the large tree that grows next to the bridge. A more modern account is that of a young woman who crashed her car at the sharp turn before the bridge and was killed when she was thrown from the vehicle. 

Besides the account of the two lovers riding in a buggy (albeit in Vernon, OH and not West Salem, PA), I have not been able to find any data to back up these stories. If anyone has insight on whether these stories have some truth behind them, please drop me a line.

If the stories do have some truth to them, perhaps it would explain the legion of ghosts that haunt the Hollow. I have heard accounts of people who braved going there and heard voices and fell into trances. Everyone has a different experience there at each visit. It is described as such an evil place that it could be a gateway to Hell, hence it’s name. Without further digression, this is my story about Hell’s Hollow and Reichard Cemetery:

When I was 18-years-old, I spent almost every weekend night at the local Perkins Restaurant with my best friend Theresa drinking coffee and chatting. We quickly made friends with a group of individuals our own age that were from Hartford Twp., OH. Our common interest was ghosts and the Hartford kids mesmerized us with the stories of Hell’s Hollow and Reichard Cemetery. Hartford is on the OH/PA border and adjacent to Pymatuning Twp. where Reichard Cemetery lies. West Salem Twp. is the township north of Pymatuning where Hell’s Hollow is located.

At this point in our young lives, Theresa and I had never before seen a ghost, despite reveling in a good ghost story, and we had never been ghost hunting. I had been in plenty of so-called “haunted” buildings and never experienced anything, so would require evidence to become a true believer. One night in late February of 2004, the Hartford group invited us ghost hunting and we accepted without hesitation, the thought of a thrill shivering down our spines. We left the restaurant sometime after midnight and piled in our vehicles, setting off on the thirty-minute drive to eastern Pennsylvania. 

Outbuilding on farmland in Hell’s Hollow

On our first visit, we did not venture into the cemetery, but drove down a curving hill amongst a heavily wooded area and parked on a bridge that ran over a creek. We nervously stepped out of the car into complete darkness but for the glow of the moon as the ravine ran steeply below us. We stood there uneasily and I never felt such a feeling as I had in visiting all the other “haunted” spots I had before. My legs immediately weakened and were shaking as if my muscles had turned to jelly. I pointed my camera off of the one side of the bridge and the flash lit up the whole area, blinding all my friends. Our new friend Steve said he felt as if someone was watching him and we all agreed that we had the eerie sense of being watched. We turned and faced the other direction and our new friends pointed out how something didn’t look right. It was simply an uneven, wooded ravine with spots of snow. But something wasn’t right; the Hartford group and Theresa saw a spot that glowed brighter than the snow and knew that it wasn’t snow. I was the only person that couldn’t see it. I lifted my camera the same as before and shot it, but something must have not liked getting their picture taken. The moment after my flash went off and I moved my eye from the viewfinder to look upon the landscape, I saw a white filmy streak race up the side of the tree and disappear into the branches. It wasn’t an animal as it went too fast and was floating parallel to the tree. It was not even a second that this happened, but we all witnessed it and knew it wasn’t the camera. We were so terrified, that we returned to our cars and went home.

Under the bridge

We revisited the Hollow the following night with five of us in one car. This time the atmosphere seemed surprisingly calm and nothing frightening took place. During our visit, flashes were going off every second as we all took photos with our cameras and phones. We walked in circles, going up both hills from each end of the bridge, scouring the area.

The creek

Afterward, we returned to the car and drove the short distance to Reichard Cemetery. Being young and ignorant, I had no clue that it’s illegal to enter a cemetery after dark, so I do not recommend doing the same. Of course we had great respect for the cemetery and had no thoughts of causing damage or any harm; we were simply there to ghost hunt. The cemetery felt incredibly eerie and the air was thick and heavy as we continued taking pictures. 

I felt unbalanced and I tripped over myself several times. We were only there a few minutes before we left and went back to Perkins to review our photos. I had a film camera, so I wouldn’t see my evidence until I had them developed. Our new friend Jeff showed us the pictures he had taken on his phone and what we saw was beyond belief. Almost every photo had something in it; smoky coils in places that we had not seen originally. In the cemetery pictures, Theresa pointed out something that I said realistically, “Oh, that’s just the light reflecting off of the tombstone.” But Theresa showed me another picture of the exact same angle and there was no tombstone, just the headstones in the background. I looked at the weird picture I had thought was a tombstone and as I looked closer I realized that I could see right through it. Also, as we examined it more closely, we noticed how oddly it looked like a close-up of a torso. The other pictures had oddly shaped curls of mist way up in the air and no one had been smoking. One odd photo caught our attention when we realized we could see a face in the mist! Looking closer, it appeared like a skull to me. I gawked at it, frozen in shock. I saw a grinning face, details appearing like nasal-labial folds (the creases running from the nose to the corners of the mouth), prominent cheekbones, a visible jaw line and even a brow ridge. The eyes were sunken hollows, empty and threatening, but that eerie smile was like the skull was taunting us.

Anomaly on upper left of photo
Anomaly on right side of photo

We were “freaked out” —the expression we used repeatedly to each other while we sat at Perkins shaking in our boots. While we talked excitedly, three nearby booths full of kids heard our story and begged us to lead the way to Hell’s Hollow. We were crazy to comply given the long drive, but gas was cheap those days and we had nothing better to do. Our group piled in one car and we led an entourage of three other cars through the uncanny back roads of eastern Ohio. When we arrived at the Hollow, we parked our cars on the dirt road before the hill that dipped down into the actual hollow. Before we got out of the car, Lenny, who was driving said, “My car doesn’t do that,” and we noticed him holding his key in the air with the engine still running. We knew such a thing had happened before to others visiting the Hollow, so we just guffawed as he put the key back in the ignition and shut it off. When we walked out into the darkness we noticed that there were many young adults, around twenty. The atmosphere was as calm as it had been on our earlier visit, but we watched in horror as the group of kids stood on the bridge cussing and throwing down their cigarettes, simply being loud. 

From there, we drove to the cemetery, but a few of us hung back and stood on the road while everyone else went in. That cemetery felt evil at that hour of three o’clock in the morning and I did not want to step foot into it. While we had behaved solemnly on our earlier trip, the new kids were the opposite, acting very loud, cussing more, smoking more, throwing their cigarettes down carelessly amongst the graves and just carrying on far too much. One husky kid was slashing a sword into the ground, making quite a racket. They definitely angered someone or something…very much. Jeff called us into the cemetery for a group picture, so we reluctantly trudged up the steep ground up into it. After he took the photo, the husky kid began having a conniption and told everyone to leave as quickly as possible. 

Theresa and I remained in the back of the cemetery by the time almost everyone else made it to their cars. We were cool and calm, just taking our time coming out and were laughing at how the husky kid was seeing things. About twenty feet in front of us we could discern our friend Ben walking with his girlfriend Amy. 

Suddenly we heard Ben screaming bloody murder. He shouted, “Lenny! Get over here right now! We have a downer!” 

Theresa and I stumbled upon a body just laying on the ground in the thick darkness. It seemed so out of place that we were shocked and confused at the same time. How could a corpse have gotten there and remained unnoticed? Theresa and I looked at each other in absolute bewilderment, each thinking the same thing as we called one another’s name.  At first we thought it was an apparition. However, when Lenny and the other kids rushed to the scene, shining their phones through the darkness, Theresa and I realized it was Amy passed out cold on the ground. She had been walking with Ben before she suddenly fell to the ground and he tripped over her.

Lenny was an EMT and so knew what to do. He turned her over onto her back and said, “Amy, can you hear me?” 

She moaned, opening her eyes halfway, but suddenly shot upright, eyes wide open. The same second she sat upright, she slumped right back over onto the ground unconscious. Lenny turned her back over, noticed she wasn’t breathing and remained calm. He tilted her head back to open her airway so that she could start breathing again. Amy was half-conscious as Ben and Lenny lifted her up and carried her to her car. Theresa and I stood helpless and began to cry uncontrollably, from both shock and relief.

In a few moments Amy came to and was fully conscious so Ben asked her what happened. She said she felt like someone had taken a baseball bat to the back of her head and the only people walking behind her were me and Theresa, but we were pretty far away and would never harm anyone. We had not seen it occur having thought we were stumbling over a dead body. 

Theresa and I tearfully got back in the car and road back to Perkins with the husky kid. As we drove back, the husky kid said, “Omigosh, I saw a freaking little girl running around the cemetery right before Amy got hit. That’s why I freaked out and told everyone to get the hell out of there. I saw a white streak and hair flying out behind her.” 

I replied, “What? You saw the little girl? She used to play in the cemetery but one day they found her dead.” 

He became even more upset and said he didn’t know anything about a little girl. It was so distressing that I immediately began crying again. I later wondered out loud if perhaps the little girl had died by getting thunked in the back of the head by someone or something.

The next morning after a very restless night, I got my pictures developed. There was nothing, absolutely nothing at all on the pictures. They were just pictures of the dark woods, no odd shapes or anything and I wondered how real our experience was or if there was some explanation. 

We returned to Hell’s Hollow and Reichard Cemetery several times that year, but it was quite some time before I had another experience.  

Ruins of a structure in the wooded area behind the cemetery

In the fall of that same year, our friend Jeff claimed to have had an odd occurrence during a visit to Reichard’s cemetery a couple of weeks before my return there. He went with his girlfriend Jen, his best friend Frankie, Frankie’s girlfriend Anne, and their psychic friend Chris. They walked through the cemetery and took photos, but nothing happened, so they went home. In the car, both girls began having trouble breathing and were on the verge of fainting. The following day, Chris called Jeff and told him that he sensed a ghost had followed them home from the cemetery and stayed with Jeff and Jen. This thing stayed with them all the following day, apparently as they ran errands. Chris was able to tell them exactly where they had gone to that day including a particular store and that the ghost was with them. Chris had never been told that they went out much less what exact store they went to. 

Chris had Jeff, Jen, Frankie, and Anne meet with him later that day and informed them that the spirit was after Jen. Apparently Chris was extremely clairvoyant and could pick up details that no one else could. He said the spirit was an old man in a top hat and long coat who carried a cane. His eyes glowed red when looking at Jen but when he looked at Anne his eyes were green and he liked her because she was a virgin and Jen was not. The spirit never entered any buildings the group went in but stayed outside. He never followed Frankie and Anne but was attached to Jen. Chris said that the spirit wished to return to the cemetery but had lost his way and the only way for him to go back was for the group to take the trip to Reichard cemetery. Chris said that the spirit hovered over the car and never entered the vehicle. The group returned to the cemetery and the spirit was gone. 

It’s an interesting account and spooky at that, but I was not there to witness any of it and therefore cannot vouch for its validity. The same applies to the following account:

In November, Jeff’s group returned to Hell’s Hollow. He apparently took a video camera to the Hollow and recorded a strange incident that our group watched soon after. The video was a play-by-play of Jeff, Jen, and Anne as they walked through the graveyard. They then drove to the Hollow where mere minutes after stepping out of the vehicle did they hear a huge, horrible noise that mysteriously did not record on the video tape. They described it as a high whistling trill, the same sound made from a rope when a person is hung. Jeff then recorded the huge tree off the side of the bridge do something that a tree could never do just by itself. The large branch close to the bridge bent down at a powerful angle all the way to the ground without snapping. It was as if a huge weight had yanked down on the end of it. Was this proof that the legend of someone hanging themselves in the hollow was true? Immediately the camera shook wildly as the group jumped in the car, breathing heavily as they booked it out of there. I personally couldn’t make out much from the video because it was so dark and I couldn’t hear anything other than their terrified voices, but they swear it actually happened.

The apparent hanging tree next to the bridge in Hell’s Hollow

That same month, I returned to the Hollow late one night with Lenny, our friend Steve W., Lenny’s sister and two of her friends. We passed by the cemetery and got out of the car briefly in the Hollow. The air felt as uneasy to me as it always had, but nothing of interest happened. We got back in the car and Lenny continued to drive along the narrow, winding dirt road. It curved dangerously up and down, the sharp turns around cliff-like hills not as frightening as it had been the first time we had travelled down the road in mud and ice. 

Apparently, when the group of kids from Perkins had visited previously, two of them had spotted a ghostly Indian. As we discussed this, a dog suddenly bolted out in front of us and refused to move as it barked ferociously at the car. Lenny tried to move forward but the creature refused to budge for five minutes. In that five minutes, the people in the backseat turned around and they all saw something strange. Some of them saw the filmy figure of a girl while others saw a shadow that appeared human like. As Lenny crept the car forward, the dog was nudged to the side of the road and we took off. At the fork in the road ahead, the dog sprinted forward and charged in front of the car again, forcing Lenny to slam on his brakes. After awhile, the dog backed off and we were able to make it to the main road with no other occurrences after that. 

On a subsequent visit to the cemetery, I had a brief experience that caused me to wonder if something was truly there. The cemetery sits up on an incline and while walking into it with the ground rising up from the road, my legs became heavy and my chest tightened. This is a rare feeling I now recognize when I know I’ve stepped into a very haunted location. At the time, I thought it felt like walking through a barrier. The air felt thick and suffocating as if something didn’t want us there.

 One of our last visits to Hell’s Hollow and Reichard Cemetery was especially interesting and we had a large group with us that night. We met at Perkins as usual and piled into Lenny’s Bonneville and made our way out to the Hollow. We passed the cemetery and continued down Barry Road, past the bridge, up the hill into the field where Lenny turned around. Unfortunately, his car became stuck fairly deep in the mud and three of the boys got out and pushed the front of the car while I steered. Finally, we parked down on the bridge and got out to take pictures. It was calm and quiet, so we headed back to the cemetery. 

Our group walked calmly through the gravestones and for the first time, I wasn’t feeling sensations of dread. It was quite warm out for November and the moon was so bright that it was almost as bright as daylight. My friend Rachael said she felt very drawn to a particular old stone with most of its engravings worn away. After wandering around for some time, I stood in the old section of the cemetery next to Jeff, who suddenly turned away, noticeably upset.

Lenny ordered all of us out so that he and Jeff could investigate without interference.  The rest of us stood in the roadway, watching them walk around the cemetery and disappear into the darkness near the rear of the graveyard. I chatted with Theresa and Rachael before Rachael remarked that as she watched the grave she had been drawn to, she saw someone dart through that section of the graveyard. I thought: the last time somebody saw something running through the cemetery a girl was knocked unconscious. Lenny finally emerged from the cemetery with Jeff trailing behind. I watched Jeff drag himself down the hill, sobbing, before he nearly fell over in a spasm of coughing and spitting. Lenny caught his arm before Jeff stumbled back up on his feet and walked towards us. 

I asked him if he was okay as I put my hand on his arm. He looked at me with glazed eyes as if he had never seen me before. 

He blinked and squinted several times before offering a confused, “Wha-what?” He began rocking himself, lamenting over and over, “I’m okay. I’m okay.” He was acting completely out of character.

There was silence on the drive back to Lenny’s house with nothing but the sound of Jeff crying. When we arrived there, we stood in the garage and goofed off in an attempt to lighten the mood. As we laughed, I heard Jeff muttering to himself and his eyes were closed. Lenny leaned forward, listening and Jeff looked up at him to say, “Something about spirits floating around…I dunno…spirits floating around us?” 

He continued muttering while Lenny told him, “That doesn’t sound right.” and “No, that still doesn’t sound right.” 

Finally, Jeff said something like, “Open my eyes so that I may see.” 

The rest of us decided that the conversation was between Lenny and Jeff and therefore did not intrude. As I drove Theresa back to Perkins, we concluded that they must have heard a voice. 

The next day, I talked to Jeff and Lenny, but neither offered much information about what happened and refused to talk about their experience.  All Lenny would say was that something happened that they couldn’t explain. I asked him why he ushered us out of the cemetery and he said because he did not want us to get hurt. The only information Jeff would offer was that he was was feeling much better.

It wasn’t until later that Jeff would talk about his experience and this is what he said in his own words: 

 “I believe that there was something in me at the graveyard. I felt it leave when I fell out into the road. It just left this sadness in me. [When] we all started walking into the graveyard, nothing really happened to me. [But then] I stepped on a spot near the big tree and instantly my legs disappeared. My legs usually go numb but not that sudden. I stopped and I got a sharp pain right under my left rib cage. I could breathe and all, but it was hot air, like if you turn the stove on when your body is cold and you take a deep breath of the heated air. I closed my eyes and tried to catch my normal breath. I started walking but it felt like my legs weren’t moving. I could see everything and everyone. It looked like if you were sitting in a movie theater and all you can see is the screen. Everything outside of the screen was black. I saw Theresa, Rachael, Ashley, and maybe Steve standing at one grave. I started chanting something. I felt like I was screaming it but no one looked. I believe I walked past the group and went towards the back. I took a right and walk towards the little girl’s grave then took another right from it. Still my legs weren’t moving by me but they were walking me. All of a sudden, I walked right into Lenny. I didn’t see him at all. I just saw everything else. I stopped chanting and looked up at Lenny. All of a sudden, I felt this overwhelming sense of sadness and started to cry. It felt like I had to go somewhere and Lenny stopped me…someplace important. Then Lenny instructed everyone out of the graveyard and we walked around. We watched the back right corner and I could feel sadness. I couldn’t stop crying. Both Lenny and I could see a white house there. It was brightly glowing with light. I could see the details from the door to the two windows. We walked to the tree where I started to feel different. Lenny pointed out a single streak of ice drifting down the one side. Lenny touched it and said he felt cold. I placed my right hand on the ice and it was burning. I placed my other hand on the tree and closed my eyes and placed my forehead on it. Again, the sadness came back stronger. I started crying. Lenny soon escorted me out of the graveyard. I stopped right at the edge of it and I couldn’t move forward. In my head, I couldn’t hear a voice but something told me, “Don’t go”. I looked at everyone standing by the cars. You were all looking at me with concern. I could see everyone’s eyes looking into mine. Then I thought loudly in my head, “But I want to go”. Again, I felt it say, “Don’t go with them! Don’t!” and then I screamed in my mind, “No! I want to go to them!” All of a sudden I coughed and hunched over. I was trying to push myself forward and out of the graveyard. I felt something leave out of me. It was like you were laying in a bed on your stomach and someone rips the heavy blanket off of you fast. As soon as that happened I fell forward out of the graveyard. I tried to catch myself and Lenny caught me by my arm. As soon as it left my body, I felt like a big piece of me was taken out. It was as if we were one and it left me. I could feel the hole in my body and all that was left there was sadness. We got in the car and left. I was trying my hardest not to cry in front of everyone in the car. But I still cried. Then later in the garage, Lenny asked me what I was chanting. I tried to think as hard as I could but suddenly a massive headache took over.  The right side of my brain felt like a giant black void was on it applying huge amounts of pressure on it. That night while I was trying to sleep, I kept thinking about what happened. After several replays of the event, I now strongly believe that the reason why I couldn’t feel my legs moving was because it was trying to lead me somewhere and I cried because Lenny stopped me.”

 He said he had felt the spirit directing him towards the large tree that had ice running down it.  Theresa said that she had followed him, curious about what he was picking up. She said she also went to the tree and when she touched it for a few minutes everything went silent and all she could hear was her own breathing. As she continued following Jeff, she said he wasn’t talking at all, but he claims he was chanting and his voice turned into a scream that no one could hear. 

He believes that in that moment, he experienced psychic awakening—when a sudden surge of psychic energy that has slowly manifested in someone is quickly brought to the surface.

That was 15 years ago and though we returned to the spot a few more times, we quickly outgrew it. Because it was so long ago, I base much of our experiences on being young and easily excitable. Someday I will go back and get a more mature read on the place to judge whether there is truly something there and will provide a follow up story when I do.

If anyone has anything to add about Hell’s Hollow or Reichard Cemetery, knows the true history behind the spots, or has an experience they would like to share, please contact me!