Moment in Oddity - White River Monster
Suggested by: Michael Rogers
This Day in History - Van Gogh Chops off Ear
On this day, December 23rd, in 1888, Artist Vincent Van Gogh chops off his left ear and gives it to a prostitute. Van Gogh was a depressed and anxious man who decided after much failure to try his hand at being an artist in 1880. His early work reflected his experiences among impoverished peasants and miners. In 1886, he moved to Paris with his brother and met other artists who taught him to use more color in his paintings. Van Gogh's mental wellness continued to deteriorate though and on December 23rd, in a fit of lunacy, he tried to attack another artist who was living with him with a knife. He turned the blade on himself and cut off the lower part of his left ear. He then allegedly wrapped up the ear and gave it to a prostitute at a brothel near him in Arles, France. He checked himself into a hospital to fix the damage and then he checked himself into a mental institution. He was there a year and created some of his most famous works at that time including a portrait that documented this tragic event in his life, "Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear." Despair and loneliness continued to plague him after his release and on July 27, 1890, he shot himself and died two days later at age 37. Today, Van Gogh's masterpieces sell for record-breaking prices,but when he was alive, he sold only one painting and was the poster boy for tortured starving artists.
Haunted Waynesville (Suggested by and research assistance: Amanda Turk)
Waynesville, Ohio is known as the "Antique Capital of the Midwest." At the town's beginnings though, it was an important Quaker settlement. The Quaker meeting established here in 1803 was the first in southwestern Ohio. A stagecoach line connected Waynesville to the rest of the state and eventually the village would serve as a stop along the Underground Railroad. Despite having a pretty peaceful beginning, Waynesville has become known as one of, if not THE most haunted city in Ohio. With thirty-six reputed haunted places, that is no wonder. In this episode, we are going to visit several historic locations that also have ghostly activity. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Waynesville!
The Hopewell and Adena tribes inhabited the area from 1000 BC to 800 AD and then the Fort Ancient People were here until 1500 AD. Six years prior to Ohio becoming a state, the village of Waynesville was founded. The year was 1797 and it was a group of English settlers, led by English engineer Samuel Heighway, that set the foundation. The group included Physician Dr. Evan Beans, Methodist minister Rev. John Smith and Scientist Sir Francis Baily. The hope was that they would establish a capital for the Northwest Territory. Heighway had already surveyed the area in 1792 and a settlement party had come out in 1796 to clear the land. They purchased 30,000 acres in the Symmes Purchase between the Little and Great Miami Rivers. The founding group brought 10 tons of supplies on a 12 by 36 foot "Kentucky Ark" flatboat and traveled via the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers to the Ohio River.
Primitive log shelters were built first with nicer log cabins following and Heighway platted out the village in a rectangular design similar to that of English villages. Formal parks and squares were arranged around a central public square. There were eleven named squares in all, each encompassing four acres. The squares still have those names today, marked on the corners with sign posts. Fishponds, groves of ornamental trees and long winding paths were incorporated as well as several fountains. A "Government House" was built in the public square. The group named the village after General "Mad" Anthony Wayne. General Wayne's troops camped on Camp Creek nearby. *Fun fact: There is a legend that the paymaster for Wayne's troops hid the payroll during a Native American attack and that the money has never been found.* When the Revolutionary War broke out, Wayne raised a regiment and he was named a colonel. His regiment fought in Canada where he was wounded. He received the rank of Brigadier General in 1777.
An interesting point in his military career occurred shortly after this promotion. General Washington asked General Wayne to use his forces to harass the British's rear station. The British General "No-Flint" Gray found out that Wayne's forces were hiding out and they hit them with a surprise attack. One hundred and fifty-eight American forces were massacred. What gave the British the upper hand in this attack was the order by General Gray to use only bayonets. That is why he was nicknamed "No Flint." He reasoned that if they only used bayonets, then they would know who the rebels were in the dark because they would be shooting their guns. It worked wonderfully and General Wayne in his shame, called for his own court martial. General Washington did not want to do that, but he yielded to General Wayne's multiple requests. The Court of Inquiry was made up of Generals Conway, Muhlenberg, Sullivan, Weedon and Huntington; Colonels Dayton, Stephens, Bradley, McClennachan, Stewart, DeHart, Thackston and Davis. The court unanimously decided that Wayne "did every duty that could be expected from an active, brave and vigilant officer, under the orders which he then had. The Court do acquit him with the highest honor."
Several of these early cabins from the early 1800s can be seen today at the Pioneer Village at the Caesar's Creek Lake area. Two of those original buildings are the Levi Luken's Cabin which is located at the front of the property and the Luken's Barn. The Lukens House was built in 1807 and is said to be haunted by the ghost of “Uncle Bob,” who was killed in an automobile accident near the site in the 1940s. The home is the only building in the village original to the site. Caesar's Creek State Park features fossils from the Ordovician period (450 and 500 million years ago) embedded in the limestone. *Fun fact from Amanda: Her parents' home has a retaining wall and outdoor steps made of this limestone and you can see shell-shaped fossils in the rock.* Waynesville was a stop on the Underground Railroad with several locations being places of refuge. Though the building no longer stands, The Old Miami House (aka, The Rogers House, The Morrow House or the Cornell House) was originally built as a tavern in 1827. Purportedly, the tavern had a hidden room in its attic and tunnels that led to other buildings in the area and down to the Little Miami River. The building served as the location of the first Waynesville National Bank and then the Wayne Township Library until 1954. A year later, the Old Miami House was torn down so that a diner could be built.
We're going to focus on three locations in Waynesville that are reportedly haunted. The town itself claims to be the most haunted in Ohio. Summer and Fall ghost tours running from May to October are available, as well as ghost hunting classes from a local group called, Paravizions.
Stetson House - The Stetson House is one of the more famous landmarks in Waynesville and is now home to Trendi Bindi's Boutique. The original building here is believed to have been a log cabin, but there is some confusion as to if that is true. The home that stands here now was built in 1810 by a wheelwright and his family. Wheelwrights would build and repair wooden wheels. Hiram and Louisa Larrick were local farmers with a growing family and they bought the house in the 1840s and renovated. They added a kitchen to the back of the house. The couple had ten children. Louisa's maiden name was Stetson. The Stetson family were hatters in New Jersey. Her brother John had contracted tuberculosis and doctor's suggested that he move to the warmer and drier air out west. He decided to stop at Louisa's on his way to the west and he stayed for a period of time in the early 1860s. His stay was not good for Louisa as she contracted TB too. John continued to Colorado where he took up panning for gold while he recovered.
He needed a good hat to protect his head and he didn't like the typical prospector's hats. He used a thick beaver felt to form a rugged hat. He did this without tanning and the hat was lighter, withstood the weather and maintained its shape. It was considered unusually large with a wide brim and high crown. He grew very fond of the hat and wore it all the time. While out on the trail, a cowboy approached him and asked to see the hat and offered to pay for it with a five dollar gold piece. Stetson jumped at the offer and he was inspired. Maybe others would buy this hat too. He had been cured of his tuberculosis and in 1865, he decided to head home. He needed money though if he was going to start a company and so he stopped at Louisa's again. He asked his sister for a loan and she gave him $60. And the Stetson Hat Company was born, along with the signature "Boss of the Plains" hat.
Although the house is called the Stetson House, the Larricks were never paid back the loan and never received any of the benefits of the success of the company. And even worse, Louisa would go on to die of the disease her brother brought her in 1879. She died in the house a little over sixty years old.
The Larrick Family held on to the house until the turn of the century and then a young school teacher bought the home and lived there until she died in the 1950s. There is not a clear history from this point until the 1980s when an antique shop moved into the building. Another shop named the Cranberry Bog bought the shop in the 1990s and in 2007, the boutique moved into the house.
From the time that Louisa died, weird activity has been reported in the house. She was a baker and her specialty was gingerbread. Many people claim to smell the lingering scent of gingerbread. Mirrors do not stay on the walls, as though someone does not like that they cannot see their reflection. A woman named Samantha McKeehan said she was shopping for a quilt here and when she was upstairs she felt cold fingers tough the back of her neck. She said, “I just had to get out of there. I felt goose bumps.” A full bodied apparition has been seen and photographed featuring a dark-haired woman in period clothing. This could be either Louisa or the school teacher. One man posted an eerie photo he took of the Stetson House back in 2001 on the Ohio Exploration Society page. In the window above the porch, you can see what appears to be a ghostly figure and here is that picture:
The Quaker Friends House Museum - In 1801, Ezekiel Clever, a devout Quaker, arrived in Waynesville from Virginia and built a home for his family who followed him the next year. Other Quakers came from Virginia as well, along with Quakers from Georgia and North and South Carolina. They wanted to get away from the slave states that they were living in because they were avowed abolitionists. The group established the Miami Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends in Clever's home in 1803. They quickly outgrew the space and began construction on the White Brick Meetinghouse in 1811. A schoolhouse, the Friends School, was built at the same time, which also served as a schoolhouse. The White Brick was built by John Satterthwaite in the traditional rectangular, gabled roof vernacular style. There are separate recessed doorways and long windows that hold six panes each. Most meetings of Quakers in southern Ohio can trace their origins to the White Brick House. In 1828, a division arose within the group and there was a split into the Orthodox and the Hicksite branches. The Hicksites kept the White Brick and the Orthodox would go on to build the Red Brick Meetinghouse in 1836. It was very unique to have two branches of Quakers in the same village.
In 1905, the Friends Boarding Home was built to the northeast of the White Brick Meetinghouse and established as a place for retired Quakers and single teachers to live. Several years of planning started in 1900 and the group raised $15,000 before grading of the land began. The Miami Gazette reported that the plans for the building were as such: "The building is to be 58 feet front by 50 feet deep, two story with basement below and unfinished attic above. The foundation and all walls are made of concrete, outside walls to be veneered with dressed brick, roof to be tile, supported by an iron post above the square. The contract includes complete installation of both city and rain water, the latter hot and cold in bathrooms, closets, wash stands and laundry. Light is provided for except fixtures. All drainage is to be provided and a 300-barrel cistern will be placed outside the building. The contract includes the laying of cement walks in front and at the sides of the building. The price complete on the entire contract is $10,000."
The Fox Brothers from Cincinnati were contracted to do the work, but they went bankrupt in 1905, so a man named Aaron B. Chandler took over supervising the construction. He was a Civil War veteran - yes, even as a Quaker - and he would be the First Superintendent of the Friends Boarding House. *Fun fact: There was a fire in 1900 that burned up all the law papers and council minutes. Chandler painstakingly re-wrote all the village's ordinances.* Lydia Ann Conard of New Vienna, Ohio agreed to become the first Matron of the house. Chandler's wife had died from cancer in 1903 and after working for three years with Lydia at the house, the two decided to get married.
Today, the building houses the Museum at the Friends Home. There are twenty-two rooms of historic exhibits. It houses more than exhibits though. Rumors of ghosts residing in this building have been floating about for decades. There is no kitchen in the building, but that doesn't stop the haunting sounds of kitchen-like activity. There is also the sound of an organ playing. The apparition of a young girl named Mary has been seen at times. Paranormal investigations have caught EVPs that seemed to be of a male who claimed to have been beat up in his sleep. The White Brick Meetinghouse has hauntings as well. A candle used to be placed in the window to let runaway slaves know that this was a safe haven for them. That ghostly candle can still sometimes be seen in the window. A former teacher who was petite and pulled her hair back into a bun has been seen staring out of one of the windows by passers-by.
The Hammel House Inn - The Hammel House Inn is very unique when it comes to the facade. The building almost appears to be two buildings smashed together because half of it is brick and half of it is wood and there is a long railed balcony connecting the two to each other. Originally, a log tavern stood on this spot on Wabash Square on Main Street and was owned by James Corey. That opened in 1787 and was a stop on the stagecoach line. A man named James Jennings arrived in town from New Jersey and he bought the property. The log tavern was razed and a wooden frame structure was built to replace it some time before 1806. This opened as a tavern known as Jennings' House. Jennings did not own title to the land until a man named David Faulkner got a patent for the land in 1807. For those that don't know what a land patent is, simply put, it's a land grant document signed by a government head like a president and sealed, making it patent or permanent. Faulkner then deeded the lots to Jennings, of which there were 3.5, for $350. In 1817, Jennings deeded the business to John Warrell and in 1822, Warrell added the Flemish bond brick portion of the building we see today and it is in the federal vernacular style. There were originally three stories built, but the third story was removed later. During his ownership, the inn hosted President Martin Van Buren and Vice president Richard Johnson. He ran the business until 1831 and then sold to Keene, Barnhart & Durand, and later N. McLean ran the inn. In 1841, the inn would be bought by Enoch Hammel and would come to be known as the Hammel House Inn.
Under the ownership of Hammel, the inn would experience its most popularity. He was a Wayne Township trustee and candidate for county sheriff. Things got a bit too wild at the inn for some of the Quaker residents in the village. One of them in particular, Mrs. Anna O'Neal, described the activities at the Hammel House as "bacchanalian revelry and ribald conduct." She lived right across the street and was so disgusted with what she considered daily debauchery, she parked a large wagon in front of her cabin, so that her children could not see the antics at the inn. Hammel ran the inn until 1863.
A man named W.O. Gustin bought the inn, but we're not sure on dates other than he was the owner during the 1930s. He would be the owner to remodel and refit the building, so that it had electricity and hot and cold running water. He removed the third floor at this time as well. He wanted to make the place a first-class establishment. He also renamed it Gustin House and added a livery and feed stable. Anybody staying there should have been really careful about leaving their horses in the stable because the rumor is that Gustin had a taste for fine horse flesh. Long-time Waynesville residents and restaurateurs, the Bowman Family, bought the property and operate it as Hammel House Inn, a bed and breakfast. At some point before this became a bed and breakfast in the 1980s, it was apartments.
The Hammel House Inn hosts its own Ghost and Goblet tour every October and is a stop on the town's walking tour. And that makes sense because this building is considered the most haunted location in Waynesville. One of the more frequently seen apparitions belongs to a cat. Yes, we have another bed and breakfast with a ghost cat, but this one is unique in that we have never heard of these other spirit cats leaving fur behind. This cat routinely leaves fur on the stairs where it likes to sit. The cat has also been seen roaming the halls and disappears quite often. Disembodied footsteps and voices and other poltergeist-like activity like bottles and other items falling, have been reported.
A shadow figure has been seen on multiple occasions. One of those reports came from a man who stayed in Room #3. He had the inn completely to himself and so he was shocked when he was awakened by the noise of a loud party. He flew into the hallway to yell at the partygoers. It was completely silent in the hallway. He checked downstairs and saw no one. When he awoke the next morning, he saw a shadow figure floating in his room and then watched as it passed through the wall into Room #2.
The most famous ghost here belongs to Room #4. There are only five guest rooms, so the chances of ending up in this haunted room are pretty high. The story goes that a young merchant came to the village peddling his wares, which may have been gold watches or some other kind of jewelry. He checked into the inn and you probably assume that he either died in his room of natural causes or suicide or that someone murdered him since he seems to be hanging around in the afterlife. But we can't tell you what happened because this is one of our history's mysteries disappearances. He checked in, but never checked out and was never seen again. At least, not alive. If this truly is his ghost, then we think it is safe to assume that he met with some kind of bad Fate. And since he was carrying expensive wares, we think it's safe to assume the motive was robbery. A modern article claims that the room was the scene of a grizzly 19th century murder, but no links to evidence for this. There are reports of seeing his full-bodied apparition in the room, but even more common are the complaints of him getting into bed with guests.
Mary Fessler wrote a blog on Stories from the Playground about her son's experiences while working at the Hammel House Inn and she shared the following:
"On at least two occasions, he heard what sounded like an unseen girl crying in the basement. His co-worker also reported a similar occurrence, claiming that she had heard a young girl ask her to 'hurry up', and had witnessed glasses sliding off of tables, seemingly without explanation."It is possible that the cries of the young girl described by this woman's son are residual and date back to the Underground Railroad. Tunnels ran through this area and people who have basements in town, complain of hearing children crying in those basements.
Amanda wrote to us, "The cemetery is reportedly a portal to hell and one girl claimed to have seen a towering black form that reached all the way up to the sky from the plot. To be honest, the stories about the cemetery may be more due to overactive imaginations and some illegal substances than any otherworldly activity. My own experiences in Waynesville have been more unsettling feelings and nothing more." Do the former residents and guests of these places still roam about in the afterlife? Are sightings just wishful thinking or overactive imaginations? Is Waynesville haunted? That is for you to decide!
Here is a fun extra featuring the Holloway Tavern, which was owned by David Holloway. Holloway was a well-known Quaker in town and he had a prime spot on Third and High Streets, where he built a store and tavern. He bought the lots from previously mentioned, David Faulkner. The following is taken from an article, “Miami Monthly Meeting, Part I” by Robert Hatton printed in the Miami-Gazette (March 15, 1876):
"David Holloway (b. June 23rd, 1771 Stafford, Va.-d. December 31st, 1847 in Richmond, Indiana) was his (Roland Richards’) son-in-law, having married (March 12th, 1794 at Hopewell Monthly Meeting) his second daughter Hannah (b. January 31st, 1774 in Philadelphia), who was an excellent Friend. David had much of a consequential air about him, and in the earlier part of his time was tenacious of plainness, bringing his children to meeting, etc., and would close his store on meeting days. It is related of him that when suspenders were first brought about, his sons, then in their teens, procured some, which their father no sooner discovered, that he took them away and burned them. Subsequently, the youngsters procured flax and twisted it into a substitute. On this becoming known to David he destroyed them and reprimanded his children. This produced a dislike to the society and when they reached majority they left Friends and married from among them. No doubt David was perfectly sincere in his views, as he never adopted the condemned suspenders in his own wardrobe. About the year 1815 he moved to Cincinnati and the general depression of the commercials affairs in 1819-20 added to some unfortunate endorsements resulted in the loss of most of the acquirements of years of active labor. In 1822 he removed to a farm in Indiana, about four miles east of Richmond, where he remained a few years; and after several other changes closed his life from a cancer. His very superior wife survived him several years."
Ghost Tours and Classes
Dayton Daily News: "Local community 'the most haunted town in Ohio.'" http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/lifestyles/holiday/waynesville-most-haunted-town-in-ohio/nbbp2/
Forgotten Ohio: Stetson House
Warren County and Beyond (via RootsWeb): "America's Cowboy Hat Had Beginnings In Waynesville"
Ohio Exploration Society: Stetson House
Forgotten Ohio: The Quaker Meeting House
Haunted Places: Hammel House Inn
Theresa's Haunted House History of the Tri-State: Ohio's Haunted Hammel House
The Hammel House Inn: Ghostly Waynesville
Enquirer: Waynesville Haunts Sought