One of the oddest ghosts in Ohio appeared several times between the Civil War and the 1880s at what is today the northeast edge of Lancaster.

The story starts with John Ornsdorf, a stock dealer from Licking County who moved to Fairfield County. His disappearance sometime around 1850 seems to have been the beginning of the mysterious happenings in the area known as Still House Hollow. One day Ornsdorf's horse arrived at his Lancaster home without him, but with parts of him on it--blood, hair, and pieces of brain. A group of local farmers set out to search for him. They were able to follow a trail of blood down Foglesong Road, then to the home of a "disreputable" man named Crowley, who operated a still there.

The search party broke the door down and entered Crowley's house, which they said smelled of sulfur. Inside they found neither John Ornsdorf nor Mr. Crowley, but they did come across the dead body of a yearling calf in one of the back rooms.

Neither man was ever heard from again. The double disappearance alone was strange enough, but the story got much stranger in the years leading up to the Civil War, when the calf began to make appearances on Foglesong Road.

The first person to report a sighting was Jacob Spangler of Pleasant Township, who was riding his horse when he came upon a yearling calf in the middle of the road. It had "unnaturally" long hair and glowing eyes. His horse seemed terrified of it--especially when the animal climbed onto the saddle and took a seat behind Spangler. It rode like a person, resting its front hooves on Spangler's shoulders, and hitched a ride to the southern end of the road, where it jumped off and disappeared back into the woods.

Spangler went into Lancaster and asked a doctor to accompany him back to Still House Hollow, where they both saw it again. Throughout the next few years many people reported encounters with the weird, humanoid yearling calf in Still House Hollow.

After the Civil War Foglesong Road was abandoned and the sightings dropped off. The whole story raises some interesting questions. What happened to Ornsdorf? Did Crowley sacrifice him, along with the yearling calf? What was the thing that people saw along the road? Does it still haunt the area? It's also interesting that the disreputable man whose cabin smelled of sulfur and who had sacrificed the animal was named Crowley; Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) is infamous as the father of modern satanism. A relative of his, perhaps?



Barnes, Dwight. "Tales from the Past: Stories of Mysterious Murders, Vagabonds and Ghosts" Lancaster Eagle-Gazette 22 Feb. 2002: pp. 30.