The McDaniel Hermit Place

Mysterious apparitions and headless men have been known to roam the woods around the "Old McDaniel Hermit Place" since the late 1800s. Groans and agonized moans are heard in the area surrounding the place, which was apparently the residence of a reclusive hermit for many years, until he died suddenly. Did he have murder victims buried around his shack? The explanation isn't a simple one, but it's definitely a ghost story that's been told before. The following article was sent to me by a contributor, who looked it up in the 1896 files of the Portsmouth Daily Times:


Mr. Frank Crowe, his son James, and Miss Clara McCorkle, an estimable young belle of Scioto County fame, were to spend an evening as the guests of his brother, Mr. Henry Crowe, who lives about one and a half miles distant. They spent a pleasant evening with euchre and minor games, when they retired to the drawing room, where Miss Clara, on the piano, and James Crowe (a talented young musician) on the violin, accompanied by Miss Flora Crowe (Henry's wife, and a talented singer) played duets and grand marches until they were tired. They then returned to the dining room where a beautiful supper was awaiting them, after which, devouring such a portion as will cause one to have hideous dreams, they enjoyed the remainder of their evening together.

They then started for home, exhausted and thinking of reposing in a short time on their virtuous couches, but while climbing a hill about half a mile from their place of abode, a strange and weird apparition of immense size, resembling a man, leapt from the shadows into the paths of the traveling family. They hurried from the place of terror, and arrived home almost scared unconscious and suffering from nervous excitement. This is not the first time there has been weird cries and frightful sights seen near there.

This place is known as the "Old McDaniel Hermit Place." It has been unoccupied for seven or eight years, as the tenats who have lived there heretofore have been awakened from their slumbers by groans and death-like agonies, and by seeing headless men roam about the yard during the hour of midnight. For such reasons it has received the name of being haunted, and still those same blood-curdling and thrilling sights are yet to be seen at intervals.

Mr. Frank Crowe is organizing a company of "brave men" to find out what it is, and more importantly, what it wants.

It's not known what the "brave men" found, if they ever got together and made an attempt to track the ghosts down at all. The tone of the article is fairly straightforward, but the mention of the guests eating "such a portion as will cause one to have hideous dreams" suggests that the author might suspect that there's "more gravy than grave" involved.

While it is interesting to know that they were seeing this ghost more than a hundred years ago, you might wonder if they're still seeing it now. The shack where the McDaniel hermit lived is long gone, of course, but that spot is now in the woods surrounding the Southern Ohio Correctional Institute. The person who sent me the article also told about trying to find it after he spoke to Oscar McDaniel, 71, who is supposed to be the great-great-grandnephew of the haunting's namesake. A weird fog filled the woods as they stomped around looking for a clue about the place's location, but other than a feeling of uneasiness, nothing happened. Maybe the headless ghosts provide an additional deterrent for inmates at Lucasville who are thinking about escape.