What could go wrong?
Staff writers Kathy Thompson and Tonya Shipley spent the past couple of weeks visiting areas around the two counties that are reported to be haunted. Using www.forgottenoh.com as a guide, they trekked out to find out if the ghosts are real, or whether they are just really good stories.
Kathy: I will admit I believe. Well, I don't not believe. While I've never actually seen a ghost, I don't dispute others who claim they have. The first place we went was The Clay Haus in Somerset. This quaint restaurant is said to be haunted by a variety of ghosts. Many who have worked there and investigated the building swear they have seen ghosts and heard noises that just couldn't be explained. We didn't, but after listening to the owner, Scott Snider, tell his stories, I had to admit the tales made me start looking a little differently at the dark corners.
Tonya: I don't really believe in ghosts, mostly because I haven't experienced any otherworldly experiences. However, I do believe that others have experienced "mysterious" things and I wouldn't dare make fun of them for that. The Clay Haus Restaurant serves a fine meal in an otherwise normal environment. But after talking with the owner, we learned things aren't always normal there.
The Clay Haus
The restaurant was built in the early 1800s. The restaurant has undergone some modifications, but owner Scott Snider still tries to keep it true to its original form.
Snider, several employees and ghost investigators and hunters from around the country have spent hours in the restaurant. They take pictures, videotape rooms and use tape recorders to catch voices or sounds of spirits.
Apparently, the spirits are not shy about making their presence known.
While the ghosts are more active after dinner guests have left, Snider said there have been times his supernatural "guests" have made their presence known during working hours.
"We were down here one really stormy night in the winter. It was the coldest night of the year, like 30 below zero and hardly anyone was out. We thought about closing early that night. We were down here in the dining room and all of a sudden we heard this horrific bang from upstairs. It sounded like the entire second floor had fallen."
They were shocked to find an antique bedwarmer had fallen from a high shelf in one of the bedrooms.
"Fallen or had it been knocked down," he asked with a grin. "Here is it really cold out and it honestly looked like someone was reaching up to get the ceramic bedwarmer off the shelf. As far as I'm concerned it was one of the ghosts wanting to go to bed and it looked exactly like they had been trying to grab the bedwarmer to take with them and it fell because the shelf is pretty high and a little out of their reach. It was pretty weird."
Snider has also heard steps on the stairs late at night and has even encountered a woman in the kitchen.
"I even said hi," he laughed. "She was there one minute and gone the next."
According to ghost hunter Beth Santore of Columbus, that is pretty normal ghost behavior. She has visited The Clay Haus several times and said she felt "cold spots" on the stairwells. .
"It's like a spirit is brushing right by you," Santore said. "But, like any other chicken, I got scared and screamed.
"I love hunting them, but when I encounter one, I get really scared and pretty much run away."
Wendy Dee of Somerset said she was lucky enough to see a soldier who haunts the premises.
"He is from the Civil War and still dressed in his uniform," Dee said. "He wasn't going to harm me or anyone, but just seeing him standing in the kitchen was pretty scary. He didn't talk or gesture towards me, he just stood there and then was gone."
Otterbein Cemetery's Horseshoe Grave
Tonya: After dinner at the Clay Haus, Kathy assured me she knew how to find our next destination. An hour and a half later, we were lucky enough to find a man who knew exactly what we were looking for - the Horseshoe Grave at Otterbein Cemetery.
Kathy: Hey, it wasn't an hour and a half. But once we did find the cemetery, we discovered we had broken the two most important rules of ghost hunting: If it's dark, bring a flashlight. And always have a camera.
Tonya: I did have a camera. You just never asked for it.
Kathy: So we stumbled through the dark cemetery walking over graves - which isn't even a nice thing to do in the daylight - hunting for the Horseshoe Grave.
According to legend, the Horseshoe Grave contains the body of Mary Angle Henry, who died during childbirth.
A couple of years later, her husband, John, married a woman named Rachel. Apparently, John had dated Rachel at the same time he dated Mary. Naturally, Mary became distraught.
Seven days after John and Rachel tied the knot, a bloody horseshoe appeared on the back of Mary's grave.
One day after the horseshoe appeared, John went to work in his barn. When he did not return, Rachel found him there dead on the floor - with a horseshoe imprinted on his face.
Despite numerous attempts to wash it off, the horseshoe remains to this day on the marker of poor Mary's grave.
Tonya: Perry County isn't only place to look for haunts. The Roseville Prison has been abandoned for years, but it's an interesting structure to look at. The guard towers are really cool.
This is definitely not a place to go into without permission. After tracking down that Muskingum County has jurisdiction over it, a maintenance person let us in one afternoon.
Unfortunately, we both agree there was nothing haunted about the prison, although I would not want to be there at night walking around those halls. The place was creepy in its own right, but I think it was safe from any spirits. I got to stand in one of the solitary cells and that was cool, although I couldn't talk Kathy into doing it.
Kathy: The feelings I have about cells and prisons just aren't cool and should be scary, even if you aren't on a ghost hunt.
Prospect Place, Trinway
Tonya: By far the coolest part of our trip was going to Prospect Place in Trinway.
Kathy: The owners and guides were very gracious for allowing a couple of nosy reporters come in and take up a couple of hours of their time. If I didn't believe in ghosts or spirits before I walked in, I believe now.
Also known as the George Willison Adams House, Prospect Place is owned by the George W. Adams Educational Center. The non-profit organization is renovating the house.
George Adams, a descendant of George Willison Adams and member of the center's board, said the house eventually will be renovated to match two time periods in its history - including the era when it was a station on the Underground Railroad.
But in addition to the center's educational mission, its staff also offers ghost hunts.
"There are a lot of spirits here," said ghost investigator Autumn Conklin.
The most activity is the ballroom. Certain spots are more active than others, she said. The spirits are energy and can take the form of orbs, but there are ghosts in the house with more definitive form.
"They aren't going to hurt you, though," Conklin said. One ghost she saw was hanging out around the kitchen stove.
Conklin said people come to the house for different reasons. Some believe and are eager to find evidence of spirits. The skeptics either leave that way or change their minds after a night at the house.
Adams has not seen anything. But he said there are noises in the house that can't always be explained.
Ghost investigator Heather Yingling heard about ghost hunts several years ago and went on one.
"I wanted to do something different for Halloween and I saw they were have ghost hunts here. All it took was that first one and I was hooked," she said.
She began coming back to the house for more ghost hunts, until she finally started volunteering.
Conklin and Yingling said people stay in the house's dark basement for hours taking pictures. The orbs can appear in pictures, but often the photos show dust particles from the home's dirt floor instead. However, they are able to point out the differences between the dust particles and orbs.
Yingling runs the tour before the ghost hunts and could spend the whole night telling the stories of things she and others have experienced within the house. One of her favorite stories involves being the basement and seeing the apparition known as the Shadow Man appear at the bottom of the steps.
She said in addition to taking pictures or videos, people will leave their audio recorders in an empty room and record. She has heard some of these recordings where voices can be heard saying phrases. This phenomenon is known as Electronic Voice Phenomenon.
One of the scariest places at Prospect Place is the barn. Conklin avoids going in there, but Yingling takes tours up to the second and third floors, where some bounty hunters supposedly were hanged. Yingling said she tries to get a person to stay on the third floor by themselves before the next group comes up - a proposition not for the faint of heart.
Tonya: Well, after visits to four scary spots, I still haven't seen a ghost. Until I do, I can't bring myself to actually believe in them. But I do believe that people like Autumn Conklin and Heather Yingling at the Prospect Place and Scott Snider at the Clay Haus have seen and experienced things.
Kathy: Prospect Place can make a believer out of any nonbeliever. The pictures and recordings of the spirits they have there are pretty scary, especially of the very large and very dark man in the barn. That place gave me the willies, too, so I don't blame Autumn for not wanting to go in.
And believer or not, your blue eyes got pretty big when they showed us the video from the barn. Reason me the figure in the film. Not even George Adams could pooh-pooh that away.
Tonya: Whatever. I don't need to explain anything away. If I could have explained you away I would have done it a long time ago. But with my luck you would just come back to haunt me.
Kathy: Count on it.
How to hunt for ghosts
Ghost hunter Beth Santore suggests:
Never go alone. A lot of common haunted places include cemeteries and old buildings that are well off the beaten path. You need at least one other person there to help in case you get injured.
Never go into an abandoned building without permission from the building's owner. It could be considered trespassing and you could go to jail or be fined.
Use a 35mm camera with 400 speed film and/or a digital camera to take photos of ghosts.
Use a cassette recorder, a microcassette recorder or a digital recorder to record ghostly sounds.
Don't litter or take anything from the place you visit.
Be skeptical. Try to rule out logical explanations for strange phenomena before declaring a ghost caused it.
Have an open mind and have fun.
Perry County haunts
Some places believed to be haunted in Perry County
Clay Haus Restaurant in Somerset.
Otterbein Cemetery in Somerset.
Beech Grove Cemetery in Corning.
Tunnel Hill Bridge in New Lexington.
Tinker's Cave in New Straitsville.
At a glance