Woodsy and swampy rural Ohio was the home of Native Americans and early settlers. The French engaged in the fur trade there as far back as the 17th century, and the cities of Dayton and Cincinnati were mapped out in the 1790s. So it’s not too surprising that Ohio would be a ghostly state.
The Buxton Inn, one of the oldest in Ohio, was opened in 1812 in the northeastern county of Lorain. It was first run by Orin Granger as a post office and stagecoach stop, and then taken over by Major Buxton from the mid-1800s to the turn of the century. Strange noises are heard there. The basement, where stagecoach drivers used to spend the night, is especially full of footsteps and eerie knockings. Orin Granger appears in the building in old-fashioned pants, and sometimes steals pies! Major Buxton also floats among the rooms as a shadowy image of himself in life. One wonders if Mr. Granger shares his pies with the Major.
Crawford County in north central Ohio is the eternal haunt of a 19th century murder victim. In 1836 Daniel Bender and his brother-in-law came to the area to homestead. They befriended two other men who traveled with them for a while. Then one night, the two men robbed Daniel and his brother-in-law, and shot Daniel to death.
Daniel’s grim ghost has been seen since near the village of Olentangy. One night many years ago, a man carrying his sick child to the doctor met a stranger in dark garb. The stranger told the man not to bother with the journey, the child would die. By the time the man reached the doctor’s, the child had passed away. Since then, the area where the dark ghost appeared has been known as Dead Man’s Hollow.
Some of the settlers who came down the Ohio River or overland to the new frontier had big ambitions. Col. Robert Patterson fought in wars against the Shawnees and helped found the cities of Cincinnati and Dayton. Wanting to settle down, he purchased farmland near Dayton in 1804 and built a home he called Rubicon. Rubicon is still standing on Brown Street in Dayton, and Col. Patterson is still there. Workers have seen him many times in black riding boots, and have pointed him out to visitors. Although stern and exacting in life, the colonel seems to have developed a mischievous streak after death. He likes to lock people out of the rooms of his home.
In Darke County near Indiana, there is an old mill. The land was first given to Major George Adams by President Jackson in 1832, and later in 1849, Gabriel Baer built a mill on the site. The structure became known to locals as Bear’s Mill. The mill is still standing, and the ghost of an old farmer, thought to be either Adams or Baer, is seen in it. The ghost walks on the upper level and makes the floorboards creak very loudly.
These old ghosts are harmless and even friendly, but there’s a truly terrifying specter at Simms Cemetery near Athens. It’s the burial place of Judge John Simms, who sentenced people to death and then hanged them himself. He had a favorite tree, located near the cemetery. It’s said that the rope marks are still visible on the tree, and visitors have been aghast to see ghostly victims hanging from it. If you encounter the Judge’s spirit, he’ll tell you to get out, and if you don’t, he’ll chase you. There is a legend that Simms was so hated, a witch was buried near him in the cemetery to put a curse on him.
So if you want to see old ghosts of Ohio, you can try to encounter the other spirits, but not this one!