USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Ohio’
general

Helltown, Ohio

“In Summit County, Ohio, there’s a ghost town that people call Helltown. The town is notorious for being haunted and being a site of Satanic rituals. There’s actually even a church in the town with an upside down cross on it, apparently it’s the most haunted building in Helltown. Since the town was abandoned, a ton of teenagers have gone down there, and a few have gone missing mysteriously upon entering the church.”

 

So my dad told me this story, and it’s one that I’ve actually looked into a bit before just because it seems so fascinating. The actual reason for the town being abandoned is because of a mass governmental seizure of property in 1974 via eminent domain in order to create the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The park was made, but the section that is now “Helltown” was never actually torn down, so the people basically abandoned the town and never moved back, effectively turning it into a ghost town. The rumors of Satanic rituals seems to have no basis other than someone misinterpreting the inverted cross on the church as a Satanic symbol. The purported hauntedness probably just comes from the fact that it is a ghost town, and that naturally causes people to associate it with ghosts. Nonetheless, I like this tale just because Helltown is a pretty close to my home, and it’s just surrounded by populated, normal towns.

 

general

Gore Orphanage

“The Gore Orphanage is a building that was initially constructed as a Mansion around the turn of the 20th century just a few miles the from our house [in Amherst, Ohio], and it’s name just comes from the fact that it’s on Gore Road. Sometime around 1905, the owners of the mansion sold the house away, and an orphanage was opened shortly after. The Orphanage then allegedly caught fire in the year 1910, and the whole building burned down with everyone inside. Today, it’s said that if you go to the location where the orphanage used to stand, you can still hear the cries of the children at night, just very faint screams somehow captured from the moment they died.”

This story comes from my dad, who’s lived all of his life in Northern Ohio. This legend is pretty popular around the area where I grew up, and I actually learned of it from my dad, who in turn learned it from his father. I’ve actually looked into the Gore Orphanage before out of curiosity, but no historical documents show that there any casualties from the fire in 1910, and they actually show that the building did burn down in 1923 with no deaths. Additionally, the sounds heard at night a likely due to the sound of traffic on the nearby I-80 turnpike. Despite this, my family and I still like the idea of the story because it’s something interesting in an area noted for not being too interesting.

Legends
Narrative

Brady’s Leap

Informant Bio

My informant grew up in Kent, Ohio in the 1960s and 1970s. At that time the area was not rural, but it wasn’t urban in the modern sense. Neighborhoods were spread out with forests, lakes, and rivers dividing them. My informant spent much of her time walking and biking along trails to her friends’ homes, and in the summer they would spend much of their time swimming in the lakes. She lived most of her life in Ohio, attending college at Bowling Green State University and living for over ten years in Lakewood, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. She considers herself every bit a midwesterner, though she currently resides in California.

My informant told me this story while discussing her plans to visit her family in Ohio this summer.

Legend of Brady’s Leap

My informant remembers first hearing this story in the 7th grade because that was, “around when we studied the Revolutionary War.”

Brady’s Leap is the name for a particular spot on the Cuyahoga River. My informant’s story told of a Captain Brady, who was sent by the American army to scout for the British camp in the Sandusky territory, which today is a large swath of Northeast Ohio. Brady and his men were captured by the British, but Brady escaped and tried to make his way back to the army camp near Pittsburgh. My informant’s story goes that Brady was discovered by Indians (Native Americans), and he was forced to run. When he reached the banks of the Cuyahoga River he was stuck, but to go back meant either re-capture by the British or death at the hands of the Indians. So instead, he took a flying leap across the river and miraculously made it to the other side.

My informant points out that between Brady’s flying leap and today, the river has been widened at that point. She says it was widened to let large supply ships through when the Erie canals were being built. To look at the spot now the leap would be impossible, but back then my informant believes the gap must have been no more than 20 feet for him to have made it across.

Learning the story in school, my informant said it was a way to relate the nation’s history to the area – to give the students a sense of connection to their home and to their country. The story does seem to have a patriotic message about the abilities of the early Americans, and though the legend does not specifically say that Brady was born in or lived in the Ohio territory, by claiming him as a local hero through the naming of a place on the river, it can give the locals a sense of pride in their history.

Myths

The Franklin Castle

Informant Bio

My informant grew up in Kent, Ohio, attended Bowling Green State University, and spent over ten years after graduation living and working in Cleveland, Ohio. She is a self-professed lover of cities and turn-of-the-century architecture. She considers herself every bit a midwesterner, though she now resides in California.

My informant told me about the Franklin Castle while discussing her plans to visit Ohio this summer.

The Franklin Castle

The Franklin Castle is a mansion-sized Victorian stone house in Cleveland, Ohio that is commonly believed to be haunted. My informant told me that the story she heard is that the man who built the Castle in the 19th century was a twisted, evil man who would kill travelers that he would allow to stay in one of the house’s many rooms. The many rumored ghosts haunting the place are supposedly the spirits of those the man killed.

The Castle is full of hidden passageways and storage places that were likely used by servants. Apparently a recent renovation attempt did uncover bones in one of these hidden compartments in a wall. Tests done on the bones showed that they were very old, however my informant puts more faith in rumors that the bones were planted there by the current owner in an attempt to revive interest in the haunted building.

My informant is more interested in the Castle because its a fascinating looking old building than because of the rumors that it is haunted. She suspects that the rumors that the man who built it were evil stemmed from the fact that he was, in fact, a wealthy banker, and was likely not well liked in the community. “He probably foreclosed on a couple of people and suddenly its going around town that you’re evil. And everyone comes up with their own idea of what that means.”

Cleveland itself has been in recent years viewed as a dying metropolis. The city itself is an amalgamation of incredibly old buildings like the Castle (which have faded from their former glory and now comprise the poorer, more run-down parts of the city) and large modern skyscrapers, bars, clubs, and museums. Though the newer entertainment and shopping districts have not brought the population or reputation of the city back to what it once was, expansion and modernization are considered the only way to revive the city. Stories about spirits lingering in the old buildings mirror (and encourage) the fear of the older, poorer sections of the city.

[geolocation]