Ohio Statehouse, other Columbus sites have a history of ‘ghost’ tales


As a volunteer guide at the Ohio Statehouse, Dan Trump is used to living with history. Sometimes, however, the story comes to prominence in unusual ways – should we say ghostly? – manners.

During one of the Statehouse’s annual haunted tours, in which visitors learn about alleged paranormal activity in the State Capitol building, Dan was stopped by a woman who said she smelled a rare flower.

“This woman said the rotunda smelled so much of patchouli flowers and she wanted to know where we got them,” Trump, 63, who lives with his wife Peggy, also a Statehouse volunteer, told Hilliard. “I told her I had no idea what she was talking about. There were no fresh cut flowers in the Statehouse.

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From there, the plot thickens.

When Trump consulted with others in the Statehouse, they told him patchouli flowers were used when President Abraham Lincoln’s body lay there after his assassination in 1865.

But that was a century and a half ago.

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“There were absolutely none of them in the Statehouse at the time,” said Trump, who has had other experiences in the Statehouse that have the potential to lift hair up the back of the neck.

There was, for example, the moment when he was waiting for a group of tourists from the State Room and received a warning from an unseen presence.

“I bend down, I watch, and, just like the day, someone whispered in my ear, come out,” Trump said. “I immediately turned around and saw nothing. … I’m not a big ghost, but I heard this.

The State Room at the Ohio Statehouse.  Dan Trump said he once had someone whispering in his ear just outside the State Room.

Columbus has a long history of ghostly events

Bucky Cutright, the founder of Columbus Ghost Tours, said that while every city has its own ghost stories, Columbus has a high concentration of them.

“Columbus has a pretty unique kind of makeup,” said Cutright, 47, from West Virginia who moved to Columbus in 1992. “We have weird stories of the pioneer and indigenous people.… That was The mecca of most of North America about 2,000 years ago, with those ancient earthworks around, it was a ceremonial and sacred space then.

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This is all in addition to many places all over the city where rumors, reports and sometimes first hand experiences are the subject of rumors, rumors and first hand experiences.

Fernando Kelton's bedroom.  Kelton later died in this room from injuries sustained after falling from a window.

Kelton House has frequent guests

At the Kelton House Museum & Garden on East Town Street – built by former residents Fernando and Sophia Kelton in 1852, occupied by their descendants until 1975 and now run by the Junior League of Columbus – executive director Sarah Richardt reports making a visiting a couple and seeing the lights flicker every time the name “Fernando” was spoken.

“The third time Fernando’s name was mentioned, the front door, which is an extremely heavy front door, opened fully and stayed open for 15-20 seconds, then closed slowly. “said Richardt. “The young boy who was there wasn’t exactly thrilled.”

The living room of the Thurber house.

Thurber wrote about his ghost

Meanwhile, the Thurber House Literary Center and Museum on Jefferson Avenue – where young James Thurber once resided – has a ghostly reputation polished by its former occupant: Thurber’s story “The Night the Ghost Got In” whimsically tells one episode that occurred in the house in 1915.

“(Thurber) was in an upstairs bathroom, washing his face and getting ready for bed, when he heard that trampling coming from downstairs,” Cutright said. “It woke up his brother. … The sound of footsteps came up the stairs towards them, and they could see that there was no visible cause.

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In fact, the house had been the site of a grisly death that could explain the unrest: A man who occupied the house before the Thurbers, Thomas Tracy Tress, apparently committed suicide after being negligent with a gun he had. supposed to be unloaded.

Leah Wharton, director of operations at Thurber House, said staff members regularly reported strange occurrences, including a floating orb of light encountered upstairs by a staff member.

The back staircase of the Thurber House in Columbus.  According to tradition, Thurber was at the top of this staircase exiting the bathroom when he heard footsteps in the dining room below which then began to climb the stairs, although he saw no one.

Even the writers in residence, who stay on the third floor of the house during their tenure, are known to be scared, including 2018 children’s writer in residence, Pablo Cartaya.

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“(Cartaya) told us a lot of interesting things had happened to him,” Wharton said. “He would feel that tingling sensation down his arms. One of the framed Thurber drawings in the bedroom fell off the wall in the middle of the night.

Old brothel a lair

The Jury Room on East Mound Street – now an Irish pub and private event space – was originally a tavern in the 1830s and, within two decades, has grown into a brothel. Cutright said several ghosts would linger in space, including an angry customer who, one night in 1859, knocked on the door to enter and was killed by the lady from the brothel. His ghost hangs out too.

“Sometimes people ask me, ‘Oh, these stories, they’re so dark,’” Cutright said. “I said, ‘Well, someone rarely becomes a ghost because they’ve been tickled to death. “”

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Of course, sometimes supernatural stories pile up in one place even in the absence of evidence.

Legend of the Valhalla ravine

The Walhalla Ravine area in Clintonville has long been a creepy Cutright favorite.

“It’s dark and it’s wild,” Cutright said, but the evocation of an obsession in Mooney Mansion on Walhalla Road – that the house once belonged to a mentally ill doctor who committed suicide along with his family and whose spirits remain – turns out to be wrong. .

“The house was built in 1913 for Dr. Charles Mooney, and he and his wife lived there,” Cutright said. “They had three children, but they all died of old age. “

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In 1918, at another house not far from Mooney Mansion, an incident similar to that associated with Mooney Mansion took place, Cutright said, but the street in which it happened did not qualify – which is word ? – frightening.

“It’s just kind of a middle street,” he said. “The ghost story has kind of been moved to this more rural setting, a more lonely place.”

A person in the house said she once walked past these dolls, both face up, then returned moments later and one was lying on her stomach.

COVID-19 pandemic has affected ‘residents’ of Buxton Inn

The coronavirus pandemic appears to have had an unusual effect on at least one set of minds: last spring, when the Buxton Inn in Granville temporarily closed, Executive Director Jennifer Valenzuela noted that paranormal activity – already a accepted feature of staying or working at the 209-year-old hostel – spiked.

“I was going into the building and checking it and making sure it was locked, and it got to the point where, honestly, if I didn’t have one of my kids or my dogs with me, I don’t go, “said Valenzuela, who heard tables and chairs move and saw a swinging door open on its own and stay open.

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“It would be so active, like they were doing something to get your attention. They didn’t understand why all of a sudden life ended at Buxton on March 13, ”she said.

With the inn reopening a long time ago, the usual amount of mysterious sights, sounds and smells has picked up.

Green Lawn Abbey Experience

For his part, Cutright has no doubts that people are experiencing unusual things in these and other places in Greater Columbus – and he also believes his own eyes and ears.

A few years ago, Cutright portrayed the magician Howard Thurston at an event at the Green Lawn Abbey Mausoleum, where the remains of Thurston, who died in 1936, are buried. After Cutright exited the script, the lights started flashing.

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He asked one of the organizers if they had arranged for the lights to go down. Nope.

“She hadn’t touched it,” said Cutright, who had only one possible explanation – a paranormal.

“I don’t know if I made Thurston happy or upset.”

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In one look

Ready to be afraid? Ghost tours and similar spooky events are held throughout Greater Columbus.

Haunted Ohio Statehouse Tours, 1 Place du Capitole, October 7, 7:30 p.m., 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. October 22-23; $ 13 or $ 7 for ages 12 to 17; tickets required; masks not compulsory; www.ohiostatehouse.org

Kelton House Museum and Garden “Fernando’s Funeral” ghost tours, 586 E. Town St., every 30 minutes from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. October 28-29; $ 18; maximum 15 people per visit; mandatory masks; www.keltonhouse.com

Buxton Inn “ghost tours”, 313 E. Broadway, Granville, Tuesdays at 8 pm, Fridays at 9 pm, “family” Saturdays at 2 pm until November 20; $ 20 or $ 10 for children 12 and under; masks not compulsory; www.buxtoninn.com

“Spooky Columbus Walking Tours” from Columbus Ghost Tours and “Ghosts of Green Lawn Cemetery Walking Tour,” various dates and times; outdoors, socially distanced and limited to a maximum of 20; prices vary; www.columbusghosttours.com

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