Between the curve of a small hill and the quietly rolling Little Miami River lies a place lost in time. Tunnels still echo with hushed sounds of terrified slaves, train whistles thunder along the rivers edge and Charles Dickens recites prose over dinner, sometimes, quite literally!
The small Midwest town is so full of ectoplasm you can almost seeing it running down the streets. “The Most Haunted Town in Ohio”, Waynesville, Ohio.
While Waynesville’s living, population is around 3000, it has a ghost population that varies on any given day between two and three-dozen. Waynesville history goes far back in time. Built along the Little Miami River where prehistoric mound dwellers once roamed, campfires and strange voices still echo across the river on dark nights.
Settled by anti-slavery Quakers in the late 1790’s, Waynesville became one of most significant stops on the Underground Railroad. Old tunnel entrances still exist in many homes where run away slaves were once hidden. Secret entrances rise from the river and go between houses as a labyrinth of tunnels snakes under the town. Sorrowful cries are still heard from deep within the cellars of many of the old Victorian homes.
On Main Street stands a cheerful looking small house that is home to Waynesville’s most famous ghost, John B. Stetson of cowboy hat fame. The house was originally the home of Stetson’s sister Louisa (Stetson) Larrick. Described as a small dark haired woman who thought herself very unattractive, Louisa has been seen standing in the doorway by many a stroller down Main Street. On occasion, a large man in a big white hat has been spotted staring across town out of the second-story window.
John Satterthwaite, a Quaker from Pennsylvania known for his passionate religious beliefs, built the Satterthwaite House in 1812. His daughter, Elizabeth was known for her great sense of humor. According to the homes current residents, she still has one. All the alarm clocks in the house have been hidden in a cookie jar in the kitchen, making everyone late to school or work. A girl’s voice could be heard giggling as the family flew around the house in a rush.
As if ghostly spirits weren’t enough, there is also a well documented monster lurking about - The Crosswick Monster. An 1880 newspaper reported a “reptilian-like monster” almost succeeded in having a young boy for dinner. The newspaper gave this description: “Reptilian, thirty to forty feet in length with scaly legs and body. The head had a large, deep red mouth, with protruding fangs and a forked tongue.”
Paranormal experts that have visited the town, confirm various levels of “haunted-ness”. There are more then a few cynics who believe it is all fabrication. But as one resident put it “you can only attribute so much to a water heater popping or a house settling”. Halloween is a particularly busy time as the town’s Museum at the Friends Home, gives a “Ghostly Walking Tour” which highlights many of the town’s most haunted houses. You can get detailed information at their website.
If all this makes Waynesville sound like it just stepped out of a Stephen King novel, you’d be very wrong. Any tourist driving through or visiting the shops, stores, and restaurants would be hard pressed to find anything out of the ordinary. In fact, by all appearances the town is boringly normal.
So, take a walk after midnight on All Hallows Eve in Waynesville, Ohio and enjoy the specters!
Waynesville, Ohio is located in Warren County, Ohio about 45-miles North of Cincinnati, Ohio. For information on the Victorian village contact the Waynesville Chamber of Commerce: http://www.waynesvilleohio.com/