Ghosts of Ohio

Ghosts of Ohio Newsletter - June 2008

Volume 5 / Issue 5

It's been over a week and I am still coming down off the high of our very first Spend the Night with The Ghosts of Ohio event. Of course, the fact that we spent the evening locked inside Mansfield Reformatory on a private tour didn't hurt, either. You'll be meeting up with one of the members of The Ghosts of Ohio, Kathy, later in this issue and she'll let you know how everything went.

Also in this issue, we'll be announcing the winners of our next Spend the Night with The Ghosts of Ohio program. These lucky individuals will be spending the night with us locked inside Prospect Place in Dresden, Ohio. And, since people are starting to head out on their summer vacations, Wendy's back from another ghost tour and is ready to let you know if she's found a worthwhile vacation destination in her Ghost Tour Reviews.

Finally, we made the decision to keep the Ohio Ghost Stories section out of this issue. To be honest, this newsletter is so packed with stuff, we ran out of room. Plus, the review of the Mansfield Reformatory overnight is like getting a first-hand Ohio ghost story!

OK, I'll stop rambling now so you can get on to the good stuff!

James A. Willis

Recently, with The Ghosts of Ohio being asked to investigate some rather large, unoccupied buildings as well as some outdoor locations, we have had to start looking into providing our own power. One of our members, Mark, took a look at all the equipment we need to run power to and was able to find a generator rental facility that had just what we were looking for. Small and compact enough to fit in the trunk of a car, this generator was able to power a full seven-hour investigation without even needing a refill. Given the cost of purchasing a new generator and taking into account the number of investigations where we would need to use it, it is much more cost-effective to rent. But, it's good to know where to go should we need to officially add a generator to our arsenal of equipment.

Speaking of equipment, another Ghosts of Ohio member, John, was looking into infrared extenders for his own video camera when he decided to build his own. His prototype has since been used on two investigations and passed with flying colors! He angled the infrared lights, which means there's no annoying "doughnut hole" in the center of the image. On top of that, these lights are so powerful that when used in conjunction with a wide-angle lens, we can light up an entire room.

Finally, with all of this new equipment we have, what started out being able to fit in the trunk of my car back in 1999 has now grown so large that we can fill my car and three additional SUVs. So, if you happen to see a dark-colored Honda leading a couple of SUVs down the highway late some night, take a second look, because you just might be riding with The Ghosts of Ohio!

Just a reminder—please do not send any email responses to the newsletter. It is nothing more than an automated system that will banish your email to the depths of the Web until we manage to stumble across it.

Since last we spoke, The Ghosts of Ohio had the unique opportunity to participate in the search for the Lincoln Ghost Train. According to the legend, every April 29th, a ghostly funeral car carrying the body of Abraham Lincoln is supposed to rumble through the town of Urbana, Ohio, mirroring the route it took back in 1865 when it carried the fallen President's body back to Springfield, Illinois. For us, it was a wonderful opportunity to try and catch a glimpse of perhaps one of the most famous residual hauntings. Unfortunately, despite setting up all our equipment along the tracks, the ghostly train never showed up. But what did show up were over 90 local residents and students from Urbana University. So while we weren't able to capture any paranormal activity, we were able to become, if only for one night, part of the Urbana community and take part in their annual ritual of waiting for the funeral train.

Two of the people who joined us on the investigation were Skip Peterson and James Hannah of the Associated Press. They were originally going to cover the investigation for a story about the Ghost Train, but later switched gears and expanded the article to focus on the recent rise in popularity of ghost groups and ghost hunting. They put together a nice article, complete with pictures, and it ran in local papers the following week. But then something interesting happened—news services started picking the article up off the AP Wire. At last count, the article, in different forms and with different pictures, has appeared in 43 different newspapers and news websites around the world, including CNN, USA Today, CBS News, The Chicago Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle, and even the Taipei Times. We've added several of the articles to the Media Mentions section of our website, but just type "Willis and Lincoln Funeral Train" in any Internet search engine and see all the results you get!

On May 25th, several members of The Ghosts of Ohio, along with some family members and friends, descended on Resor Road, our adopted section of roadway in Fairfield, Ohio, and began our spring cleaning. We came across some rather interesting items lying alongside the road, including a used pregnancy test. To find out what the results of that test were, as well as a list of our top ten strangest things we've ever found on Resor Road, visit the Community Outreach page of our website:

If you are interested in helping The Ghosts of Ohio with a future cleanup, please contact us at

So what is this Spend the Night program everybody is talking about? Well, it is a unique opportunity for some of our lucky fans to take part in an overnight investigation with us! As part of the Spend the Night with The Ghosts of Ohio program, we will be renting out some of the most haunted buildings in Ohio for an entire night. Unlike traditional "ghost hunts," where you are often forced to share the location with total strangers, every building we rent out will be totally ours.

Now comes the best part—we want you to come along with us! We'll bring all the equipment, so all you need to bring is your courage.

How do you get in on all this spooky fun? It's simple, really. All you need to do is sign up for The Ghosts of Ohio newsletter, which is free!

For each investigation, we'll be picking several names from our list of newsletter subscribers and giving them first shot at spending the night with us. All they need to do is pay the same registration fee that the members of The Ghosts of Ohio have to pay in order to rent out the building (dollar amount subject to change based on individual venue).  

In addition, we'll be drawing at least one lucky Grand Prize winner who will get to come along for FREE!

That's all there is to it! Of course, we might want to take a few pictures of you on the investigation and post them on our site so you'll be the envy of all your friends. But hey, that's a small price to pay for the chance to spend the night with The Ghosts!

If for some reason you don't have your own subscription, what are you waiting for?

August 22, 2008                        Prospect Place, Dresden, Ohio
Winners announced below!

October 11, 2008                        Dennison Train Museum, Dennison, Ohio
Winners to be announced in our August 31, 2008 newsletter

After that, we'll be taking a break to get ready for the holidays. But don't worry, we've already started making plans for 2009 and are currently in the process of scheduling locations including a manufacturing plant, a B&B, and even a lighthouse.

Chuck Bare, Billy Popper, David Morris, Stacy Wallace, and Judith Turnbull, that’s who! They are the lucky people we pulled from our newsletter subscriber list. As such, they will have the chance to spend the night with The Ghosts of Ohio locked inside Prospect Place on an overnight investigation…provided, of course, they pay the entrance fee like the rest of us have to. You should be receiving all the pertinent information via email shortly. But for now, congratulations!

Also, congratulations go out to David Butsko, who was our grand prize winner and will be spending the night with us for FREE!

See you all on August 22nd. We'll be sure to post pictures of the investigation on our website so you can be the envy of all your friends!

It was finally time…time to get locked up behind bars for the first Spend the Night with The Ghosts of Ohio event! On the evening of June 21st, more than forty Ghosts of Ohio members, guests, and Spend-a-Night program winners arrived at Mansfield Reformatory to spend a night in prison. For some it was their first time, for others, a well-known haunt. But, for everyone, this was a night that will not soon be forgotten.

This infamous prison was opened in 1896 and remained open until 1990. Encompassing more than 250,000 square feet, it is now open for public and private tours and ghost hunts. The entrance fee for these events is used to restore and preserve this historical landmark.

After the hour-long private tour, which was filled with historical facts, movie trivia (the Reformatory has been the filming location for many movies including The Shawshank Redemption), and ghostly tales, it was time to start our investigation. By splitting into five smaller groups, each led by Ghosts of Ohio members, we were able to adequately cover the massive structure. Each group was well armed with equipment including EMF detectors, hand-held cameras, infrared thermometers, and digital voice recorders. Everyone was given the opportunity to try out the tools of the trade during the evening. There were also seven cameras and other equipment set up throughout the building to record any possible paranormal activity.

Each group was sent out to a “hot spot” for a 45-minute vigil. After each vigil, the groups reassembled in the command center for a 15-minute break and then headed out to the next spot. Participants could also stay at the command center to learn about the equipment hooked up to the monitors and computers. Command center visitors could sit and watch the monitors for any activity being recorded throughout the prison.

After the five groups visited all of the hot spots, there was free time to head back to any of the places that needed a second look. With dawn on the horizon, it was time to call it a night and pack up. We have many hours of DVR recordings and tapes to review—who knows what might have been captured in the prison this night?

Of course after reviewing all of the evidence, we’ll let you know what we find in the next newsletter, and you can watch for pictures from the evening on our website at

Does this sound like fun to you? Think you might like to come on a Spend the Night event? Here are some things our guests had to say about the evening:

“The Ghosts of Ohio is highly professional, yet fun. Absolutely on my list of things to do again!" — Steve

“It was such a cool opportunity to be here at night and explore the facilities.” — Jaclyn

“It’s interesting to think about how much is coincidence and how much might be real. There was a place in Solitary where I just couldn’t even breathe. I loved it!” — Darlene

“Couldn’t have wished to go to prison with a nicer group of people!” — Sean

So, sign up for our free newsletter at and maybe you’ll get the chance to come along on our next Spend the Night with The Ghosts event! More information about Mansfield Reformatory can be found at

Need a spooky friend? If you have a MySpace account, swing by and add The Ghosts of Ohio to your friends list:

The Ghosts of Ohio is continuing to schedule investigations for 2008. If you or someone you know is experiencing something unexplained in a home or place of business, contact us at or visit our website to fill out an investigation request. All investigations are offered free of charge, and confidentiality and discretion are assured.

Not sure if you want or need an investigation? The Ghosts of Ohio now offers consultations. Let us sit down with you to discuss your current situation and what help we may be able to offer. For more information, please visit

As this is still a fairly new column (this is just my second tour review), I thought it would be helpful to go through the rating system one more time before we jumped into the review. To come up with this rating system, I looked at things specific to ghost tours. For example, having a really good, knowledgeable tour guide is going to get high marks, while having one who does not know anything about the area is not. I also took into account such things as walking distance and how interesting the stories were. And since The Ghosts of Ohio (GOO) is giving the ratings, I changed them from ghosties to GOOsties! When all was said and done, we arrived at the following rating system:

5 GOOsties—Tops in tours!
4 GOOsties—Just a few steps short of perfection
3 GOOsties—Good tour, but you are going to be walking a lot
2 GOOsties—Good tour, bad guide
1 GOOstie—I fell asleep standing up
0 GOOsties—This was a ghost tour?

OK, now that we have that out of the way, let the tour begin!

During the last weekend of May I found myself travelling down to Schoenbrunn Village in New Philadelphia with fellow Ghosts of Ohio members Sam and Belinda, along with two of Belinda’s friends, for one of Sherri Brake-Recco’s Haunted History ghost hunts. 

Schoenbrunn Village is operated by the Ohio Historical Society, so several volunteer re-enactors were on hand to answer any of our questions throughout the evening. The village was settled in 1772 by the Moravian church, and abandoned in 1777. The Ohio Historical Society acquired the site in 1923, and the cabins rebuilt, with several upon the original foundations.

The tour gathered at the museum/gift shop where we signed up for an Angel reading from Laura Lyn later in the evening for an additional fee, and wandered through the museum until the start of the event. Sherri’s tours always encompass both hauntings and history, so this tour started out with a short film about the original founding of the village and its restoration. After the film we all headed out behind the museum into the village itself, where a table with coffee, water, and lemonade was made available to us throughout the evening, along with dowsing rods and ELF detectors for those who wanted to borrow equipment.

Sherri walked us through a portion of the village, telling us about some of the rumored hauntings in the cabins, and what past tours had witnessed. We finished up in the graveyard and were then free to investigate wherever we chose. The meetinghouse and schoolhouse had fires lit throughout the night, with hot appetizers in one building, and desserts in the next. The village is not electrified, so the fires and a couple of lanterns provided the only stable lighting.

We started our hunt in the cemetery, and then headed back to the main street of the village, spending time in the Zeisberger and Jungman cabins, before heading to the meetinghouse to try some of the appetizers. There I was able to question the re-enactors about the whereabouts of the original spring that the village was built near. Though it exists only as a type of marshland now, it does run behind the two cabins we had just been in, where we had some interesting events occur.

In the Zeisberger cabin, when Sam began work with her dowsing rods she picked up an energy field so strong that she says it felt as if a magnet was pulling her rods into a crossed position. Belinda and I took turns holding our hands over and under the rods, and could actually feel the magnetism…it made our hands tingle! We had a similar experience in the Jungman cabin, which is why I questioned the location of the spring. But later in the evening Sam’s dowsing rods didn’t pick up anything, and our EMF detectors were flat. That debunked my “it’s the spring” theory.

I also picked up an EVP on my analog tape recorder in what a third cabin, one we called the “skins” cabin due to the animal pelt on the door. On the tape, Sam is talking about plugging her microphone back into her tape recorder, and just after she says that, a male voice chimes in with “I can see you”. That sent shivers down our spines…thinking something was there observing us, without us being able to observe it!

We ended our evening around 11:45 PM, just as a light rain began falling. All in all, it was another great Haunted History event. I think the only thing really missing was a talk on ghost hunting etiquette at the beginning of the evening, to remind people to keep their flashlights on the ground and out of people’s faces, to say ‘flash’ when doing flash photography in a group setting, and to be quiet and considerate when you come across another group trying to do EVP work. Other than a few bad (or uneducated) nuts, we had a very enjoyable and educational evening!

Rating:            4 GOOsties

Information about Schoenbrunn is available at under Northeast. Visit Sherri Brake-Recco at

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