The Hermit of Happy Hollow

Image of an entrance to a forested park.

Happy Hollow Park is a 81 acres of forested park in West Lafayette, Indiana. If you are lucky enough, you might spot a fox on your hike through the park. If you are luckier, you might hear the trees tell the story of The Hermit of Happy Hollow.

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A walking path plaque in Happy Hollow Park touches briefly on the life of Jennie Jahonica, The Hermit of Happy Hollow. She was known for simply wanting solitude.

With the little slithers of free time I have in my life, I try to learn more about Jennie Jahonica. Unfortunately, my research has only led me to sensationalized newspaper articles. Therefore, please take the following information with a grain of salt. I will share edits and updates when they become available.

Jennie Jahonica was born in Huff, Holland. She started working in the fields around the age of ten and, for the next eleven years, “worked as hard as any man” (Indianapolis Journal) She married a man named Kineff (last name) and they had a child. He died when the baby was only a few months old. Around 1850, she came to America with her brother and settled on a farm near Chicago, IL. She met and married a man with the last name Jahonica. He unfortunately died shortly after they were married. She then moved to Lafayette with her daughter where they found work on a farm.

Then, as the Indianapolis Journal describes, “came the tragedy that blasted her life and caused her to withdraw from her friends and associates to seek peace of mind the lonely ravine.” Jennie’s daughter died in 1875. Heartbroken, she moved into a deserted structure (allegedly made of mud and straw) in Happy Hollow. She lived there for four years until a fire destroyed her home. She made due with what she had until the women of German Reformed Church (some sources say Holland Reformed Church) built her a new home. When her health began failing, she moved into the county asylum. She eventually ended up at the County Farm (also called the Infirmary in some sources). She died December 22, 1903.

Some other interesting tidbits I came across:

  • “Children spoke of her as a witch and she was believed by the superstitious to have mysterious powers of working good and evil.” (Indianapolis Journal, December 23, 1903).
  • “She visited nobody and desired no visitors. She regarded all comers as intruders.” (The South Bend Tribune, December 23, 1903)
  • “No favored Swiss scene could be more enchanting than Miss Janeke’s medieval abode with her cow, chickens, bees, grapevines and fruit trees, isolated from the distraction of a civilized world. Her attire was of the traditional Dutch linsey and wooden shoes.” (The Indianapolis News, August 14, 1952)
  • During the summer of 1896, a new streetcar line began construction through Happy Hollow (connecting Lafayette and State Soldiers Home). This would disrupt her home, so “the hermitess protested” but “eventually reconciled to it.” (The Indianapolis News, August 14, 1952)

Where does my research go next? I would love to find out more about Jennie Jahonica’s life beyond the headlines. I would also like to find out where she is buried. Unless, as in life, she wanted to be buried away from and unbothered by the public.

Learn more about another Hoosier “hermit” in my post about Diana of the Dunes.

Sources

Guthrie, Wayne”Ringside in Hoosierland: ‘Happy Hollow’ Had Unhappy Recluse.”The Indianapolis News, 14 August 14 1952, p. 10.

“Hermit of Happy Hollow Dead” The South Bend Tribune,  23 December 1903, p. 2.

“Happy Hollow Hermit Died at Infirmary.” The Indianapolis Journal, 23 December 1903 p. 3.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day: The Banshee

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Enjoy this one from the archives.

Notebook of Ghosts

Banshee

When I was little, I would watch the film Darby O’Gill and the Little People every St. Patrick’s Day. My favorite scene (of course) was the one with the banshee. A beautiful lass Katie is sick and on her death bed. The banshee is flying and screaming outside her window. Because of Irish folklore, the audience knows this means Katie may die. The banshee calls forth the cóiste-bodhar, a death coach that will carry her to the land of the dead. I don’t want to give away the ending, but her father Darby breaks the curse. Katie survives and they sing a sweet Irish song.

tumblr_npbsdqIQqQ1rkd65eo1_500 The famous banshee scene from Darby O’Gill

The banshee is a complex death omen and, like most folklore characters, has many variations. Both Scotland and Ireland claim the banshee. In Irish folklore, the banshee can appear as a young woman, an old hag or…

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In My Commonplace Book: Miscellaneous Ghost Quotes I

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“In My Commonplace Book” is a regular series in which I share the recent scribblings from my commonplace book. Opposed to my well-researched posts, these are simply interesting things I have been reading about. To learn more about commonplace books, you can read a general introduction here. Each of these posts will include a writing prompt to get you writing in your own notebook/commonplace book. 

In between titled entries in my commonplace book are random pages filled with quotes that I come across while reading. I thought I might share some of my favorites.


“All argument is against it; but all belief is for it.” – Samuel Johnson on ghosts

“Ghosts — if they cannot exactly be described as living history — certainly personify our shared past by replaying it. They are so valuable to us because they are externalised memories, reminding us of the layers of history beneath our feet, of the old stories that refused to be erased” – The Ghost by Susan Owens (page 12)

“‘Think of it Ben,’ she said. ‘Controlled multiple haunting. Something absolutely unique in haunted houses: a surviving will so powerful that he can use that power to dominate every other surviving personality in the house.'” – Florence in Hell House by Richard Matheson (1971)

“Fear seemed to exude from the walls, to dim the mirrors with its clammy breath, to stir shuddering among the tattered draperies, to impregnate the whole atmosphere as with an essence, a gas, a contagious disease.” – Ella D’Arcy’s “The Villa Lucienne” (1896)

“It seems rather to be more like a memory image of the person, as if some startling  or highly dramatic event had left such an impact that the house is impregnated with it. The theory is: during acts of violence great waves of hysteria or emotion-laden thoughts are released, which somehow seem to photograph the actual event just as if a movie had been take at the scene. This ‘physic film’ is capable of being seen when conditions are just right, or by especially sensitive people.” – Susy Smith on ghosts without a purpose in Haunted Houses by the Millions (page 15)

“Certainly poltergeists seem to like company, while the more normal ghosts generally prefer solitude.” – Joseph Braddock’s Haunted Houses of Great Britain (page 82)

“The room itself might have been full of secrets. They seemed to be piling themselves up, as evening fell, like the layers and layers of velvet shadow dropping from the low ceiling, the dusky walls of books, the smoke-blurred sculpture of the hooded hearth.” – Edith Wharton’s “Afterward”

Hoax: The Haunted Dentist Office

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I am currently working on a long-form blog post about haunted offices (is there anything scarier?) and I came across this interesting news clipping about “The Chopper.” If going to the dentist wasn’t scary enough…

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The Philadelphia Inquirer, 28 September 1983, page 3. 

Happy Valentine’s Day: Ghost Stories of Tragic Love

Happy Valentine’s Day. I dusted off this post from the archives for you! ❤

Notebook of Ghosts

shadowhand“Deep in earth my love is lying. And I must weep alone.” -Edgar Allan Poe 

They say tragic events can leave spirits on earth, and passionate love so often ends in tragedy. They also say unfinished business can leave souls wandering the earth. How often have we felt a romance end without closure? Today, on the most romantic of holidays, I thought we might explore these stories of love. Love so passionate it leaves a heartbroken, supernatural stain on earth.

The Bride on the Bridge

In Stowe, Vermont lies a covered bridge they call “Emily’s Bridge.” There are several versions of Emily’s sad tale. Some versions say that Emily and her boyfriend were meeting at the bridge to elope, since her parents did not approve. He never came, and she hung herself from a rafter. Another version says Emily was left at the wedding alter. She hopped on a carriage to…

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Archival Research: Haunted in a Prison Cell

jingda-chen-364070-unsplashI have a hobby of searching old newspapers for state history on hauntings. So often do stories of ghosts slip trough the cracks of time, while others are documented in books and lore. So, I thought I would share interesting stories I come across in my newspaper research.

“Cole Was Haunted Day and Night – Daviess County Man Confesses Murder of Cousin” (The Elwood Daily Record, 20 December 1909)

Stephen Cole was in jail for the murder of his cousin, George Cole, and claimed to be innocent. His son Charles had written to his mother, pleading for her to say anything she might know to exonerate him. When Cole got wind of the communication, he called his lawyer and finally admitted his guilt. He was eventually sentenced to life imprisonment. While this could pass as another episode of Law and Order, the article ends with a supernatural twist. It seems he was haunted day and night by his murdered cousin in Daviess County jail.

During his confinement in the jail Cole has told the attaches that he has nightly been haunted by ghosts of the murdered man, and many times in the night would call to them that he was being haunted and that on two occasions when he called that he had in mind to make a clean breast of the affair, and when they would enter the cell he would again gain courage to stave it off.

“A Ghost Story: How a Citizens’ Committee Investigated the Mystery of a Haunted Church” (Fort Wayne Daily Gazette, 29 December 1885) 

This article was a reprint from the Cincinnati Enquirer. This story was in “Our Five Cent Column” among advertisements for medical cures (Salvation Oil and Ely’s Cream Balm) and local businesses. 

There was an old and empty church for sale at the entrance of a cemetery in New Bremen, Ohio. Rumors began to spread throughout the village about strange noises and lights appearing in the church at midnight, even though it had not held a service in many years. Some believed the rumors were started by interested buyers trying to lower the cost. Others truly believed it was haunted, briskly walking past the church at night. The town was so excited by the supposed haunting that they appointed a committee to investigate.

One dark night, a committee led by the village Marshal approached the haunted church. Before even entering the church, lights were seen and clatter was heard in the attic (“like some’ one beating on a lot of tin pans”). They continued into the church and up the stairs towards the attic. Suddenly, the lights turned off.

The Marshal tried to convince the committee to continue the investigation in the morning, but was met with jeers. He finally agreed to go upstairs alone, with just his butcher knife, while the committee stayed at the bottom of the stairs.

He heard groans as he turned the door knob. When he opened the door, a white object came flying towards him. Frightened, he stabbed it with his knife, which caused a noise “as if a thousand hailstones had fallen.” The Marshal, having already been deserted by the rest of the committee, ran straight out of the church. So emotionally scarred, it took him several weeks to even leave his house.

Well, this is what really happened.

The Marshal’s son and friends caught wind of the committee’s investigation and decided to have a little fun. The boys lit some candles (the mysterious lights) and waited for the Marshal to arrive. When they heard him coming, they put out the candles and hid in the attic. They had hung a bag of nuts so when the door at the entrance of the stairs opened, the bag moved aside. When the attic door opened, the bag would swing across the entrance. When the Marshal stabbed the bag, nuts rolled out of the bag and down the stairs (the hailstorm).

Well, the story leaked and the Marshal became a village joke. So much, in fact, he had to resign.

Frozen to Death

It’s freezing in Indiana, so I thought I’d share this post from the archives!

Notebook of Ghosts

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Welcome to a special Wednesday post about freezing to death: perfect winter ghost stories to tell around a warm fireplace or for scaring others at the cold bus stop.

When The Midnight Society announced their #SpookyAllYear blogging event, I thought of two things: (1) I have to participate and (2) Damn, I miss Are You Afraid of the Dark?

My favorite episode (with a young Melissa Joan Hart) was “The Tale of the Frozen Ghost.” Our protagonists encounter a blue-ish, pale ghost of a young boy in the woods that utters the words, “I’m cold.” By the end of the episode, he peacefully goes to the other side when the protagonists find his red coat. To this day, I say the “I’m cold” line in a young boy’s voice when I’m especially cold to usually unamused friends.

This childhood memory triggered another childhood memory. One day, in fourth grade, I had to…

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In My Commonplace Book: Monsters of the Midwest

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“In My Commonplace Book” is a regular series in which I share the recent scribblings from my commonplace book. Opposed to my well-researched posts, these are simply interesting things I have been reading about. To learn more about commonplace books, you can read a general introduction here. Each of these posts will include a writing prompt to get you writing in your own notebook/commonplace book. 

I was driving through Elizaville, Indiana recently and remembered the 7-foot tall man beast that is allegedly tied to a list of disappearances in the community. I was inspired to see what other monsters roam the Midwest, so I began to fill the pages of my commonplace book. After googling what states are considered the Midwest (ha ha), I documented each beast with name, location, and description. Here are five of my favorites.†

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A not-so-glamorous desk shot of my commonplace book.
  • The Phantom Kangaroo (Nebraska): People have reported a hopping kangaroo that will suddenly disappear. Interestingly enough, phantom kangaroos have been spotted all over the United States. The kangaroo likes to chase and eat dogs.
  • Loveland Frogs (Ohio): These 4-foot tall frog humanoids were first spotted in the 1950s by a businessman late at night (there are various versions of this story). The frog dudes were conversing and one eventually held a wand over his head that shot sparks. The scared businessman ran quickly away from the scene. They were spotted again in the 1970s by two police officers on two different nights. During the second sighting, the creature was shot. It turned out that it was not a Loveland Frog, but a large iguana without a tail.
  • The Mill Race Monster (Indiana): In the 1970s, Columbus, Indiana was tormented by a large, green, and bipedal monster (described by some as amphibious). The monster was tied to Mill Race Park, a park with lush forests, winding rivers, and two lakes. On November 1, 1974, two different groups of teenagers spotted the large beast. The second sighting was by far the scariest. Two young women spotted the monster while sitting in their car at night. The monster ran over and started banging on their windshield, leaving a thick mucus on the glass. They were able to turn on the car and drive away.  There were other sightings reported and many enthusiastic monster hunters headed to the park with baseball bats and guns. The city eventually closed the park to the public at night.
  • Space Penguins of Tuscumbia (Missouri): During an early winter morning in 1967, a farmer spotted a UFO sitting in one of his fields. Accompanying the mushroom-shaped space craft was a group of tiny green creatures with hand-less arms and large black eyes (or were they goggles). Located where their nose or mouth would have been were dark protuberances (part of their actual face or maybe a mask for breathing in earth’s atmosphere). The farmer described them as “green space penguins.” After several failed attempts to hit the craft with rocks, due to the force field, the farmer watched the UFO and the penguins fly away.

Source / Source / Source 

Please note these are legends and facts are very fast and loose, especially when circulated on the internet. So, enjoy the stories and do your research if you want to learn more! 

Grab a notebook. What monsters inhabit your state or neighboring states?

3 Years, 3 #HumpDayHaunts, & A Giveaway

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My cats (Wind and Kitty Kitty Boo Boo) and I are back to haunt your internet! I am excited to continuously and consistently post to the blog in 2019. I will keep bringing that paranormal history, along with some more posts on commonplace books.

This week officially marks my blog’s third birthday! I wanted to thank everyone for reading, commenting, and sharing. My thank-you gift is twofold. First, I am giving you all an extended Friday version of #humpdayhaunts. Second, I am doing a little giveaway. Learn more at the end of my post!

Special #HumpDayHaunts on a Friday

If you are new to the blog or new to my Instagram, I share a small bit of paranormal history on my Instagram page every Wednesday (well, sometimes I miss a Wednesday because of life) using the hashtag #humpdayhaunts. They are not as well-researched (or well-written, ha) as my blog posts, but they are haunted places or stories I just have to share. I thought I would post a version of it on the blog so to entice you over to Instagram!

Helltown, Ohio

Helltown in Ohio, formerly known as Boston, is permanently closed. Whatever was left of the abandoned town was torn down in 2016, leaving only forests and lore. The residents were forced out in the 1970s after Gerald Ford signed a bill that allowed land to be expropriated by the federal government for use as National Parks. The National Park Service planned on making Helltown part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This became complicated when they realized the area had a serious pollution problem. For example, the Krejci Dump that was obtained by the NPS turned out to be a $50 million-dollar clean-up project. Filled with leaking drums of industrial waste, the site caused visitors to get headaches and rashes.

The area was polluted with waste AND SATANISM, MUTANTS, and GHOSTS (insert eye roll). One abandoned property is a Presbyterian church allegedly built by Satanists (that was debunked) with upside down crosses. Legend says the whole town was filled with Satan worshipers (insert Satanic Panic eye roll). There is an abandoned haunted bus in the area too. Legend says a bus full of children were killed by a serial killer (I’m thinking no). If you visit the abandoned bus on just the right night, you might see the serial killer sitting in the back of the bus and smoking a cigarette. The main supernatural attraction, though, is a mutant python named “Peninsula Python.” which was created from pollution in the Krejci Dump.

Source / Source

The Blue Hole of Indiana

The Blue Hole of Indiana is a three-acre lake in Vigo County, which is rumored to be a bottomless pit. Supposedly, the bottom of the lake has treasure buried by Wabash River pirates. Cabins around the lake were allegedly used as hideouts for the Chicago mob. The lake is also rumored to be a popular site for disposing bodies (bottomless). So, lots of shady business going on.

Along with illegal happenings, the lake is said to basically suck people and things in. Allegedly, a school bus full of children and later a train crossing the lake both fell in and were never found. In the 1950s, a group of teenage boys went swimming in the lake and disappeared.

And, guess what, this story has a mutant creature too! Rumors started to spread in the 1960s about a relative of the Loch Ness Monster inhabiting the lake. Some say it was just a giant catfish.

Long story short, some Vigo County deputies decided to check the lake out and did not find any treasure, school buses, or trains.

Source / Source

The Witch’s Castle

There’s an old castle in Utica, Indiana on a property named Mistletoe Falls. Legend says a group of witches lived in the castle and were burned alive when the structure was set on fire by angry townspeople. The hollowed out building actually caught fire when a previous owner’s (Joseph Biagi) stepson set fire to the building. Whatever is left is a destination for teenage legend trippers. Visitors report seeing (and hearing) a young girl with black hair and a white dress.

The location is also associated with the horrific torture and murder of Shanda Sharer in 1992 (a warning: it is an awful story so proceed with caution). Four teenage girls lured Shanda (then 12) to the castle where they taunted her. Her eventual murder happened at another location.

*Also called Witches Castle

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The Giveaway

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When

Starts Today and Ends Next Tuesday (1/15) at 8 p.m. EST. I will announce the winner on Twitter and Instagram on my #humpdayhaunts post (Wednesday, 1/16).

What

A relaxing evening of reading and note-taking! A beautiful artisan ghost mug by Elyse Marie Creations for all your warm beverages, a gravestone-inspired notebook designed by Meagan Meli, a Werther and Gray candle inspired by The Ghost Club, a pen (not pictured) for note-taking, and the book Strange Frequencies: The Extraordinary Story of the Technological Quest for the Supernatural by Peter Bebergal. And, honestly, I will be throwing some other little treats in that box. It is my blog birthday and I do what I want!

The Giveaway is Closed. Thank You! 

Halloween #HumpDayHaunts

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Starting November, I’ll be back to my regular blogging. Until then, please follow me on Instagram for some haunted history each day this week!

If you don’t follow me already, you might not know about #humpdayhaunts. Each Wednesday I share a bit of paranormal history. Since it is Halloween, I thought I’d do it all week long. Come join the fun (or horror)!