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.

Forever Haunted by Angelfire: A 90s Ghost Story

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This is Indiana

When I was young (maybe 12ish), I wrote down everything concerning the occult in a black-paged notebook with Gelly Roll pens. I kept a dictionary in the back with all the new terms I learned. I wrote down every haunted location, glued every ghost photo, and copied down interesting quotes on the occult into my small spiral notebook. While the library provided me a plethora of literature on all things spooky, I spent most hours doing internet research. I read online forums, About.com, and many sites hosted by Angelfire. Angelfire launched 22 years ago and (at least when I was using it) provided users free web-hosting. These websites were a wild 90s ride with crazy backgrounds, colorful fonts, annoying banner ads, guestbooks, visit counters, and much more.

(insert dial up noise)

I was mostly intrigued by websites about haunted places in Indiana (my home state). I would fill my notebook with places I hoped to explore someday. Although I could not drive yet, I could visit these haunted locations from the comfort of my father’s computer chair. Further, I was happy to know there were other people out there just as weird as me.

Many friends tell me that they too loved these sites and would visit these haunted locations with their friends on weekend nights. There is not much else to do in Indiana when you are a teenager, after all. You cannot help but think that teenagers had a hand in creating and circulating some of the legends on these websites.

When the weather is warmer, I plan on visiting some of these haunted locations. 12-year-old me will be very pleased.

Below are some more screenshots of my favorite Indiana-specific websites. These websites are still online today.  I recommend proceeding with caution, because some of these websites have pop-ups and you never know about viruses (or whatever).

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The Force – I recommend not visiting this site if you don’t want sketchy pop-ups.
Capture
Haunted Fort Wayne
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The Shadowlands – I’m not sure if this is Angelfire or not, but same 90s vibe.

For the past few weeks, I have been sharing my favorite stories from these Angelfire sites on my Instagram as part of #humpdayhaunts. I have posted them below for your reading pleasure. Please excuse any errors as I am usually typing these with my dumb thumbs.

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Welcome back to #humpdayhaunts. I got another one for the Haunted Indiana a la Angelfire series AND it is a doooooozy. In Fort Wayne (Allen County), there's a place called Devil's Hollow (this is already getting good). 1️⃣ One legend says the ghost of an elderly woman haunts the location. She lived off the grid, but was still bothered by local teenagers who would spy on her, break her property, and generally harass her. As all stories like this go…she was rumored to be a witch. Allegedly, the teens set fire to the house one night (or it was an accident from a discarded cigarette butt) and she perished in the fire. Her ghost still haunts the property at midnight, sometimes chasing away trespassers. 2️⃣ Another legend says you will see a ghost lantern. The story goes that during WWII, a mother and father waited for their son to return from war. The mother left a lantern burning every night in the window to help guide her son home. He never made it home as he died in battle. The mother still burned the lantern until she died. Her husband continued to the burn the lantern in his wife's memory until he also died. Supposedly the house still stands and you can still see the lantern in the window glowing at night. 👻 Other ghosts include a headless horseman. Also, the site says "There have been police reports and arrests made from cults going up there and sacrificing goats and pigs and various other satanic ceremonies occurring" (🙄 OK). There's a cemetery in the woods behind Devil's Hollow. If you stand in the middle of the cemetery and hear dead quiet, you will die instantly. #ghost #indiana #hoosier #halloween #paranormal #supernatural #haunted #scary #urbanlegend #folklore #ghoststory #history

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#humpdayhaunts 👻👻👻 I got another one for the Haunted Indiana a la Angelfire series. Today we are in Bremen in Marshall County. First stop: Little Egypt Cemetery. When you are driving around the cemetery, you might notice hand prints appear on your windshield. ✋🤚This cemetery has some apparitions, including a phantom farmer that will run after you. There is a baby's tombstone and if you throw a nickel at it, you will hear crying. Be careful leaving too: "depending on how far back in the woods you go, upon your way out, you will see a set of headlights following you out of the cemetery. It appears that they have just come out of the woods. They will follow you until you are completely out, and a ways down the road." Maybe when you leave, you can go right down the road to our second stop: the haunted TROLL BRIDGE. Supposedly, people have seen a tall dark shadow on the bridge (like 7 or 8 feet tall). Some people said this ghost/creature chased them. Others say it threw objects at their car. Be careful visiting the site though. The website (http://thisisindiana.angelfire.com/indianahauntings.htm) says: "WARNING: Do NOT go out here, stay off this bridge, this thing is not good and you will be terrified. I strongly suggest the unstable mind stay out of here too, unless you are up for psychological damage. The local residents do not appreciate investigators. Have also been encounters with an angry resident that drives a red jeep and chases you down, and threatening he would kill you if you came back. Please for your own safety do not go here. This guy is a real lunatic." I've always thought living people were scarier than ghosts! #ghost #indiana #hoosier #halloween #paranormal #supernatural #haunted #scary #urbanlegend #folklore #ghoststory

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Welcome to a (day late) #humpdayhaunts! I got another haunted Indiana cemetery for you to continue my Angelfire series, b/c I love some ridiculous folklore and urban legends. If you are not familiar with what I'm talking about…You see, back in the Angelfire days 💾, there were a couple of websites that listed haunted places in Indiana. They had black backgrounds, white/yellow font, and the best clip art. It's all very 90s. These sites also had the most hilarious instructions at some of these locations (park your car, walk 10 steps east, then 10 steps north, and you'll see a glowing face, blah blah). 👻 Anyway, let's go to the next haunted location: Jerome Cemetery in Jerome, Indiana (Howard County). This hidden cemetery is on the east bank of Wildcat Creek. According to This is Indiana: "If you drive along the graves through the old fence, stop and turn your car of on the bridge and then get out of the car you will see a flashing light blinking from inside your car." I don't know, maybe you left your inside lights on? Anyway. If you walk down the creek you might hear the sound of drum beats and other strange noises. If you are unlucky, you might meet the man with the black cape and his two large black dogs (black dogs are very ominous in folklore). The website says the dogs might be demons (OK). Also, there's a haunted bridge near the cemetery. The site states: "There use to be a Satanists church in Jerome where they would perform human sacrifices underneath this bridge. It is said that they were sought out by a group of Christians and killed, along with burning down the Satanists church." I think some teens read The Exorcist while drinking Boone's Farm or something and made that little story up. 🙄🙄🙄#history #folklore #hoosier #indiana #ghost #haunted #paranormal #urbanlegend #halloween #supernatural

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The next few #humpdayhaunts will be focused on random and obscure haunted locations in Indiana a la Angelfire. The first location is Bass Lake Cemetery in Bass Lake (Starke County). There's one particular tombstone in the cemetery with a lot of legends attached to it. Supposedly, the grass around the tombstone turns bloody red at night. If you hold a lighter close to the image of the man on the tombstone, his face will change into a devil with horns and a beard. The face also starts laughing. Note: this doesn't work during the day or when using a flashlight. There is also a wild creature resembling a werewolf that charges at cars. This is probably not 100% accurate is what I'm going to say. 👻 Let's stay a bit longer in Bass Lake and visit the old haunted hospital. Only the basement and some of the foundation remains, along with a ghost janitor that appears next to the furnace. Some have reported odd noises coming from the basement. #history #indiana #ghost #haunted #halloween #scarystory #urbanlegend #folklore #monster #paranormal #supernatural || FYI: The blog is coming back to life this week! Wooooooo BOOOO! 👻👻👻

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Join the fun by following me on Instagram! OR, tell me in the comments about your experience with spooky Angelfire websites (or Tripod or GeoCities).

Here’s 90s Ashley signing off! 

dollz