Cleveland's History in Three Haunted Places

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Cleveland's History in Three Haunted Places
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Locals claim that Erie Street cemetery is a popular spot for ghosts of Cleveland's past. (Photo courtesy …

Residents of Cleveland do not have to look far or wait until Halloween to experience paranormal activity. According to legend, hearsay, and experience, the city can boast of several places that claim to be haunted. A lot of strange things have happened in Cleveland, as the following stories will explain.

Franklin Castle

Franklin Castle is said to be one of the most haunted houses in Cleveland. This beautiful Gothic structure located at 43rd and Franklin was originally built in 1865 by Hannes Tiedemann, a grocer and banking executive.

The four-story structure featured 30 rooms, including a third-floor ballroom. Shortly after moving in, Tiedemann added numerous secret passageways that add to the mystery. In fact, human bones were discovered in one of the secret rooms in 1975.

Deaths were not uncommon in this castle -- not only did Tiedemann's daughter and mother-in-law die shortly after the family moved in, the entire family, including all of Tiedemann's grandsons, died before his death in 1908.

The history of the house is disturbing and has led to numerous claims of paranormal activity.

Reports of strange voices, shaking light fixtures, and apparitions are common. Visitors to the property have heard babies crying and children wailing; they also often report an overwhelming feeling of sadness or guilt while in the house.

Chris Woodyard, the author of the "Haunted Ohio" book series, has talked of the well-known local legend of the lady dressed in black seen on the balcony. This ghost is believed to be one of Tiedemann's servants or his mistress, whom he hacked to death.

There has been a lot of activity at the Franklin Castle lately, some mysterious and unexplained, others part of court records. The historical and allegedly haunted house is currently undergoing massive renovations. This could be could news for Ohio City, while not the terror of hauntings. Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman says, "The castle has been a nightmare in recent years because of arson and then squatters."

Apparently, the new owner is not concerned about the history of the home, as it will soon be a multi-family dwelling. Yes, the Franklin Castle will be inhabited again, yet this time with tenants. The City of Cleveland Building Department issued a permit for residential exterior alterations in February 2012. So far, windows have been replaced and trash has been cleaned up around the property.

Erie Street Cemetery

Cleveland's second-oldest cemetery was officially established in 1826. Several of Cleveland's pioneer families are buried here, some who died before 1826 and had their graves moved here. There are early politicians and others whose grave stones are completely illegible due to age and, unfortunately, vandalism.

But the stuff legends and ghost stories are made of centers around the Native American Chief Joc-O-Sot. Joc-O-Sot was a tribe leader who fought in the Black Hawk War against the U.S. His bitter spirit is said to haunt the cemetery as well as nearby Jacobs Field -- ironically, the home of the Cleveland Indians.

In order to better understand Chief Joc-O-Sot's motivation for haunting this area, you need to know the rest of the story. After the war, Joc-O-Sot joined a Cleveland vaudeville troupe as part of a show about Native American life in order to raise money for his tribe. The troupe traveled to England, where Joc-O-Sot became very ill. He tried to get back to Minnesota so that he could be buried beside his ancestors, but ended up dying in the Warehouse District of Cleveland.

Legend has it that his anger over having to stay in Cleveland for eternity caused him to shatter his tombstone, harass cemetery visitors, and affect Indians games, according to superstitious fans. Baseball fans often try to appease his rage by leaving feathers and shot glasses on the stone fragments of his grave.

Witch's Ball of Myrtle Hill

Another graveyard with haunted roots is Myrtle Hill Cemetery in Valley City, Ohio. Having grown up in the area, I know many of the legends first-hand. The Witch's Ball is a large marble sphere that, depending on who you speak to, is either used to mark the grave of a tormented soul, the tool used to keep a witch buried underground, or the marker of the Stoskof family plot. All three stories hold at least a grain of truth.

The first legend revolves around a woman who poisoned her family's water supply, their backyard well. When her family began dropping dead, she dumped them one by one into the well. She was eventually caught and was sent to a state mental hospital, where she lived until she died. Her remains were then moved to Myrtle Hill and buried under the stone. She is the crazy ghost who is said to haunt the cemetery.

One of many twists on this tale says that the woman who killed her family was also a witch who practiced dark arts in the woods surrounding the cemetery. When the murders were discovered, the townspeople buried her standing up and placed the giant sphere over her so she could not escape.

Finally, the monument sits on a base that bears the name "Stoskopf," so it could also be the family marker for the Stoskopf family. Seven plots were purchased that surround the sphere.

Regardless of the history, many people flock to this legendary haunted cemetery and often end up running out of it. Some of the stories involve hearing laughter or screams in the nearby woods, seeing dark figures in the cemetery, and seeing the image of an eye on the ball. It has been a long-standing rumor that if the ball feels warm to the touch, the witch is out roaming the cemetery. Around Halloween, the ball is said to glow at night.

Legend also says that the ball is cold to the touch even in the heat of summer and warm in the winter. This story does have some basis in fact. Since it is made of granite, the ball will retain heat.

It seems wherever you live in Ohio, there is a ghost story nearby.

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