Ghost Stories From Cincinnati’s Haunted Past

Since it’s Halloween season, let’s enjoy some vintage ghost stories from Old Cincinnati and its environs.
Ghost Stories From Cincinnati’s Haunted Past
Drawing of skeletons chasing a nightshirt-clad youth; From the University of Cincinnati The Cincinnatian yearbook for 1896 Digitized by UC Archives & Rare Books Library

Image extracted from PDF by Greg Hand

The Adams County Woman
(Cincinnati Enquirer 12 November 1893)

Just east of Cincinnati, in Adams County, a number of people, on separate occasions, witnessed an extraordinary apparition while crossing a bridge over Brush Creek, south of Peebles in the autumn of 1893. Halfway across the bridge, the travelers saw a woman, barefoot, robed in black, approaching them. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported:

“As she passed they looked more closely at the slight form in somber black, with no wrap to shield her from the cold night air, her long, dark hair in disorder streaming far below her waist, and a face which bore the stamp of death and shielded by a hand which for whiteness rivaled her countenance.”

The figure passed without sound or glance and disappeared on the other side of the bridge. Old-timers thought it might be the ghost of a young lady who went to bed one night and disappeared. Some thought she might have run away, but her shoes and cloak were still in her empty room.


The Doors of Richmond Street
(Cincinnati Enquirer 25 August 1900)

Today, not much happens on Richmond Street. It’s a narrow, two-block access to a bunch of parking lots around City Hall, dead-ending at Central Avenue, with a fragment out in the West End. Richmond used to run all the way to the Mill Creek. Right there at Central, where they built the Uptown Towers, there used to be a rooming house with very unusual activity.

One midnight in August 1900, a barefoot young man wearing only a nightshirt and pants ran breathlessly into police headquarters in the basement of City Hall. He begged for a patrol to follow him three blocks back to the apartment he shared with his mother and some servants. They were certain they had captured a burglar.

When the police arrived, they found the elderly lady of the house standing outside a locked door on the second floor. Not only was the door locked, it was bolted from the inside. The door was the only access to the room, except for two windows, 20 feet above the pavement, covered by secure wooden shutters. Someone inside the room must have bolted the latch. When the officers kicked in the door, they found an empty room.

Then it came out that this was only the latest odd manifestation in the building. Residents had reported doorknobs turning as they reached for them, and doors opening as they approached. On a regular basis, residents of an upstairs apartment found a particular portrait of an old aunt turned to the wall.

No one seems to remember any murders or suicides in the building, but it had once been used as a maternity hospital and some attributed the peculiar incidents to the playful spirit of a dead infant.


West Chester’s “Indian Graveyard”
(Cincinnati Enquirer 21 October 1894)

Long ago, a farmer near what was then called Maud, Ohio, purchased some land from a missionary who had spent many years among the native Miami people who lived around Butler County. The missionary warned him not to plow a particular portion of the farm because that was where the Miami had buried their dead. That graveyard lay untouched for almost a century until the son of that farmer grew old and leased the land to a tenant, who plowed through the graveyard.

“Jacob Hoover, a farm hand, recently passed by the graveyard, when suddenly he saw the figure of an aged white man, together with several Indians. They were talking and gesticulating excitedly, and seemed to be in great trouble. The white man started toward Hoover, and, as he paused for a moment, a streak of fire shot up into the air, giving an extremely weird and uncanny appearance to the assembled company of ghosts.”

Mr. Hoover told his neighbors what he had seen and several of them walked out to the graveyard on subsequent evenings and saw the very same vision.


The Schaller Tragedy
(Cincinnati Post 26 July 1890)

There’s nothing left of Carlisle Street in Cincinnati’s West End. A tangle of interstate exits covers the remains of the rooming house once managed by Mrs. Elizabeth Kallam at 64 Carlisle. It was there, on October 25, 1888, that a young man named John Schaller slashed the throat of his wife, Delia, and then took a knife to his own neck as well. As the gruesome murder-suicide played out, the couple’s two-year old daughter wandered around the apartment. There was lots of gossip after the bodies were discovered. Mr. Schaller had money troubles and had pawned his wife’s jewelry. Mrs. Schaller reportedly had a fling with a Canadian door-to-door salesman. In time, the Cincinnati Post reported:

“The tragedy made the house an object of interest, and soon it began to be whispered around that the ghosts of the victims of the tragedy were to be seen walking the hallways, and that peculiar sounds and whisperings were to be heard in the house at all hours of the night, and especially in the room where the double tragedy took place.”

The landlady could not keep her tenants from leaving, and when a medical student left an amputated arm lying in the hallway, it was the last affront. Mrs. Kallam and her invalid husband moved down the block and put the haunted rooming house on the market, ghosts and all.


The Oregonia Haunt
(Cincinnati Enquirer 24 November 1894)

For years, residents had reported seeing the ghostly form of an elderly woman along Caesar Creek in Oregonia, Ohio. Quite a few people reported sightings in 1894, including a group of hunters, who built a rude hut on the banks of the creek.

“Last night, when one of them was looking out of their hut, he was horrified to see a large white object, the outlines describing that of an old woman not 100 feet from him. They all at once started for the object, but when very near it would soon vanish entirely from view.”

This article was reposted with permission from Greg Hand, editor of Cincinnati Curiosities

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