Every small town has its myths and legends that grow from mere tales of events or acts into even taller tales embellished over the years into stories that blur together and become obscure in their origin. East Liverpool is no different from any other and this is an attempt to bring together a few of those tales in one place.
Columbiana County, Ohio
Yes there have even been sightings of what would seem to be Bigfoot in this area. Chris Woodyard in Her book "Haunted Ohio II" (1992) interviewed several people concerning sightings of strange and unusual human-like creatures in the area.
"Craig Young of Harmony Hills Stables in Columbiana County went on a trail ride on a March afternoon with a friend. When they got to a frozen creek crossing, they saw what they thought was "a guy in a black parka fishing". When the thing looked up it had "a flat face like a monkey, all wrinkled looking". It stuck something under its arm and ran up the hill like a man with very long arms. It stayed up on its legs too long to be a bear. The men couldn't get their horses to cross the creek to follow it."
Craig's wife Nanette related another experience, "Late August, early September in 1991 we had gone out on a two-hour trail ride, when suddenly it became very dark. The horses stopped dead. We heard something, we didn't know what, coming through the woods. Whatever it was was breathing heavy; you could see the trees parting as the thing pushed them aside. We didn't hear any footsteps, like the thing was floating.
"I couldn't imagine anything that would frighten the horses so bad as to freeze them. We urged them on and finally we kicked them. they wouldn't move. Real soon that thing was going to be on top of us. It was high as the horses' heads--past six foot. It was definitely hair-raising. Whatever it was, it was not touching the ground. I thought we were dead. Finally one of the girls screamed and that unfroze the horses. We rode so hard out of there, I thought sure one of the horses would go down. When we got back to the barn we slammed the door shut. We were lying against the door; nobody said a word. I could hear my heart."
"When they went back the next day, branches and shrubs were broken where the creature had come crashing through the forest."
Robin Hood of the Cookson Hills
You can see the whole story of Pretty Boy Floyd by visiting our pages about his life and death.
Here you will find some of the myths and legends that abound about this 1930's gangster from Oklahoma who became "public enemy # 1" and met his demise here in the East Liverpool, Ohio area.
Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd was born out of the trials of being a poor farmer in the times of the Great Depression. He was raised in a small farming community of Akins, Oklahoma, close to the Cookson Hills which later would become his refuge from the arm of the law.
The people throughout the area were losing their farms to the banks. The banks wanted the land for the expansion of farming and its profits. Small farms were unprofitable. The people had done everything that they could to keep their homes even holding off the bank's tractors with shot guns, daring then to take what was rightfully theirs.
Into this story comes Charles Floyd, poor, out of work, with a young family. He would take odd jobs but that did not help. Many of the younger generation would not go hungry. They became armed bandits. Floyd was one of such people. He would rob the banks that were robbing them and whilst he was in the banks taking their money he would destroy or steal the mortgages to the local farms. With no record of a mortgage how could the banks take the land? He would also use his ill gotten money by buying food and distributing it to the members of the community. In return they protected him, became his communication system, fed him and welcomed him to their homes when he "dropped by".
Of all the bandits who hung-out in the Cookson Hills, some of whom were Ford Bradshaw, Troy Love, Aussie Elliott and Ed Newt Clanton, Charles "Pretty-Boy" Floyd's name is the best known. He was never called "Pretty-Boy" by any who knew him well, most called him "Chock". In 1931 and 1932 he robbed so many banks in Oklahoma that the bank insurance rates doubled. He even robbed two banks in one day at Paden and Castle, Oklahoma on December 12, 1931. He used a submachine gun and a bullet proof vest. Most of the time he worked alone but occasionally had one companion or fellow thief. He rarely concealed his identity and often introduced himself to his victims. Often it was said that when he left the scene of a robbery he would make the bank officials ride on the running boards of his car so that he was protected.
During his crimes however he did manage to get 10 notches on his lucky piece which always carried with him. He was so well thought of by the community that he could walk around in public unmolested and even went to church in Earlsboro.
The newspapers called him the "Robin Hood of the Cookson Hills". He was pleased with this nickname and once stated that, " I have robbed no-one but moneyed men"
Charles Floyd always hated the nickname "Pretty-Boy".
The Kansas City Massacre: Was Floyd there or not?
I----Charles Floyd---- want it made known that I did not participate in the massacre of officers at Kansas City.
Captain Higgins received this message on a plain business postcard in the mail. It was post marked, Springfield, Missouri.
The debate still rages about whether or not Floyd took part in what was the event that would make him "Public Enemy # 1".
In his book "The Bad Ones" (1968) Lew Louderback writes about this major event that would change Floyd's reputation. Floyd was wanted for a possible murder in Oklahoma (it is thought that he killed John Mills, the man who was tried and then acquitted of the murder of Floyd's father.) so he set out for "Tom's Town" (Kansas City) where he quickly disappeared into the criminal underworld. He moved around the country his reputation growing as a violent criminal even though it is thought that some of the events that are attributed to him were not of his doing.
In 1933 Frank Nash, a veteran bank robber, had been arrested in Hot Springs, Arkansas by FBI agents and was being transported via train through Kansas City back to Leavenworth, from where he had escaped three years earlier. Word was fast spreading through the "underworld" of what was happening. Verne Miller decided that he would try to facilitate his escape before Nash reached his destination.
Floyd and Adam "Eddie" Richetti were also traveling toward Kansas City with two hostages in the back of their car, Sherriff Killingsworth and Walter Griffith. Upon arriving in the city they stopped and Floyd confered with some people. Upon returning to the car he told Richetti to get their guns and change cars. He told the hostages to drive to Lee's Summit, eat dinner and then head home.
The next day, June 7, the train, the Missouri Pacific Flyer, was to arrive at Union Station at 7:15 am. Later a Lottie West was to describe the events that would take place. She arrived for work and found a man sitting at her chair in her booth at the station. She described him as "round-faced, rather fleshy, weighing about two hundred pounds." He yielded the chair to her and was later seen loitering at the entrance as if he was waiting for someone. Outside a car carrying Special Agents Raymond Caffrey and R.E. Vetterli arrived. They would be taking Frank Nash to Leavenworth. There was also an armored police car with two city detectives, W.J. "Red" Grooms and Frank Hermanson.
Around 7:20 am the police and Nash were spotted coming up the stairs from the platform wearing a white shirt and his hands cuffed in front of him. She said, "That must be Pretty-Boy Floyd." The man who had been waiting around darted across the station ahead of the group of police. Outside the station they headed for the green Chevrolet driven by the FBI agents. Three men came by on the running boards of a car, each with a Thompson submachine gun. They opened fire on the men.
If this had been an attempt to rescue Nash it was a dismal failure as he was killed along with many of the police involved. Some have wondered whether it was not an attempt at rescue but more likely retribution in pay-back for events that had transpired throughout Nash's colorful criminal career. Agent Lackey was seriously injured, Vetterli was shot in the arm, Caffrey, Grooms, Hermanson, Chief Reed and Nash were dead and Agent Frank Smith escaped unharmed. It was called the "Kansas City Massacre" and the unidentified gunmen the "MadDog Killers of KC."
Into the investigation Sheriff Thomas B. Bash of Jackson County interjected his theory that Floyd and Richetti were involved because they had arrived in Kansas City the night before and their hostages had seen them talking with two other men and they had driven off with them. Kansas City Captain of Detectives, Thomas J. Higgins, scoffed at the idea. He had been tracking Floyd for 4 years and felt that he knew him fairly well and that this was definitely not Floyd's style.
Bash would not be deterred and during his investigation he interviewed Lottie West and showed her photograph's. She identified Floyd as the man who was sitting in her chair and whom she had seen across the street operating a machine gun. By morning every newspaper in the country was running a headline that Floyd was part of the Massacre. However much he protested Floyd was never able to shake the suspicions and accusations of his part in the event. Many historians now believe that he was not involved although he may have been in Kansas City at the time.
Blackie Audett even named the killers as Verne Miller, Maurice Denning and Solly Weisman. He stated." I knowed better, (that it wasn't Floyd and Richetti) because I seen with my own eyes who was in that car. Both of them that was in it got clean away." At another time he said, "Me and Mary McElroy watched the whole thing from less than fifty yards away." Being the right-hand man of Johnny Lazia, the man he says recruited the men for the job, he had advanced notice and was on hand to watch. Blackie also states that the mob hunted down and killed the men involved because they "botched" the job. Floyd and Richetti were left alone and able to live peacefully amongst them for at least a year after the event. Solly Weisman was built like Floyd and could have been confused with him.
Floyd and Richetti parted ways for a while but were later spotted in Wellsville, Ohio. Richetti was shot but not killed and Floyd was killed a few days later in the area of the Beaver Creek near Sprucevale. (But that's another story).
Early Life: Charles Arthur Floyd, soon to be called "Chock" Floyd, was born on February 3, 1904 in Georgia, one of seven children, but moved to a small farming community in Oklahoma, which he was to call home. His parents had a small farm, they were dirt-poor. His father spent most of his time trying to stay one step ahead of foreclosure. Droughts, plagues and dust storms brought farm production down to a crawl. In an attempt to help keep themselves fed, the family became involved in the bootlegging business.
In 1921 he married 16 year old Ruby Hargrove, they eventually had a son, Jack Dempsey Floyd. Money was scarce. Looking for a better life he left his home and traveled north looking for harvest work. Many nights were spent in hobo camps.
Charles was ready to work but there just wasn't any available. Eventually he gave up looking and brought his first gun. It wasn't long after that, at the age of 18, he pulled his first crime. He held up a post office for $350 in pennies. This was "easy money". He was arrested on suspicion of the crime but his father gave him an alibi.
He took the train to St. Louis where he robbed a Kroger store of approximately $16,000. The money kept them for a few weeks but after spending it on expensive clothes and big meals they were broke again. He was arrested because local police found it suspicious that he had new clothes and a new Ford. When they searched his house they found some of the money still in it's wrapper. He was sentenced to 5 years in the Jefferson City Penitentiary. During his incarceration his wife gave birth to their son, Jackie, and divorced him. He was released after 3 years and vowed never to be locked up again.
Later life and criminal history: On a visit to his parents farm he discovered that his father had been shot to death in a family feud with J. Mills. The accused was acquitted of the crime. Charles took his father's rifle went into the hills and J. Mills was never seen again.
In the mid 1920's Floyd lived and operated in the East Liverpool, Ohio area as a hired gun for the bootleggers and rum-runners along the Midland, PA and Steubenville, OH stretch of the Ohio River.
He became most notorious after he left the East Liverpool area. He headed west and found refuge in "Tom's Town" ( now Kansas City ), a town run by Tom Pendegast. Hired guns, murderer's and successful gangsters hung out here. It was here that he learned to use a machine gun and acquired the nickname "Pretty Boy". It was a name given him by a madam, Beulah Baird Ash, in a brothel and he hated it. However, it stuck and made him into a colorful criminal. Floyd is reputed to have maintained relationships with both Ruby and Beulah throughout the rest of his life even posing as their husbands under assumed names.
During the next 12 years he robbed as many as 30 banks, killing 10 men. During his crime sprees in Oklahoma the bank insurance rates doubled. He filed a notch in his pocket-watch for everyone he killed. His first bank robbery is reported to have been the Farmers and Merchants bank in Sylvania, Ohio. Floyd was arrested at his Akron, Ohio hideout for this crime. He was tried and convicted but escaped by jumping out of the train window near Kenton, Ohio while on his way to the Ohio Penitentiary.
The first person he killed was a police officer, Ralph Castner, who stopped him from robbing a Bowling Green, Ohio bank on April 16, 1931.
At this time Floyd was accompanied by William (Willis) Miller, known as "Billy the Killer", Beulah and her sister Rose. A clerk in a store recognized them when they were purchasing dresses for the women. The clerk alerted the police who arrived as the group were walking down the street. As they ordered the group to stop, Floyd and Miller opened fire. Castner was killed, Chief Carl Galliher dropped to the ground, killing Miller and injuring Beulah, 21. Rose Baird, 23 was captured but Floyd escaped in a car.
On June 17, 1933 Floyd and an associate, Adam Richetti were reported as the culprits behind the " Union Station Massacre " in Kansas City where 5 men including FBI agent, Raymond Caffrey were gunned down in an attempt to free Frank "Gentleman" Nash a notorious underworld figure. Floyd maintained to his death that he was never involved in this crime.
During the next 17 months Floyd and Richetti were hunted by every law enforcement officer in the country. After the capture and death of John Dillinger, Floyd was named as Public Enemy No.1 with a $23,000 dollar dead or alive reward on his head.
Floyd's reign of terror brought him back to the East Liverpool area.
Folk Stories and Quotes about his life:
Jack Floyd, although he saw his father infrequently, said in an article for the San Francisco Examiner June 20, 1982, "He was a fun guy to be around. He was like a regular father. He always had some puppies or other presents for me. What I knew about him didn't keep me from loving him."
He was a folk hero to the people of Oklahoma who perceived him as a "Sagebrush Robin Hood" or the "Robin Hood of the Cookson Hills", stealing from the rich banks to help the poor eat by buying them groceries and tearing up their mortgages during the robberies.
He has been written into legend through song, in Woody Guthrie's "Pretty Boy" Floyd.
He was never part of a gang. He worked with a few trusted accomplices. Boldly entering banks in broad daylight and never wearing a mask. He was a gentleman even in his crimes, always well groomed, immaculately dressed and courteous to his victims.
Final Days: On October 19, 1934 he was spotted after three men dressed as hunters and carrying shotguns robbed the Tiltonsville Peoples Bank. Both Adam Richetti and "Pretty Boy" Floyd were positively identified as two of the men involved. Police and FBI were put on alert throughout Ohio for the suspects. The following day a shoot-out between two criminals and the Wellsville, Ohio Police ended in the capture of Richetti. Floyd escaped, kidnapping a Wellsville florist and stealing his car.
On October 22, 1934 things would finally come to a fatal end for "Pretty Boy" Floyd. The local police were called out, including Chief McDermott and patrolman Chester Smith. Firearms were issued, but Smith refused a weapon, instead, he kept his 32-20 Winchester Rifle. He told everyone that if they found Floyd he would be running. They checked all the back-roads in the area that Floyd had been reported. Finally they came to the Conkle farm on Sprucevale Rd.
Floyd had knocked on the Conkle farm door posing as a lost hunter and had asked for a ride to the bus line. Ellen Conkle took pity on him and welcomed him into her home, feeding him a meal for which he paid $1. After eating, Mrs. Conkle volunteered her brother, Stewart Dyke, to drive Floyd to the bus station. The Dyke's and Floyd were getting into the car when two police cars were spotted speeding along the narrow dirt road. Floyd jumped from the car to hide behind a corn crib.
As the police approached the farm they spotted a man behind the corn crib. Chester Smith recognized the face. Floyd started to flee. After being told to halt and not doing so Smith fired a shot from his rifle hitting Floyd in the arm. Floyd dropped his gun, grabbed his right forearm where he had been hit, but still jumped up and continued to run, darting for cover in the wooded area nearby. After another call to halt which also went unheeded Floyd was shot again, in his back right shoulder. The federal agents and local police all started firing at this time. Floyd fell to the ground, his gun by his side.
Smith checked the body, he was not yet dead, and noticed that Floyd had another weapon in his belt. He had two Colt .45 automatics but never fire a single shot. Patrolmen Smith, Roth and Montgomery carried Floyd to the shade of an apple tree. "He was alive when we carried him to the apple tree. But he died then within minutes." Smith said. A call was placed to J. Edgar Hoover. Smith recalls, "Floyd was dead before Purvis returned (about 4:25 p.m.). We put Floyd's body in the back seat of the local police car, propping him up between me and Curly. That's how we hauled him to East Liverpool and turned him over to the Sturgis Funeral Home." Floyd had $120 in his pockets.
There is much speculation about the actual events of the fateful day. One report states that Agent Purvis of the FBI ordered Floyd shot whilst he was sitting under the apple tree because he refused to answer when asked if he was involved in the Kansas City Massacre.
Smith's daughter said that Smith took the days events in a matter-of-fact way, coming home late for supper and just stating that he didn't have time to eat because he had just shot "Pretty Boy" Floyd. He washed up, changed and went back to work.
At the Funeral Home: Although Floyd's mother did not want her son's body viewed by the public, by the time Chief McDermott had received her wire there were thousands of people wanting to view the notorious criminal. He would be later shipped back to Oklahoma but in the mean time over 10,000 people passed by the body from 8:30 p.m. and 11:15 p.m., about 50 per minute. The mob had stormed the Funeral home and in the space of three hours, the porch railing had been torn off, shrubbery trampled and the lawn completely ruined.
Final resting place: At 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday October 23, 1934 Charles Arthur " Pretty Boy " Floyd's body left East Liverpool in a baggage car. One year before at the Akins Cemetery in Sallisaw, Oklahoma, Floyd had told his mother,
"Right here is where you can put me. I expect to go down soon with lead in me. Maybe the sooner the better. Bury me deep. " 20,000 people attended his funeral. His head stone has been desecrated by souvenir hunters and was stolen in 1985. A new headstone now marks his grave.
Marker Erected: A marker along Sprucevale Road between East Liverpool and Rogers, Ohio has been erected in the location of the Conkle farm to mark for all time the place where America's Public Enemy No.1 was shot. This marker, erected in 1993 by the East Liverpool Historical Society and the Ohio Historical Society was stolen in August, 1995 and recovered about two weeks later in a wooded lot on Bank Street, East Liverpool. It was later re-erected on the same site.
Resources: Most of the material for this page are from existing old papers and microfilm on record at the Carnegie Public Library of East Liverpool and from Records and Photographs in the possession of the Dawson Funeral Home. Michael Wallis has also written a very good in depth book called "Pretty Boy" if you would like more reading.
Found in Columbiana County Ohio the place of "Pretty Boy" Floyd's death is designated by an historical marker.
The Marker is located 5.9 miles south from the light at the intersection of St. Rtes 7 & 154 in Rogers, Ohio, on County Road 428 (Sprucevale Rd.).
Turn left off Rt.7 onto 428 at the Y-Inn.
Turn left off Rt. 170 (looks like you are going straight) onto 428 by Calcutta Elementary School.
Come gather 'round me children, a story I will tell
Of Pretty Boy Floyd, an outlaw, Oklahoma knew him well
Was in the town of Shawnee on a Saturday afternoon
His wife beside him in the wagon as into town they rode
A deputy sheriff approached them in a manner rather rude
Using vulgar words of language and his wife she overheard
Well, Pretty Boy grabbed a long chain, and the deputy grabbed a gun
And in the fight that followed, he laid that deputy down
Then he took to the trees and rivers to lead a life of shame
Every crime in Oklahoma was added to his name
Yes he took to the trees and timbers on the Canadian river shore
And the outlaw found a welcome at many a farmer's door
Yes, there's many a starving farmer, the same story told
How the outlaw paid their mortgage and saved their little home
Others tell about a stranger who came to beg a meal
And underneath the napkin left a thousand dollar bill
It was in Oklahoma City, it was on a Christmas day
Came a whole carload of groceries and a letter that did say
Well, you say that I'm an outlaw, and you say that I'm a thief
Here's a Christmas dinner for the families on relief
Well, as through the world I've rambled, I've seen lots of funny men
Some rob you with a six gun, some with a fountain pen
As through this world you ramble, as through this world you roam
You'll never see an outlaw drive a family from it's home
This story is taken from the book, "The Enchanted Village" by Roger Scharf and Gary Winterburn, 1992
"About three quarters of a mile downstream from Fredericktown is a towering waterfall. A small spring-fed stream lunges 80 feet over a sandstone cliff. The site is a picturesque scene of quiet serenity."
The falls at one time were on the property of Andrew and Margaret Stewart who lived in the stone house which once stood on the hill east of the village of Fredericktown overlooking the Beaver Creek Gorge. The Stewart's had a daughter born in 1832 who was given her mother's name of Margaret. Young Margaret's search for happiness was destined for failure. She fell in love with a young man early in life and married him. The life of married bliss only lasted a few short months as he was stricken with an unknown ailment and died. She remained with her parents in widowhood many years. At the age of 30, when her hopes were fading of ever leaving her status of widowhood, Margaret met and fell in love with a young Union officer who was on leave from his duties in Pittsburgh. their favorite place for their trysts was in the shaded privacy of a glade at the head of the falls. It was here that he proposed marriage and Margaret accepted. It was here that they declared their love for each other and made their plans for the wedding which was to take place as soon as he was discharged from his country's service. He placed a diamond ring on her finger as a binding promise of his love and returned to his unit for further assignment."
It was in July of that same year that Margaret received the crushing news. Her husband to be was killed in the battle of Malvern Hill in Virginia. The battle had lasted six days from June 25 to July 1 and ended with the retreat of the Union forces. It is said that grief stricken and broken hearted Margaret went to the waterfalls where they had spent their wonderful hours together. She took the diamond ring off her finger and as she cast it over the falls into the eddies far below said, "Love for me can never be, I shall never marry." Margaret remained the rest of her life a grief stricken widow."
From that time forward this tryst place for lovers became known as Diamond Falls.
Sprucevale, Ohio. Beaver Creek State Park
There are of course several versions of this tale. Many blend the tale of Esther with the Legend of Gretchen's Lock because they took place within approximately 1/2 mile of each other.
The tale of Esther Hale, also known as the Bride at the Bridge took place in a small canal community known as Sprucevale. All that is left of this area is an old Grist Mill (Hambleton's Mill), an old building and the remains of two locks on the Sandy and Beaver Canal.
When the community was alive and busy Esther Hale was to be married. In the book "Spooky Ohio" (1995) and "Haunted Ohio II" (1992) Chris Woodyard describes the story:
"On the morning of August 12, 1837, Esther Hale hummed happily to herself as she put on her white dress and veil. It was her wedding day. The table in the parlor was decorated with flowers and vines. The cake was in the kitchen, covered with cheesecloth to keep off the flies. The wedding was set for ten in the morning.
But by half past ten the groom had not arrived and the guests and parson were beginning to fidget. At half past twelve, they climbed into their wagons and drove away. The messenger Esther sent could find no trace of the bridegroom. His cabin was deserted, said the man, and the ashes in the stove were cold.
"When Esther's friends tried to help her to bed, Esther shook her head, the tears running down her face. Finally they left her alone in the dark by the window in the parlor. When they returned the next morning, the curtains were drawn, as if for a funeral. They were never again opened in Esther Hale's lifetime.
"All Summer Esther moved like a ghost through the house. In the kitchen, beetles tunneled through the cake. The wedding flowers withered under the spider's veils in the parlor. Esther's friends coaxed her to eat and drink a little, but when they tried to get her to change her dress or remove the wedding decorations, she flew at them with claw-like fingers. Finally they left her alone.
Broken hearts kill slowly. Four months later, a neighbor noticed that the door to Esther's house was open, banging back and forth in the December wind. He told the sheriff and the doctor who took a party of men to the dark house. Snow had drifted throughout the house like a white shroud.
"Esther was slumped over the parlor windowsill, her veil over her face. Someone held up a lantern. The doctor drew back the shredded lace. Esther had been dead for several weeks. When they saw the horror beneath, they silently covered her over again. She was buried so, shrouded in her wedding clothes.
"But burial did not put an end to Esther Hale. It is said by the locals that you can still see her, dressed in white, looking for her bridegroom on the bridge over Beaver Creek in Columbiana County. She waits there every year on August 12, a hideous figure in tattered white satin and lace. And if she touches you she will become young and beautiful again----but you will die."
This story is taken from the book, "The Enchanted Village" by Roger Scharf and Gary Winterburn, 1992.
"George Hamilton and his wife, Isabella, and father George Sr., came from Ireland, a place known for leprechauns, disenchanted souls and haunted houses. In 1818 Hamilton purchased a 68 acre tract of land at the top of Beaver Hill east of the village of Fredericktown and built there a beautiful mansion which was considered to be one of the grandest in St. Clair Township.
"It was a common practice in those days, due to the lack, of public cemeteries, to establish a family burial plot on the farm. The Hamilton family cemetery was located on a knoll of a field about a hundred yards from the rear of the house. The first burial here is believed to be that of George Hamilton Sr., who died in 1824. Over the years the graves increased with markers dotting the site.
"By 1890 the Hamilton heirs had moved to other places to further their own ambitions and dreams and the farm was sold. The cemetery due to neglect of the new owners, who had little interest in the burial grounds, became overgrown with weeds, briars and trees. Eventually, the grave markers were removed and the burial site was incorporated into the plowed field which surrounded it.
"It was shortly after this hallowed ground was desecrated that strange events began to take place within the Hamilton Mansion. Footsteps were heard in the middle of the night going slowly up and down the back stairs without any apparent destination. In one instance an ethereal figure of a woman was seen at the foot of the stairs. The apparition materialized and vanished when one of the family members was investigating a disturbance. Cupboard doors would open and shut noisily, dishes would rattle and were found to be rearranged the next morning. Over a period of time these unnatural occurrences began to concentrate in a back bedroom on the second floor which was purported to be the room where Isabella Hamilton died on a blustery March night in 1867. Frequent cold blasts of air would sweep through the room without any indication of their source. The bedroom door would suddenly open and the bed covers would be violently pulled off the bed and thrown in the hallway which would send the slumbering occupant into a panic. Eerie tunes from a stringed instrument frequently could be heard. the sound would be soft and faint as though coming from a far distance.
"Could all of these unexplained happenings be the result of the restless soul of Isabella Hamilton who was disturbed by the violating of her final resting place?
"All of the grave markers had been placed temporarily by the corn crib near the house and in due time were removed to an undiscovered location. One stone , however had been left near the crib and remained there for many years. In the mid 1980's the stone was discovered amidst the debris of the long collapsed building. It was a beautiful white marble marker proclaiming the death of Isabella Hamilton who died in the 74th year of her life on March 19th 1867. The stone was lying on its back with the carved wreath and lettering facing skyward. It was decided by the Vodrey family, the owners of the property, to provide a proper resting place for the stone. Since the original plot of the cemetery could not be determined, the marker was brought into Fredericktown and erected at a beautiful, quiet spot under shady trees overlooking the forks of the Little Beaver Creek at Laurel Point.
"Once the stone was in place, peace returned to the Hamilton House. No more footsteps in the night, no ethereal music and no ghostly figures, only the natural sounds of an aging house could be heard."
Ohio seemed far away from most of the strife of the Civil War. The state had not been forthcoming in establishing a militia because it was felt that Ohio just wasn't close to the heart of the War. The young able bodied men had volunteered to fight and had gone to war leaving the old and very young at home. The militia had been established but was not functioning in a very organized fashion. In July of 1863 General John Hunt Morgan was to show Ohio just how unprepared they were.
General Morgan, a Kentuckian, conceived his ill-fated plan in June of 1863. He was commanded by General Braxton Bragg to take his men and raid anywhere in Kentucky that he wanted and to make an attempt to capture Louisville. The scheme was meant to keep General Ambrose Burnside diverted at Cincinnati and to delay his impending invasion of Eastern Tennessee.
General John Hunt Morgan was already, at the age of 38, a hero to the South, known for his courage, resourcefulness and his dignity. To the North who had suffered from his hard hitting cavalry raids he was a freebooter-guerrilla-horse thief, a "blackbeard" with a bridle.
On July 2, 1863, Morgan's men, numbering 2,460, launched their operation near Burkesville, Kentucky. At Brandenburg, on the Ohio River, they commandeered two steamboats and on July 8, crossed the river into Indiana. By this time they were well ahead of General Edward H. Hobson and his pursuing cavalry.
Morgan had been ordered NOT to cross the Ohio. However, He had predetermined to travel into Indiana and Ohio scouting possible places to ford the Ohio. He and his forces struck out northeastward across Indiana. General Burnside felt that they would try to recross the Ohio to the south of Cincinnati. With this in mind he declared martial law in the city and called out the militia in 32 southern Ohio counties. That afternoon Morgan neared Harrison, a small community west of Cincinnati, but after resting his men they disappeared into the night. During the night they skirted the north of Cincinnati, skirmishing with the pickets at Camp Dennison and burning a number of wagons.
They rode on through Batavia to Williamsburg, 28 miles of Cincinnati, by 4 pm that afternoon. They had covered 90 miles in only 35 hours. The men from Camp Dennison pursued as far as Batavia where they halted and felled trees across the road to prevent Morgan's return that way.
The Ohioans prepared the best they could for his advance but they were ill prepared and Morgan and his men found little resistance as they pressed on in search of a place to ford the river. The inexperienced untrained militia were no match for Morgan's men seasoned and hardened by the battles of war.
Colonel Richard Morgan, the General's brother led his troops to the south through Georgetown, to Ripley then back through West Union to Locust Grove where he rejoined the main force. Together they advanced on through Jasper, Piketon, Jackson, Vinton, Cheshire, Pomeroy and Chester, plundering, pillaging and ransacking stores on the way. It must be said that Morgan and his men kept mainly to the businesses and left personal homes, property and farmland alone.
Reaching Buffington Ford, their previously scouted place to ford the river, about 40 miles south of Marietta, late on Saturday the 18th of July he found that the ford was guarded by 300 union men. These men abandoned their earthworks in the night. Morgan still elected to cross the next day and they were quickly ambushed as they began to ford the river. They were overtaken by Hobson's cavalry and were soon pinned down by gunboat fire and overrun by the Seventh Michigan Cavalry. Eventually 700 would be captured, including Colonel Richard Morgan and Colonel Basil W. Duke, the General's brother-in-law. The rest narrowly escaped back into Ohio. They attempted to cross again fifteen miles up river but only 300 reached West Virginia before they were again under gunboat fire. They doubled back inland and for the next week were dogged every step on the way. They traveled northeastward through Zaleski, Nelsonville, New Straitsville, Cumberland, Old Washington, Hendrysburg and Wintersville.
General J.M. Shakelford's cavalry caught up with them at Salineville on Sunday morning July 26. Morgan and some men eluded capture for a short time. It is said that he finally surrendered to a local militia captain in Columbiana County, on the road between Lisbon and West Point, on the condition that he and his men would be paroled.
This was not to be the case as Major General George W. Rue, of the 9th Cavalry, arrived a short time later and took them into captivity. A telegraph sent by Major General Rue said: "I captured John Morgan today at two o'clock P.M., taking 336 prisoners, 400 horses, and arms." Morgan and his surviving officers were taken, by order of Major General Henry W. Halleck, to the Ohio Penitentiary at Columbus. The men were treated more like criminals than prisoners of war, even undergoing the indignity of having their heads shaved. Four months after his capture, on November 27, 1863, Morgan and six companions escaped through a tunnel they had dug through a 4ft thick stone wall and 20 feet of dirt. They scaled the prison outer walls and made a clean escape into the night.
Morgan arrived safely in the South only to be killed less than a year later, on September 4, 1864 at Greenville, Tennessee.
The Impact on Ohio
More than 200 northern lives were lost in the two week period of Morgan's Raid of Ohio with at least 350 casualties.
4,375 people in twenty-nine counties filed claims for damages and were awarded $428,168. The Union forces were also charged with damages totaling $141,855, the militia being held accountable for $6,202. Upwards of 2,5000 horses were commandeered and collected by Morgan. There were 49,357 militia men called to duty costing the state $450,000. The cost to the state was more than $100,000.
The biggest impact on Ohio at the time was the realization that they were truly unprepared for the war to be in their own "backyard". They had felt secure by the distance from the south and had not put much effort into preparations for defense. The fact that Morgan was able to almost traverse the whole state, from Harrison in the west to West Point in the east (only about 10 miles from Virginia (WV) and Pennsylvania, with little or no resistance is testimony to this fact.
In West Point, Ohio, there stands a stone monument to the events of July 1863. It was erected in 1909 by Will L. Thompson of East Liverpool. It states:
"This stone marks the spot where the Confederate raider General John H. Morgan surrendered his command to Major General George W. Rue, July 26, 1863, and this is the farthest point north ever reached by any body of Confederate troops during the Civil War."
The events in Ohio day-by-day.
The Events of Morgan's Raid through Ohio July 12, 1863- July 26, 1863
|Sunday July 12, 1863
|Anticipating Morgan's attack on Cincinnati General Ambrose E. Burnside declares martial law in the city and Governor Tod calls out the militia.|
|Monday July 13, 1863
|Morgan is sighted near Harrison in Hamilton County and passes through Glendale north of Cincinnati in the night.|
|Tuesday July 14, 1863
|At dawn he rests the horses in sight of Camp Dennison, he skirmishes there and was in Williamsburg by 4pm that afternoon.||Camp Dennison---Ohio Militia
|Wednesday July 15, 1863
||After dividing for some pillaging the forces converge at Locust Grove.|
|Thursday July 16, 1863
||Morgan reaches the Scioto River and ransacks Jasper and Piketon.|
|Friday July 17, 1863
|Morgan and his raiders enter Jackson after riding 45 miles during the night. He clashes several times with Ohio forces.||Berlin---Ohio Militia
Centerville---9th Michigan Cavalry
|Saturday July 18, 1863
|At 1pm he arrives at Chester on the Ohio River near Pomeroy and runs into a skirmish there.||Pomeroy---23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry|
|Sunday July 19, 1863
|Whilst attempting to cross the Ohio at Bluffington Island he is ambushed by the combined Judah-Hobson forces in the rear and 2 gunboats to the front.
|Buffington Island---14th Illinois Cavalry, Henshaw's (Illinois) Independent Light Infantry, 5th Indiana Cavalry, Kentucky 1st, 3rd,8th,11th & 12th Cavalries, Ohio 2nd & 7th Cavalries, 45th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, 2nd Mounted Tennessee (Federal) Infantry, Ohio Militia & 2 Federal Gunboats.|
|Monday July 20, 1863
|Skirmishes as he tries to flee and find another crossing of the river.
|Hockingport---23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Coal Hill---45th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Cheshire---65th Indiana Infantry
|Tuesday July 21, 1863
||Morgan and his men ride all day and are becoming extremely weary.|
|Wednesday July 22, 1863
|Their horses are falling in exhaustion and the men are falling from their horses asleep. The Infantry is waiting at Eaglesport.||Eaglesport--- 86th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
|Thursday July 23, 1863
||They crossed the Muskingham River in darkness.||Rockville--- Ohio Militia
|Friday July 24, 1863
|Morgan and his raiders reach Campbell Station east of Cambridge on the National Rd. and run into skirmishes throughout the day. Morgan doubles-back toward Antrim, rests a couple of hours before heading east toward the river where he has to fight again||Old Washington---Ohio Militia
New Athens---Ohio Militia
|Saturday July 25, 1863
|Clashes in Wintersville with the military, the citizens in New Springfield and spend the night in Bergholz.||Wintersville---44th Pennsylvania Militia
|Sunday July 26, 1863||Routed by his pursuers they flee north to Salineville. By 8 am they are overtaken with 30 killed, 50 wounded and 200 taken prisoner. Morgan escapes but surrenders 6 hours later in a field near West Point, Columbiana County.||Salineville---9th Michigan Cavalry
West Point--- 15th Indiana Independent Battery of Light Artillery, Kentucky 1st, 9th, 11th & 12th Cavalries, 8th Michigan Cavalry.
|Morgan surrenders after 24 days in the saddle, riding and fighting through Indiana and Ohio.|
Note: This was not the first time that Confederate soldiers had been on Ohio Soil. Almost a year earlier on September 3rd & 4th 1862 Brigadier General Gallatin Jenkins invaded Ohio as part of Kirby Smith's move on Cincinnati.. General Jenkins attacked 2 Union garrisons in Western Virginia (now WV) and crossed the Ohio River with 350 Cavalry at Bluffington Island. He moved south to Racine, possibly along what is now State Route 124, crossing back to Virginia (WV) at Wolf's Creek below Racine.
Museum Echoes, September, 1961
Ohio Book of the Civil War, 1961
Howe's Historical Collections of Ohio
Sprucevale, Ohio, Beaver Creek State Park
In the Sprucevale end of Beaver Creek State Park close to a derelict lock of the Sandy & Beaver Canal stands a building, the remains of a business from yesteryear. It is said by the local people that no-one can photograph this building without an anomaly in the photograph because in the past a young boy hanged himself from the rafters of the building and that his spirit will not allow a photograph of his place of death to be taken.
Sandy & Beaver Canal. Sprucevale, Ohio
Beaver Creek State Park
Gretchen Gill the daughter of Sandy and Beaver Canal engineer E.H. Gill has been the focus of a legend at Lock # ?? for many years.
I am including here several different versions of the story that persist even today.
From "The Sandy & Beaver Canal" by William H.Vodrey Jr. & R. Max Gard. 1952.
One such legend is of E.H. Gill, canal engineer and his daughter Gretchen. According to the legend E.H. Gill, his wife and daughter were traveling from Europe to the United States, his wife died on the way and was buried at sea. The grief stricken father and his little daughter, Gretchen, completed the journey. At the time the lock above Sprucevale was being built, Gretchen contracted malaria and died. A crypt was prepared in the masonry of the lock and Gretchen was entombed there for a while. When Gill resigned during the panic of 1837 and decided to return to Europe Gretchen's casket was removed from the crypt in the lock and taken aboard ship to be returned home for burial. On the trip, a storm at sea took the ship and all were lost. E.H. Gill and Gretchen joined their wife and mother in the waters of the Atlantic.
Chris Woodyard has written some very popular books called "Haunted Ohio I, II & III" and "Spooky Ohio". In these books she recounts the tales of ghosts and superstition from various areas throughout Ohio. Whilst these books are popular they are also a good example of how legends change and become entwined with others.
In "Haunted Ohio" she states concerning Gretchen's Ghost, " A network of canals built in the early 1800s opened up the Ohio Territory to commerce and statehood. At Beaver Creek State Park in Columbiana County there survives part of a lock and canal system from 1836.. One of the locks is names "Gretchen's Lock". A charming tribute to a family member, one might think, but the place has a macabre history.
Gill Hans, the engineer who built the lock, brought his family over from Holland. His young daughter Gretchen pined for the Low Country until, weakened, she contracted malaria and died August 12, 1838, raving about going home. Distraught Hans had Gretchen's coffin temporarily entombed in a vault within the lock's stone work until the family could return to Holland together. He made arrangements to sail; Gretchen's coffin was loaded onto the ship and the entire family sailed into oblivion. The ship went down in an Atlantic storm with all hands.
Yet even death could not take Gretchen home. On the anniversary of her death, the young Dutch girl can be seen walking along the lock that bears her name.
In the Chris Woodyard book you can read the story of Esther Hale, The Bride at the Bridge and see quite a few similarities between it and the legend of Gretchen's Lock.
Those who have studied the history of the Sandy & Beaver Canal have a completely different story to tell.
This story is taken from the book, "The Enchanted Village" by Roger Scharf and Gary Winterburn, 1992.
"Following the Civil War a family living in section 12 of St. Clair Township employed a hired hand named Jacob. Jacob was half Irish and half Wyandot Indian. He was a quiet individual and kept much to himself. Jacob would often be observed making a trek up the north fork of Beaver Creek. He was always alone and would appear several hours later carrying a canvas sack filled with crushed rock. One evening his benefactor, being somewhat curious as to Jacob's mysterious jaunts entered his sleeping room in the barn. Jacob lay quite intoxicated beside an open box containing silver nuggets. This interruption caused the excited Indian to ramble loudly in his native Wyandot tongue to attempt to explain his treasures. His employer was able to interpret the story."
"An ancestral tale had been passed down to Jacob of the location of a silver mine located three hollows up the north fork of Beaver Creek from the falls at Fredericktown. The directions then lead one quarter mile up the third hollow on the left side of the stream to the mine entrance. The explanation was vague yet the evidence in the open box attested to the existence of such a mine."
"The next morning Jacob was nowhere to be found nor was the box of silver. He was never seen again. Many have searched the area for its hidden treasure but to this day the mine has never been found."