Ohio’s Historic Haunts: Name That Location #3

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I figured a nice way to slide on into the July 4th weekend would be with another Name That Location!

If you just stumbled upon this page and have no idea what all the fuss is about Ohio’s Historic Haunts, let me get you up to speed. It’s my new book that’s slated to come out this fall. To give everyone some nice little teasers, I’m posting photos of the locations covered in the book, asking people to guess where the picture was taken. When I think the suspense has gotten to be too much, I’ll post the answer and some inside scoop on what happened at the location during the writing of the book.

You can check out the other two Name That Location photos here and here.

As for Location #3, all I’m telling you at this point is that it will appear on page 229 of Ohio’s Historic Haunts. Care to guess the location?

Ohio’s Historic Haunts: Location #2 Revealed!

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OK, one last chance to gaze at this picture and see if you can guess the location. Scroll past the pic for the answer.
Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 3.16.05 PMGive up? The photograph was taken at the Museum At The Friends Home in Waynesville, Ohio. Specifically, it was taken inside one of the rooms done up to represent what a typical Boarder’s Room would have looked like back in the day. What’s a Boarder’s Room? More importantly, what’s a “Friends Home”? Questions like that were what led me to cover this location in my upcoming book, Ohio’s Historic Haunts.

You see, Waynesville, Ohio, has long been rumored to be chock full of ghosts. Some even claim that Waynesville is “Ohio’s Sleepy Hollow”. The place is full of history, too, so there was no doubt that I wanted a Waynesville location for Ohio’s Historic Haunts. But which one? Sure, there were several famous Waynesville haunts that had been covered before in other books and shows. But I wanted something different, something unique that hadn’t really been covered before. That’s when someone mentioned to me that the Museum At The Friends Home was rumored to be haunted. My ears perked up when I heard “museum”, but to be honest, I didn’t understand the whole “Friends Home” bit. When it was explained to me that the museum was housed inside what used to be an old Quaker Boarding House/Home (and that Quakers address fellow Quakers as “Friends”), I was hooked and knew this was the perfect location for the book!

Exterior of the Museum At The Friends Home. The porch and balcony would come to play a part in several of the ghost stories Museum staff told me.

When I began interviewing the employees and volunteers of the Museum At The Friends Home, it quickly became clear to me that, like Farnam Manor, the Museum was also believed to be haunted by the ghost of a little girl. However, in the case of the Museum, there was some confusion as to who this girl was, especially since when the building operated as a boarding house, only one little girl lived here (albeit briefly). The little girl ghost wasn’t said to be alone in the building, either, as several other spirits have been reported here.

WIthout giving too much away, I do have to publicly admit that the Museum At The Friends Home was a truly unique experience for me in that the “weirdness” started even before my investigation began. In fact, all my investigators weren’t even inside the building yet!

Main staircase of the Museum At The Friends Home. Remote sensors used during my overnight investigation are visible in middle of stairs as well as running along the right side of staircase.

Want to know more? Well, you’ll just have to wait until Ohio’s Historic Haunts comes out this fall. Or you could pre-order your copy here. And if you’re dying to hear about things straight from the horse’s mouth, check this out: on Saturday, November 21st, I will be giving a special presentation at the Museum At The Friends Home, entitled An Evening With Author James A. Willis. And yes, my experiences at the Museum will definitely be a huge part of that presentation. I might even bring along a special guest or two who were with me during my investigation so you can really get the full story!

For more information on the November 21st presentation, visit the Museum At The Friends Home website here or click here to let people know you’re going! And keep on eye on my Calendar Of Events to see if I’ll be coming to your town!

Ohio’s Historic Haunts: Name That Location #2

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What better way to start off the week than with another Name That Location!

What’s Name That Location, you ask? Well, it’s my way of teasing my upcoming book, Ohio’s Historic Haunts. I’m posting pictures of locations that will be covered in the book and asking you to guess where the picture was taken. After you’ve pondered the photo for a while, I’ll post the answer and some inside scoop on what happened at the location during the writing of the book. Just a couple of things, though. Can’t spoil the whole book now, can I?

So here you go: the photo that will appear on page 282 of Ohio’s Historic Haunts. Name the location!

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Oh yeah, and if you missed Name That Location #1, click here to get caught up!

Ohio’s Historic Haunts: Location #1 Revealed!

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OK, last chance to guess where this photo from my upcoming Ohio’s Historic Haunts is from! Scroll past the photo for the answer!

Give up? The photo was taken at the Farnam Manor in Richfield, Ohio. Specifically, the photo is of Emily’s Room, where the ghost of young Emily Farnam is said to hang out. Emily died in the house after falling into an old cistern.

Before I give you some more information about Farnam Manor, I’d like to point out the reason why I chose to start this whole “guess the location” thing with this particular photo. Simply put, I was a little bummed when I heard that while Ohio’s Historic Haunts was going to be chock full of photographs, they were all going to be in black and white. I didn’t think that would work, but the picture of Emily’s Room at Farnam Manor changed my mind. For me, the B&W kind of gives the photo a weird sort of vibe, which I am totally digging. In fact, the first time I saw it in the proofs, it instantly reminded me of all those all B&W photos from the 70s of the Amityville Horror house when Ed and Lorraine Warren were roaming about.

Anyway, a little bit more about Farnam Manor to whet your appetite.

I think it was destiny that Farnam Manor ended up in Ohio’s Historic Haunts. Truth be told, it wasn’t on the original list of locations to be included. But one day, I was passing through Richfield on my way to one of my scheduled library appearances when, out of the corner of my eye, a saw this gorgeous old house just sitting there all by itself, guarded by two stone lions.

Farnam Manor Exterior

Almost immediately, I got that weird, tingling feeling, letting me know that I might be onto something. I mean, how could a house like that not have some great history behind it? Still, I needed it to at least have a reputation for being haunted in order for it to be included in Ohio’s Historic Haunts. Instinctively, I did one of my infamous U-turns and pulled into the driveway.

Fate was on my side as one of the Manor’s co-owners, Tim Magner, was out mowing the lawn. After a brief discussion about who I was and why I was checking in, Tim sheepishly nodded and said that while he wasn’t too convinced, yes, there were stories about Farnam Manor being haunted. I thanked Tim and left him my business card. The rest, as they say, is history.

Months later, I would find myself back at Farnam Manor, interviewing over a dozen people who claimed to have not only encountered the ghost of Emily Farnam, but several other spirits, as well. Oh yeah, and I was told a rather interesting tale about Native American Indian ghosts that resulted in my bringing this bag of tobacco with me to leave as an offering.

Tobacco I brought and left as an offerinf Farnam Manor

What’s that all about? Well, you’ll just have to wait for the book to come out!

To read more about Farnam Manor, including what happened when I spent the night inside the house, grab yourself a copy of Ohio’s Historic Haunts. You can also check my schedule of appearances to see if I’m coming to your neck of the woods. If I am, odds are pretty good I’ll be talking about Farnam Manor!

Of course, you can also visit their website or, better yet, schedule your own visit to Farnam Manor and check the place out for yourself. Just be sure to tell them Weird Willis sent you. Oh yeah, and keep an eye on those stone lions out front. Was probably just me, but I was pretty convinced they were set to pounce on me the second I turned my back!

Closeup of lion at Farnam Manor

Ohio’s Historic Haunts: Name That Location #1

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Well, the page proofs for my upcoming book, Ohio’s Historic Haunts, are finally here! And I figured a fun way to give everyone a sneak peek at what’s to come would be to “leak” some actual photos from the book and see if you guys can guess the location!

Some of the locations are instantly recognizable, so in those cases, I’ll probably crop the photos a bit just to make it a bit harder for you to guess. And after I’ve let you all scratch your heads for a while, I’ll post the answer, along with a brief description of the location and maybe, just maybe, a couple of hints as to what happened when I spent the night inside the place.

So here you go: your first test. This photo will appear on page 38 of Ohio’s Historic Haunts. Name the location! Feel free to post your answer below…or just scream it real loud at your computer screen. Either way, good luck!

“Teens Everywhere” Conjuring Demons By Playing Charlie, Charlie

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Let the conjuring begin! — via Doubtful News

“Satan, I command you to open the gates of hell and bring forth…Charlie.”

I’m sorry, what?

Yup, the Interwebs and anti-social media are all a-flutter with this new viral (god, I hate that term) craze that’s sweeping the nation. Apparently, “teens everywhere” are dividing pieces of paper into 4 quadrants, balancing pencils in the middle, and commanding a demon to come and answer their burning questions in a game that’s become known as Charlie, Charlie.

And they’re not just summoning any demon, mind you. In this case, they are said to be calling upon “the Mexican demon, Charlie.”

That’s right: Of all the denizens of Hell, Charlie is the one you need to reach out to if you need your questions answered. And make sure you specifically ask for “Charlie, the Mexican demon.” God forbid you get stuck with “Charlie, the American demon” or even “Charlie the Norwegian demon” because you’ll be lucky to get anything useful out of those guys.

So what exactly are “teens everywhere” doing? Well, not that I’m condoning this type of behavior, but the whole thing’s really simple. You just need a piece of paper and two pencils.  Take the piece of paper and draw a giant plus sign on it so as to divide the page into 4 sections. Then, write down 4 “answers” with one in each box: “Yes” and “No” are the popular favorites, but feel free to mix in a “Maybe” or an “Ask Again Later” just to give ol’ Charlie some variety.

For the final step, place one of the pencils on the vertical axis (i.e., the line going up and down) and then balance the second pencil across the first one (i.e., so it is laying horizontally). Then, ask away! So far, the popular way to ask seems to be by saying “Charlie, Charlie, can we talk?” It is said that if Charlie’s around, the top pencil will spin to “Yes” (so you better make sure you have a “yes” on your paper or you’re screwed from the get-go). Once Charlie answers, you’re off and running.

Who knew that all it took to conjure up a demon was $1.98 in used office supplies? — Via NY Daily News

Now, aside from the fact that balancing a pencil on top of another one makes it quite easy to get it to move, let’s talk for a moment about the utter silliness of this activity being blamed on Charlie, the Mexican Demon.

All of the other paranormal imports from Mexico have at least retained their Spanish names–Chupacabra, La Llorona, etc. So why not this demon? And when did we stop giving demons really spooky (and usually unpronounceable) names?

Online demonologists (who scare me for totally different reasons) are claiming that the demon only calls himself Charlie because it’s an “unassuming name” that allows him (it?) to lure teens over to the dark side. I guess that could be it. Of course, it doesn’t explain why, up until a few days ago, Charlie the demon and even this “game” simply did not exist. In fact, until it went viral (there’s that damn word again), it doesn’t appear that anyone had even played this particular game before. There does appear to be a game known as “The Pencil Game” that involves making a rectangle by sticking 6 pencils together and holding it in the air while chanting “Charlie, Charlie, can we play” (see a video of kids playing that version here). But this whole “hey, demon, can you spin this pencil for me” is something new.

Of course, there’s no denying that this sort of “conjuring” is nothing new, either. Of course, people are pointing to this becoming “the new Ouija”, but for me, it seems closer to those paper Cootie Catchers kids used to make to try and figure out who liked them or who they were going to marry. Indeed, an online search for “Charlie, Charlie” pulls up a bunch of suspect YouTube videos and several images where the spookiest questions being asked are along the lines of “which member of One Direction will I marry.”

Man, Charlie, you’re screwed! They didn’t even give you a “none of the above” option — via PIX 11

So come now, people, don’t we have better things to do than engage in this silliness? Even if this were true, think of poor Charlie the Mexican demon: having to be ready to race around the world at a moment’s notice, usually on the whim of some random teenagers who is just dying to know when 5 Seconds Of Summer is going to “release the next album” (and yes, I’m old, so I had to Google “5SoS”).

If you ask me, I think Charlie got the short end of the stick. But then again, he is in hell, so I guess he deserves it.

Come now, is “3000” even a viable answer? Remember, it’s not nice to fool Mexican demons! — via The Telegraph

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Click here to check out the BBC’s article concerning where Charlie, Charlie might have originated.

Here’s what the NY Daily News is saying about Charlie, Charlie.

Read about Doubtful News‘ take on Charlie, Charlie by clicking here.

PIX11 has more on the story, including several videos showing people attempting to contact Charlie. Check it out here.

Vine compilation of people playing (and parodying) Charlie, Charlie (NSFW–Language).

Ghost Of A Dirty Windshield Reported At Ohio’s Randall Park Mall

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I love it when people send me ghost photos and videos to check out (with the exception of the videos where things jump out and scream at you–those just piss me off). But when one of my fellow bloggers passed along this bit of “news” for me to weigh in on, I found myself just shaking my head.

ABC 5 out of Cleveland recently ran a photo that was submitted to them by a gentleman who was out with some people checking out the abandoned (and currently being demolished) Randall Park Mall. According to the person who e-mailed the photo, when it was taken by his “girlfriend’s cousin”, they didn’t notice anything strange. That all changed when they got home and re-examined the photo. That’s when they found the image of a “ghostly figure” floating in the corner.

“Oooooohhhhhh, I’m a smudgy ghost, arriving too late for ghostly bargains at the mall. Clearly, I should have consulted the mall hours before getting in my ghostly car and driving all this way for nothing. Ooooooohhhhhhhhhh!” –Via newsnet5

Now, I could take the professional route and go on and on about how I’ve been investigating reported hauntings in Ohio since 1999 and don’t have a single reference to a ghost ever being anywhere near the Randall Park Mall. But what’s the point? The “ghostly figure” is clearly just a smudge on the windshield. In fact, the entire photo is filled with all sorts of smudges and possibly even some reflections off the glass. And let’s be honest here: If you really didn’t see anything when you were taking this picture, then what the heck were you taking a picture of in the first place? Put another way, why is the picture crooked…other than to make the “ghost” appear to be “rising” as opposed to doing a swan dive?

As to what caused the smudge, I’m not sure about that. But if I had to guess, I’m going to go with the ever-popular “bird poop”. And if that’s the case, in my “expert” opinion, these guys missed a golden opportunity. Rather than calling it a ghost, they should have admitted it was bird poop, but said it was “holy sh*t”. That, ladies, and gentlemen, is clearly news!

You can read the entire Newsnet5 article by clicking here.

Information On My Thurber House Appearance

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On Wednesday, July 29th, I will be the featured speaker at one of Thurber House’s Literary Picnics. What’s a Literary Picnic? Simply put, it’s an opportunity for people to come out and hear an author speak while enjoying a picnic-style dinner on the front lawn of the historic Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. How cool is that?

If you’ve ever been to one of my presentations, you know that I tend to enjoy assaulting my guests’ eyes and ears with all sorts of weird visuals and audio clips. Not sure how much of that I do while standing in the middle of a yard with the bright summer sun shining, so for now, exactly what I’ll be doing is still up in the air. But rest assured, it will be memorable!

Thurber House -- via thurberhouse.org

Thurber House — via thurberhouse.org

In terms of tickets, there are several packages available: you can get the whole “dinner and a show” ticket or, if you prefer, you can bring your own dinner and just buy a ticket to my talk. Either way, the Thurber House will be open for tours during the entire evening and you can even BYOB!

There will be copies of my books available for purchase. However, I am not handling the book sales, so I have no idea which ones they will have on-hand (Weird Ohio and The Big Book Of Ohio Ghost Stories are safe bets, though). I’ll be hanging around after my talk to sign books, shake hands, and consume any of your leftover reubens, if you let me.

But perhaps the biggest question people have been asking me is “are you going to talk about your new book?” The answer to that is “yes”. While Ohio’s Historic Haunts isn’t due out for a few more months, I will indeed be spending a bit of time discussing the book and maybe even giving a sneak peek or two at what readers can expect to see when it finally comes out.

For more information about Thurber House’s 2105 Summer Literary Picnics, click here. Or, if you’re chomping at the bit to get your tickets, click here to review the different packages available and order your tickets online. 

No idea how many tickets are available, but I’ve been told they do sell out quickly. So if you’re thinking about coming, don’t wait to get your tickets.

Hope to see you there!