The Haunted School Desk

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You’d think that with all the years I’ve spent collecting strange and spooky stuff, I’d have more than my fair share of haunted school desks. Nope. That’s why I had to jump on this beauty when I saw it, especially since it comes from not one but two allegedly haunted schools!

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You see, recently The Ghosts Of Ohio and I were spending the night locked inside South Main School in Bowling Green, Ohio on a private ghost hunt. That’s where I found the desk. Imagine my surprise to find that the desk had recently been moved to the school from another allegedly haunted elementary school, the Lyme School in East Bellevue, Ohio. At that point, I knew it had to be mine!

At present time, the desk is sitting quietly amongst all my other strange and spooky museum items. No paranormal activity to report yet, but it’s still early and I’ve yet to run any experiments on it (or even simply leave an EMF on it). But time will tell.

I’ll keep everyone posted if strange stuff starts happening. And if you’re ever attending a soirée at Willis Woods, just ask and I’ll be more than happy to show you the haunted desk. I may even let you sit in it…if you dare!

 

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My 2018 Fall Tour Dates Are Set

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I know it’s still August, but the kids are already heading back to school, which means we’ll all be choking down all things Pumpkin Spice before you know it. So what better time to pull up your calendar and mark off when I’ll be coming to see you?

This year, in addition to a bunch of new locations, I’ll be making return visits to a few places where I’ve given presentations before. In those instances, while I will be showing some of my “best of the best” audio, video, and photos, I’ll also be adding in some new things that I’ve acquired since my last visit. In other words, even if you’ve seen me before, there’s going to be new stuff for 2018!

The vast majority of my appearances and presentations are free and open to the general public. The few exceptions will be noted with a dollar sign: $.

For all dates, space is usually limited. Some locations even require that you pre-register in order to ensure they have enough seats. So once you’ve decided you’re going to attend, please contact the venue to see if you need to pre-register.

Finally, yes, there will be books for sale before and after each appearance. And I will be more than happy to sign them or anything else you hold in front of me.

And without further ado, here’s the tour dates! Any last-minute changes/additions will be available here.

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Wednesday, October 3rd @ 6:00 pm
Meet James A. Willis & The Ghosts Of Ohio presentation
MLJ-Hardin Co. Library
325 E. Columbus Street
Kenton, OH 43326

Saturday, October 6th
Meet James A. Willis & The Ghosts Of Ohio presentation
Sycamore Park Branch / Pickerington Public Library
7861 Refugee Road
Pickerington, OH

Tuesday, October 9th @ 7:00 pm
Meet The Ghosts Of Ohio presentation
North Royalton Branch / Cuyahoga County Public Library
5071 Wallings Road
North Royalton, OH

Thursday, October 11th
The Strange & Spooky World of James A. Willis presentation
Greenville Public Library
520 Sycamore Street
Greenville, OH

Saturday, October 13th
The Strange & Spooky World of James A. Willis presentation
Chillicothe Halloween Festival
Yoctangee Park
Chillicothe, OH

Tuesday, October 16th
Meet The Ghosts Of Ohio presentation
Portsmouth Public Library
1220 Gallia Street
Portsmouth, OH

Friday, October 19th
My Strange & Spooky World:
An Evening with Author and Paranormal Researcher James A. Willis

Gaslight Theater
301 S. Main Street
Georgetown, OH

Monday, October 22nd
Meet The Ghosts Of Ohio presentation
Paulding County Carnegie Library
205 S. Main Street
Paulding, OH

Wednesday, October 24th $
The Strange & Spooky World of James A. Willis presentation
Thurber House
77 Jefferson Avenue
Columbus, OH

Thursday, October 25th
Meet The Ghosts Of Ohio presentation
Bossard Memorial Library
7 Spruce Street
Gallipolis, OH

Saturday, October 27th
Meet The Ghosts Of Ohio presentation
Lorain Public Library
351 W. Sixth Street
Lorain, OH 44052

Saturday, November 3rd
My Strange & Spooky World:An Afternoon with Author and Paranormal Researcher James A. Willis
Eaton Library
301 N. Barron Street
Eaton, OH

Saturday, November 17th
The Night The Ghost Got In
Thurber House
77 Jefferson Avenue
Columbus, OH
This is a unique opportunity for one lucky winner and a guest to ghost hunt at Thurber House with me on the anniversary of the events in James Thurber’s short story, The Night The Ghost Got In. All proceeds from the raffle will benefit Thurber House
Click here to purchase your raffle tickets

Pfeiffer Crybaby Bridge Added To Ohio Crybaby Bridge Project

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One of the reasons I decided to start the Ohio Crybaby Bridge Project was to catalogue and chronicle all of the alleged locations in Ohio. This meant not only focusing on the more well-known ones, but also the ones that are really obscure or, in the case of the latest addition, the Pfeiffer Crybaby Bridge , ones that are pretty lean when it comes to specifics.

Indeed, it would appear that the Pfeiffer Crybaby Bridge tale originated from a single online source and spread across the Internet, picking up no additional specifics as it spread. Somewhat frustrating when trying to research, but definitely a testament as to how the Internet has given ghost stories and urban legends a way to spread further faster.

OK, enough rambling: Go have a look at the Pfeiffer Crybaby Bridge  entry in the database. And if you’ve got a story to share, please do so as you could potentially save this tale from being banished to urban legend obscurity!

As always, if this is your first visit to the Project, a good starting point for you will be the Project’s Home Page.

2018 Preble County Author Con

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I’m proud to announce that I have been asked to be part of the 2018 Preble County Author Con, to be held at the Eaton Library (301 N. Barron Street, Eaton, OH 45320). The event will be from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm on Saturday, Mat 26th.

I will be joining nine other Ohio authors for a day filled with panel discussions, children’s crafts, and, best of all, free popcorn! I’ll be bringing along a trunk-full of books for purchase and I will be more than happy to scribble my name in them…or anything else you put in front of me!

For more information, click here.

Destination America Ignores, Rewrites History with Helltown

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Note: This piece originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of The Ghosts Of Ohio Newsletter (subscribe here to start receiving your very own free issues). But as someone who has been wearing the moniker “The Man Who Debunked Hell Town” since the early 2000s, I have been bombarded with questions about the validity of Destination America’s recent program, Helltown. So much so that I felt the article needed to be reposted here. For it is my firm belief that if anyone expects to be taken seriously in the field of paranormal research, they must be willing to openly admit instances of BS when they come floating across our airwaves.

Helltown cover

When I first learned that Destination America was going to be running a 2-hour program on the truth about Hell Town, I immediately began planning to do a review of it for an upcoming newsletter. For the premiere, I even made sure that I had a notepad and laptop within reach so I could take notes, including references and different aspects of the legend that I needed to dig deeper into. I had snacks and beverages and had even turned the cell phone off. This was going to be fantastic: 2 hours of in-depth history on the legend of Hell Town. And then the show started.

For the next two hours, I sat there in stunned silence. Twenty minutes in, it began to dawn on me that the huge review article I had been planning could be boiled down to two simply words:

It’s fake.

That’s the short version, anyway. The full thought would be that Helltown was the most ridiculous piece of garbage that I have ever seen on the Destination America channel. And let’s be honest here: that’s saying a lot! In fact, the idea that Destination America would willingly put out this piece of work speaks volumes as to how low this channel has sunk. Yeah, I get it, they called it Helltown instead of using the more popular two-word title that most have come to know the area as. But this was 2 hours of the most bizarre and outlandish claims I have ever heard, which is again saying a lot. I could take up pages of this newsletter going scene by scene, pointing out the various inaccuracies, but since I found roughly 95% of what I saw to not only be inaccurate, but total fabrications, that would take forever. Plus, I’ll be honest with you: I don’t want to devote any more of my time and effort to this steaming pile than is absolutely necessary. So, let’s just get right at it and rip it apart as quickly as possible.

Let’s start with this: ALL of the people shown in Helltown are actors and actresses. Canadian ones, no less. I’m not going to list their real names because they are just trying to make a living here. But if you want to find their names, just wait until the end of the credits for Helltown and you’ll see them all there, right along with a good 3-4 screens’ worth of disclaimers about the so-called “facts” of the case and one screen, which flies by, that all but admits it’s all made up and that, among other things, actors were used as opposed to “actual persons”:

End Credits

Wait a second. Is this saying that every single person in Helltown is an actor and/or otherwise pretending to be someone they are not? Yes, that’s exactly what it’s saying.

What, you mean this guy, too? The one who was from the area and knew all about the local history, especially all about the reports of human sacrifices and cults in the area?

Paul Wyndham

It even says he’s a Professor of Folklore and Mythology at Cuyahoga Community College, so he has to be real, right? Nope, another Canadian actor. And one who couldn’t even pronounce “Cuyahoga” correctly, which is a little weird since, you know, it’s part of the name of the place where he works and all.

OK, but this guy, Conor Dwyer, has to be real.

Older Conor Dwyer

He’s even shown as a young man in that television special that ran back in the 1980s. He’s sitting with his grandfather on their front porch and the grandfather mentions that he doesn’t want to move his family out of the area because Conor is deaf and would have trouble in a new location.

Dwyers on porchHe’s fake, too. Plus, he’s a great example of how far Destination America was willing to go to mess with its audience. You see, For The Good Of All was indeed a special about the Boston Township area that ran in the 1980s. In Helltown, they make it appear as though they are playing a clip from that 80s special and are interviewing a local resident, who is not named. He talks about not wanting to move, especially because his grandson, Conor, is deaf and there are concerns about how he will be able to function outside of the only home he’s ever known.

The problem is that in For The Good Of All, the comments Helltown attributes (and shows) as belonging to Conor Dwyer’s grandfather were actually said by someone else: a man named Burrell Tonkin. And in the original, Tonkin is not talking about concerns over relocating his grandson, but rather his elderly mother.

I could continue, but let’s leave it with this guy—Terry Greenbaum, the big conspiracy theory guy who ran a website and posted conspiracy videos about Helltown and other locales. He’s the one who teams up with some weird video guy and they go off in search of those hidden tunnels under Helltown.

Terry GreenbaumYeah, he’s a Canadian actor, too. Don’t believe me? Just fast forward to the point where Greenbaum and his buddy are in the tunnels and they get scared—they both totally lose their fake accents and start sounding like a bad SCTV skit. Oh yeah, and none of his websites or videos exist, either.

As I’ve thoroughly documented, beginning as far back as 2001, the legends surrounding the area that would become known as Hell Town sprung up as a result of the US Government declaring eminent domain and pushing residents out in order to create and extend what is now known as Cuyahoga National Park. That’s it. It’s a sad, tragic story, but one that does not involve government conspiracies, satanic cults, slaughterhouses, or secret tunnels. And for God’s sake, please don’t go out there looking for any wendigo, either. I know, I know, it’s incredibly tempting because who wouldn’t want to meet a creature that Helltown depicts as being something straight off the back cover of a King Crimson album (BTW, I feel old just typing those three words):

Wendigo

To sum everything up, Destination America’s Helltown is about as truthful as Animal Planet’s Mermaids: The Body Found. Still, the most appalling thing about the presentation is how gullible Destination America must think their audience is. I’d like to give them credit and say that perhaps they were trying to create a thrilling mockumentary, but I can’t even do that. The acting is horrible, the plotline is incomprehensible, and it appears as though they went the “found footage/home movie” route to cover up the fact that no one on the crew appears capable of successfully framing a single shot. For these reasons, I would suggest you not walk, but run from your TV should this monstrosity appear on the screen. And if someone suggests that you watch it yourself, immediately make a mental note to remove said person from your holiday gift exchange list. For clearly, anyone who suggests Helltown to you is not a friend.

For more information about what really happened in the area known as Hell Town, please visit The Ghosts Of Ohio’s original 2001 article on the history of Hell Town.

 

Central Ohio Legends & Lore

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Yeah, so this just happened.

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My latest endeavor hit Central Ohio bookshelves and online retailers everywhere on June 26th. And I have to admit it’s one that I am quite proud of.

For one, Central Ohio Legends & Lore gets me back a bit closer to my Weird Ohio roots that so many of you have been asking me to return turn. In other words, while this new book has some ghost stories in it, the vast majority of it centers on just plain ol’ weird stuff. You know, things like UFOs and the Ohio Grassman.

But what’s more, for this book, I made a conscious effort to focus on real weirdness: Stuff that sounds too weird to be true, but it is. Case in point, this pic from the cover of Central Ohio Legends & Lore:

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This picture is of a real mine fire in New Straitsville, Ohio. The fire was started in 1884 and still burns today. That’s right, there’s a 133-year-old fire burning right now under New Straitsville, Ohio.

I wanted to focus on real stories like that because I feel that with today’s paranormal reality shows, just uttering words like “ghost” or even “unexplained” can often cause the general public to react with cries of “BS” and “that’s not real”. Sadly, I think a lot of, in this case, Ohio folklore, is being abandoned and forgotten. I’m hoping to change that.

Of course, that’s not to say I abandoned the Ohio ghost story. Far from it. In fact, Central Ohio Legends & Lore contains some of my favorite Ohio ghost stories, including some that had yet to be included in any of my other books. In fact, I can honestly say that the research I did for one particular ghost story in the book, Thurber House, got me really, really excited.

It also led to an event being planned for this fall that is going to offer some lucky people the chance to stand at the crossroads where the paranormal and literary worlds meet. And who knows what will happen! Details on that event will be coming soon, so keep an eye on this blog. In the meantime, if you want a hint, go read James Thurber’s The Night The Ghost Got In.

Central Ohio Legends & Lore is available at most Central Ohio bookstores, as well as select grocery stores and even Walgreen’s. It’s also available at Amazon.com and all the other online retailers. It will also be available for purchase at all of my upcoming appearances and presentations. I’ve already started making the rounds on a bit of a mini-signing tour. At some of the locations, I will be giving brief talks about Central Ohio Legends & Lore. Come the fall, we launch into full-blown presentation mode, of which the new book will certainly be a large part. For a full list of upcoming appearances, click here.

Hope you have as much fun with the book as I had writing it!

Palmer Road Added To Ohio Crybaby Bridge Project

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Disembodied cries in the night. A ghostly figure darting across the road. Even the devil himself making an appearance. Must be time for another addition to the Ohio Crybaby Bridge Project!

As you’ll soon find out, while the Palmer Road Crybaby Bridge might be short on specifics, it more than makes up for it by somehow working Satan into the spooky tale. And while he hasn’t been spotted since he snatched up an entire family, there’s no telling just what still might be lurking out here in the shadows, waiting for someone foolish enough to venture out after dark!

So what are you waiting for? Have a look at the Palmer Road Crybaby Bridge’s entry in the database.  And as always, if this is your first visit to the Project, a good starting point for you will be the Project’s Home Page.

An Evening To Benefit The Humane Society Serving Clark County

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Over the years, I’ve given presentations at a wide variety of locations for an even wider variety of reasons. But the ones that are nearest and dearest to my heart are the ones that are done for a great cause. It’s a truly amazing and humbling experience to look out across an audience and know that we’ve all come together to share some strange and spooky stories and to help those less fortunate.

That’s why I’m so happy to announce my next appearance: The Strange & Spooky World of James A. Willis—An Evening to Benefit the Humane Society Serving Clark County.
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This special, one night event will take place on Saturday, April 29th at The Heritage Center: 117 S Fountain Ave, Springfield, OH 45502. Proceeds to benefit the Humane Society Serving Clark County.

The schedule of events is as follows:

  • Doors open at 6:30 pm
  • Refreshments and Appetizers (by donation) from 6:30 pm until 7:45 pm
  • Presentation begins at 7:45 pm
  • Book signing and meet and greet following the presentation

Tickets are $25.00 each and can be purchased at the Humane Society front office, or by US Mail.

If ordering tickets through the mail, please send payment (cash or check only) to:

The Humane Society Serving Clark County
Attention: Event Department
5201 Urbana Rd.
Springfield, OH 45502

The deadline for mail order tickets is noon on Saturday, April 22nd. Please be sure to include your full name and mailing address with your order.

This will be a special evening in that I will be sharing my personal stories and experiences from my favorite strange and spooky locations that I have visited over the years. Plus, as if you needed any additional incentive, this will mark the very first time that I will be talking about some of the locations I visited for my upcoming book, Central Ohio Legends And Lore.
71xEPsPbFHL So what are you waiting for? Reserve your seats and let’s pack the Heritage Center!

For more information on the event, please click here.

Newton Falls Covered Bridge Added To Crybaby Bridge Project

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I can think of no stranger or spookier way to get this ol’ blog up and running again than by adding another location to the Ohio Crybaby Bridge Project.

The Newton Falls Covered Bridge holds a special place in my ghostly heart, too. The main reason for that is because its history is made up of that unique combination of historical facts and urban legends that I’ve come to know and love. So what this bridge lacks in facts regarding its ghost story, it more than makes up for with its rich history. Heck, not even a tornado could take this bridge down!

So go take a peek at this bridge’s entry in the Crybaby Bridge Project. And as always, if this is your first visit to the Project, a good starting point for you will be the Project’s Home Page.

I’m Baaaaaack!

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And you missed me, didn’t you?

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while know that it traditionally goes “dark” every October since I am usually out running all over Ohio with presentations and appearances. This year was no different, but the blog remained dark through November and December.

Why, you ask? Well, even if you didn’t ask, I’m going to tell you.

Simply put, I had an end-of-year deadline to submit the manuscript for my next book to the publisher. Yup, there will be another James A. Willis tome heading your way for 2017. What’s it about? Well, I’m supposed to keep it a secret for now. But I can tell you that the focus will be on central Ohio and will contain Weird Ohio-type stories that you all seem to love so much. In other words, I’ve spent the last few months chasing down leads on Central Ohio serial killers, legendary locations, and even a UFO or two. No worries, there’s a couple of ghost stories in there, too.

More on the book as it develops, but for now, here’s a couple of outtake photos from the book to whet your appetite:

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“The Path”

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“The Memorial”

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“The Gate”

graves

“The Graves”

carriage

“The Carriage House”

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“The Tower”

So now that I’m back, what can you expect from this site? Well, for starters, we’re going to finally finish up the remaining Crybaby Bridge locations. I’ve got a whole mess of personal experiences about a bunch of the bridges that you’ve sent me, so those will start being added, too.

The Strange & Spooky Museum has gained quite a number of new pieces and those are in the process of being catalogued and photographed. Expect to start seeing those popping up on the site, too. There’s even a couple of pieces that are supposed to be so haunted that a mere glance at them will cause people to experience all sorts of bad luck. Not sure if that means you can’t even view them over the Internet, so perhaps I need to have everyone sign a Virtual Waiver before looking at these “cursed” objects!

Finally, I’m going to be embarking on something really strange and spooky this year and you’ll have the chance to come along. So get ready because in a few short months, we’re going monster hunting!

Stay tuned!