Back in 1959, carloads of local teens descended on the tiny village of Mogadore, Ohio, with the intent of finding a ghost. Some actually claimed to have seen a ghost or two. And at least a couple of them got more than they bargained for.
This wasn’t the first time Mogadore had gotten all Ghost Crazy. Back in November of 1906, after a rash of reported ghost sightings in the village, the Canton Morning News declared the village of Mogadore to be “in the throes of a ghost scare.” Seems that people were wandering the streets of Mogadore at night, looking for ghosts.
Fast-forward over 50 years and the ghosts of Mogadore were at it again. Over the course of several weeks in the fall of 1959, dozens of area residents reported seeing ghostly apparitions throughout the village of Mogadore; flitting about abandoned houses, wandering through moonlit fields, and even walking alongside the road. It got so bad that it became something of a nightly ritual for locals, especially teens, to load up the car and drive around the village in what could only be termed “ghost hunting.”
One particular evening, a group of teens were driving towards Mogadore with the intent of doing a little ghost hunting themselves. Right at the outskirts of Mogadore, they were flagged down by a man who said he was a photographer from the Beacon Journal newspaper, out on a special assignment. Specifically, he was to try and photograph one of the ghosts of Mogadore, which had recently been spotted at an old abandoned house over on Saxe Road. When the photographer asked the teens if they wanted to accompany him on his little ghost hunt, they readily agreed and they were all soon on their way to the abandoned house.
Once there, the group grabbed a flashlight and began making their way up the driveway to the front door of the house. They were halfway to the door when they heard a strange noise coming from some nearby trees. Turning, they were shocked to see a ghostly white figure appear from behind a tree and start advancing towards them. The group scattered, with one of them literally running into a fence, catching his clothes in the process. Perhaps seeing one of their friends in pain steeled the group, for almost in unison, they turned, grabbed some rocks, and being chucking them at the ghost. Apparently, ghosts are afraid of rocks because the spooky figure retreated into the abandoned house, where it promptly vanished.
Shaken by the incident, the group drove to the Mogadore police station and reported what had happened. Patrolmen and Portage County deputies were dispatched to the abandoned house, but they found no signs of any ghosts. As they were preparing to leave, they noticed a car on the side of the road with its hood up. Taking a closer look, police found two men and a woman, wrestling with a dead car battery. Nothing out of the ordinary. Well, not until you take into account the fact that one of the men’s face appeared to be covered in white shoe polish. Or that there was a ghostly white sheet and a white helmet in their trunk. When confronted, the three admitted that they were the ones “haunting” the abandoned house.
The plan had been hatched by friends Thomas Baumgartner and Richard Hamilton. After hearing so many people talking about seeing a ghost in Mogadore, the pair decided to have a little fun. For his part, Baumgartner would paint his face, put on the ghost costume, and hang out near the abandoned house. Hamilton would be responsible for bringing people to the house by posing as a local photographer covering a story. Baumgartner’s wife, Judith, wasn’t part of the plan, but still decided to tag along and watch it all go down from a hiding spot near the house.
Judith Baumgartner checks out the ghostly attire of her husband, Thomas. –via Ohio.com
Both men were charged with disturbing the peace and fined $50 ($30 of which was to be suspended if they kept their noses clean for at least a year). Judith Baumgartner was not charged.
And with that, the case of the Mogadore Ghost came to a close. Or did it? For while dozens of people had reported seeing the ghost of Mogadore over the course of several months, both Baumgartner and Hamilton maintained that they had only pulled their little prank once–the night they were caught. So who or what were all these other people seeing? A real ghost? Or just other pranksters? That question may never be answered, although it did give several people a chuckle pondering what would have happened if the pranksters and a real ghost decided to show up at that spooky old house on the same night at the same time!
Artist’s rendition of what would have happened if Baumgartner’s “ghost” and a real ghost had met up that fateful night in Mogadore. –via Ohio.com
The original article on this story, written by Mark J. Price, can be found here.
For more great stories from Mark J. Price, check out his book The Rest Is History: True Tales From Akron’s Vibrant Past.