Ohio’s Historic Haunts: Location #7 Revealed!

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Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 11.29.39 AM Seems like this one stumped a bunch of you. It’s the Bissman Building in Mansfield!

Of course, I might have made it a bit easier if I had included a picture of the outside of the building, but what fun would that have been?

Bissman Building exterior

For Ohio’s Historic Haunts, I was looking not only for haunted locations in Ohio, but those locations had to be historically significant. And boy, did I get that with the Bissman Building. It is truly an iconic building that was, and continues to be, an integral part of Mansfield’s history. There’s more to it, though. You see, the current owner, Ben Bissman, is a fifth generation Bissman, which means he literally grew up in the building. So he’s the one to go to if you want to get the scoop on the building’s history…or the ghost stories.

Small portion of the equipment we set up to cover the entire Bissman Building

Concerning the ghost stories, the Bissman Building has several. Perhaps the most intriguing to me is the one involving the ghost of a little girl who is said to haunt the building. While there are differing viewpoints as to who she is and why she chooses to hang around the Bissman, one thing is for sure: So many people have reported seeing her that it’s pretty hard to dispute that something odd’s going on in the building.

Some of the toys people leave for the “ghost girl” to play with at the Bissman Building

And guess what? While I was there for Ohio’s Historic Haunts, I just might have had an encounter with the ghost of a little girl! To learn more, you’ll just have to pick up a copy of Ohio’s Historic Haunts. Better yet, come to one of my presentations this fall and hear the story (and the “evidence”) for yourself!

Ohio’s Historic Haunts has finally been released, so you can snag your copy at Amazon, Kent State University Press, Barnes & Noble, or at most brick-and-mortar Ohio bookstores!

And if you want to check out all the other locations from Ohio’s Historic Haunts that I’ve revealed so far, click here!

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Ohio’s Historic Haunts: Location #6 Revealed!

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Welcome to location #6 from Ohio’s Historic Haunts: The Sullivan-Johnson Museum in Kenton, Ohio!

Like any great museum, Sullivan-Johnson is packed full of multiple histories, if you will, from local locations as well as ones from across the county. So much so that as you walk through the building and marvel at the historical artifacts tucked into virtually every corner, it’s easy to forget that this museum used to be a private home, owned by members of the Sullivan and Johnson families.

Museum display showing members of the Sullivan-Johnson family

But if you linger in the rooms, you can almost feel yourself being transported back to simpler times. When that happens, the rooms take on a warm, almost cozy feeling. No wonder that some believe ghosts from both families—Sullivan and Johnson—have taken up permanent residence here. It’s the type of place that once you visit, you never want to leave. Of course, there’s no denying the possibility that all of the historical pieces at the Sullivan-Johnson Museum may have a ghost or two attached to them, too.

So who or what is haunting the Sullivan-Johnson Museum? Well, you’ll just have to pick up a copy of Ohio’s Historic Haunts and see if you can answer that one yourselves.

Back steps, where ghostly footsteps are said to be heard

For now, my lips are sealed. I will tell you, though, that during our visit to the Sullivan-Johnson Museum, we had the unique opportunity to spend some time chatting (and ghost hunting) with a lovely woman who not only knew the last member of the Johnson family to live in the house, but who had also developed a long-standing friendship with her, as well.

Did having someone who had a close personal relationship with one of the alleged ghosts help stir up anything in the house? For the time being, I’ll just say my answer is a definite “maybe”! I will say, though, that one of the ghosts said to make its home at the Sullivan-Johnson Museum is also believed to be quite particular as to what portraits of her get hung up in the house…and even in the local library!

Some of the equipment we brought with us for the overnight at the Museum

Pick up your very own copy of Ohio’s Historic Haunts at Amazon, Kent State University Press, Barnes & Noble, or at most Ohio bookstores!

Click here if you want to check out all the other locations from Ohio’s Historic Haunts that I’ve revealed so far!

Ticketing Information For My Presentation At Farnam Manor

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OK, here’s some exciting news for you: I’ll not only be doing a special presentation at Farnam Manor, one of the locations featured in my upcoming book, Ohio’s Historic Haunts, but you’ll also have the opportunity to ghost hunt with me and members of The Ghosts of Ohio!

Farnam Manor Exterior

It all begins at 7:00 pm on Saturday, September 26th. I will be giving a special talk at Farnam Manor that will showcase some of the strangest and spookiest places I’ve visited in my 30+ years investigating the paranormal. A large portion of the presentation will focus on what happened the night I visited Farnam Manor for my book. Members of The Ghosts of Ohio who accompanied me that night will also be on hand to share their personal stories.

Then, after a tour of Farnam Manor, a very lucky few will have the opportunity to conduct a mini-ghost hunt at Farnam Manor with myself and The Ghosts of Ohio.

Tickets are available for the presentation, the ghost hunt, or both. But they won’t last, so grab yours today by clicking here now.

Pre-Registering Information For My Eastlake Presentation

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Look! There’s an official poster for my upcoming appearance at the Eastlake Public Library this September!
Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 9.33.26 AMIt’s free, but you will need to pre-register in order to make sure they have enough seats. This will be my first appearance at this library, so you might want to grab your seats as soon as they become available.

Pre-registration begins bright and early on Monday, August 17th. You can call the number on the poster or register online by following this link:  PRE-REGISTER HERE.

As for what I’ll be speaking about, it will be the usual spooky stuff, although there will be a lot of new video, audio, and photographs, especially since this will be my first time in Eastlake. Of course, I’ll also be talking about Ohio’s Historic Haunts and maybe, just maybe, I’ll bring along some members of The Ghosts Of Ohio so you can really get a behind-the-scenes look at things!

Hope to see you all there!

First Glimpse Of Cover For Ohio’s Historic Haunts

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After two and a half years’ worth of research (and many months of writing, re-writing, and transcribing interviews), my next book, Ohio’s Historic Haunts, finally has an official cover:

Willis_cover

Now I know some of you might be thinking “nice, but it’s just a cover.” My response to that is “yeah, but just you wait.” While that might just be a cover, it’s a cover for over 300 pages of history, first-person accounts of paranormal activity, and in-depth discussions on what happened when I spent the night inside 21 historically significant buildings in Ohio that are reportedly haunted. Trust me: if you have any interest in Ohio history, folklore, and/or ghost hunting, you’re gonna want to read this book.

Pre-order your copy through Amazon here or directly through Kent State University Press here. And if you want even more inside scoop on the book, click on over to My Appearances to see when I’ll be coming to your area to share some spooky video, photos, and audio clips with you!

Link To My Interview On The Paranormal View

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Franklin Castle, Gore Orphanage, Mudhouse Mansion, headless motorcycle ghosts, Vanishing Hitchhikers, phantom joggers, and more! All during the course of one radio interview!

Click here to go directly to the archived interview and listen to your heart’s content. BTW, there are audio issues for the first 30 seconds of the show, so don’t panic when you hear all the echo. It goes away!

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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: 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