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:

path

“The Path”

leather

“The Memorial”

gates

“The Gate”

graves

“The Graves”

carriage

“The Carriage House”

tower

“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!

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The Mysterious Mary Jane’s Bridge Added To Crybaby Bridge Project

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I have to admit something: The latest entry in the Ohio Crybaby Bridge Project is, so far, the most frustrating one I’ve tried to research. And when it comes to Crybaby Bridges in general, that’s saying a lot!

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Lefevre Road Added To Crybaby Bridge Project

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It is with great fanfare that I present to you the Lefevre Road Crybaby Bridge: Officially, the 20th Crybaby Bridge on the list!

Although, to be honest, Lefevre Road pales in comparison to most of the other bridges on the list. There’s really not much in the way of backstory or first-person accounts to really make this particular legend shine. But hey, it ended up being #20 when I put all the bridges in alphabetical order, so there you go! Anyway, the extreme lack of specifics means that it’s up to you guys to help fill in the details. So if you know anything about this bridge, let me know!

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Hyde Road Added To Ohio Crybaby Bridge Project

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OK, so this particular bridge is fascinating to me. Not so much the story surrounding it because, to be honest, there’s not much to go on. But there’s clearly more to this story than meets the eye…and the universe clearly wants the story told.

You see, as fate would have it, just before I was getting ready to publish the Hyde Road story, a blog reader, Lori Lotts, left a comment on the Ohio Crybaby Bridge Project home page. She asked about an alleged Crybaby Bridge on Jacoby Road, which I didn’t currently have listed. Long story short, through a series of messages between Lori and myself, it would appear that the Jacoby Road bridge was the original location of the Crybaby Bridge story. And when that bridge was demolished, the story migrated a few streets over to the Hyde Road bridge, where the current legend resides.

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Ohio’s Historic Haunts: Name That Location #8

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OK, this one is going to be pretty easy. Or not. To be honest, I’m a bit amazed at how many people have never seen or heard of this magnificent building before. Regardless, here it is: The building that appears on page 205 of Ohio’s Historic Haunts.

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 10.32.43 AM Can you name the building?

Want to take a peek at all the other Name That Location places? Click here!

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!

Ohio’s Historic Haunts: Name That Location #7!

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Let’s jump right into this since we’re less than 2 weeks away from the release of Ohio’s Historic Haunts.

Here’s the photograph that will appear on page 202 of Ohio’s Historic Haunts:

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 11.29.39 AM

This one’s kinda tough, isn’t it? Well, let me give you a couple of hints. First, you’re looking at a freight elevator. Second, the photo was taken on the third floor of the building. The reason the photo includes so much of the floor in front of the elevator is because something rather horrific is said to have taken place here.

So, can you name the location?

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Click here to get caught up on all the other locations from Ohio’s Historic Haunts.

Information On Ohio’s Historic Haunts Pre-Release Book Signing

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Willis_cover

While the official release date for Ohio’s Historic Haunts is September 30th, the publisher, Kent State University Press, has decided to release some copies ahead of time. The reason for this is a super-cool pre-release book signing on the campus of Kent State University!

So on Saturday, September 26th, you can swing by the Kent State University Book Store (located at 1085 Risman Drive [124 Student Ctr], Kent, Ohio) and grab yourself a first edition of Ohio’s Historic Haunts. I will be there between the hours of 2 and 4 pm and will be more than happy to sign your book (and anything else you want me to) for you. After that, you can proudly walk to your car carrying your autographed first edition, a full 4 days before the general public has a chance to get their hands on a copy!

This event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the campus book store’s website here. 

Hope to see you all there!

If you can’t make it on the 26th, I will have copies available for purchase at all of my upcoming presentations and appearances. You can always grab a copy off Amazon, too!

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!

Release Date For Ohio’s Historic Haunts Moved Up!

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Willis_cover

You asked for it and Kent State University Press made it happen: The official release date for Ohio’s Historic Haunts has been moved up! The book will now be released on September 30th, 2015.

This means that the book will be available for purchase at all presentations and appearances beginning October 1st. There’s an outside chance they will be available at the September 26th appearance at Farnam Manor, too. Fingers crossed.

For those of you who pre-ordered the book, they should be shipping out shortly. But it appears as though Amazon will still be running their “25% off pre-order sale” on the book until the official release date, September 30th. So click on over there if you want to take advantage of that.

The book is also available through Kent State University Press as well as all other online book retailers.