It’s that time of year when ghosts and goblins begin to pop up around town.
Are they just fun Halloween decorations or are they the stuff that urban myths and haunted tales are made from?
A poll by the data website YouGov found that 45% of Americans believe ghosts exist.
Author Chris Woodyard would agree. She is no stranger to the paranormal. Woodyard lived in a haunted vintage clothing store in Columbus and says she has inherited her family’s ability to see ghosts.
She’s the author of the Haunted Ohio series that tells the tales of paranormal sightings and places throughout the Buckeye state including in Stark County.
Woodyard can’t say if Ohio – and Stark County – have higher incidents of paranormal activity, but she admits there are some states that have fewer ghost stories.
“Certainly there are state with fewer ghosts, like Montana, but possibly it’s because there is fewer people,” she said.
Ohio is ripe for haunts, she said, as the landscape is dotted with old homes and buildings and has seen its share of traumatic experiences.
“Stark (County) has credible haunted places,” she said. “There are traumatic stories and history that happen everywhere. It stays in the ground.”
Woodyard warns that not all ghost stories are what they seem, but many have truth behind them.
If you’re looking for a little scare this Halloween season, here’s some places to check out:
Massillon Public Library
Roaming around the stacks of the library are more than just patrons.
From a custodian who swears he heard the taping of a cane in the attic, to staff members who have been hit by books flying off the shelves, there’s plenty of mysterious things going on at the library, which is housed in the former home of the city’s founder James Duncan.
Some have heard footsteps or smelled an unfamiliar perfume. Employees get quite a chill with no explanation in the outreach room, located in the basement of the former home. A patron once claimed to have been pushed by an apparition while in the library and even Director Sherie Brown has her own stories.
A security camera in the library caught the elevator travel to the third floor at 3 a.m. The doors opened and a bright light could be seen. The phenomena has been caught on tape several times and there is no explanation.
Brown, who has worked at the library since the 1979, shared her story with The Independent a few years ago. She was working in her office, a former bedroom of the home, after the library closed when she thought she saw an employee walk past her office door. She yelled out, but got no answer. When she investigated, she found no one.
Paranormal investigators have conducted research in the library and have gotten responses during electronic voice phenomenon sessions.
Former residents Clara Baldwin-Barrick and Annie Baldwin both died in the home. The elder Baldwin, Clara, lived in the home from 1895 to 1909, and her daughter-in-law, Annie, died in the home in 1931. Could they be the ones haunting the library?
208 Lincoln Way E, Massillon
Molly Stark Hospital
Shuttered more than two decades ago, Molly Stark Hospital once housed those afflicted with tuberculosis, a sickness that ravaged the lungs and killed scores of patients.
While Molly Stark stopped operating as a TB hospital in the 1950s and later closed for good in the 1995 after serving as a facility for drug and alcohol treatment, mentally disabled patients and skilled nursing, the sanatorium has all the makings of a great horror story.
With vines overtaking the sides of the massive structures, broken windows and distinctive architecture, the buildings draw great interest for a number of reasons.
The biggest draw: those who remain at the hospital.
Through the years, employees have talked about hearing voices and heavy objects being moved, yet there is no one around. White mists, elevators operating on their own and rumors of a man in a brown suit are all part of the stories told by those who spent days and nights at the facility caring for the ill. People report seeing someone staring at them from the windows and balconies.
In 2015, law enforcement officials who worked at the facility told the Canton Repository about their experiences.
Retired Canton police Lt. Dennis Pellegrino spent two nights in the facility guarding weapons and evidence while a new alarm system was being installed. In the middle of the night, he heard a scraping noise coming from above. Upon investigation, he found a bed had been moved to another spot than it was earlier in the evening.
You can’t enter the building, but the land surrounding the hospital has been turned into a Stark Park. Guests can enjoy wildflowers and walking trails. Outdoor walking tours of the grounds are offered.
7900 Columbus Road NE, Nimishillen Township
Canton Palace Theatre
Opening its doors in 1926, The Canton Palace Theatre welcomed many stage and screen stars.
From George Burns and Jean Peters to other greats, many have walked across the Palace stage in its heyday and today.
But did some of those stars and patrons decide to remain at the Canton landmark?
There are many stories of paranormal activity in the 94-year-old theater.
Take for instance, the stories about the palace’s original organist Banks Kennedy. Kennedy autographed the wall of the left pipe chamber and wrote “Valencia,” which was the first piece heard by the public at the theater. His signature has been preserved and remains there today.
Kennedy was reportedly shot and killed in the theater basement on the order of a mob boss because he dated the mobster’s daughter against the mob boss’ wishes.
In an interview with The Repository, Jay Spencer recalled the night he was playing the theater’s prized Kilgen organ, when out of his peripheral he noticed a bluish-gray flash of light appear inches from his head.
“I was sitting there and all of a sudden I heard something from somewhere,” recalled the longtime theater volunteer. “And it sounded like almost a bottle rocket — it popped right by my head … like somebody blew a flashbulb.”
Others saw the light too, but there is no explanation. Mysteries at the theater also include a girl on the balcony.
Ghosts hunts take place periodically at the Palace and paranormal investigators have caught evidence, including a flashlight turning on by itself seemingly replying to questions asked by the investigators.
Could Banks and others still be enjoying the theater? Georgia Paxos, executive director of the Palace Theatre, has been told the mark of a great theater is a patron who never left.
605 Market Ave. N, Canton
Historic Canal Fulton
Canal Fulton, a more than 200-year town along the Ohio & Erie canal, has its share of unexplained and paranormal happenings.
Much of the lore centers around the canal.
In Sherri Brake’s “Haunted Stark County,” she said many died along the canal during construction. Legend has it that for every mile of the waterway, a dead Irishman lies buried in its banks, she said. Too poor to pay for proper burials in a cemetery, many workers were buried in a shallow grave dug along the steep banks of the canal.
Could these souls fuel the paranormal activity that surrounds the Canal Fulton?
Several buildings in the historic town have stories of an apparition and unexplained occurrences dating to the canal era, including a tragic incident in the late 19th century when the railroad began blazing a trail through the area.
The tale centers around a canal worker — some say it was the lock tender — who may have been angry about the potential of work being shut down by the advent of the railway.
The angry worker doused his fellow workers with a container of acid or some type of caustic liquid. Here’s how Brake describes it:
“The enraged worker tossed the lid open and flung the contents on his fellow workers, dumping the remnants on himself. Legend states that no immediate deaths ensued, but rather the men suffered gruesome, slower deaths that took several days. A few men perished due to their acid-eaten skin and organs. The man responsible also died.”
The screams and moans of those who were burned by the acid supposedly can still be heard if you listen closely while visiting Lock 4 Park. The lock tender’s cabin, which is located in the park, may also be haunted by the spirit of the angry worker.
Several of the city’s oldest buildings are said to have their own reputations.
Bars on each corner of Canal and Cherry streets, drew the local laborers after a hard day of work. Sometimes things got rowdy and led to a brawl.
Legend has it if a fight at the local pub ended in death, the body would disappear through a tunnel that lead to a mortuary with a crematory in the basement of what is now Sisters Century House Restaurant.
Three spirits are said to haunt Sisters Century House Restaurant, which once was Brimstone Corners, a well known hangout for laborers.
Workers say a naked woman and a small female child roam the rooms at night, and a cigar-smoking man hangs out in the basement. The other spirit likes to cause mischief in the kitchen.
Lock 4, 6575 Erie Ave NW, Canal Fulton.
Sister Century House Restaurant, 123 S. Canal St.
Visitors to The WANDLE House – named for the Wheeling and Lake Erie railroad and home to the Brewster-Sugarcreek Township Historical Society and Museum – might catch a glimpse of the inhabitants who once called the place home.
WANDLE House was constructed in 1916 by the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway with funds contributed by railroaders. The Brewster Railroad YMCA featured 62 dormitory rooms used by the railroad workers, a restaurant, movie theater and bowling alley.
Today, the building is home to the historical society and houses memorabilia from baseball team photos, class pictures from Beach City and Brewster schools, railroad memorabilia and equipment, payroll records and military uniforms donated by local service members and their families.
Visitors to the Station Restaurant inside the building might come across, Theresa, who worked in the eatery around the 1940s and ’50s.
People have reported hearing noises, door knobs turning on their own and dark figures. Someone doing work in the basement of the building watched a person walk through a wall.
45 S. Wabash Ave. Brewster
Local lore has it if you stand on the Alliance-area bridge at night, the sounds of crying babies can be heard.
Some say that mothers who did not want their babies during the “baby boom” would toss their unwanted infants from the bridge to the Mahoning River below in the dark of the night.
Others believe the cries stem from members of the Ku Klux Klan kidnapping local children and babies and murdering them as part of their “secret ritual.”
Finally, some say the ghostly cries stem from a distraught mother who “lost it” after her baby would not stop crying. In desperation she tossed the tot over the bridge to its death. Upon realizing what she had done, the woman reportedly dove off the bridge killing herself.
River Street, Alliance
There might not be anything paranormal about this gravesite, but you be the judge.
The story goes that sometime the mid-1900s Frankenstein was buried in West Lawn Cemetery in Canton, directly behind the McKinley Memorial.
The legend tells of an unusually large man being held in the interment vault and buried alive. At night, you can hear him scratching and screaming to be let out.
The grave can be found in the rear portion of the cemetery near Mercy Medical Center. A single large stone inscribed “Frankenstein” is surrounded by six smaller stones. The large stone is the marker of a family plot.
People frequently make the spooky pilgrimage to the stone.
1919 Seventh St. NW, Canton