Yellow Springs heritage comes out to scare

The haunted WPA ampitheatre in Yellow Springs is home to some of the mysteries. Photo: Robin Heise

By Lisa Bennett

One warm summer day about a century ago, a young woman walked out along a trail in search of berries to pick. She meandered about the trail, blissfully unaware that a storm was rolling in. As the sky turned dark and peals of thunder roared overhead, the young girl found herself seeking shelter under a tall oak tree—it was a fatal mistake. Her partially charred remains were found standing upright, her arms were outstretched and her mouth was frozen open, as if in a scream. To this day, some people claim they see the ghostly apparition of a woman in a thunderstorm reaching out in a silent scream.

Ice Pick Murderer

Her tragic story is just one of many local legends in the Yellow Springs area. The tale of the “Ghost of Frogtown” is another ghastly story about a double murder of a young couple who vanished after a date at a local restaurant. According to legend, Civil war veteran George Koogler and his sweetheart, Lou Keys, were found dead just outside Keys’ home. Their skulls had been violently smashed in and investigators were horrified to find an ice pick embedded in the eye socket of poor Miss Keys. The grisly discovery shocked and outraged the town, but to this day, no one has ever been convicted of the crime.

Some Spooks are Silly

Not all stories have such a tragic end however. “Some are just silly.” says Robin Heise, founder of Yellow Springs Heritage. Robin relayed the comedic tale of a group of women who were meeting regularly in support of the Temperance Movement. The Temperance Movement was an attempt by some to abolish the use of alcohol in the United States back in the 19th Century. One night, their meeting was constantly being interrupted by the sound of a man hiccupping. The problem was that each time they went to look, there was no one there—was there a phantom in the house? After numerous attempts to find the source of the noise, the women finally spotted the leg of a man escaping out a window. Apparently, the man was a local drunk who climbed in the window to sleep in the back of the house. Robin was able to track down the woman who owned the house at the time and discovered that the phantom hiccupper actually existed and was a local who was well known as a drunkard. “So chances are pretty good that those are the people that existed, so it’s probably a real story.” laughs Robin Heise.

What do all the stories have in common besides ghosts? The answer is that they are all part of a spooky, two-mile walk around Yellow Springs hosted by Yellow Springs Heritage. The tour is based on the book by the Yellow Springs Historical Society called, “Haunted Houses and Spooky Tales of Yellow Springs”. The book recounts numerous articles written by local Journalist, Harold Igo, in the ‘40s for the Yellow Springs News. Igo interviewed locals about haunted places and paranormal encounters and published the stories in his column.

The column was popular for quite some time and, being a fascinating part of the history of Yellow Springs, the Yellow Springs Heritage decided to incorporate the stories into the Ghost Tour. The tour, which begins at the Mills Park Hotel on Xenia Avenue, covers two murders, a host of silly ghost stories, and a bit of local history as well. Bring your camera or cell phone and capture photos of the creepiest and most haunted sites in Yellow Springs including “Ye Olde Towne Tavern” where the legendary “Lady in Blue” is said to throw things and terrorize the ladies. People have reportedly even been able to photograph images of her.

The fee for the tour is only $5 and participants get $5 worth of coupons back right away, so it’s a great deal. Says Robin Heise, “They’re local coupons, so they (participants) get what they put into it, they get it right back.” The tour is a walking tour, so those planning to attend should wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. Water bottles are also encouraged. While the tour takes place during the day, details of gruesome murders will be covered, and visuals will be available to go with the stories, so parents with young children and people who are sensitive should consider that before deciding to go.

From ghosts who throw loaves of bread or appear in flashes of lightning, to chairs that float through the air, to urban legends about healing waters, strange sightings, and bizarre encounters on dark roads, Yellow Springs, like the “Bridgewater Triangle” in Massachusetts, has a kind of sempiternal mystery about it that makes it perfect for a Ghost Tour. So, whether you’re a die-hear argonaut, or just someone looking for something fun to do around Halloween, add a ghost tour to your bucket list and don’t forget your camera!

The tour starts at the Mills Park Hotel in Yellow Springs located at 321 Xenia Ave. on October 28 beginning at 1 p.m. For more information go to www.YSHeritage.org/walking-tours

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Lisa Bennett
Reach DCP freelance writer Lisa Bennett at LisaBennett@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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