Local authors tell Troy’s ghost stories

By Matt Clevenger

Photo: Elks Lodge, 17 W. Franklin St., reportedly haunted by several ghosts; photo: Matt Clevenger

To most observers, downtown Troy looks like an ordinary business district, filled with life and bustling with perfectly normal everyday activity. But the community has another, darker side as well; originally founded back in the early 1800s, the city has a long history filled with old ghost stories, some of which still haunt the residents living there today.

“We are very well-known for our ghosts in Troy,” says Sue Cantrell, co-owner of Around About Books on the downtown square and co-author of the book “Ghostly Encounters and Around,” which relates the real history behind several of downtown Troy’s best-known ghosts and hauntings. “Troy is very old. Some of it dates back to the 1700s. A lot of these buildings were around in the late 1700s and early 1800s, so a lot of things have changed here.

“Like up on the second floor where our sci-fi room is; that was the office of the KKK, and there was a doctor’s office on the other side,” she says. “It’s been a bookstore, a drugstore, a beauty salon, and a shoe store, so there are a lot of things that have been in this building.”

Bookstore employees have seen and heard many strange things since the business opened at its current location on West Main Street, in a gigantic, multi-story structure that is regarded as one of downtown Troy’s most haunted historic buildings.

“We have three or four ghosts here,” Cantrell says. “They can travel—they can attach themselves to the books. We have a little boy that we have just discovered. He is very mischievous. I have seen him, and he actually had a conversation with a little girl over in the children’s section one day.”

Cantrell says the spirits at the store are all good-natured, nothing to be afraid of. “We’ve had a lot of fun with our ghosts here, that’s for sure,” she says. “We’ve never had anything harmful here. We’ve never had anybody get hurt. But they’re also very protective, too.”

Cantrell says her favorite spirit is William, an older man who has been seen in several businesses throughout the building. “Probably my favorite story would be the first time I actually saw William,” she says. “It was December, and it was snowy. It was really cold, and I came back in around closing time, so it was about a quarter ’til 8. I looked up, and I saw a man talking to my partner. So, I turned the car off, got out of the car, and looked up—and there was nobody there. So, I figured, ‘Well, the gentleman just went wandering through the store.’ I came in and asked my partner, ‘Where’s the gentleman that you were just talking to?’ He looked at me like I had lost my mind and said, ‘Susie, there is no one in the store, and hasn’t been for a half an hour.’

“Well I saw him, just as plain as day, just as plain as I see you. But he was not there when I got out of the car.

“We found out that he was a patient, there was a doctor’s office on the second floor here where our literature room is,” she says. “He was a patient who was actually very injured right outside of the store… We’ve had customers who have seen him. We had an elderly couple who actually saw him sitting up in a chair sleeping—they came down and told us that there was a gentleman upstairs. But they were the only ones in the store. So, he does let himself be known from time to time.”

“He does like to be contrary,” she adds. “He likes to move things around, and he likes to put things in order sometimes.”

Cantrell also tells another recent story involving the ghosts that inhabit the store: “We had a young lady and her mother. The girl had been coming in here for a long time, and at that time, we had a spinning rack up front with cards on it and stuff. The girl came in and we were standing at the counter. The mom said, ‘Oh, I just don’t believe in that stuff.’ And all of a sudden, that spinner started going around and around and around, all by itself. There was nobody near it, and there’s no way the wind could have done it. It really changed that mother’s viewpoint.”

Miami County is home to many well-known ghost stories and haunted places, including the Fort Piqua Hotel, Horseshoe Bend Cemetery, Crybaby Bridge on LeFevre Road, and the David L. Brown Youth Center, all of which are rumored to be haunted. But Cantrell says Troy, especially the downtown area, is well-known for paranormal activity.

For that reason, she and co-author Shawn Denoyer focused on the downtown Troy area while researching and writing “Ghostly Encounters and Around.” The book features stories involving several downtown locations, including the Miami County Courthouse, the Brewery, the Morris House, and the Elks Lodge on Franklin Street, which is said to be haunted by the ghost of a little girl whose face also appears on the columns of the building itself.

“It’s amazing,” she says. “There are even a lot of individual homes here in Troy that have activity, which we’ve had people come and talk to us about.”

Cantrell and Denoyer discovered so many stories while writing the first book that they are now planning a second volume, which could be finished as early as next year.

“People like good ghost stories,” she says of the first book’s success. “They’re also getting some history of the buildings, as well. We did a lot of research.”

“I’m excited about doing the next one,” she continues. “We could literally write a whole book just about this building alone, there are so many stories.”

“Ghostly Encounters and Around” is available at Around About Books, 8 W. Main St. in Troy. Co-author Shawn Denoyer also offers guided ghost tours of Troy. For more information, please visit AroundAboutBooks.com and GhostToursofTroy.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Matt Clevenger at MattClevenger@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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