Who knew it was so scary in Marion?
Andrew Carter, Reporter
October 10, 2016
MARION — In the season that celebrates spooky happenings, stories about haunted places and ghosts seem to pop up everywhere. Marion County is no exception.
Author Joshua Simpkins highlighted at least 20 local legends in his book “Haunted Marion, Ohio,” published in 2011 by Haunted America, a division of The History Press.
In his book, Simpkins relates the story of “Shoe String Jack,” a one-legged shoestring peddler who hanged himself while incarcerated in the city jail in 1909. After his death, Jack apparently decided to haunt the building, which also housed the fire department, for several years. No more encounters with “Shoe String Jack” were reported after the old city hall was razed in 1922.
Author Chris Woodyard wrote in “Haunted Ohio IV” about a spooky experience with a clock in the Harding Home. According to the account, on August 2, 1973, the clock, a wedding gift for President and Mrs. Harding, stopped at 7:30 p.m. That was the exact date and time that President Harding had died 50 years earlier. A week later, the clock began running again, Woodyard wrote. The reason for the stoppage remains unknown.
A real-life tragedy was the catalyst for a ghostly story that centers around the Marion Country Club. Both Simpkins and the Ohio Exploration Society recount the 1981 murder of Annette Huddle of Harpster, whose spirit is rumored to wander the club and golf course.
Huddle, age 19 when she was killed, was found in Olentangy River near Roberts Road. She was working as a secretary at the club. The alleged killer was her boss, Paul Mack, but local law enforcement was unable to gather enough evidence to charge him with the crime. In 1991, Back was convicted of killing a woman in California and is still in prison.
The Clark Road Bridge near La Rue is the site of another tragic tale involving a young mother and her baby. According to the Ohio Exploration Society website, the local legend states that a teenage mother “was overtaken with shame and threw the infant into the Scioto River from the bridge. After realizing what she had done, the mother jumped off the bridge and drowned. Her ghost is said to come back at midnight on certain nights to search for her lost child.”
Several local ghost tales have originated in Marion Cemetery. One involves the strange glowing green eyes of a statue that stands watch over a family gravesite. The eye glow is most likely a natural phenomenon, but it’s still fun to imagine that the silent sentinel is guarding the family’s eternal resting place.
Another, possibly more familiar, story is about the Merchant Ball, which sets atop a monument on the west side of the cemetery. C.B. Merchant had the monument erected in 1896, according to information provided by Marion Cemetery staff. Merchant later discovered that the 5,200-pound granite ball had shifted slightly.
While there are several scientific theories about why the ball moves about a quarter of an inch each year, there are some who believe that a restless spirit is responsible for the annual change in position.
Officials remind would-be ghost hunters that Marion Cemetery closes at dusk and officers from the Marion Police Department patrol it nightly.
If you’re a Marion County resident and have a spooky tale you think would make a good story, we’d like to talk to you. Contact information is listed below.
Thanks to Jim for sending us the information about this article that appeared in The Marion Star. Another thank you to Andrew Carter for mentioning the OES throughout his article.