Wapakoneta Daily News – 10/2/2010

Soldiers haunt Fort Amanda

Saturday, 02 October 2010
Assistant Managing Editor
WapakonetaDailyPhotoAlong the east side of Ohio 198 beside Fort Amanda Cemetery some say they have seen a log cabin which may be part of another dimension.

Built almost to the date nearly 200 years ago, Fort Amanda was part of a series of forts which served as part of the main supply route for American forces during the War of 1812.

The 160-foot square stockade, which later doubled in size, was named after a colonel’s 11-year-old daughter and overlooked the Auglaize River where boats were built to ferry supplies and soldiers to other outposts.

No military battles were fought at Fort Amanda, which is located approximately nine miles northwest of Wapakoneta outside of Spencerville, except those against wounds and diseases — which were rampant among troops.

The only other misfortunate teale of the old fort is that of a captain said to be scalped while picking grapes at the site according to the book, The Forts of Ohio, published in 2005 and written by Gary S. Williams. Fort Amanda was not of military significance and was abandoned in 1814, Williams wrote. The site stood unnoted for 100 years until a commemorative monument was erected in 1915.

“All that remains is a graveyard containing the graves of 75 soldiers (who died at the fort), a 50-foot-high granite monument standing in a sea of corn — and one elusive building,” Chris Woodyard wrote in her tale to “The Phantom House of Fort Amanda,” included in the fourth of her Haunted Ohio series, entitled “Restless Spirits.”

She said local residents, including a man she called Ted, have reported seeing the phantom house.

Woodyard wrote in her book that Ted described seeing a one-story log farmhouse with yellow light flickering in its windows at the site after a sudden rain shower.

It was like “looking through a heat wave or a television with fuzzy reception,” Woodyard said recounting Ted’s tale. As Ted walked toward the house, it wavered and disappeared. Walking back to his car, the rain had stopped at the highway.

The next day Ted returned to Fort Amanda, but saw nothing except the monument. Other trips back have yielded the same results, but others have reported seeing the house — lights flickering cozily in the windows, always on a night when the rain begins out of nowhere, Woodyard wrote.

In an interview with the Wapakoneta Daily News this week, Woodyard said approximately three years ago she visited Fort Amanda and while she did not see the log cabin others have reported, she did see the ghost of a soldier standing in the cemetery.

“There was definitely a guy there,” Woodyard said of the soldier dressed in attire of the time period when troops were stationed at Fort Amanda.

“I saw him,” she said. “He looked solid. He looked real. He was not transparent.”

Other she was with that day did not see the soldier, Woodyard considers herself as having a sixth sense which runs in the family and makes her more sensitive to the spiritual world.

She said the phantom house concept doesn’t make a lot of sense, as one often thinks of people, not buildings, having spirits, but it might be a sort of time warp or maybe houses too have souls.

“There are definitely places which are much more atmospheric because something terrible happened there — battlefields, jails,” Woodyard said. “It has a lot to do with what goes on in a place.”

She said hauntings also seem to be deeply connected to American Indian sites and water, but then again maybe the American Indians were drawn to the site because of the power they felt.

Rita Phelen, senior naturalist of Johnny Appleseed Metro Park District, which maintains the state memorial that is open to the public for free during daytime hours, said none of the staff has ever seen or experiences anything out of the ordinary at Fort Amanda.

“It’s said to be haunted,” Phelen told the Wapakoneta Daily News. “One of the corner block houses will appear as a ghostly apparition. Many said they’ve seen it and as they walked close to it, the house disappeared.”

Phelen said she’s also heard stories about one of the soldier’s headstones emitting an “unearthly glow.”

“Every now and then we’ll see photographers or ghost hunters there trying to catch something on camera but as far as we know they have not been successful,” Phelen said.

Jay Maynard, of Van Wert and co-founder of the Ohio Exploration Society, visited Fort Amanda a week ago but was unable to catch any electronic voice phenomenon (EVP).

Jason Robinson, who helped found the group, which visits historical locations to conduct research on the paranormal, explained EVP as voices that are recorded on modern equipment, such as microcassette and digital voice recorders, that are not usually heard until playback.

“Many EVPs are believed to be paranormal in nature,” Robinson said.

But just because they didn’t capture anything out-of-the-ordinary when visiting Fort Amanda does not mean it isn’t haunted.

“Capturing evidence of the paranormal is rare,” Robinson said. “More often than not, we walk away empty-handed after hours and hours of investigation. Occasionally we get a 10-to-15 second clip of something from the unknown.”

Beth Santore, of Columbus, who has visited more than 1,300 cemeteries and runs the website graveaddiction.com, visited Fort Amanda approximately a year ago.

“I have heard claims that many visitors to the site hear the sounds of soldiers chatting in the fort,” Santore said. “There also are reports of apparitions and mysterious glowing lights at night and there are some who supposedly have seen a log cabin near the monument, but when walking toward it, it disappears.”

Santore didn’t see anything herself during her visit to Fort Amanda but did enjoy taking in the history of the location and the old gravestones.

“I honestly didn’t feel scared at all when I visited,” Santore said. “It was dusk. Perhaps it would be creepier at night.”

“One can’t be interested in graveyards without hearing a few ghost stories,” she said. “I like to research the history to see if there is any truth in the ghostly tales told about these places. Although most are urban legend, every now and then you’ll find one that does have some real history behind it.”

Woodyard said perhaps it is a good thing that the house disappears as visitors approach.

“Anyone mad or daring enough to enter a house from another century that comes and goes so uncertainly might find themselves permanently erased from history,” she wrote.

Includes excerpt from Haunted Ohio IV: Restless Spirits copyright 1997 by Chris Woodyard and used by permission of Kestrel Publications, hauntedohiobooks.com.

Copyright © 2010, The Wapakoneta Daily News

Thank you to Karen Campbell for interviewing the OES for this article about the haunting of Fort Amanda.