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October 2018

Ghost Stories from Ohio’s Colleges: The Ghostly Confession

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The Old Motherhouse                                                      The Old Chapel that later became “Our Lady’s Dorm”

During each of the two prior Halloween seasons I have featured a ghost story from Ohio Dominican University. I have appreciated the many e-mail comments I have received regarding these stories and thought I would offer one final reprisal this year. If you have not read the two prior stories, I encourage you to peruse the archives and check them out.

ODU is a small Catholic (Dominican) comprehensive university located in Columbus. Today, they offer not only a top-notch education, but a rich history including a few stories of things that go bump in the night. According to legend the spirits at ODU are thought to have been prior Dominican Sisters and faculty at the college.

This story was described by a Dominican Sister Mary Michael and took place in the first “Motherhouse,” which was constructed in 1875. It was later attached to the west side of the college’s dining hall until it (the Motherhouse) was torn down in 1970 (see the picture above). The Motherhouse was the centerpiece of living and activity for the Sisters of Saint Many of the Springs at the time.

The story takes place in the summer of 1947 in “Our Lady’s Dorm,” as it was called then.
The room was a large dormitory, subdivided by curtains into individual spaces for each sister. Each space contained a bed, washstand, and a chair. The Sister’s space was west of a double door that provided entry into the dormitory area. On this particular evening there were only two sisters in the dormitory. All the sisters had heard rumors of ghosts in the building and while Sister Mary had heard these stories, she had never encountered anything herself.  At some time during the night Sister Mary awoke feeling very cold. She thought about getting a cloak as a cover, but then heard footsteps of someone walking the east-west corridor. This was unusual as rules prohibited walking around at night and enforced silence in the area. The pacing started at around 3:00 AM and continued until the corridor had been paced in its entire length a total of 20-30 times. Sister Mary was too scared to look out. Finally, the pacing stopped at the end of the interior hall away from the entry and near a closet. Finally, after waiting awhile and gaining courage, Sister Mary Michael rose and fled the room.

Upon reflection, Sister Mary recalled that our Lady’s Dorm had been the Motherhouse chapel before the new chapel had been built. The closet had originally been a confessional in the old chapel. Sister Mary Michael wondered if perhaps the footsteps belonged to the spirit of a Sister who felt the need for penitence and sought it in a familiar place.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

Ghost Stories from Ohio’s Colleges: Kenyon’s Ghost Train

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Some college ghost stories emerge out of fictional accounts, but others are born out of real campus tragedies. This story is one of the latter.

Around 9:41 pm on October 28, 1905, a freshman, Stuart Lathrop Pierson, was struck by an unannounced train traveling next to the Kokosing River adjacent to the Kenyon College campus. He was killed instantly. Pierson, a Delta Kappa Epsilon pledge, was participating in a fraternity initiation at the time. Some contend that he had been bound to the tracks and blindfolded, however authorities later concluded that he had been directed to the railroad bridge by his fraternity brothers and asked to stay there until retrieved. Members claimed that the experience was intended as an opportunity for him to contemplate his impending membership. Unfortunately, the surprise of an unexpected oncoming train in the darkness caused Pearson to stumble into harm’s way. Pierson’s death launched a dark and challenging chapter in the history of Kenyon College. Administrators point out that over time the college recovered and was able to put this tragedy behind them, however many students believe Pierson is still hoping to complete his initiation.

If you visit Kenyon College today, you will find that the railroad bridge where Pierson was struck and killed has been transformed into a bike trail. The tracks were long ago covered over with asphalt. Each year the DKEs mark the anniversary of Pierson’s death with a ceremony. Reportedly, they carry a coffin filled with stones down Middle Path and gather at the fateful trestle bridge where fraternity officers read the coroner’s report by torchlight. In recent years they also read passages aloud from Fred Kluge’s Alma Mater. The ceremony ends with the burning of a wooden DKE sign, which they extinguish in the river, leaving its ashes behind on the bike trail covering the old train tracks.

Some say that on those evenings, as they hike back to campus, they still hear the whistle of a train in the distance. But that’s not all – residents of Old Kenyon residence hall claim Pierson can still be seen staring out the window on the fourth floor. Doors open and close and footsteps are heard coming from empty rooms.

So, if you ever visit Kenyon college around Halloween, be sure to enjoy the changing leaves and beautiful campus. As the sun sets listen carefully and you might hear the sound of a mournful train whistle passing over a nearby bridge. Then, as you walk by Old Kenyon, the oldest residence hall in Ohio, glance over your shoulder and check out the fourth-floor window. The spirit of a former Kenyon student may grace you with his presence.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

Ghost Stories from Ohio’s Colleges: The Oxford Light

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The Oxford Light

If you ask students at Miami University about the “Oxford Light” or the “Phantom Motorcyclist” expect to get an earful. The legend has been around since the 40’s and continues to enthrall students to this day.

The story involves a farmer, his daughter, and her boyfriend. While there are several versions of the story, all have a bit of a “Romeo and Juliet” feel to them. You see, the farmer’s daughter was in love with her boyfriend, who was considered a bit of a rebel. He rode a loud motorcycle, was not fond of authority, and generally didn’t engender affection from any in the community save his girlfriend. In fact, the farmer did what he could to discourage the romance. The result was that the boyfriend was forced to visit his girlfriend late at night and early in the morning while others slept. Legend has it that the father discovered the late-night romance and tried to put a stop to it. The couple, determined to continue to see each other, set up a secret signal. She was to flash the porch light three times to signal her boyfriend that it is safe for him to come by and pick her up.

Finally one evening the boyfriend, determined to finally propose, awaited her signal. Upon seeing the porchlight flash three times, he got on his motorcycle and sped down the road toward her house. Unfortunately, on the way, he lost control of his bike, careened into a barbwire fence and was decapitated.

I’m sure you guessed it – that’s not the end of the story. It seems that death did not deter the cyclist and that today, he is still trying to reach his girlfriend’s house and pop the question. So, if you are visiting Oxford this time of year consider travelling past Millet Hall and Yager Stadium, out past the University property, past Beta Headquarters on the left, and up to the first four-way stop. The girlfriend’s old Earhart Road home is just around the corner. Park your car, flash your lights three times, and wait to see the Oxford Light in the distance. Happy Halloween.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

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