Saturday, October 08, 2016

Origin of Witch's Ball Superstition - A Theory

The Witch's Ball is a well-known tombstone located in Myrtle Hill Cemetery in Valley City, Ohio.  The folklore surrounding the cemetery itself includes several eye-witness accounts and re-tellings of appearances of the "Witch" buried beneath the oddly shaped marble headstone.

The truth behind the legend is especially vague and buried in layers of stories passed down for generations.

I first heard of the Witch's Ball in the mid 1980's.  Since starting the Creepy Cleveland website I have received more than a dozen stories each proclaiming to have heard the story, know of a first-hand account or offer an explanation.

Recently I've been reading John Stark Bellamy's excellent series of books detailing "Tales of Cleveland Woe".  In the book "The Maniac In The Bushes" there is a story called "Medina's Not-So-Merry Widow - Martha Wise's Deadly Crying Game 1925"

To summarize the story:  Martha Wise was weird. 

Born in the mid-1880's she led a hard life in a section of Medina County named Hardscrabble.  Growing up with a most likely undiagnosed case of epilepsy and weathering spinal meningitis in her teens, Martha had a reputation for "never missing a funeral".  Her first husband beat her and treated her poorly until his death in 1923.

Martha would go on to frighten the townsfolk with strange behavior, acts of arson and foaming at the mouth.  Martha also admitted to seeing spirits.

She would also go on to poison nearly her entire family with arsenic.

After what, for the time, was a sensational investigation. Martha was arrested and convicted of murder in the first degree.  All told she had poisoned 17 family members.  Three victims died from the fatal dose of arsenic.  Martha spent the rest of her mostly uneventful life in Marysville Prison and died in 1971.

But how is Martha connected to the Witch's Ball? 

The obvious connection, to me, is that Martha's family, including her victims, are all buried in Myrtle Hill Cemetery.

While John Bellamy never uses the word "witch" in his story of Martha Wise, I find it an easy reach to assume someone over the years referred to Martha as such.  With documentation of Martha "seeing spirits" and at one point confessing that the Devil coerced her into setting ten mysterious fires in the township, connecting Martha with witchcraft seems obvious.

So there's a story of a backwoods widow embodying everything you'd expect in a children's fairy-tale of a witch poisoning innocent people with her toxic brew.  Throw into the story the location of her unfortunate victim's graves and lastly add a most unorthodox tombstone in the shape of a three-foot marble ball.

Now add over 60 years worth of embellishments and re-tellings. 

Ta-Da!  You've got a good ghost story.


Today I had the occasion to visit Myrtle Hill Cemetery and thought I might try to locate the graves of Martha's victims.  Surprisingly, they were very easy to find.  The families having plots right off the main road a mere 200 feet from the infamous Ball.  More fuel for the folklore fire?

Sophia Hasel, Martha's mother and victim of fatal arsenic poisoning
Fred and Lillian Gienke, Martha's Uncle and Aunt.  Both victims of Martha's arsenic.


Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Zoinks! Another Scooby-doo adventure.

I arrived for an actor training class offered at Regal Vineyards. It is on County Line Rd in Madison OH. Just off Route 20. There is a house there that looks like it was built before the last century began. I am told that the place has been locked up for the last 40 years.

The home was one of the first wineries located in Ashtabula County.  Established by immigrants from Lithuania, I have been told.  In the 1970’s, the vineyards were abandoned due to family tragedy.  That brings us to the new owners of this property.

Remember, this place has been closed off from human contact for over 40 years. Now they have cracked it open and there is some kind of rock labyrinth there. That may be some kind of spiritual tool. Several local Paranormal research groups have been out to the property, confirming suspicions that the building may be haunted. It seems that real spirits may roam these halls. On another note, I have heard employees there laugh nervously about some kind of vortex, when they think no one is listening. I heard one of them say, “It came from beyond the vortex.” It gave me chills.

I tend be skeptical when it comes to haunt stories. I hate to tell you that I think I saw something there. After the class was over and everything was closed up for the night, a few of us remained in the lot talking. That is when I noticed a face in the window looking at me. I know it sounds dumb, but as soon as it noticed me see it, the face vanished. At that moment I felt as if a friend was sad to see me go. I know this all seems weird. We checked inside, but found nothing. I just needed to share this with someone. It is always strange when you come in contact with the other side. I have to go back there some more, just to check it out.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

House at Borromeo in Wickliffe


I came across your sight while searching for information about the abandoned house on the grounds of Borromeo.

It IS haunted, I am quite sure of it. We used to walk by it when I was a kid. This was between 1981 and 1983. Images of the place flash in my memory from time to time and I have nightmares about the grounds of All Saints. Something very strange happened to me there which I still cannot explain and I suspect something latched onto me and has bothered me for my entire life. The story is that I was found walking around the grounds of the school in a state of shock. I don't remember walking around, I just remember waking up in the nurses office. I thought I had been knocked out because I opened my eyes on the cot. None of the other kids knew what happened to me. I have flashes of memories of dark figures standing above me and there being tall brown grass around me (I think it was at the top of the hill where the statues are). I've wanted to go back to the grounds to try to recall what happened since it's bothered me for my entire life, but at the same time, it might be something I don't want to know.

Anyway, yes, it is haunted and there is something terribly evil about that place. Be careful if you go there.

Since this is along your lines, look at the grounds of the seminary from above on google maps. Note the significance of the owl in occult symbolism.

That is all.

Be well.


Sunday, December 02, 2012

Unsettling Swamp Area

Contributed by E Er

There’s a section of the bike path in Chardon, Ohio where the land slopes down to a swampy section on the right side. A friend told me that if you jump the fence and work your way down into the middle of the watery area, you’ll be able to see a clearing a ways off from the trail. I guess a few high local kids in high school found it one afternoon while they were exploring and now everyone knows about it. They said the clearing has a lot of trees around it and seems like its hedged off from the rest of the area. Everyone who goes into the clearing gets a real uncomfortable feeling like they are being watched. It’s become a popular dare to go there at night and spend 15 minutes there, after dark. I had a few friends who did it, but they didn’t stay the entire 15 minutes because the shadows their flashlights made in the trees began to creep them out. My friends said the shadows seemed to move a lot even when they weren’t moving the flashlight, so there may be a weird optical illusion or something.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Offerings for the Dead?

I received a few photos with very little details...  all I know is that they were all taken in the same cemetery during a full moon.  Since they were sent to me - I presume them to be from a local cemetery as well, but I'm not sure.

In any event - the subject matter is the objects left at the tombstone.  I know there are many odd and not-so-odd traditions regarding offerings in cemeteries, but does anyone have any idea what these mean?

A candle. Simple enough, but what's it made of?

Blue hair braid over a loaf of bread, two cups of coffee and what appears to be an entire pack of cigarettes.

...there's also a suspicious hole next to the tombstone.

So what do ya think? Someone remembering a buddy with whom sandwiches, coffee and smokes were shared, or something more subtle? What kind of graveyard magic is this?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Heritage Hall on Prospect

Hey CreepyCleveland,

I found your site by accident, but I am glad that I did. I was trying to find historical information on Heritage Hall located at 2200 Prospect Ave in Cleveland. It is currently a property of American Campus Communities/YMCA and it serves as studio dorms for CSU Students.

I have several friends that live and work at the security desk in Heritage Hall. They report some strange phenomena that cannot be easily explained.

For example, and I am not exaggerating anything, there were two strange occurrences affiliated with Room 720. The first occupant was a young man of around 25. He was at first quiet, but sociable. He dressed well, bathed, and was relatively upstanding. I know this because he was in my section in Law School. Over the course of the semester, he became progressively withdrawn and ominous. His movements became slow and lethargic, his eyes sunken, words reduced to mumbles. He wore the same dirty hoodie day after day, pulled over his head to obscure his eyes. He used to leave and return at all hours of the night, and he started stalking girls in my section. Eventually it was so bad that he was dismissed from law school. He was evicted, and I haven't heard about him since.

The second occupant, a girl, moved in for the start of that following semester. She was social and outgoing. She even had RAs called on her for a party that got too loud. About a month into the semester, she stopped walking around. Eventually people lost track of her and nothing was heard until her family called the building wondering if anyone had seen her. She was missing for two weeks.

Beyond that there are other sorts of phenomena. Security desk workers report lights that turn off and on in the middle of the night. In the offices immediately behind the security desk, there is a two way switch were both must be turned off in order for the light to go off. These lights, and the lights in the mail room all turn off on their own from time to time. The current occupant of 512 reports incessant banging and voices from one corner of the room. It is interesting because his immediate neighbors next to him are his friends or the rooms are vacant. The rooms above and below are vacant as well. It is strange to say the least.

I know that the studios were used as lodging for the YMCA and then they were repurposed into a homeless-transitioning type housing. The building was built in the early 1900s, so it is plausible that there is some history. I wonder if anyone else in your community has heard about the goings on at Heritage, if there are any.

Any help on digging up some info on Heritage Hall would be great.



Thursday, July 12, 2012

What do you know about South Bay Bessie?

I know I don't get much in the way of stories here about South Bay Bessie, but if you consider yourself a Lake Erie monster chaser there is some interest in airing your stories on a program in October 2012.

What do ya say? Interested? Get in touch with Creepy Cleveland.