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CONTACT: Louise Cantrell or Chris Woodyard, 937 426-5110, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kestrel Publications, 1811 Stonewood Drive, Dayton, OH 45432-4002
“This book was over a century in the making,” says Haunted Ohio author Chris Woodyard of her new collection, The Headless Horror: Strange and Ghostly Ohio Tales, just published by Kestrel Publications.
“These were the stories that refused to die. And along with more historic ghosts and haunted houses, I was able to include stories about Ohio mysteries, wonders and curiosities, and such topics as visions in the sky, witches, and haunted objects.”
Studying newspaper archives, antique books and journals, and county histories, Woodyard has dug up a wealth of all-new tales that should please fans of ghost stories, Ohio history buffs, and steampunk aficionados alike.
“Some stories are completely bizarre, like the shower of snails in Tiffin, a young woman who died of lizards in her stomach, and a woman who kept receiving letters from her husband, whom hundreds of people had seen dead and buried. I uncovered the ghost of a mysterious French governess who threw herself off a roof in Akron, and collected many accounts of ‘hoodoo’ or cursed houses. Although I’ve done some editing and added notes, these are presented as the original newspapers printed them, often with a striking lack of political correctness,” says Woodyard. “Some of the reporting is quite heartless and gory, particularly in coverage of murders and suicides.
“One thing that struck me is how modern some of the stories are: a group of Crawford County ghost hunters investigated a haunted house, not once, but twice. Both times they saw the ghost of a man they had all known in life, and who seemed to see them. Near Marion, a renter who, when taken to court for breaking his lease, claimed the house was haunted—and won, just like a couple in New York did in 1991. There are also tales of the many ghosts of the old Ohio Penitentiary as well as early UFOs.”
The book contains over 120 true stories of ghosts, haunted houses, spirit images, spook lights, and poltergeists from 58 of Ohio’s 88 counties.
“I was fascinated by the many strange paranormal stories that surrounded the murder of Pearl Bryan. She was decapitated near Fort Thomas, Kentucky and her head was never found. An entire fake history has sprung up about the young woman supposedly being murdered by ‘Satanists.’ I went back to the original newspaper coverage and, while disproving the Satanist legend, found stories of Pearl returning, headless, to séances and the spirit of one of her murderers asking for sympathy.” The title of the book comes from a booklet published at the time, about Pearl Bryan’s mysterious death and the trials of her murderers.
The Headless Horror is the second in Woodyard’s new “Ghosts of the Past” series. The next volume, due out in August and covering the entire United States, is titled The Ghost Wore Black: Ghastly Tales from the Past.
“The Headless Horror is like a Victorian time-machine,” said Woodyard, “that transports you back, not to some sanitized version of the 19th century, but to the bad old days of a very haunted Ohio.”
The Headless Horror: More Haunting Ohio Tales, Chris Woodyard, 2013, 272 pp $16.95. See your local bookstore or library. It is also available at www.hauntedohiobooks.com and at Amazon and other online retailers.
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