For those of you who live outside of Cincinnati, you’ve probably never heard of Miamitown, Ohio, located in the Southwestern corner of the state. Even those of you who are from Cincinnati may very well have never heard of the Whitewater Township location, but brothers Jeff and Michael Morris – founders of Miamitown Ghost Tours and authors of Haunted Cincinnati and Southwest Ohio and the recently-released Cincinnati Haunted Handbook – are aiming to change all of that by putting this little village on the map with their accessible and informative walking tour of the area.
I used to drive through Miamitown several times a year during college, when I was going back and forth from Cincinnati to Oxford’s Miami University campus, but little did I know that I was driving through an area so steeped in history and turmoil. In the 1700’s the Shawnee Indian tribe who settled in the area considered the land that would later become Miamitown to be a sacred hunting ground, and they would kill the pioneers who tried to set up camp there because they felt it was disrespectful to sleep on sacred ground. People have since reported seeing the apparition of a woman dressed in pioneer clothing, walking near the town’s post office with a tomahawk stuck in her forehead, among other things. After the Shawnee were forced out by European settlers, Miamitown was founded in 1817, and in 1939 a fire in the town church’s basement during Sunday school resulted in the death of a little girl. The church has since been turned into an antiques store, and the owner there wonders if it is perhaps the spirit of the little girl who died there who is responsible for the voice she’s heard inside, and for inexplicable ringing of the cowbell in the doorway when no one has opened the door.
In the 1950’s, the bodies from the Miamitown cemetery were exhumed when officials decided that the grassy area across the street from the original location would make a better cemetery. It was decided that an elementary school would be built in the place of the old cemetery, and it was during construction of the school’s parking lot that workers discovered the unmarked graves filled with many previously undiscovered bodies. Not knowing what to do with them, the bodies were simply placed in the new cemetery in another unmarked grave. And in 1989, there was the collapse of the bridge that spans the nearby Great Miami River – marking the fourth time that the bridge spanning this area had collapsed – where witnesses reported that two vehicles and a red pickup truck had fallen into the water. The bodies of those passengers in the cars were discovered, but neither the pickup truck nor its driver was ever found. According to the Morris brothers, people claim to hear screams near the bridge and others have seen a dark figure walking across the bridge at night, leading them to wonder if it’s possibly the spirit of the pickup driver that was never found.
These incidents are the basis for some of the stories that Jeff and Michael include in their tour; what I’ve outlined above is just a brief glimpse into the types of stories you’ll hear in their hour-long walk as you stop at all of these locations and hear some of the stories and the history associated with each landmark. What I like most about Jeff and Michael’s approach is that they’re not about theatrics or robbing you blind by charging an arm and a leg for cheap scares; rather it is about sharing their passion for history and their interest in the possibility of paranormal happenings in their very own Miamitown, which is evident from the second you meet these two. For the mere 10 bucks they charge for the tour, you’ll learn a lot about the area while being entertained by the stories and alleged haunted happenings there.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention their well-written book, Haunted Cincinnati and Southwest Ohio, which is a great read that chronicles the area’s haunted history in much greater detail. And in case you’re in or near Cincinnati this weekend, or maybe looking for a road trip, this Saturday, October 2nd, marks the second annual Miamitown Paranormal Fall Fest, which is hosted by the Morris brothers and features guest speakers, vendors and paranormal investigators. According to their website, admission to the festival is free, but proceeds from food sales and the raffle will be donated to the local historical society, which I think is great because not only will the event bring more attention to a little-known area, but it will also ensure that its legacy – and all of the good ghost stories that go with it – gets preserved for the next generation to enjoy.