Creepy, Kooky, Mysterious and Spooky: A Chilly Roundup of Past Ohio Memory Blog Posts

This is a photo from a children’s Halloween costume contest from the 1930s. Courtesy of the Ohio History Connection. Via Ohio Memory.

How many of you call autumn your favorite time of year? And, of those who do, how many of you love to delve into the spookiness of the season? I can’t see your hands raised, but I’ll bet there are a lot of you. And why not? Autumn screams “spooky,” with its darkening days, falling leaves (and the skeletal trees that remain), and whistling winds. Would The Legend of Sleepy Hollow be as creepy if it was set in summer? I think not! Ohio Memory has its share of items that bring thrills and chills, as well as a few that make the list for being just, well, odd. We’ve shared a few of these before, but they’re all worth a second look, so read on!

Hair wreath made from the hair of members of the Loffer family of DeGraff, Ohio. Courtesy of Logan County History Center. Via Ohio Memory.

In April, 2017, we shared Victorian hair art, as described in Ladies’ Fancywork. No, April is not a creepy month, but the idea of weaving human hair into art brought the creep factor, nonetheless. Hair art was typically used as a remembrance of a loved one during a time when photos were costly and difficult to obtain. Ohio Memory has an admittedly gorgeous example of hair art in the form of a wreath from the Loffer family of DeGraff, Ohio. Is it creepy, as well? That’s for you to decide.

Decidedly creepy, on the other hand, is Francis Barrett’s The Magus: or, Celestial Intelligencer. Scroll through its sections to learn about demons — including some frightening images — and natural magic. Barrett subtitled his work “a complete system of occult philosophy,” and it includes text on the aforementioned demons, numerology, astrology, talismans…you name it. The book is provided in sections; to view each one, first click on the thumbnail from the right-hand side of the page, then click on the blue box with the white arrow in the top-right corner of the large image on the page, and that will launch a PDF of that section.

Still not creepy enough? Alright, then…how would you like to stay at one of the haunted hotels described in this blog post from 2015? There’s the Golden Lamb, which is haunted by at least two ghosts: Clement Vallandingham, who accidentally shot himself at the hotel; and Eliza Clay, daughter of Secretary of State Henry Clay, who became ill during her stay in 1825 and, after passing away, has never left. Or, for other haunted spots to visit, check out this blog post from 2014; surely you’ll find a place near you.

A Halloween dance in 1959. Courtesy of the Columbus College of Art and Design. Via Ohio Memory.

Do your tastes run more to the silly and kooky? If so, we’ve got you covered. On this page, you’ll find lots of fun images of Halloween costumes, parties, and dances. Maybe you’ll get some inspiration for a costume this year; if so, you’ve got plenty of time to whip one up. You might also enjoy reading the story of a ghost that wasn’t really a ghost: The Morris-town Ghost, featuring Ransford Rogers, who conned the citizens of Morris Town, New Jersey, into thinking that he could help them find a treasure by speaking to the “ghost” that guarded it. It’s truly a silly tale of people who wanted so badly to strike it rich that they let themselves be conned by a man pretending to be a ghost by dressing in a sheet. Yes, seriously. You can read the original blog post here.

Finally, we can’t end this roundup without mentioning master of Gothic storytelling, Edgar Allen Poe, and his masterpiece, The Raven. The poem, about a man’s descent into madness after the loss of his true love, is a classic, and the illustrations by Gustav Doré make this a must-read. As a bonus, the images in the book can be downloaded and printed for your spooky decor. Just as with The Magus, you can view images by clicking on the thumbnails on the right-hand side of the page, and then clicking on the arrows in the blue box in the top-right corner of the large image in the middle of your screen. A reader will launch, and you can scroll down to view the image. When you find a page – or pages! – that you want, click on the Print icon in the top-right corner of the viewing window, and then set your print parameters. You can do this with the poem, as well, or even with the entire book.

Have you run across any creepy, kooky, mysterious or spooky items in Ohio Memory? Tell us about them in the comments below! Meanwhile, happy viewing!

Thank you to Shannon Kupfer-Trausch, Digital Initiatives Librarian at the State Library of Ohio, for this week’s post!

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