Ghosts! Mysterious lights! Missing treasure! Cryptids!
Truly this is a spook story that has just about everything. The "Akron Times-Democrat," August 14, 1902:
There are those who believe in supernatural appearances and those who scoff at such things, but there are awesome happenings in Norton township, one mile south of Johnson's Corners, which silence the most skeptical when they have once seen the thing with their own eyes, for no explanation of the phenomena along natural lines has yet been suggested by those who have viewed this spectre.
Mysterious lights and strange animals animals figure in the hair-raising tales told by those who claim to have seen the things related and there are those residing in the vicinity whom it would take a great deal to entice from their homes alone after dark.
Those who have oftenest seen the unquiet spirit, as many are inclined to call the strange visitor, are Mr. John Breitenstein and his family, though Mr. Peter Shaffer and his family have also seen it and there are men who were formerly employed in Mr. Adam Kiehl's coal mine who could not be induced for love or money to enter the mine again.
To the visitor at the scenes where the ghostly visitation is made nothing could seem more improbable than that such a place would be the chosen spot of ghostly habitation. It is not a deserted community with old houses and neglected-gardens, but on the contrary has fine farm houses with carefully kept lawns and is surrounded by rich, beautiful fields of grain. Yet for a decade past strange events have taken place in this garden spot.
More than ten years ago a man named Shaneman resided in a small house across the road from Mr. Breitenstein. This man and his wife lived alone and though they possessed a fine farm and were supposed to be financially able to enjoy all the comforts and many of the luxuries of life, they were economically inclined and lived very frugally. Beside the farm on which he lived, Mr. Shaneman owned another fine tract of land which a short time before his death he sold to the Carrara Paint company, of Barberton, and is said to have received a large sum for this property.
Ten years ago, soon after the sale of his farm, Shaneman died, and though every nook and cranny in the house was searched, $150 was all the money that could be found and it is said that from that day to this no trace of the fortune Shaneman was supposed to have possessed has been discovered. It was thought by many that the money was buried. Shaneman died very suddenly and there are those who say that the strange spectre about this place is the spirit of the old man trying to show where the money was hidden.
The story of the supernatural appearances as told by Mr. Breitenstein is as follows.
"We never saw any of these strange things before the death of Shaneman, and the first time I saw anything supernatural was the night after Shaneman's death. Peter Shaffer, John Mong and myself were sitting up with the corpse. Mong was smoking, and Shaffer and I had been talking. All of a sudden Shaffer gave me a little nudge and directed my gaze to the ceiling at the corner of the room where the corpse lay, when I saw a sight that fairly made my hair stand on end. What seemed a ball of fire had started from the corner of the room and was traveling slowly around the ceiling of the room.
"Did you see it?" said Shaffer. "Yes," said I. "Let's get out of here," were Shaffer's next words, and we made for home as fast as we could.
"And since that time the strange light has haunted this vicinity with the most unpleasant regularity. I have seen it many times, as has every member of my family and many others. It is more often seen in the winter than at any other time, but I have seen it twice this summer, the last time only a few weeks ago, when the thing looked into my bedroom window making the room as light as day, waking me up with the glare.
"We see this strange light at many times and places. Sometimes it rises out of the fields behind the Shaneman house, other times it rests upon the roof of the house. One night not long after the death of Shaneman, I, with my family, the family of Peter Shaffer, Shaffer, and other neighbors were sitting on the veranda of my home when suddenly a bright light as large as a street lamp rose out of the fields behind the Shaneman house, came up the lane, passed my home where we were sitting and went on up past my barn. Every one on the porch was silent, but as soon as the light disappeared, by common impulse, all were on their feet making for the barn behind which it had disappeared, but nothing could be seen.
"Then my son, Harry, who was married, moved into the house and he and his wife often saw the light. One night Harry came running over in breathless haste crying that our house was on fire. We rushed out to the back where a brilliant light was to be seen for a few moments, and then passed away into nothing.
"At one time we had an old apple tree which had blown down. One evening my son Milton came home late. He put up his horse and then came to the house. As he stepped into the door we saw that he was the color of death and whispered breathlessly, 'Oh, ma, come here!' My wife stepped to the door and there, playing about that old tree, were what seemed to be thousands of lights. They were about the size of candle flames and seemed to be of all colors of the rainbow. After a time they resolved themselves into balls of fire and rolled away down the orchard path.
"Peter Shaffer has told me of seeing the light many times and he isn't a man to lie," went on Mr, Breitenstein; "and this is the tale he told, me: Shaffer, with his wife and two daughters, were passing .through the fields back of our house one night, bound for a neighbor's house. The women were walking ahead, when suddenly Shaffer saw the mysterious light moving along beside him. Then one of the girls looked back and with a scream started to run and soon the entire family was running for dear life over the fields. They came to a fence, but stopped not for a moment and how they ever got over the fence not one was ever able to tell. When they reached the road the light disappeared."
But strange lights are not all that is said to be seen in this locality, The Misses Louise and Minnie Shaffer, when returning home late one night, are said to have seen a strange animal walking along in front of them, creeping between their feet, plainly visible but of no substance, disappearing when they attempted to strike at it, but again walking with them a moment later. The girls took to their heels and arrived home almost dead with fright and now no money could hire them to go out late at night alone.
Mr. Shaffer also claims to have seen the strange animal and the tale of its appearance runs thus: It was just before the abandonment of Adam Kiehl's coal mine, and some coal was still being taken from the mine. It was about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, when Shaffer saw someone going up the incline at the shoots, and as he wanted to get some coal he thought that would be a good time to go and order it. As he got near the mine, he saw the object hop up onto the platform on four feet. He thought, however, it was someone "acting the fool,'' as he expressed it, and went on. As he approached he saw the object was not a man, but some kind of a grey animal, which a moment later disappeared into the mine. He did not investigate, but made fast tracks for home.
A few days after this, Jean Cady, of Barberton, and George Conrad, of Sherman, who were working in the mine, claim to have seen the strange animal in the mine, and their description of it coincides with that of Mr. Shaffer. They immediately took after after it with picks. They would strike at it and it would fade into nothingness, but a moment later would be seen in another part of the mine. After a few fruitless attempts to approach it the men became frightened, and Cady, it is said, quit work and could not be induced to enter the mine again.
This coal mine is just at the rear of Mr. Breitenstein's land. Mr. John Winkleman and family now reside in the Shaneman house and deny ever having seen anything supernatural; but Harry Breitenstein's family claim that there is a room in the house in which no one could sleep as the bed would be shaken by unseen forces.
For six years after the death of Mr. Shaneman, Adam Kiehl resided in the Shaneman house. Mr. Kiehl says that he never saw anything unnatural, but his wife claims to have seen the strange light in her room one night.
In telling the story, Mr. Breitenstein said: "Folks may laugh if they will, but it is no laughing matter with us who live here and see it. What it is I do not know, but I tell you what I have seen, and this is gospel truth."