Tales of stone-throwing poltergeists are surprisingly common, but this one is a bit more unusual than most. The “Indianapolis News,” June 26, 1909:
Lafayette, Ind.. June 24. For miles around the little hamlet ot Pettit, seven miles east of Lafayette, the residents are in a state of great excitement over the strange happenings at the home of Rosanna Ritenour. A haunted house, dreary and desolate, infested by evil spirits, who hurl bricks and stones through solid walls without leaving a hole, throw chunks of dried clay about the rooms from invisible sources and pour water through ceilings upon the heads of unsuspecting persons beneath--these are the conditions reported at the Ritenour home that have caused all the excitement in the community and made the Ritenour farm such a point of interest as to attract hundreds of people to the scene every day. And while several investigating persons have made rigid inquiries they offer no other explanation than to accuse the old woman and her little granddaughter, who live alone In the house, of concocting the scheme to keep the old home from being sold by relatives who seek to remove Mrs. Ritenour from her dreary, dilapidated surroundings and dispose of the property.The newspapers don’t seem to have carried any more about the story, so I presume the disruptive activity--whether caused by spectral or human hands--did indeed cease.
It is only since the evening of Friday, June 18, that the Ritenour house has come into the limelight as the abode of ghosts. The house and its surroundings form an ideal setting for a ghost story and to the superstitious mind they appeal with great force as a fitting rendezvous of spirit forms. The house is a mile north of Pettit and sits back from the road in a clump of trees and shrubbery. It is an old log house, built in 1822, with weatherboards on two sides. Between the logs is a clay plastering that furnishes the ghost with one kind of ammunition that figures in the story.
For forty-nine years old Mrs. Ritenour has lived in the house. She is seventy-five years old and since the death of her husband, a civil war veteran, in May 1908, she has lived alone with little Rosie Julian, age eleven years. Rosie is the daughter of Mrs. Ritenour’s daughter, who has been missing for several years, leaving home and never returning. Five other daughters, all married, are living within a few miles of the so-called haunted house.
Since the memorable Friday night, on which the manifestation of material activity or unearthly power was first noted in the house, many remarkable things have come to pass. Mrs. Ritenour declares that large stones and bricks have been hurled at her and her granddaughter by unseen hands, coming through walls without leaving a mark to Indicate where they passed through the walls. She says the pelting with stones begins each evening at 5 o'clock and continues at intervals until midnight, when all is quiet. Both she and her granddaughter, she says, have been struck repeatedly with stones and pieces of dried clay, water has been poured on them from the kitchen ceiling, bricks have been hurled with great force from above the house, crashing into a stove and tearing it to pieces. In the yard, she says, she and the girl have been pelted with corn cobs without a person being visible but themselves. One brick covered with moss, she says, came Into the house the other night and landed on the bed of her granddaughter, striking on the pillow a few inches from the girl's head.
Every day since Mrs. Ritenour first reported that the house was haunted hundreds of curious people have visited the farm and the less timid or the visitors have remained through the evening. Many report that they saw the stones come crashing into the rooms and heard the water splash. Mrs. Emma Rauch. a neighbor, says she was with Mrs. Ritenour and the little girl the other night and a large piece of clay hit her on the neck and bruised her neck severely. She says at the time the aged woman and the girl were in front of her. There was nobody else in the house, she said. She also saw water come from the ceiling. There is nothing but an empty loft above the living rooms.
Mrs. Frances Meyers, another neighbor, was also struck on the hip with a stone and slightly injured. She says Mrs. Ritenour and the girl could not have thrown the stone. Both Mrs. Ritenour and her granddaughter have marks on their bodies to show that they have been struck by missiles.
For the purpose of solving the mystery and "laying" the ghost a party of Lafayette men headed by Noah T. Rogers, deputy-sheriff, and Perry Moon, treasurer of the Fairfield Lumber Company, made a trip to the Ritenour home yesterday afternoon and proceeded to investigate. They questioned the aged woman and the girl closely, but could get no admissions. They looked into the beds occupied by the woman and girl and found lumps of clay concealed beneath the covers. The investigating party remained at the house six hours, returning late last night to the city. They say nothing extraordinary occurred while they were there. The members of the party declared that the missiles and water must necessarily have been thrown by the woman and the girl. Mrs. Ritenour. they said, assured them the ghosts would not return and that there would be no stone throwing. Mrs. Rauch and Mrs. Meyers, however, are willing to make affidavits to the effect that neither Mrs. Ritenour nor her granddaughter threw the missiles and water.
The neighborhood is much excited today and hundreds of people visited the house. There is a theory to the effect that the daughters of old Mrs. Ritenour have been striving for some time to induce her to leave the old home and allow it to be sold. They have all invited her to come and live with them, but she has declined. She has become so deeply attached to the old horme she says she will remain there until she dies.