Exploring The Legend Of Ravine Cemetery

The paranormal is filled with stories that never really seem to go anywhere. No matter how much time may pass, the story always stays the same. No new information is added. No new evidence is collected. No new speculations are offered. Stories like this always seem to remain frozen in time as perpetual footnotes in the pages of “true life” tales of legend and lore. They are usually stories born from the tiniest of fragments; snippets of third-person accounts, vague in their descriptions and are generally only remembered so long as the anecdotes continue to keep them alive.

It is only through word of mouth, the constant telling and re-telling, that they end up becoming full-blown legends taken at face value and widely accepted as genuine. Everyone knows these stories. Everyone claims to have experienced the phenomena behind them, or at least know someone who says they have. But, there’s never one shred of evidence to prove any of it, nor does there ever seem to be anyone willing to do the legwork to obtain it. The Ghost Bride of Ravine Cemetery is one of these kinds of stories.

Crack open any book or scroll through any website dedicated to Ohio folklore and you’re sure to come across an entry for Ravine Cemetery’s legendary phantom bride.

The story is simple enough: A woman, widowed three times over, passed away and since her family could not reach an agreement on which of her husbands to bury her next to ultimately decided to bury her in a plot by herself. Now, according to legend, her restless spirit rises at dawn on the anniversary of each husband’s death to wander the cemetery grounds.

As far as I can tell, this story first reached a wide audience when it was published in an October 1970 edition of the Toledo Blade. In the article, Jamie Walker re-told the story as he had heard it from Irving Stow, a former caretaker of Ravine Cemetery. Who knows how many readers of that article were sufficiently curious enough to travel to the cemetery to see the ghost bride for themselves? But, for nearly a quarter-century thereafter, the legend went dark – untold, unexplored and, ultimately, forgotten.

It wasn’t until 1994 that it was given new life when Chris Woodyard published a small blurb about the ghost bride in her book, Haunted Ohio III. Now, Ravine Cemetery is on the investigative itinerary of every ghosthunter in northwest Ohio. The legend will never again be forgotten.

I conducted a handful of investigations at Ravine Cemetery, all taking place in the summer of 1998. Back then there was no real ghost tech at my disposal (the Tri-Field meter being the pinnacle of gadgetry at the time) and I was armed only with a flashlight, 35mm camera, and an open mind.

Apart from a creepy feeling of being in a cemetery at night, I never personally experienced anything out of the ordinary. There were times I felt as if I was being watched, but I chalked this up to the situation I was in and not necessarily anything paranormal.

The investigations all revealed virtually nothing. Some photos produced some common “orbs” and a few strange anomalies, none of which I felt achieved evidentiary value.

Near the end of summer, during an interview with Roberta de Boer for the Toledo Blade, her photographer experienced equipment malfunction while we were in the southeast section of the cemetery. As I was describing the legend to Ms. de Boer, her photographer was visibly distracted and annoyed, fiddling with her equipment and muttering under her breath. Apparently, the fresh batteries she had placed in the camera and/or charged were bone-dry. Nothing worked. The photographer made repeated assertions that there was nothing wrong with the camera; that there was no reason why it shouldn’t work as expected. Equipment failure – this was the strangest thing I have thus far witnessed in Ravine Cemetery and I can’t even come close to making the claim it was induced by something paranormal.

We made arrangements to meet again during the daylight hours to obtain the photos for the article and that was my last foray into Ravine Cemetery as a paranormal investigator.

Over the years, I have read and heard of others who have gone searching for the ghost bride only to leave with a handful of “orb” or mist photos. There have even been some alleged eyewitness accounts of people who have seen the ghost bride, but without corroborating evidence the tales are anecdotal at best.

You would think that someone would’ve uncovered some proof by now. As far as I can tell, the only new information to be added to the tale was the information from the 1970 article I made public in another recent post (and that wouldn’t have happened without the help of Mark Wright and Spectral Travels).

As ghost stories go, this one should be relatively simple to prove. So, in the interest of investigative thoroughness, I’ve decided to re-open the case on Ravine Cemetery.

This time around, the focus of the investigation will be an attempt to determine the identity of the ghost bride, if she really does exist. This will be done by finding all the females who are buried alone and then using marriage and death records to determine if any of them fit the description of the widow as provided in the legend.

I’ll also attempt to locate the descendants of Jamie Walker and Irving Stow (based on the assumption that these two men have passed on themselves) in hopes that maybe they had passed on the tale of the bride to their children. Perhaps there is a key piece of data that was edited out of the 1970 article.

As for the actual field investigation, EM meters and EVP tech should suffice in making contact with the ghost bride, if she’s really out there.

I’ll keep you informed.

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Christopher Tillman

Author | Filmmaker | Speaker Christopher Tillman has been actively exploring claims of the paranormal since 1993. He currently resides in Toledo, Ohio.

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