Tracing The Source Of Ravine Cemetery’s Ghost Bride Legend

Ravine Cemetery, like most small cemeteries, is pretty non-descript. Despite its urban surroundings, it sits quietly tucked away from life’s usual hustle and bustle and, from what I can tell, sees few visitors inside its gates.

Some cemeteries have an air about them; something that stirs the imagination and conjures up images of wandering spirits or ghostly lights. Ravine is definitely not like one of those cemeteries. Its open, bright, and well-manicured spaces leave you with the unmistakable impression of eternal peace and serenity. Any thoughts of it being haunted are the furthest thing from your mind.

Growing up in Sylvania during the ’80s, Ravine’s singular claim to fame was the headstone of a man named Frederick Krueger which quickly became a topic of morbid conversation among teenage fans of the “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies. Apart from adolescent thrill-seekers daring each other to touch Freddie’s “final resting place,” no one ever suspected something paranormal could be going on inside Ravine Cemetery.

It wasn’t until the late ’90s when, much to my surprise, I learned of a legend associated with Ravine from Chris Woodyard’s book, “Haunted Ohio III.” Unlike most of the entries in her books, the one concerning Ravine Cemetery was more of a footnote than anything else and left very little to go on.

From “Haunted Ohio III”:

Sylvania’s Ravine Park Cemetery is haunted by a bride who can’t rest because her family couldn’t decide which of her three husbands to bury her by.

That was it. As ghost stories go, there’s not much there to work with. But, she did provide a source for the information. Her knowledge of the legend came from a Toledo Blade article, titled “Ghosts Still Haunt Area Graveyards,” written by Paula Miner and published on October 31, 1978.

At the time, I lived just down the road from Ravine Cemetery and often drove past it to and from work. But, Woodyard’s very brief mention of Ravine’s paranormal possibilities didn’t really instill me with a lot of confidence that the legend was based in reality. In fact, my instincts told me it was most likely an urban legend she came across while perusing old newspaper clippings and didn’t feel it warranted a lengthy entry in the book. I mean, if there was more to the story, surely she would’ve devoted more than just a sentence to it, right? And, after all, as a Sylvania resident, wouldn’t I have heard about the legend already? Still, I thought it might be worth a look. Y’know, just in case.

During the summer of 1998, I conducted a series of investigations at Ravine in an attempt to document anything out of the ordinary. Several weeks and roughly one hundred photos later, all I had to show for my efforts was a handful of photos displaying those ubiquitous “orbs” and a few photographic oddities I chalked up to processing errors at the photo lab. My time spent wasn’t a total loss, though, as it did bring me to the attention of the Toledo Blade, but the lack of discernible paranormal activity forced me to put Ravine on the backburner and turn my ghosthunting attention to other, hopefully more active, locations.

Toledo Blade (c) 1999

Toledo Blade (c) 1999

Toledo Blade (c) 1999

Toledo Blade (c) 1999

My information concerning Ravine Cemetery has sat in the back of the file cabinet ever since until earlier this year when I decided the location, as well as a few others, deserved a second chance to prove themselves. Ghost tech has come a long way since 1998 and, perhaps, with the gadgets I’ve managed to accumulate over the years, I’ll have a better chance to document the elusive phantom bride, if in fact she actually exists.

One of the first things to do this time around was to track down Chris Woodyard’s source for the legend – the Toledo Blade article from 1978. Thanks to Google, I was able to find it in no time flat from the comforts of my recliner at home. (It should be noted that Woodyard placed the publication date of the article as being October 31, 1978 when in actuality it was October 31, 1970.) Unfortunately, though, the document scans provided by Google were virtually impossible to read. But, thanks to the help of fellow ghosthunter, Mark Wright, who ventured to the newspaper archive downtown, I’m able to provide legible scans of the Blade article here. (Transcript follows)

Credit: Toledo Blade

Credit: Toledo Blade

Credit: Toledo Blade

Credit: Toledo Blade

From the article, “Ghosts Still Haunt Area Graveyards,” by Paula Miner and published in the Toledo Blade on October 31, 1970…

Not to be forgotten is the lovely ghost who haunts Ravine Park Cemetery in Sylvania, which was built in 1883. The late Irving Stow, who was caretaker of the ancient graveyard for 35 years, told Mr. Walker [Jamie Walker, president of the Lloyd Bros.-Walker Company, a grave-marker business] the following tale with such conviction that Mr. Walker swears the old gentleman could have passed a lie detector test.

It seems that a charming and virtuous Victorian girl married while still in her teens. After a few short years, her young husband died.

She observed the year-long period of mourning, then married a second time. Shortly after, the second husband also passed away. Determined to have a home and children, the woman took yet a third spouse, but he, too, met an early death.

The grief-stricken widow never remarried. She died 30 years later. While completing funeral arrangements, a great controversy arose over who to bury her with. It was finally decided among the three spouses’ families that she and her husbands would be separated forever.

Evidently, this arrangement was not a happy one, however. For, on the anniversary of each man’s death, the auburn-haired ghost, dressed in flowing white robes, walks through the graveyard at dawn, searching for her dear departed.

Where do we go from here?

Well, the most obvious first step would be to locate the graves of all the single women in the cemetery. And, by ‘single’ I mean women who are buried by themselves and not with family or spouses. From this list, then, it’s only a matter of wading through stacks of marriage records looking for the one who was married and widowed three times over. If you can find a grave which matches that criteria, we’ll be one step closer to proving the legend of the ghost bride is based on actual circumstances.

We’ll keep you posted on what we find.

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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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