Fairfield County Ohio Ghosts and Hauntings - Still-House Hollow and Old Foglesong Road

Fairfield County Map


Still-House Hollow and Foglesong Road
Jacob Spangler's Ghostly Ride
39.765138,-82.596688    to 39.738016,-82.598523

There's an old ghost story from Lancaster, Ohio. It has all those things that unsettle the soul-- a chilling murder, a nail-biting mystery and a macabre  ghost haunting for those who dare to cross its path. The story, it is worth the telling and retelling again. If for no other reason, to warn others about those things wicked and the consequences of those actions therein.

To know the tale, you first must know the area where it all began. It was just a road, a meandering path in the early 1800s that began above the place where Coonpath Road is now and the creek called Fetters Run begins. At first the road was nothing more than a rocky, muddy footpath from farm to farm and then to the local town of Lancaster. Then the dirt and root-ridden path widened enough for horse-rider, then carriage.  Back then, though, it ran a rugged route alongside Fetters Run down through Christian Foglesong's property, Jacob Spangler's house and a few farms owned by the Fetter family. It meandered past the Fairfield County Infirmary (then called the Poor House Farm),  and to the Van Pearce's who lived a little closer to Lancaster. It came to a subtle end  along with the creek rambling through the middle of it where Rising Park is now.


Foglesong Road

Stringtown Road just off Coonpath Road  was once a part of Foglesong Road where the Christian Foglesong family were neighbors with the Jacob Spangler family.

      Back in the early days, the late 1700s and early 1800s, the road had a name-- Foglesong, for the farming family living along it. The small valley between the hills it was tucked within was deemed Still-House Hollow. And its name came from the few whiskey still houses secreted in the glens and ravines.  It was between those times the ghosting began along Foglesong Road. The story started with the horrible murder of a man by the name of John Ornsdorff by another man's hand, a Mister Crowley, who owned a still along Foglesong Road:

The Vancouver independent., April 21, 1881, Image 3 tells the story like this:

One night, when the chill November winds were whining and moaning through the leafless oaks, and the first great flakes of winter were descending, a murder was committed in the rocky pass by the Still-House Hollow. The victim was John Ormsdorf, a recent settler in the vicinity, who came from Licking county, and who was a stock dealer, and in those days a man of money. I say it was murder, but that was never fully demonstrated, yet all the good people of the region were fully agreed upon this point. His horse came home riderless, with empty saddle-bags besmeared with blood, and brains and hair. A great crowd visited the spot next morning, and by the marks on the ground they made out where Ormsdorf had fallen from his horse, just at the brow of the hill, where the rocks began to show themselves from out the soil. The men discovered by the bloody trail where the body had been dragged from the roadside, into the bushes, down the hollow toward the old log-still, and up to its very door, which was closed and barred. But the rugged yeomanry who were there wore not to be frustrated by bars and bolts, and a few vigorous strokes with an axe acted like the open seasame of the Forty Thieves. With bated breath they entered the dismal abode of the old benzine-maker, followed the bloody track across the main room and into a smaller and rear apartment, where lay, before their eyes, covered and bedabbled with blood, the lifeless corpse-- of a yearling steer! The old farmers stood aghast! What unseemly trick was this? And they gazed in speechless wonder into each other's faces. Search was then made through the still, its cramped little cells, dirty, dingy, and smoke begrimmed, but nothing was found. Even old Crowley had disappeared as thoroughly and completely as if he had been resolved into original elements. The very atmosphere of the shanty smacked of the devil's domicilium; the great cracks in the walls looked as if about to open and swallow the intruders, and more than one averred, after well out on the highway again, that there was a sulphurous smell about the place. . . The Vancouver independent., April 21, 1881 - A Ghost Story

Ornsdorff and Crowley disappeared and were never seen again. It was not long after the murder, folks began hearing wails and screams coming from Still-House Hollow where the cabin had been and along the old trail of Foglesong Road. It was a place avoided at night, one sending chills up the spine for the darkness and ghostly story tellings. And in the cooler days of autumn, Foglesong Road and the hollow it rambled within was a place few would venture. Then one day, Jacob Spangler who lived along Foglesong Road with his family, was taking an anxious horse ride along the rutted road to summon a doctor for a sick family member. He realized too late that in his haste to seek the doctor, he had taken the haunted route along Foglesong Road. He halted his horse and shivered past his fears. He had no choice but to go on. And so he did. But what awaited him ahead was so horrifying, Jacob Spangler could do no more than ride in a stupor while a ghostly passenger began a ride along with him . . .

The Winnipeg Free Press March 19, 1881  describes it as this: It was in the melancholy November, a clear moonlit night, not a fitting time for ghost or goblin, when Spangler mounted his horse started to town in quest of medical aid for a sick member of his family. A cold chill ran up his spine when ho remembered he must pass Still-House Hollow. Now, Jake is as courageous as a Numidiam lion, and in those young days a great, strapping big fellow, of prodigious bodily strength, like some of the quadrumana we hear of in Central Africa, and he wasn't afraid of the devil himself, but he acknowledges, the likelihood of meeting old Crowley or Ormsdorf on the lonesome road made him feel at least skittish and he would much rather have remained home than make the trip. But there was no help for it, and he rode quietly along at a gentle canter thinking of the stories he had heard, and thinking particularly of the old whisky-maker and the ill-fated Licking settler. Now he glanced furtively on this side, then on that, then watching the phantoms stalking athwart the highway as a fleecy cloud floating between earth and moon, when suddenly as he neared the rocky declivity, the stretch of murky woods through which ran the Still-House Hollow his horse gave a loud affrighted snort then fixed his fore feet and stood still, quivering in every nerve. Jacob bent forward and looked ahead, and there, standing sidewise in the middle of the narrow highway, was a yearling steer, with glowing eyes and preternatural long hair. Spangler boldly endeavored to urge his horse forward but he would not budge, and he was about to turn and see if he would not go the other way, when he felt something seize his leg, and, gazing down, he saw the steer climbing up. He was bereft of the power of motion or sound, and the next moment the long haired and juvenescent bovine had taken a seat behind him, with its fore-legs resting upon his shoulders, and thus it rode with him until the southern boundary of the woods was reached, when it leaped down and disappeared into the earth or faded away into thin air. Spangler hurried on to town with feelings easier imagined than described, and an hour later returned with an old physician of this city, long since dead, and again they saw the mystic steer standing by the roadside, near the spot where Ormsdorf had been murdered, but as there were two of them it made no attempt to ride. For years this strange and incomprehensible creature haunted this spot, and scores of men have seen it and ridden with it; and to this day there are a number of the older residents of the township who will make affidavit to its existence.

The Foglesongs and the Spanglers truly existed. There was at least one man by the name of John Ornsdorf (Ormsdorf, Orndorff) in Ohio and one family was living in Licking County. Whether any fell to murdering hands, we could never prove. But the road was real (although it has changed its course and name a bit today), the creek is still there and Still-House Hollow exists. The ghost, too, was seen by many. It was brought to my attention that the Fairfield County Infirmary was nearly parallel to the route Spangler traveled with the calf-like creature on his horse. Was there an inmate/patient at the infirmary who might have scared folks for years by jumping on the back of horses?

You can still see Foglesong Road today and it is only a short drive from Lancaster along Stringtown Road. You can take your car along the road that follows Fetters Run near Coonpath Road, drive the same trail Jacob Spangler took on his horse that fateful night he ambled into the path of the calf-like man about the place where Keller-Kirn Park is located. Maybe you'll hear the screams and wails. You can imagine what it would be like to have the creature jump on the horse behind you and travel the rutted road until it ends about the time you get to Rising Park in town.

 You can ramble along the old route, now made of asphalt and mostly pocked by modern homes and new county bridges. It isn't called  Foglesong Road anymore. It went by Wagner Road for a while, then got sucked into Stringtown Road. It isn't dirt or mottled with roots and rocks and you can't pause in your meanderings like old Jake did because there are cars rambling at less than idle speed on it now.  But in some places, the land still harbors the ravines, thick woods and dark places in Still-House Hollow, like  Keller-Kirn Park, where more than one horseback rider was terrified by the ghostly apparition of a calf-like man and the dying screams of a murdered man.



Old Foglesong Road, now a section of Stringtown Road.
Jacob Spangler would have started near his farm here:

Still-House Hollow and Old Foglesong Road. 

The area near Jacob's scary ride.  His trail was probably not much bigger than the one nearly hidden in the trees in the ravine.  
The most terrifying area of his ride would have been nearly parallel to the old infirmary a road over, but about here and near Keller-Kirn Park.




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