Richland County Ohio Ghosts and Hauntings - Mansfield Reformatory


Richland County Map


Mansfield Reformatory Ghost Image


Left: The Mansfield Reformatory has plenty of ghosts of its past. Image of ghost walking behind girl.


Listen to an EVP

Our favorite EVP  - 'Please don't touch me" 

*I do want to note that this year, we made a special trip to the reformatory on the Haunted Mansfield tour (Quality Inn in Mansfield has a really cool special overnight Ghost Hunters package) and stopped there during the day. There were few tour guides at the reformatory to provide help and no maps available for directions around the building (we did ask several times but the available staff person was unable to help). There were lots of visitors just like us who took the self-guided tour and wandered aimlessly through the building. Signs to show directions were random and misplaced. The building is a maze and at $9.00 for the self-guided tour, our group was sorely disappointed and left. Of course, we do understand the prison is run by hard working volunteers, but we don't want anyone else to make a long road trip and have the same frustrating results. It was a trip we truly looked forward to going on for some time. So . . .it is highly recommended if you go, call ahead of time to see if there will be dedicated staff accessible and find out if there are maps available to show you how to get to the different levels-



In April 1896, at the same time bills were passed prohibiting the wearing of high hats in theatres which obstruct the view of the stage, it was also passed that the Mansfield Reformatory would be immediately opened. And it was with much fanfare for it had been nearly ten years of construction and funding delays since the cornerstone was first laid. It was said that thousands of people lined the streets, passing out cigars to the 150  inmates who would be moving from the old prison to the new castle-like institute. 


The much-awaited reformatory was a large investment for Ohio. The fact that it was self-sustaining made it a positive asset to the region. Excess funds could help support the institute and it also provided a way for younger men with less offenses to redeem themselves


Stark County News

The Stark County Democrat., September 10, 1896, Page 6


Ah, and if ever a place had an impending atmosphere, it would be the monstrous stronghold known as the Ohio State Reformatory. The original idea for this particular prison was for the reform of younger men and restoring them back to society. The Ohio State Reformatory (also called Mansfield Reformatory) took in the mid-level lawbreakers whereas the hardcore criminals were sent to Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus. The institution, like the poorhouses and asylums, were designed to be self-sustaining communities and the excess earnings sold for a profit which would help fund the program.

            Driving on to the grounds is like entering into the belly of a beast - a fortress-like castle built to withstand escapees and riots and to hold some of Ohio's most corrupt citizens. Built in 1896, the original architect for the design was Clevelander Levi T. Scofield. By building such an enormous structure, his plans were to intimidate those coming through the gates -to overwhelm the prisoners entering into the prison, let them know those within meant business. It worked.

Mansfield Reformatory, Mansfield Ohio

            Still, funding was an issue from the start. On September 17th, 1896, when the first one-hundred and fifty prisoners were brought to the reformatory, those inmates had to help finish the building. It would be another fourteen years before the prison was complete.

            During the time the prison was open, over 154,000 men passed through the gates. As early as 1933, the prison was overcrowded.  However, it still remained in use until 1990. So for 94 years, the reformatory swallowed up men who needed redeeming and spit them out reformed. Well, some.  Many, most likely, were released with good behavior, saw the light of day outside the walls of the prison.

            Some were not so lucky. They stayed inside the bowels of the huge beast that devoured them. While no one was put to death in this reformatory (the electric chair was at the Ohio Pen), there are 215 men buried in the cemetery-dying from tuberculosis, influenza, violence, and simple diseases cured by antibiotics today. Within the walls, though, the souls of those who never made it out still linger. There were suicides by hanging and one man is said to set himself on fire.

     the summer of 1948, Robert Murl Daniels and 22 year old John Coulter West, former Ohio State Reformatory prisoners, kidnapped and murdered John Niebel, his wife Nolana and their 21 year old daughter, Phyllis. John Niebel had been superintendent of the 1600 acre honor farm for 20 years. The revenge-murder had been planned for four years.

Robert Daniels - executed 1949 -ODRC Collections 

            The victims, wearing their nightclothes, had been kidnapped before dawn from their small farm not far from the reformatory. Their nude bodies were found in a cornfield on Fleming Road by a pastor and a youth counselor taking 65 boys on a hike for a Lutheran youth camp eight hours after the abduction. Seeing what appeared to be clothing, the pastor walked closer and saw they were bodies. He returned, telling the boys it was nothing more than slaughtered pigs as not to frighten them.

Mansfield ReformatoryPhyllis' had been beaten and her hair was still held up with the pin curls she had put on before bed. All three had been shot and their clothing was found on the floor of the home. John Coulter was killed at a roadblock. Robert Daniels died in the electric chair.




Guard Frank Hanger, a 48 year old guard, was beaten to death with an iron bar by Chester Probaski and Elza Chandler in October of 1932. He was making rounds in the disciplinary block and Chandler was crouching near a cupboard. Chandler was on a 300 day stay in solitary confinement. Both murderers were sent to the electric chair.











In November of 1950, the warden's wife, Helen Bauer Glattke, died of pneumonia several days after an accidental discharge of a gun. While reaching into a closet to retrieve a jewelry box, the gun discharged, injuring the woman.   Arthur Lewis Glattke, her husband,  died following a heart attack suffered in his office on February 10, 1959.


Helen's room

The closet where the gun discharged. 



But what about the hauntings? The MRPS (Mansfield Reformatatry Preservation Society - lists the following 8 most haunted places, but we found a few more to explore:


Most Haunted 


East Administration Building - The Warden and His Family's Quarters - The voices of people have been heard throughout this area. Footsteps have been heard in the hallways, administrative office where Warden Arhtur Lewis Glattke died of a heart attack. His wife, Helen's, voice has been heard in the bedroom and around the closet area where she was accidently shot. There has also been the scent of roses in the rooms. There is also an area where lights from four bedroom windows all come in at once and meet in the exact halfway point of the prison. There is activity there. We got a picture of an apparitions.


3rd Floor West Administration - Gusts of cold air, footsteps.


West Wing and East Wing Shower - mists and apparitions. Some have felt like they are choking or cannot breath.


East cell block - Pushing, touching, cold spots, images in cameras.

 TB Ward - cool spots.


Chair Room of old priests housing unit and Chapel- three chairs are set out in a row in this room. When someone sits in any chair but the central chair and the lights are turned out, the chair in the center is said to move on its own. Apparitions.

 Sub Basement - A boy has been seen and also heard whispering.


Solitary Confinement - Also called The Hole - The solitary confinement area where guard Frank Hanger was beaten to death by Chester Probaski. People have been touched, felt cold drafts. A sense of despair and depression may overcome people.

 Ohio Reformatory Map Click for larger View


The Reformatory offers both public and private ghost hunts.  They also offer guided and self-guided tours. Times, dates vary so make sure you contact them and check the site. We have taken both and were very interested with the information they gave. The guide we had was very informative and certainly not boring at any point. There were kids from 5-7 and all the way up to 11 on our tour and they remained interested throughout.

 The information below is from their website and may change. Please go to their website to get the most up to date info:

Ghost Hunts® are serious, yet informal attempts to document paranormal activity at the castle-like, former prison. Ghost Hunts® provide an unusual, first-hand experience to search other realms. Ghost Hunts® at OSR are the first of their kind in the United States.

Public Hunt admission is $70 (this is as of 2013) per person and includes access to the building from 8:00pm until 5:00am and a late dinner of pizza and soda.  Complimentary water, soda, coffee and hot chocolate available throughout the evening. 

  • Gates open 7pm
  • Check in between 7pm-8pm
  • Guided tour of facility 8:30-9:30
  • Independent investigating 10pm-5am
  • Must be 18 and over to participate

*The building contains hazards including, but not limited to: steep steps, uneven surfaces, and lead-based paint.  It is not recommended for pregnant women. Sleeping during a hunt is prohibited. For a full list of rules and regulations, please see below.

If you have purchased your ticket online, there is no need to send in a license agreement.  All participants will be required to sign in at check in and present a valid photo ID.

Any changes to participant registration must be completed 48 hours prior to the hunt and can be done so by emailing



Mansfield Reformatory
Mansfield Reformatory's impending exterior. Mansfield is about a 2 hour and 15 minute drive from Old Man's Cave.


Mansfield - Room used during Shawshank Redemption.
Room used during Shawshank Redemption.




Mansfield Reformatory Cell
West Cell block


Mansfield Reformatory Cell Block
East Cell block.
Listen to an EVP

As our guide walked us into the East Cell Block, I found this on the recorder. After she speaks, it sounds like an elderly gentleman saying: 'Please don't touch me.'




Mansfield Reformatory Cell Block
Cell Block  
Listen to an EVP
We heard this indistinct whispering in the lowest level of the West Cell Block. It sounded like a boy.


The Chair Room - Ohio State Reformatory
The Chair Room - Have someone sit in any chair but the center chair and turn out the lights for 30 seconds. The center chair is supposed to move.  Ours did not move when we tried it. But we only made it to 29 seconds the the pitch black of the room. . .

Mansfield Reformatory
The Chair Room 





Mansfield Reformatory
The library.


Shoes on bed.




Library Circulation Desk.


Mansfield Reformatory Cell Block
A typical cell.
Listen to an EVP
We heard this 'hey' in the West Cell Block.





The Chapel.  We were so lucky to get our guide who was patient with all the kids' questions and knew the most fascinating facts to keep them crazy busy.


Mansfield Reformatory
On the stairway.  






Mansfield Reformatory Cell Block
Cell block - there is an east and west cell block. 
My daughter became fascinated with the locks the prisoners could buy to secure their cells when they went to work. After talking about them and taking pictures, we heard this whisper.
Listen to an EVP


The view from the parking lot. 




Mansfield Reformatory Cell
The Cell in Infrared. 


Mansfield Reformatory Cell
Cell with toilet torn out.  On the West Wing, we all got eerie goosebumps at the same time in the center of the building.






This is a hallway between the warden and assistant warden's living quarters into the chapel. The light there is from windows strategically placed to show the center of the reformatory.
Cell with toilet torn out.  On the West Wing, we all got eerie goosebumps at the same time in the center of the building.



Ghost at Mansfield Reformatory
This ghostly apparition showed up in the image while taking the picture. Looks like a guard or perhaps, one of the prisoners used as house boys for the warden's family.


Warden's Family Area. 




Mansfield Reformatory


Mansfield Reformatory 
Image of warden's bedroom and closet where Missus Glattke was accidently shot while reaching into the closet to retrieve a jewelry box. The gun fell from the shelf and discharged.



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