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Haunted Clifton

Rosalie's Rescue

In 1794, a woman named Rosalie went into the woods near her home at Gallipolis with her young son to pick berries. Hours later, when they failed to return, Rosalieís husband went looking for them. He found only the little boy, who was lost, tired, hungry and scared half to death. The boy told his father that he and his mother were surprised by a small party of Shawnee. His mother told him to run one direction as she ran another. The Shawnee chased after the mother and the child managed to escape. Rosalieís husband quickly organized a search party to rescue his wife. They tracked the Shawnee party for days before they caught sight of them in the gorge near present day Clifton. Three Shawnee braves were camped on a cliff with Rosalie tied to a tree. The rescuers fired at the kidnappers, killing two of them. Before they could fire again, the third Shawnee killed Rosalie with his tomahawk. Rosalie's husband screamed in anguish and rushed to tackle the Shawnee, intent on murdering him with his bare hands. Instead, the two men tumbled over the cliff into the gorge to their deaths. Their bodies were never found. Rosalie was laid to rest under a mound of stones on the cliff where she died. The search party then sadly returned to Gallipolis to tell Rosalieís children they were now orphans. Over the years, hikers have occasionally reported a strange occurrence in that area of Clifton Gorge.  They claim to see a man and a woman strolling arm in arm which, at first, does not seem strange. Just as they realize the couple is dressed in clothing from the early 1800s, and they turn back for another look, the couple is gone.

Wiley the Hermit

Photo courtesy of Clifton Mill.

Wiley the Hermit officially lived near Clifton with his wife and her family, but most of the year he stayed in a hut he made of driftwood and stones on the river near the present-day boundary of John Bryan State Park and Clifton Gorge. The stagecoach passed by Wiley's hut so Wiley kept a spring box full of soda pop which he sold to travelers for a nickel a bottle. He was quite a character who dressed in bib overalls and wore a bandana around his neck. Another source of income for Wiley was selling produce, nuts and berries from his horse-drawn cart in Clifton and Yellow Springs. Folks always knew when Wiley was coming, because he was always whistling. One rainy day in 1912 as Wiley was returning to his hut in his cart, the horse lost its footing on a muddy path and the cart, the horse and Wiley were washed down the swollen river. When Wiley was found, it appeared as though he had been trying to free the horse from its harness when they both drowned. Since shortly after this tragedy, and to this day, people have been reporting encountering a ghost wearing overalls and a bandana strolling through Clifton Gorge and John Bryan State Park whistling a happy tune.

Crybaby Farm

On a cold November night in 1809 on a farm outside of Clifton, an unfortunate young woman gave birth to a baby girl she named Rose. She was not married to nor even in love with the babyís father, in fact he was her sisterís husband. The man was a brute who had repeatedly forced himself on her, eventually resulting in the unwanted pregnancy. As soon as Rose was born, this horrid man took her from her motherís arms and threw her into the hog pens at the west end of the farm, threatening his entire family with a similar or worse fate should they go near the wailing baby. A terrible night was spent in that house, the mother nearly out of her mind with grief. Her brother-in-law stayed up all night to make sure no one rescued the baby, no amount of pleading would change his plan. Just as the sun was coming up, the crying ceased and he went to bed. The family waited in agony until they were certain he was asleep, then snuck out to find the poor little child dead. They quickly and quietly buried her near the rose bushes. They all knew without saying it out loud that they would be expected to behave as if nothing had happened. Aghast at what she had witnessed and concerned for her immortal soul, one of the familyís young daughters finally told their preacher what had happened. The preacher had suspected both the abuse and the pregnancy so he had no doubt the girl was telling the truth. He alerted the authorities and the man and the babyís mother were arrested. The man was found guilty at the trial the following spring. The mother was acquitted owing to the manís reputation as a bully and the testimony of her niece who insisted that her aunt, the mother of the murdered child, was devastated by what happened that night, but was completely helpless in the situation. Since then, for nearly 200 years, visitors and residents of the farm have occasionally reported hearing a baby crying outside. The mournful sound seems to come from the west, yet no source has ever been found. Note: This story is based on an actual event, the court case was in 1811.

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