Who you gonna call? Dayton ghost stories on and around campus

The Woodland Cemetery, located next to campus, is one of many spots in the city with supposed ghost sightings. Courtesy of Bartsche.

Maddy Bartsche | Arts & Entertainment Editor

Spooky season is upon us and you don’t have to go far to find some spooky legends. Dayton is home to several supposedly haunted locations with ghostly tales surrounding them.

We asked Chris Woodyard, local author of the “Haunted Ohio” series and ghost authority, to speak about some of her supernatural experiences.

Woodyard has been able to see ghosts since she was a child and believes it runs in her family given her great grandfather, grandfather and daughter have the ability.

“I’ve seen some statistics that say that about one in 10 have the ability to do it on a regular basis,” Woodyard said, speaking on how common the ability to see ghosts really is. “But I also think that many people have some kind of singular experience because maybe a loved one has returned or a relative has come back after death.”

If you’re able to see ghosts, there’s quite a few places you might run into some spooky spirits.

National Museum of the US Air Force 

When asked about some of the most haunted places in Dayton, Woodyard brought up the US Air Force Museum located about 16 minutes away from UD.

“There’s always a dead guy standing behind me in a flight suit or something and it’s very unsettling,” Woodyard said. “Those were war birds and they were not necessarily happy places to be, and I know aviators get very attached to their planes so that’s what’s going on over at the air force museum. It’s very busy.”

Dayton’s Masonic Center 

Another haunted Dayton location is the Dayton Masonic Center. 

“I know there’s several ghosts there. I encountered at least one of them in a very specific weird way. He sort of introduced himself, he’s like ‘Hi my name is George. You can call me George.’ And then, as we walked through the whole place he was kind of following me around and eventually we got to a room where they have photographs of the Masonic classes by year. I’m sort of flipping through these. They’re in poster holders on the wall and he said 1962. So I go to the poster and there he is in the picture. We never did find out if his name really was George because the roster was missing from that particular picture, although it was on the rest of them.”

In a spooky twist, Woodyard later spoke to the head of security at the center and he was very skeptical about her claim of seeing the ghost in the old photograph. But, when she showed him the picture of George the security guard realized that he saw that man around the center all the time and became pale with fright. 

The Woodland Cemetery sits side-by-side with student houses on the north side of campus | Bartsche.

Woodland Cemetery 

Another notorious spooky location is Woodland Cemetery right by campus. 

Not far from the cemetery’s Woodland Avenue entrance is the famous “The Boy & Dog” gravestone marking the grave of Johnny Morehouse who died Aug. 14, 1860.

Legend has it that the boy was playing along the Dayton canal with his constant companion and best friend, his dog. While they were playing, Johnny slipped into the canal. His dog desperately tried to save him, but ultimately when the dog finally was able to pull Johnny from the water, he was already dead. A few days after the funeral, the dog visited the grave and stayed there morning, noon and night, surviving on scraps of food from mourners. 

Woodyard mentioned that “if you hold your hand under the nose of the dog, it seems to breathe.”

“Those nostrils are kind of drilled out and there’s this uncanny sensation when you put your hand under it,” she added.

Legend has it that the child and dog wander around the cemetery at night.

The boy and his dog grave stone, located in the Woodland Cemetery | Bartsche

Woodyard spoke about a story that makes the Morehouse legend seem like less of a legend.

“I actually spoke to somebody and he said, ‘Yeah I live there, near the cemetery, and I saw this little guy and his dog walking around. I thought hey the cemetery is closed. This is a problem [that] some child has wandered off.’ They actually called the police and brought in the helicopters, with the heat seeking radar and stuff. They could never find anything. I wondered if you went there quickly if you’d see the bare pedestal where the little boy and the stone dog should have been.”

Another Woodland Cemetery legend is the weeping women. The female ghost, wearing jeans and Nike tennis shoes, is reported to sit on her grave and cry. 

Woodyard said, “One guy was visiting the cemetery and heard this woman weeping bitterly, but couldn’t see anybody. He got back in his car and he felt somebody in the car with him, and it was this thing crying all the way home.”

Look out of the windows of Marycrest and you may just see this weeping woman sitting upon her grave in utter despair.

University of Dayton’s Liberty Hall

You don’t have to stray far away from campus to see a ghost. University of Dayton’s Liberty Hall is rumored to be home to several spirits.

Woodyard, while she was speaking at Liberty Hall, was offered a tour by one of the police officers.

“So, I’m walking around without incident, but on the top floor I reached the last corner and there was a man standing in the hall. He was very old and bent over. [He] almost looked like he’d had a stroke, because he was dragging one leg. The worst thing was that he was sort of dribbling saliva out of his mouth and he had broken teeth,” Woodyard said.

“The hallway, of course, was too narrow for me to go past him. I would have had to walk through him and I’m like, ‘no way I think I’ll just go back.’”

The officer and his companions told Woodyard they had seen this man standing looking out the Liberty Hall windows and that other people in the building had reported hearing footsteps.

Mary Niebler, coordinator of cross-cultural immersions, has also had a supernatural encounter in the building. 

“I was in graduate school and was in my office​​ — Liberty Hall room 203 the same office I have today — writing a paper. I was pulling an all-nighter since back then, my only computer was a desktop in my office. I was the only person in the building. It was about 2 or 3 a.m. As I was typing, I caught what appeared to be someone walking past my office in the hallway out of the corner of my eye. All I saw was a dress shoe and pant leg of what appeared to be a man,” said Niebler. “I said ‘hello’ a couple of times and there was no answer. I quickly closed and locked my office door and went to finish my paper. I wasn’t about to walk around the building, nor did I wish to walk home in the dark by myself. I waited out the night in my office.”

Liberty Hall can be found near the back end of the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception | Bartsche

Nieber mentioned that Liberty Hall used to be an infirmary for the Marianists. Since some people died in the building, this may explain some of the legends surrounding it.

So is the Air Force Museum and Dayton Masonic Center really crawling with spirits? Is Woodland Cemetery really haunted? Can you really see a ghost in the window of Liberty Hall? Or is it all just a bunch of urban myths? 

One thing is for sure, next time you’re at any of these spooky Dayton locations, you better look behind you.

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