Inside the front cover of a scrapbook compiled during the late 1800s, there used to be a piece of paper with some writing on it. At one time someone jotted down the contents of the note. It read in part: "This book belongs to Lemuel Jeffries (newspaper publisher and Wooster mayor) and it must not be taken out of the Wayne County Democrat office without his personal permission."
Later, Jeffries presented the scrapbook — which contained newspaper clippings from the 1870s — to John C. Hoffman.
The book hasn’t been seen in years. But what has survived is the story of the Hoffman ghost. That’s because someone also jotted down the ghost story found in the book’s newspaper clippings.
A May 11, 1871, headline read: "Haunted house in Wooster."
"Hundreds have visited the David Hoffman house," stated the article. "Female members of the house are afraid to sleep in separate chambers so they bed in one room. All sorts of clothing and food items have mysteriously disappeared from the house. Mrs. Hoffman believes the evil spirit might be that of her late sister. The two used to quarrel about clothes."
The article said the spirit steals only Mr. Hoffman’s money or slashes his boots when he’s with other members of the family. A local reporter’s hat was slashed while he was in the room. So was clothing belonging to other visitors in the house.
The Wooster Republican reported on May 25, 1871, that "clairvoyant and medium Madame Thompson of Cleveland came to Wooster last Saturday. A pan and stick were put under a table which was covered in a cloth and the table was surrounded at a distance by a group of people in a circle. The sticks pounded on the pan. A local merchant said he saw stones fly across the room with notes tied to them and the table danced."
The ghost must have departed, for there were no further newspaper reports of the mysterious spirit inhabiting the Hoffman house.
(The last known owner of the scrapbook was Otto Gravatt whose father was publisher of the Democrat around the turn of the century.)
At the turn of the last century, the Ohio Overall Co. at the corner of West Liberty and South Walnut streets in Wooster used to manufacture a high-grade line of workingmen’s garments, making a general line for railroad men, farmers and mechanics. The denim goods were marketed under the "Ohio" brand. The goods were sold direct to the trade and could be found in all first class stores selling men’s goods.
Blair Lightner started running movie projectors in Wooster for Ed Mott in 1912. Lightner, it was said, worked in the theater showing movies for 64 years.
Thought you should know.
Columnist Ann Gasbarre can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-345-6419.