As the witching holiday of Halloween fast approaches, local ghost stories and spooky Fort Wayne urban legends are quickly returning to the surface of local consciousness.
Several local legends have been floating around the area for years. One of the most popular is the tale of Devils’ Hollow, just north of Fort Wayne.
Folklore says an evil, old witch once lived in a ramshackle one-story home near Cedar Canyon River, and that one night, a group of rambunctious teenagers snuck onto her property to have some late-night fun.
As the youngsters peeked into her windows, the witch hid from their gazes by crouching in her chimney. As the kids were leaving, one of them tossed a still-lit cigarette onto the ground, igniting piles of brittle, dry leaves littering the property.
The resulting blaze consumed much of the backwoods property, as well as the tiny house – with the witch still inside. And although the area is now well-developed with numerous subdivisions, legend has it that if you come to the property at nighttime – under just the right moonlight – you can still see the chimney of the witch’s old house towering over the wooded plot of land.
Bone-chilling stories and creepy legends abound around the Summit City. The Embassy Theater downtown is said to be home to hundreds of odd happenings, from stage lights mysteriously turning on and off, to icy cold spots popping up backstage and in the balcony, to peculiar smells, to faucets turning themselves on and off.
There’s also the tale of a lady-in-white ghost haunting Main Street in Fort Wayne, a legend that dates all the way back to the late 1800s; and Lindenwood Cemetery – one of Fort Wayne’s oldest graveyards – is said to be haunted by a Victorian-era politician, who strolls the 175-acre property on misty mornings, carrying his cane and sporting a top hat.
Even downtown Fort Wayne isn’t without its creepy stories: Lincoln Tower is said to be haunted by different ghosts on each floor.
When it was built in 1930, the tower was the tallest ever constructed in Fort Wayne. And each of the building’s 22 stories is said to be occupied by a different ghost. The specter on the top floor is said to be a man who committed suicide by jumping from one of the tower’s highest windows. The ghost on the fourth floor is rumored to be that of a racist woman, who shouts curses at minorities she sees from the window.
Mollie Mitoraj is one local lady who knows all too well the frights of living with spooky occurrences. At her mother’s old home on Packard Avenue, Mitoraj said that every year, in January, the family would be woken between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. with a loud noise, “like a truck hit the house,” she said.
In addition, folks there often would hear the sound of a woman crying. And occasionally, Mitoraj said, kitchen cupboards and room doors would open and close by themselves.
Cheryl Hornveck said her creepy tale came from a time spent chatting with a friend in England via her computer about seven years ago.
Her pal’s mother had recently passed away. Her friend began to feel hot on his right side and icy cold on his left. At the same time, he also felt the sensation of someone sitting on his lap, and the smell of his deceased mother’s signature perfume.
At the very same moment, Hornveck said she got an odd whiff of a flowery scent. And even her husband, who was in another part of the house – in that moment – asked her, “What’s that smell?” A moment later, her husband saw a shadow race down their hallway, and a second later, her cat jumped in the air and began hissing at the window.
“I’m still not sure exactly what it was,” she said, “but it may have been my friend’s mother “coming to visit me through the computer line.”
“I was definitely scared,” said Hornveck, 56, “but I don’t think she was there to hurt me; maybe just to meet me.”
So, as the creepiest day of the year fast approaches, just remember to steer clear of some of these areas. And, you may also want to avoid your walk-in closet and chatting on your computer until Nov. 1st.