The Haunting of Winameg
THE HAUNTING OF WINAMEG
Fulton County, Ohio
Can an entire town be haunted? I don’t mean just a few houses here and there, or a lonely gravel road on the outskirts, but an entire town? Is it even possible?
Well, if you believe the legends that come out of Fulton County, the answer would be yes, it is entirely possible.
Inside rural Pike Township, just northwest of Delta, there used to be a small village known as Winameg. Very little of the place remains today and in another generation or two it’s quite possible it won’t even survive as a passing thought in the minds of those who still live in the area.
Like many rural pioneer villages in northwest Ohio, Winameg was simply overshadowed by the prosperity of other cities and towns in the region. Eventually, the village died out and found itself erased from county maps, but it’s memory will always live on in the pages of Ohio folklore.
That’s because Winameg was haunted. The whole dang village. It sounds like something out of a Stephen King novel, an entire town savaged by dark forces, but that is, as they say, how the story goes.
It’s hard to imagine an entire village can fall victim to haunting phenomena. Reported incidents include the imposing phantom of a black dog who’s been seen running the fields and streets of Winameg. Several people claim to have seen this ghostly canine while driving through town. At the last minute, the dog was said to run out in front of their cars, leaving them no warning to stop in time. Some have said they actually felt the car hit something large. When they got out to check on the dog, they didn’t find one. No signs of any animal. No blood. And, no damage to their cars.
Winameg was also said to be haunted by the ghost of a young-looking, blonde girl who was most often seen near the old cemetery and nearby pond. Witnesses claim she appears solid, real, and like any other flesh and blood human – but will disappear before your very eyes after just a few seconds.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: The sighting of two ghosts, each pretty much confined to certain locations, doesn’t necessarily mean the entire town is haunted. Ordinarily you’d be correct. But, I’m not finished.
According to legends and oral tradition, many of the houses in Winameg (and there weren’t that many to begin with) were reportedly plagued by the same kinds of phenomena most often seen in haunted locations. Household lights would turn on and off by themselves. Doors would open and close by themselves. Electrical equipment never seemed to operate as designed. Televisions, for instance, were known to begin rapidly flipping through channels on the their own – and, remember, this was before there were remote controls. You actually had to get up and turn the channel knob.
Winameg was a small place. Is it possible that whatever strange phenomena was occurring could be strong enough to envelope the whole town? What could explain the presence of so many haunted houses?
Well, legend tells us it’s all because the village founders decided to settle, unknowingly I presume, atop an ancient Indian burial ground.
Long before Europeans came to the area, the land was home to the Potawatomi. This land held a special place for the tribe because it was home to what they referred to as the Council Oak.
The Council Oak was a very old, very large tree that stood 75 feet tall and was 5 feet in diameter. It was beneath the branches of this tree that the Potawatomi would regularly meet to discuss important tribal issues.
It was also under this sacred tree that the Potawatomi chief, Winameg, first met and befriended one of the first European pioneers to the area, Dresden W. H. Howard.
The two became fast friends and this relationship was even put to use by the U.S. government. Because of Howard’s friendship with Chief Winameg and his knowledge of Potawatomi language and customs, he was enlisted as a representative of the United States in all negotiations with the tribe.
The Council Oak is long gone. Old age and disease led to its removal in 1992. Now all that’s left is a plaque that honors its history and that of the two friends who helped to bring peace between their cultures, Dresden Howard and Chief Winameg.
But, is a sacred tree or tribal land, enough to cause an entire town to be overwhelmed by haunting phenomena?
Or, maybe there’s more to the story.
Once settlers began homesteading, some strange discoveries were made. An entire series of ancient burial mounds were found throughout the area, some of them on property owned by Dresden Howard.
Unfortunately, several of the mounds were plowed under by farmers working the land before archaeologists could preserve and study them.
As luck would have it, the majority of the mounds could be found relatively undisturbed on the north side of Bad Creek, on Howard’s land.
These mounds were excavated in 1893 and what they found could provide some evidence for the legendary claims surrounding the old village of Winameg.
At each mound, archaeologists unearthed altars, each topped with the remains of both human and animal bones that showed distinct signs of having been burnt. Underneath the altars were a variety of human skulls, jaw bones, and skeletons – many of which crumbled to dust as soon as they were exposed to the air. Their conclusion, the mounds were an ancient site used by an unknown culture for religious sacrifice.
Dating placed the age of the mounds anywhere between 15,000 B.C. and 8,000 B.C., which pre-dated the Potawatomi and even the Adena culture who are believed to have been the builders of the Serpent Mound down in Adams County.
Is there a connection? Are souls of the sacrificed at rest or are they the reason Winameg seemed to be such a hub of paranormal activity? Did the Potawatomi know about these mysterious mound-builders and were they ever equally affected by strange events in the area?
Winameg was located in Pike Township, northwest of Delta, Ohio.
Photo Credit: Cory D. Johnson, Fulton County Expositor