The “I’ve Lived Here My Whole Life” Trope

Sarah and Kat Chelten on the site where Olive Ward was dismembered and cremated over 160 years ago. Photo Credit: Christopher Tillman

I grew up in Sylvania. I explored every inch of that town as a kid. There were plenty of Saturday afternoons spent sitting on the banks of Ten-Mile Creek beneath the old train bridge or exploring the abandoned catacombs out at Toledo Memorial.

I snuck into the old quarry to dig up trilobites and played paintball out on Suicide Hill or in the woods behind Camp Miakonda. And, in all that time, I never heard a single ghost story about my hometown. Not one.

In fact, it wouldn’t be until many years after high school that I would begin to learn of all the legends I had been surrounded by while growing up and never even knew it.

The library where I borrowed books of ghost stories, I learned, had a ghost story of its very own.

Out by the quarries lived the legend of Chauncey Clark and Gibbs Bridge.

The Sylvania Historical Village and the historic Lathrop House had stories of their own to tell.

The paranormal encounters at Jenna’s Mediterranean Restaurant on Main Street ended up making the local news and just up the road was the old legend of a ghostly bride who spent her eternity wandering Ravine Cemetery.

Interestingly enough, when I first read about the legend of Ravine Cemetery’s ghost bride, I was sitting in my third-floor apartment in a building that I would learn in later years had a paranormal history all its own and which would be featured in the first episode of “Legends of the Heartland.”

And, most shockingly, it wasn’t until just three years ago that I learned a woman had been murdered, dismembered, and cremated on the very spot where I would buy my comic books as a kid.

I didn’t know any of this stuff growing up. None of it. I had no idea I had been literally surrounded by so much history and so many ghost stories.

All of these stories, many of which are rooted in some degree of historical fact, just weren’t widely known. It took the effort of researchers, historians, and folklorists to uncover them and bring them back into circulation.

So, knowing that it is possible to live in a community and never have the opportunity to hear about its strange history, it always makes me laugh when I post an old legend and someone responds with,

I’ve lived in this [state/town/neighborhood] my whole life and I’ve never heard this story!

I’m used to hearing it, but it always makes me laugh and shake my head.

And, I’m gonna leave it at that.

Because I’m no expert.

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