A few years ago on a cool, crisp autumn day, my wife, our son, and I decided to drive down to Haydenville, OH, located about 60 miles southeast of Columbus, in Hocking County, where the hills are ponderous and the trees are alternately cloying and breathtaking. At the time, we lived in nearby Sugar Grove and had heard some of the local lore regarding the little burg. Haydenville stood as perhaps the area’s most fabled brick town, built as it was around the brick factory founded by Columbus entrepreneur Peter Hayden. The town was established solely to house Hayden’s workers, and the legacy of its inception can be seen in every square inch of the historic `ville. The place is a thing of wonder and easily deserves its own book, but on this particular day, we were in the mood for some lightweight ghost hunting. It was October, after all, and we had the *ahem* spirit.
We first ventured far out of town to Wolfe Cemetery, purported to be the burial site of a vengeful warlock whose spirit lies in wait to this day, lurking in hopes of snatching the body and soul of some unsuspecting passerby. We found the spike-enclosed tomb, flat on the ground, from which springs this spooky legend, and I even summoned the courage to lay my hand upon the stone. Not only was I not whisked away to the nether regions, I felt no discernible heat emanating from the supposed demon rock.
Dejected but happy to have survived, we made our way back towards town and our date with the Haydenville Cemetery, which is more of a village burial plot than a grassy mausoleum dedicated more or less to one family, as is the case with Wolfe. Even so, the Haydenville Cemetery features many of the same menacing flat stones, rising hills, and desperate shadows that characterize Wolfe Cemetery. The Haydenville plot also guards the entrance to the Haydenville Tunnel, rumored to be haunted with the restless souls of brickmakers from decades past.
With boundless opportunities to have our cockles raised, though, it was a fairly insignificant marker near the front of the cemetery that gave us all pause. The little stone reads simply “Delphia Burns and Children.” There is something indescribably horrifying about the brevity of that message, and we’re left to fill in the blanks on poor Delphia’s story. Did she perish in childbirth, along with her newborn child or children? Did some raving disease pass through her household, cutting down her and her children in, or before, there primes? Or, did some raving husband carry out the deed? We didn’t know, but we were unsettled by Delphia’s plight, nonetheless.
We perused the remainder of the gravestones and took a gander at the tunnel, all without so much as a skipped heartbeat, and then headed back to our car. On the way, we passed by Delphia’s resting place again, and I gave her a last, furtive look, and continued on my way. As I opened the rear passenger door to our car, I got the distinct whiff of a woman’s perfume. I knew that my wife was not gussied up for this outing, but I figured that I was just imagining things. I got my son situated and hopped into the front seat, ready to hit the road. As the engine roared to life, my son intoned, “Mommy, your perfume smells wonderful!”
I glanced over at my wife, who had turned a whiter shade of pale, and who answered, “I’m not wearing any perfume, honey, but I do smell that sweet perfume. I thought I was imagining things!”
I wonder what Delphia’s favorite scent was …