“I will never forget that house. Never.”
Elaine Rowley could tell a good story, and the one she told me in 1976 still brings a chill to my bones. Elaine, a widow, put herself through college by working nights and going to school during the day while raising seven children. When I met her she had retired from teaching and working at the Ripley Library. This, as best as I can recall it, is her story of the house she lived in on Ravenswood Pike.
“I was in my early teens when we moved to Ravenswood Pike. My sister got a teaching position near there and Dad didn’t want her to live with strangers. I felt a foreboding the first time I saw our new home. The place was unfriendly, dark and cold inside.
The trouble started soon after we moved in. My mother would wake up in the night, thinking one of us was walking around the house, maybe sleepwalking. My oldest sister, the teacher, would not sleep alone in her room but she never said why. There was a feeling of eyes following our movements, especially in my sister’s room and one room downstairs. Often we’d catch a glimpse of a fleeting shadow, gone before we could tell what it was. Sometimes we’d hear whispers around the doors and windows but we could never make out what they were saying. It would raise goosebumps on my arms.
I got puny while we lived there. I was strong and healthy when we moved in, but soon I got kinda sickly, pale you know. My mother worried over me and tried to give me cod liver oil to strengthen me but I just kept getting thinner and paler.
A few months after we moved there, my sister got married and moved out. I thought I would take her room, but when I went in to look around, I got such a chill. I could not look in the mirror for fear of what might be looking back. I left the room empty. No one else wanted to sleep there either, although no one ever said why. We just didn’t discuss it.
One day my sister and her husband came for an overnight visit. I was watching for them--it was almost dark—when a bright light came streaking across the field, right up to our house. I opened my mouth to call my mother but it was gone, just like that. Then I saw my sister’s husband carrying a flashlight as they walked along the very place the light had traveled. I didn’t tell anyone what I’d seen.
A terrible scream woke us that night. My sister said she saw a gray mist come up under the bedroom door and form into a little girl who stared at them from the foot of the bed. My sister, shaking from head and toe, refused to return to bed. No one ever slept in the room again.
One rainy day an old man stopped in to get out of the weather. He told us that a man named John Yost had built the house. Yost didn’t get along with people and was kind of quiet-turned. There was a daughter that Yost kept inside most of the time. The girl died, and the Yosts buried her in the yard under a big sycamore tree. Mr. Yost and his wife died some years later and were buried in a cemetery, but the little girl remained in an unmarked grave in the yard.
My mother insisted we move out of that place, and we did. I was so glad! When we moved away I recovered almost immediately, and was soon back to being a healthy, happy child.
I went back to see it once, years later; the house was gone but the tree was still there, and I wonder, is the little girl was still there too, under the big sycamore?”
That was Elaine’s story. I did a little research and found that a John Yost did live on a farm on the Ravenswood Pike in the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. He was married and had nine children. Yost changed his name from the original German spelling, Youst, dropping the “u”. His ancestors were Lutheran, so perhaps it was religious differences that created uneasy relations with his neighbors. He and his wife were buried in a cemetery near Sidneyville, on the Ravenswood Pike. The little daughter is apparently still resting in her unmarked grave. Or perhaps she is really not resting at all.
And be sure to visit Dustin Fife's blog for more ghost stories this week!
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.