Thursday, May 19, 2011

Stull #15

Frank, John and Katie traipsed through the chest deep grass, holding up their arms and grunting with every step. They were about a mile from their car that they had parked on the side of a gravel road in Harrison Township. They were about three miles northwest of what was once known as Veteran City.

Veteran City was a short-lived town supposedly founded in the mid-1860s by Civil War veterans. It only lasted a few years and now the location is marked by an old church and a house. The rest of the town was turned back into farmland. The Veteran City Cemetery was established shortly after the town’s founding and acquired eighteen burials before people realized that the cemetery was difficult to get to and had another cemetery established, called Bethlehem, established two miles south of the Veteran City intersection.

It was an hour until midnight on March 19th. Frank was hoping they would be able to see the spook lights in the cemetery that supposedly occurs every Spring Equinox. Katie was starting to fall behind and shouted to Frank. “Are you sure this is the way to the cemetery? I can’t even see any roads anymore!”

“We’re almost there. I can see the top of the hill in the moonlight,” Frank said. “That giant pine tree is where the cemetery is.”

The cemetery was unmarked on most maps, neglected by people who knew where it was and forgotten by everybody else. The only sign indicating the cemetery existed was a sign down on the road erected in the 1950s by the landowner. The homemade redwood sign has been knocked over, set on fire, chopped at with an axe and used for target practice but still stood, weather-beaten and nearly illegible. Since the sign was placed at the side of the road, most people who saw it thought the cemetery was right there behind the fence next to the road and believed the stones were lost or moved. The cemetery was really almost two miles from the main road and five miles north of a rarely used minimum maintenance road that ran east to west. It was situated on a hill in the middle of a square mile section of land with no path leading to it which was the reason it was abandoned.

They were a few feet from the top of the hill and Frank and John could see the gravestones poking out of the grass. Only the pine tree and a much damaged elm tree watched over the graves. Frank, John and Katie headed to the pine tree to set up camp.

“Why,” Katie said, panting “are you doing this now?”

“Because with the exception of Palmyra Township, Harrison is the most isolated township in Stanton County,” Frank explained. “There are no towns, very few houses and no major roads—not even county roads.”

“So you never came out here because you were scared?” John smiled.

“That is neither here nor there,” Frank said.

“The Equinox”

Jen and Matt were still at the Society. They were pouring over maps of the county. They were looking for End Road, the apparent namesake for the End Road Massacre that they discovered a couple months ago.

“Here’s a Dead End Road in southwest Calhoun Township in 1939,” Jen said. “Should I go ahead an include that?”

Matt grabbed a piece of paper on the corner of the desk. It only had two roads listed on it: ‘Stull Cemetery Road’ and ‘3rd Street in Ferguson’. “And the road’s name is ‘Dead End Road’?” Matt asked.

“According to this map,” Jen said.

Matt wrote it down. “I could see End Road being any of these. Stull Cemetery Road ends at the railroad track even though the road continues on, 3rd Street dead ends at a cemetery and I’m assuming Dead End Road is just that—a dead end road,” Matt said. “It could also be none of them.”

“Well, we still have another hundred or so years of maps to look at so let’s just continue,” Jen said. She pulled out a map dated 1912 and began looking at the roads and their names. “So has Detective Bilko found out who that man was?” she asked.

“No, we found a couple more clues though. A set of car keys to an 1980s Ford and an old photograph dated 1952,” Matt said. “We got the keys analyzed and we know what kind of car it goes to but haven’t found the car yet.”

“What about the photograph?”

“We’ve searched but we don’t know who the people are in the picture. The handwriting on the back is feminine but without knowing who the people are or who the man is we don’t know whose it is,” Matt explained. “We’ve published the man’s picture and the photograph in most of the newspapers in Ohio and we’ve gotten leads but they all turn out to be dead ends.”

“What about fingerprints, dental records, DNA?”

“Tried it. The man doesn’t exist in the system,” Matt shrugged. “It’s kind of sad that this man died alone and will probably be forgotten.”

“Have you figured out what killed him?”

“That’s the interesting thing. No. We’re ninety-nine percent sure he was poisoned but we can’t find any trace of the poison and the Danish that was in his stomach showed no traces of poison. Another interesting thing was he had a packet of cigarettes. They were a expensive brand of cigarettes in a cheap package,” Matt said.

“What?” Jen switched maps from the one from 1912 to one made in 1893.

“Normally people put cheap cigarettes in an expensive package to mask that they buy cheap cigarettes. This was the opposite,” Matt explained.

Jen still didn’t seem to get and went back to her map searching. “’End Road’,” she read. “This 1893 map of the county shows an ‘End Road’ in Rock Creek Township.”

“Really?” Matt got up and went over to Jen. He looked where Jen’s finger was pointing and saw a small road leading off of another road. It lead from Skyline Road to Comchau Creek. Matt could also see that Comchau Creek and Rock Creek surrounded a place labeled on the map as ‘The Island’. “That’s got to be it. We found it. We found the location of the End Road Massacre.”

Frank, John and Katie set up camp under the pine tree and looked out toward the cemetery. It was only a few minutes until midnight and they were hoping to see something out there.

“So the lights supposedly happen every Spring Equinox at midnight?” Katie asked.

“Every Spring Equinox but the midnight part has always been a little loose,” Frank said. “It normally happens between midnight and three in the morning, depending on the story you read.”

“So we could be out here for three hours?” John asked. “I should’ve brought a long sleeved shirt.”

They sat in silence for awhile staring up at the moon and stars then back down at the cemetery with its few overgrown tombstones. The wind began to pick up around one and clouds began moving in. As the grass waved, little sparks of light appear near the tips. Katie gasped when she saw them and pointed them out to Frank and John.

“Oh my God, that is so cool,” she whispered.

“It’s the moonlight reflecting after the dew on the grass,” Frank said and stood up. He walked toward the tombstones and smiled. “This is so amazing.”

“It is pretty nice,” John said and stood up also. Katie joined Frank in the cemetery. “So this is what we came here to see? A natural occurance.”

“At least it’s this and not exploding cow farts or something,” Frank said.

“We heading back to the car?” John asked.

“I think we can stay here a little longer,” Frank said.

The three of them stood in the cemetery watching the reflected dew and the clouds move across the sky. John then shivered and crossed his arms, trying to warm himself up.

“Give me the keys. I’m going back to the car.”

Matt had stacked up the maps and made a note of End Road so Frank and him could investigate. Jen remained at her desk goofing around on the computer. “I’m gonna head home. Are you gonna be all right?” Matt asked.

“I’ll be fine. I have to stay here until Frank and them get back anyway,” Jen said. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“All right, Jen. Bye,” Matt left the Society and a few minutes later his car drove away.

Jen continued to play around on the computer until nearly two. There came a squealing of tires around the corner of 7th Street. A car screeched to a halt in front of the Society. A brick came through the window of the front door, shattered glass and spreading it all over the floor. The car sped away as Jen dashed to the door. She looked at the brick. It had a note rubber banded to it. She pulled the note off and read it: ‘Forget about the Massacre!’. Jen went back to her desk and picked up the phone and dialed.

“9-1-1, what’s your emergency?” answered the operator.

“Someone just threw a brick through a window at the Rock Creek Township Historical Society,” Jen replied.

“All right, just a moment,” the operator said. “Address?”

“645 Ohio Street in Stull,” Jen said.

The operator typed down the information. “All right, we’ll get someone out there.”

Jen hung up and then dialed another number. “Frank? You need to get back here as quickly as possible. Someone just threw a brick through a window.”