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Punderson's Haunted History

Punderson's Haunted History

Have a boo-tiful stay at a historic - and haunted - park.

Punderson Manor State Park Lodge in Newbury

Punderson's Haunted History

By Dominique King

Posted On: Oct 1, 2020

Writers love intriguing stories, and I found plenty of stories to share after attending several writers' conferences at Punderson State Park and its lodge

Credit: Punderson Manor State Park Lodge, Facebook 

Legend says Lemuel Punderson, who settled in the area in 1802, drifted out on Punderson Lake one day in a bathtub before pulling the plug and drowning.* This story seems to be the first in a series of mysterious deaths at Punderson, but it's by no means the last.

*By most accounts though, Punderson died from complications relating to malaria in 1822.

Punderson Mysteries

A report of hearing a woman's laughter drifting through Punderson near the circular staircase that goes from the main lobby to the second floor. 

In 1885, several children reportedly died in a fire that destroyed the Wales Hotel, across the lake from the present-day Punderson Lodge. Could this be the source of ghostly children's laughter many Punderson visitors and employees report hearing in the lodge when there are no children in the building?

People report seeing a man resembling W.B. Cleveland, who owned the property after Lemuel Punderson. Cleveland lost his business in 1918 before realizing his dream of developing a private hunting and fishing club at the site. His grandson speculates that if Cleveland haunts Punderson, it may be because of his love for the property and wish to be buried there.

Detroit millionaire Karl Long purchased the property in the late 1920s and began constructing the English Tudor-style mansion we know today as Punderson Manor. He lost his fortune in the 1929 stock market crash, and some say he killed himself in the mansion's attic. In 1979, several park employees reported seeing a man hanging by the neck from a rope tied to the rafters of the lodge's lounge, watching the image for three hours until it faded in the morning light.

There are no death records or other evidence to support some tales, but many stories come from credible sources like long-time employees and visitors who know nothing of Punderson's past.

Haunted hallway. Credit: Dominique King, Flickr

Televisions, water faucets and lights inexplicably turn off and on in the middle of the night. Guests complain of loud noises coming from unoccupied rooms. Others report hearing ghostly laughter accompanied by cold blasts of air when there is no breeze or open window nearby.

Library in notoriously haunted Tower wing. Credit: Dominique King, Flickr

A woman at one of my conferences sensed an unseen visitor sitting on the bed in her room in the lodge's notoriously haunted older wing, an account similar to other stories I found online.

Curious? Skeptical? What's your favorite Ohio ghost story or haunted happening?

For more haunted Ohio this #FallinOhio, check out #OhioFindItHere at Ohio.org


*This piece was originally published in Aug. 2011

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