Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Spirits of Mansfield Reformatory

The Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio has become well known in paranormal circles for the countless stories of ghosts and strange experiences. Aside from the countless paranormal-themed shows that have covered the tales, the Mansfield Reformatory (as it is more commonly known) has also become something of a training ground for those interested in getting into paranormal investigations. Interestingly, one of the stories of ghosts found in the walls of the former penitentiary got its start on this date 82 years ago.

The story involves former-inmate Philip Orleck who had been earlier paroled and came up with a plan to free a fellow inmate. On November 2, 1926, he put that plan into action. However, it was immediately thwarted when he encountered 72-year-old guard Urban Wilford outside of the West Gate. A struggle broke out and Orleck gunned down Wilford and fled the scene of the crime, abandoning the escape attempt. Authorities later tracked him down two months later and he would be tried and convicted for the murder of the guard. Orleck would later be executed in the Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus a year later.

There are several tales of witnesses reporting the scene being replayed out to this day. The usual report involves seeing what appears to be an inmate struggling with a guard near the West Gate of the prison. Interestingly enough, the sighting typically concludes before the fatal shot was fired and the two apparitions simply vanish into thin air before the witnesses's eyes.

November 2 is hardly the only day of the month with ties to the Mansfield Reformatory. The first cornerstone of the structure was laid on November 4, 1886 in a large celebration that would turn out to be short-lived. Due to countless setbacks, it would take another ten years before inmates ever arrived. Another ghost story also has its roots in November. On November 5, 1950, the prison supervisor's wife, Helen Glattke, would dislodge a loaded gun from the top of her closet as she was readying for Sunday morning mass and the gun would hit the ground and fire, hitting her. She would die on November 7 in a nearby hospital. Today, her spirit is said to haunt the superintendent's quarters inside the administration building.

These are only a few of the creepy tales associated with the Ohio State Reformatory. In addition, the facility has also appeared in countless movies (as seen above in a production still of the prison in the upcoming horror movie The Dead Matter - photo courtesy of Midnight Syndicate Films) over the years and is transformed into an annual Halloween haunted attraction in the fall.

Discover more of the dark history of the Mansfield Reformatory.

-Casey H.


Larry said...

Interesting story and architecture.-I wish that I could go somewhere that could guarantee a ghost sighting.-I've had a few life experiences but they tend to be unexpected.

Anonymous said...

This was also the prison in Shawshank Redemption. I live very close to it and unfortunately have had a relative spend three years there while it was still operating. The only time I was there was when we went visiting.

They have it now where you can go for ghost exploring and even spend the night! I have always wanted to do that but have yet to get off my bum and go.