Every area has a history. Every area has a story. Some are urban legends, while others are ghost stories the tellers swear are true. Nordonia Hills is no exception. Whether you are avid believer in ghost stories and paranormal activity or not, some will vouch for unexplained events -- and there is no denying it.
The Robert McKisson House
One summer night in July 1837 a woman was lying in her bed when an unknown assailant entered her family's home and brutally attacked her with an ax.
Her name was Catherine McKisson, wife of Robert McKisson, whose father, Samuel, she accused of her murder just moments before dying according to A History of Olde Northfield, by Bessie Goosman.
The only witness was Catherine's daughter, Lucinda Croninger, who was lying in a nearby bed and screamed when she saw her mother's head split open.
According to Goosman, the intruder knocked Croninger unconscious with the ax and fled from the scene after killing her mother as another family member gave the alarm.
Samuel was arrested that evening in his own home, but it was Robert's brother, David McKisson, who came under suspicion because he had been courting Croninger despite her dead mother Catherine's disapproval. Both Samuel and David stood trial, but it was David who was convicted and hung for the crime.
Catherine wasn't the only one to die on the property as Samuel died nearly a year later of a stroke. According to legend, Samuel had declared his innocence in his daughter-in-law's murder by stating "May God strike me dead if I did this," leading some to believe his death was God's punishment for the murder.
Additionally, according to Cemeteries of Northeast Ohio, by Vicki Blum Vigil, a farm worker who had been sleeping in the cabin's loft the night of the murder later hung himself on the property.
The home the tragedy occurred in still stands 179 years later. Despite standing vacant at different times over the years it is now home to a couple, Tom and Carol Koudelka.
The Koudelkas moved into the North Gannett Road home in 1984, after Carol said she searched for years for an "old house." She said the realtor had a scrapbook of clippings about the McKisson murder, so she knew when she purchased the home there was a history.
Since the, she says she has experienced things in the home, as have several members of her family, neighbors and friends.
"We feel there are two men here and at least one lady and a little boy," Carol said. "I have never been afraid here. I feel like they are happy we are here and caring for the house."
She has heard footsteps, smelled Lily of the Valley, heard rapping on the door when no one is there and the sound of someone running down the stairs. Even the dogs the Koudelka's had wouldn't stay or go into certain rooms like the parlor.
Carol said her mother one time saw a woman in a night gown standing by the lamp post outside. Another time, a friend came to visit Carol and thought her grandson was with her. Carol said she told her no, he wasn't there, and the friend told her she saw a little blonde-haired boy with a dutch haircut looking out through the window.
A neighbor told Carol he had been cutting the grass on the property when he saw a woman in a long dress near the gazebo on the side of the home. He said he saw the woman run and hide behind a tree trunk on the property.
She added she doesn't feel there are any mean spirits in the home, but that sometimes they aren't happy with some people -- especially non-believers. Then the ghosts or spirits get a little edgy.
Carol said she had a couple ladies over, including one who claimed she had a sixth sense but saw nothing. She said the woman went to get her coat off the bed and fell over onto the bed. She thought Carol, who was across the room, had pushed her down. She had not.
Carol said one of the latest experiences she had was when she had a gourmet club dinner and a man was talking about a situation he had with someone who wore a turban, when all of a sudden, a ceramic statue with a little square hat flew off of a shelf and a few feet from where it had stood. The statue didn't break.
Similarly, a Christmas tree ornament once suddenly flew off the tree, across the room and shattered.
Not everyone has taken the hauntings in stride, however.
Carol said she had some workmen in the home and one man said he saw a bearded man in a long coat with his arms folded and though it was one of his co-workers, but it wasn't. He later told Tom he felt a tap on the shoulder while working . When he turned, no one was there. Carol said the crew packed up and left that day and did not return to their house. She said the crew's boss came back and finished the job alone, but has not done work on the house since then.
Her son-in-law. Bob Nero, was sitting in the parlor and on looking down saw an old-time dress swish back and forth in front of him. Carol said he hasn't gone into the parlor since. Bob's wife, Dawn, lived with her mother in the home for a period of time and one night was awakened to see two men in long coats standing over her bed. Dawn told her mother she looked back at them and they walked out of the room.
History says the McKisson family left the home in 1846, but maybe they never really left.
Carol said the family who lived in the home before the Koudelka's had a ghost hunter group from Case Western come in with their equipment and said they showed a lot of activity in the upstairs of the home. She said she never wanted to explore that.
"I never wanted to have anyone here," Koudelka said. "They say when you do that it can rile them up and I didn't want to do that."
Northfield Center Town Hall
In addition to the McKisson House, the Northfield Center Town Hall has its own purported ghosts.
Long-time Northfield Center Township Administrator Sam Ciocco told the News Leader of an experience he had in the town hall several years ago. He said he came into the town hall early one morning and was there alone and headed toward the office when saw a man in a long black coat standing in the center of the main meeting room. Ciocco said he continued into the office and stopped in his tracks when he realized what he had seen and backed out to the hall and walked into the open room. He said he stood in the middle of the room and looked around seeing nothing, but as Ciocco stood there he heard the old wooden floor creak on three of the four sides surrounding him and was chilled by the incident.
He said he went downstairs to the police station to see if they had heard or seen anything unusual and the sheriff's deputy on duty told him that the night before they had though he had been upstairs because they heard someone walking around about midnight. Ciocco has been home in bed.
Ciocco says the memory still makes the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.
Former township fiscal officer Monica James also says has heard footsteps and "felt like someone was there."
"Sometimes in the main meeting room, a shadow would go by like someone just walked by, but there would be no body there," James said. "My office was upstairs and sometimes it sounded like someone was walking into the (upstairs) meeting room."
She added a door would be shut and she would have sworn someone opened it.
Northfield Village Hall
Some village employees say village hall is haunted.
According to the Ohio Exploration Society, a group of urban explorers who research historical, paranormal and "forgotten" sites, say they have received reports of strange occurrences there.
"Officers completing paperwork late at night sometimes hear loud footsteps and a banging noise above their head when the rest of the building is deserted," the website states. "One [police] officer heard a distinct 'Psssst!' coming from the hallway. No one else was there upon investigation."
Northfield Village Police Sgt. Anthony Urbanowicz said he had been working with an officer who is no longer with the department one night and recalls his co-worker running out of the building after hearing the "disembodied voice."
Urbanowicz said he too has experienced some chilling things during his 21-year tenure with the department.
"The creepiest thing was I was in the old patrol room when someone or something pounded on the wall in the former police chief's office, but no one was there," he said. He said the loud "Bang" made him jump out of his seat.
Aside from that experience, Urbanowicz said he has never felt threatened by any paranormal activity in the building.
"That banging was definitely done to startle me," he said. "The police chief and the mayor were the only two who had a key to that office and I don't think they would come down to the building at 3 a.m. just to mess with me."
Urbanowicz and other officers say they have heard chairs being dragged across the floor in the middle of the night in council chambers above the police department, as well as footsteps.
Urbanowicz said he has always had an interest in paranormal activity and has even used recording equipment to take electronic voice phenomenon recordings in the building. He has also made recordings where he has asked questions while recording, to only hear responses later when the recording is playing.
Urbanowicz said he has also left the recorder running in council chambers unmanned and picked up a "casual conversation" between two women and one man. While he didn't have particulars on the conversation, he said the recording sounded like "just a typical Friday night at a friend's house conversation."
Northfield Village Mayor Jesse Nehez said he has heard unexplained things at night when he was in the building alone, but nothing over the top. He said he has heard rattling coming from the mailbox area but nothing was there, and felt like someone passed by his office door but no one was there.
Urbanowicz said legend has it the building is haunted by a former fire chief William Gallagher, who tradition says died in 1953 while responding to a fire call. He said it is also believed the building is haunted by a former police chief and a woman who used to clean the building.
Northfield Macedonia Cemetery
Then Northfield Macedonia Cemetery has also been the subject of paranormal investigations.
Lone Wolf Paranormal Investigation conducted a study in December 2011 during which several recordings were made and thermometer readings were taken. According to the group's website, the investigator said the temperature readings in some areas varied from 10 to 20 degrees cooler than the surrounding area.
Former fiscal officer for Northfield Center Monica James said she heard rumors of apparitions of a little boy on a bicycle being seen in the cemetery, but no corroborating reports could be identified. Cemetery workers said they have not experienced any unusual activity nor heard of any such thing either.
Former cemetery superintendent Russ Mortis, said that in all his years at the Northfield Macedonia Cemetery he never heard of any such haunting tales either.
Urbanowicz said he has heard rumors of the voice of a little boy asking for help being heard in the "old section" of the cemetery. He said he had not heard the tale of the boy on the bike, but his brother-in-law, who he described as one of the most grounded people he knows, used to patrol the area as a Summit County Sheriff's deputy.
He said his brother-in-law told him he was having a cigarette in the cemetery one warm summer sultry moonlit night when he saw a woman wearing period clothing and an antique baby carriage float up from a grave and across the cemetery. Urbanowicz asked him what he did and his brother-in-law told him he just left.
Urbanowicz said he believes a number of places in the area are haunted and are simply awaiting documentation.