Spirits, Legends and Lore: Take a visit to Cleveland's ghostly past

By COLBY DENTON
Posted 10/10/18

You hear the screeching of an owl, the creak of the gate and a slight moan. Yes, it is Halloween time in Cleveland again, and the Cleveland Storytelling Guild is bringing Spirits, Legends and Lore to …

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Spirits, Legends and Lore: Take a visit to Cleveland's ghostly past

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You hear the screeching of an owl, the creak of the gate and a slight moan.

Yes, it is Halloween time in Cleveland again, and the Cleveland Storytelling Guild is bringing Spirits, Legends and Lore to the people of Cleveland on Friday.

Cleveland is a city full of mystery and legends.  There is the legend of Tall Betsy, the Stampers’ ghost and the "blood-stained" mausoleum.

Founder Dwight Richardson created the event 10 years ago and originally called it An Evening of Cleveland History and Folklore.

“I tried to come up with something that was an alternative to haunted houses. I’d heard of storytelling, but didn’t know a lot about it. I   came across several stories I found interesting and thought they’d be great to hear coming from a live orator,” Richardson said.

While the storytellers have embellished the evening’s tales just a bit, all of them are true stories with nearly all being collected previously by a schoolteacher named Catherine Truett.

Richardson said when you have a city with a history as rich and old as Cleveland’s, there are bound to be strange tales throughout the years.

While Richardson isn’t sure how he feels about his personal belief in ghosts, he does believe in spirits.

“This event is family friendly, and tells a little of Cleveland’s rich history like the Cleveland Coffin Company, or Dr. McClary’s house. These are things  many folks here don’t know about,” he added.

The subject of one of the evening’s stories, the Cleveland Casket and Coffin Company served as the largest producer of wooden coffins in the South during its time. Another story focuses on Dr. McClary, who was a reputable doctor in the Charleston area during the time of a tragic event in area history, of which he is rumored to have played a tertiary part in.

Richardson said  the Cleveland Storytelling Guild’s Judy Baker aids the event with the fine tuning and details of the stories. As the annual MainStreet Cleveland Block Party is the biggest event of the season, he describes Halloween in general as a “pretty big deal.”

This year’s storytellers include Connie Gatlin, Greg Glover, Pete Vanderpool, Judy Baker, Melissa Woody, Dan Buck and Rob Alderman.

In the past, the event has been held as a walking tour which started at the Bank of Cleveland downtown branch. Due to threat of rain each year, it has now been moved to the Buzz Oaks Theater at nearby Lee University.

Richardson said the tickets are first-come, first-served, and encourages everyone to purchase their tickets early to lock in their seats. They have sold out  the last few years.

Admission is $10 per person, or $5 for students. Tickets can be purchased at the Bank of Cleveland’s downtown branch and the Cleveland Bradley County Chamber of Commerce. There are two possible shows to attend: one begins at 6:30 p.m. and one at 8 p.m. All proceeds go to benefit the Cleveland Storytelling Guild and the Allied Arts Council.

All ages (over the age of 5) are welcome. Children under 5 are not permitted.

For more information, check out the event’s Facebook page under “Spirits, Legends and Lore,” and Richardson can be reached at 423-715-0030.

Unlike a haunted house, don’t expect any big scares, but do expect to hear some spine-chilling tales.

 

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