Submitted by Judith Jasper
When I was growing up on Dewey Avenue, in Lancaster, Ohio there was a legend of the footsteps in the alley beside my house. On many a dark night when the moon was waning it is said that a man walks down the alley from Maud Avenue to Dewey Avenue, though it has long been forgotten why he treads his lonely journey. My father used to tell me this tale, and I have heard it from other people who used to live in the neighborhood.
When I was about ten years old I belonged to a little club made up of the girls who lived on or played with the children in the neighborhood around Maud, Dewey and Mulberry Avenues. One night we decided to see if there was any truth to the tale. The moon was in it’s last quarter and it was dark and spooky when our little gang gathered in Joyce’s garage to wait for the man to walk down the alley. We waited with hearts pounding and a little shiver would escape us with every scraping of a tree limb against the garage windows or any sound we could not immediately identify. To this day I don’t know if it was Joyce’s older brother or perhaps some boys in the neighborhood playing a prank, but somewhere in the murky darkness late that evening we heard the crunch of gravel outside the garage doors in the alleyway. A few of the braver girls peeked out the garage door…the footsteps crunched on the gravel but pale moonlight revealed no one in the alleyway! Needless to say we were quick to run from the garage to the safety of our homes!
There’s a little aside to this tale that makes it very interesting…. one morning I was awakened by the garbage truck grinding away outside my bedroom window, which faced the alley… usually the truck would stop for a few moments, then be on it’s way on down the alley. For some strange reason the truck stayed below my window for some time. I was amazed when a police car pulled up at the edge of the alley and two policemen came over to the parked garbage truck. The men in the truck led the policemen to a spot directly below my bedroom window. There in the alley was a deep rut, worn away over time by the flow of traffic in the alleyway. My father came over to the hole and handed one of the policemen a shovel. What could they be wanting to dig up the alley for, I wondered. Was it a buried treasure? As they dug, I watched and waited. Before long the policeman stopped his digging and bent over looking at something in the hole. He stood aside, and to my amazement, as I looked down in the hole, a human skull and other bones lay in the hole. I shivered, for the skull was very small and most surely a child’s skull! To this day I have learned nothing of the skeleton found in the alley. My father only had a little to say about it. It was definitely human, of a child about my age. The policemen thought the skeleton had been there for quite some years. My father speculated that it was possible that the child had been buried there before our house was built, when the was a meadow there. Our house was over 60 years old then, in 1957 or so, when this happened.
Who was the little child buried in the alley below my window? Was it a little girl or boy? Could it have been the reason why the sound of a man walking up and down the alley was heard some nights? Was he perhaps searching for his lost child? Or was it the murdered pacing up and down the alley, trying to ease his tormented soul?
I have posted this one pretty much as it was sent to me. This is one have I have not heard of locally, but it does make for some chilling reading. As always I would love to hear from anyone that has more information on this tale. The location is of course the streets named above in Lancaster, Ohio.
This post, including photos and commentary, originally appeared on James A. Sheets’ site.