Belmont County's Haunted History
When it comes to ghost stories and haunted sites, Belmont County has many. Two of the most infamous still attract attention and visitors. They are the legend of Lady Binn (Bend) Hill between Morristown and Barnesville and the tragic tale of Louiza Fox whose murderer, Thomas Carr was the first and only person legally hanged in Belmont County.
The Legend of Lady Binn (Bend) Hill (Located on Ohio National Road 40)
Local lore has it that in 1833 a young lady from a wealthy Wheeling family, who had been courting a younger man of lesser means from Fairview, stole away in the night from her parents’ home in a coach with a particularly energetic horse. She headed for the Guernsey County town on what was known at the time as Zane's Trace to steal away with her lover. On the third bend from the top of this hill west of Morristown, a sudden bolt of lightning spooked the horse, forcing the coach to slide and ejecting the young lady from it and breaking her neck. Afterward, the horse ran aimlessly around for three days until it was finally corralled. Like many legends and ghost stories, the details vary. It is said that even today on very stormy nights, the apparition of a headless young lady astride a spirited steed can be seen riding recklessly up and down the hill. Even in the daytime there is something spooky about this stretch of road.
The Tragic Tale of Louiza Fox
The ghost of Louiza Catherine Fox is said to haunt the area where she was brutally murdered by her suitor, 22-year-old coal miner Thomas Carr, in 1869. A small marker is located at 35615 Starkey Rd., Barnesville, OH 43713 (40.104476,-81.174702) and her grave is located in nearby Salem Cemetery where she has also reportedly been seen weeping. People have also claimed to see Carr's ghost near the murder site. Salem Cemetery is also said to be haunted by witches who were buried there. Legend says if you walk around the entire cemetery six times, you will become invisible. In Egypt Valley people have also reported seeing what are described as "hell hounds" and a vanishing house.
At the time, Egypt Valley as it is now known was the small and fertile farming village of Egypt. Louiza was a 13-year-old housemaid who worked for a local family that also employed Carr.
There are conflicting reports as to whether she and Carr were ever engaged at all or if her family retracted the engagement due to learning of his character and temper.
What is known from the highly publicized court proceedings is that Carr was a member of the Union Army during the Civil War Era and reportedly struggled with alcoholism, fights, and even committed murders before being discharged.
It was late afternoon on January 21, 1869 when Carr attacked Fox. He hid behind a fence post until she passed by, leaving her body in a ditch on the side of the road. This is the area where many have reported seeing the ghost of the girl.
Before he was apprehended, Carr attempted suicide, first with a knife and then a gun. After being treated for his wounds, he was sentenced to death just five days later. On March 8, 1870 while waiting to be hung Carr made a full confession. He also admitted to killing 14 other people. This makes him one of the 1800’s most prolific serial killers. According to hauntedhocking.com, one of Carr's other reported murder victims is said to haunt the Wheeling Tunnel.
Carr’s hanging was delayed by a “legal technicality”. While he was held in jail he became a morbid celebrity, entertaining two female teenage visitors whom had crushes on him. He was said to have given the girls pictures of himself and his rings. He told them, “They would all meet in heaven.”
On March 21, 1870, Carr was hanged on the property of the current location of the Belmont County Heritage Museum in St. Clairsville. At the time, the courthouse was located there and the jail was behind it. He was hanged on the second floor of the front hall in the old jail (built in 1842). He was the first and only person to be legally hanged in Belmont County. Carr’s reported last words blamed whiskey for his downfall and called for it to be banned.
Visit the Belmont County Heritage Museum, 101 E. Main St., St. Clairsville, Thurs.-Sat., 10am-4pm to hear more about these local legends! Want to learn more about Belmont County cemeteries? Click here to access the Belmont County GIS cemetery locator app.