The Haunted Hills of Belmont County
Updated: Oct 8, 2022
When it comes to ghost stories and haunted sites, Belmont County has many places where legends and lore give way to freight and delight, from the spirits and other creatures roaming Egypt Valley at night to haunted cemeteries and spooky tales.
Two of the most infamous stories that still attract attention and visitors are the legend of Lady Binn (Bend) Hill and the tragic murder of Louiza Fox by Thomas Carr in 1869.
The Egypt Valley Area is rife with other spine-tingling stories, including hellhounds, disappearing houses, and a ghostly severed hand.
On the other side of the county, in historic Martins Ferry, hair-raising tales include the Chair at Scotch Ridge Cemetery and the Rothermund Ghost.
The Bellaire House has been dubbed "the most haunted house on the planet." It continually draws professional and amateur paranormal investigators to what appears to be an ordinary house from the outside.
In St. Clairsville, the 132-year-old Belmont County Heritage Museum, the former sheriff's residence, and the jail have been the site of many violent events.
So read on . .. if you dare!
Be sure to visit the museum in October to see the Haunted Hills of Belmont County exhibit, including photographs by Tammy LeMasters Gross of Whispered Tales of the Ohio Valley.
On October 20 at 6 pm, the Belmont County Spirit Seekers return to the museum for a presentation and demonstration of paranormal investigation equipment.
On October 27 at 6 pm, Judge Frank Fregiato will present the Infamous Court Case of Thomas Carr. He will detail the murder trial and hanging of the infamous love-struck killer.
On October 28 at 6 pm, during the St. Clairsville Area Chamber's Halloween Bash, storyteller Judi Tarowsky will recount the tragic tale of the murder of Louiza Fox. Weather permitting, the event will be outside. Admission to all events is by donation.
The Legend of Lady Binn Hill
According to local lore, 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 parent's home in a coach with a particularly energetic horse. She headed west 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 lightning bolt spooked the horse, forcing the coach to slide. The young lady was ejected, and her neck was broken. Like many ghost stories, the details vary. Some reports say she was caught in the horse’s reins, while others say it was the spokes of the wagon. Afterward, the horse ran aimlessly for three days until it was finally corralled.
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 day, there is something spooky about this stretch of road.
Another version of this story tells of a well-dressed young woman who stopped in a tavern in Morristown, looking for directions. The following day, travelers found a riderless horse grazing on the side of the road. Upon investigation, a blood-soaked lady’s hat and veil were located just at the end of the road. A body was never found, but those at the tavern that night identified the items as having belonged to the mysterious woman. Many believed a gang of thieves had murdered her. A farmer living in a cabin on the hill reported that he and his wife had heard screams that night but believed it was a wild animal.
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. Louiza has reportedly been seen weeping at the murder site and her grave in the nearby Salem Cemetery. People have also claimed to see Carr's ghost near the murder site.
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 working for a local family that employed Carr. There are conflicting reports on whether she and Carr were ever engaged 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, walking with her brother, Willy. After sending the boy ahead, Fox kissed Louiza goodbye, slit her throat with a razor, and stabbed her 14 times. He deposited her lifeless body in a nearby ditch on the side of the road. A plaque at the top of a slight rise on Starkey Road resembles a gravestone and gives the basic details of what happened there on that cold night in 1869. This is the area where many have reported seeing the ghost of the girl.
Before he was apprehended, Carr attempted with a knife and a gun. After being treated for his wounds, an “intensely exciting” five-day trial ensued. When his death sentence was read aloud, Carr reportedly laughed and said he did “not care a damn if it was to be tomorrow.” In his sentencing, the judge described Carr as “petulant, ill-natured, irritable, of a nervous temperament, and possessed of a heart fatally bent on mischief.” On March 8, 1870, while waiting to be hanged, Carr confessed to killing 14 other people.
About a mile down the road from Salem Cemetery, the Old Egypt (Circle) is reportedly haunted by “devil” dogs that guard it and can be heard howling in the woods nearby at night. 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.
The cemetery is also said to be haunted by the ghost of a truck driver who died in a crash. He lost an arm that was never found, and the sounds of fingernails tapping on gravestones can supposedly be heard in the cemetery at night.
Other spooky tales in the area include a disappearing house that appears to travelers with seven red candles burning in the windows but fades away when approached and a Bigfoot sighting in 1984.
The Chair at Scotch Ridge Cemetery
The chair, an easily recognizable piece of the tombstone of Thomas and Jane Mitchell, sits in Scotch Ridge Cemetery, right outside of Martins Ferry. It is said a curse was inscribed on the book attached to the seat. The inscription in the book reads: You will be missed because your seat will be empty. I Samuel 20:18. Alvin Mitchel's name was inscribed on the side. He died in 1878 at the age of twenty-one. On the other side, an eerie placard pronounced: MEET ME IN HEAVEN.
Local superstition states that you will die in a certain amount of time if you sit in the chair. For many years, any tragic death of local youth in the area was attributed to them having "sat in the chair."
The Rothermund Ghost
The Rothermund Ghost terrorized those living the in the large, two-story brick house initially owned by German (Prussian) immigrants Augustus Rothermund and Hannah (Spect) Rothermund at the corner of Second and Monroe streets in Martins Ferry.
The hauntings, believed to be caused by the frustrated ghost of Augustus, included the parlor organ playing by itself, a water pitcher moving, locked window shutters and doors flying open, and footsteps on the stairs. The paranormal occurrences, usually targeted at the women in the house, caused families to move out.
On January 23, 1890, the wife of the latest tenant, Mrs. Ribold, was heard screaming as she ran down Second Street, clutching her infant son. According to reports, she was said to have been “white as a sheet, unable to speak from fear, her entire body trembling uncontrollably.”
The family did not return to the house. The story spread throughout Martins Ferry, and crowds gathered to watch the house, hoping to catch a glimpse of the ghost. The Rothermund property was sold at a sheriff’s sale in December 1892 and was later razed to make way for Route 7.
Belmont County Jail/Sheriff’s Residence
This 132-year-old Sheriff’s Residence building has stood witness to many historical events. It once housed the sheriff and his family and is attached to a 36-bed, three-story jail that held inmates until 1996. The first-floor cells were designated for males charged with felonies and/or violent history. Second-floor cells were designated for misdemeanor males. The third floor housed occasional female inmates, with a divided hallway for inmate trustees.
Several inmates committed suicide there. It was the site of an in-cell arson and two successful but short-lived prison breaks.
The Haunted Hill
An old tale dating back to 1804 tells the macabre story that took place near the Bigley watering trough on the road between Flushing and Morristown. This spring on the old road made it a favorite resting place for travelers. On a day in early autumn, a man, his wife, and child made camp at the trough. As they began eating supper over a fire, a stranger riding a splendid black horse with fancy riding gear asked to camp with them for the night. The family was wary of the stranger, and their large white dog, a companion of the nine-year-old girl, was hostile toward him.
The next morning, a hunting party found the girl, with the dog, weeping as she wandered through the woods. The hunters discovered the dead bodies of the girl’s parents and a bloody knife on the ground.
The child, cared for in a settler's home, became ill and died before the family's identity could be discovered. The stranger was never located.
From that time on, as the story goes, at midnight on a clear full moon, a large white dog can be seen wandering through the field and paths in the vicinity of the watering trough, having grieved himself to death over the loss of his family. Some people also claimed to have seen the child leading
The Bellaire House
At first glance, the Bellaire House may seem like any other old house, but much more lies behind its doors. This house sits atop the perfect combination of ‘horror,’ as it is built above a cursed coal mine, where an explosion killed 42 men, is in the same domain as sacred Native American burial caves, and sits on land where numerous battles from the French and Indian war took place. Locals have dubbed it the ‘most haunted house on the planet.’ Even today, with ongoing ghost hunts and thrill expeditions, people continue to have violent and downright horrifying experiences in the house.
The house sat abandoned for years. Many neighbors and locals started coming forth with claims, stating that they saw ‘people’ walking around the year or peeking through windows. The claims were brushed off, sending blame to local kids, but this was just the start.
When Kristen Lee, the current owner of the Bellaire House, moved in, activity began immediately. She claims to have experienced apparitions, bad luck, and extremely violent activity. Kristen says to have been held down by a ‘force’ as her dog was thrown against a wall. Soon after, the family moved out and began renting the house to others. Most tenants would only stay for a few months before leaving unexpectedly. Kirsten failed to sell the house and decided to turn it into a paranormal attraction.
With the help of paranormal investigators, Kirsten discovered that Jacob Heatherington once owned the mine underneath the house. When he passed, the house was inherited by his daughter Eliza, who soon died in the home’s dining room, and his son Edwin. Edwin began to bring mediums into the house to attempt to connect him and his sister once again. He soon became obsessed with studying the occult and strengthening his psychic abilities, which opened portals to the other side, which to this day refuse to close.
Throughout the many paranormal investigations, there have been numerous ‘demonic activity and assaults. Footsteps, shadows, voices, and even physical pushes and tripping are just the beginning of what has been documented in the house.
The Bellaire House has become infamous and has shown popularity throughout the entire nation. In 2017, Nick Groff and Katrina Weidman spent 72 hours locked inside, filming for season two, episode seven of Paranormal Lockdown, on TLC. In 2018, the popular web series ‘Buzzfeed Unsolved’ filmed an episode investigating the house, reaching fifteen million views on YouTube.