What’s Halloween without a few good ghost stories?
In the spirit of the season (no pun intended,) I decided to go poking around the old newspapers to see what might have spooked our ancestors.
The earliest mention of ghostly activity I found appeared in the January 31, 1879 Noblesville Ledger.  
According to the Ledger, many years earlier an “Indian witch” had been tortured to death on the site of Gus Shutts and Milt Kelly’s “bachelor’s hall” at Clare and odd things had been taking place there ever since.
My reaction to that was “Huh?” I’ve never run across anything about an Indian being killed at Clare. Then again, it’s not easy to come by information about early Clare.
I wonder if there was some confusion with an incident that took place near Strawtown in 1821. That’s when trader John Shintaffer (or Shintapper, depending on the source,) got into an argument with an Indian who accused Shintaffer of selling watered-down whiskey. Shintaffer tossed the Indian into a fire and the poor man burned to death. 
In any event, about a month later, the March 1, 1879 Hamilton County Democrat noted that Shutts and Kelley had a “house to rent cheap.” (I think we know why.)
The November 29, 1904 Hamilton County Ledger reported that Moses Carver had been observed by several people in the vicinity of the Cochran gravel pit near Atlanta. That wouldn’t be noteworthy except for the fact Carver had drowned in the gravel pit over two years earlier. 
The news of Carver’s appearance was scoffed at by some, and campers who spent considerable time in the area that summer noticed nothing unusual, but people who had known Carver well enough not to be mistaken about his identity swore they’d seen him.
Carver was a fairly prominent farmer in that area, but, curiously, when I went digging for information about his 1902 drowning, I found nothing in the Noblesville newspapers. I had to get the details from other Indiana papers.
Another odd thing — in the 1902 stories Carver drowned in the “Potts” gravel pit. I’m  not sure if the name changed, or if the Ledger got it wrong.
The most detailed ghost story came from Noblesville.
Although Etta Crusemire (sometimes spelled “Crusemyer”) died in September, 1898, she apparently liked her Plum Street home so much she couldn’t stay away. A few months after her death, both the Hamilton County Ledger and the Hamilton County Democrat ran multiple stories about her return.
The new occupants of Crusemire’s house, Mr and Mrs. James Kile (or Kyle,) were being disturbed by rattling doorknobs and sounds of scuffling. A vase was also knocked off an organ with no one anywhere near.
Then there was Al Wallace, an elderly gentleman who lived in the neighborhood. Wallace swore he’d seen Mrs. Crusemire sitting in her usual spot at her front window as he walked by. (He even went back to double check.)
People soon began gathering near the house, hoping to see the ghost, but few were successful.
One group that did have an encounter included Constable Joseph Bolen (or Bowlin.) The constable didn’t simply witness the appearance of the ghost, he spoke to her!
According to the constable, the ghostly woman asked him if he knew certain Noblesville residents. When he said he did, she sighed and faded away right before his eyes!
At that point Bolen suddenly recalled an important engagement elsewhere and promptly departed (as did everybody else, presumably.)
Notable Nineties Update: Cathy Dierdorf Wilkinson has added her mother, Katherine Mildred Dierdorf, who worked for Noblesville schools for 25 years. (Longtime residents may also remember Cathy’s father, John Dierdorf, who taught in the Noblesville schools for 40 years.) Congratulations, Katherine!
-Paula Dunn’s From Time to Thyme column appears each Friday in The Times. Contact her at younggardenerfriend@gmail.com