This week at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio, I was helping to arrange a fundraiser to benefit the YWCA and global hunger relief efforts. Not far from the campus, located in Delhi Township, is the Ohio River.
You can see the river from certain vantage points looking down from the Mount. And since it’s Halloween, it’s worth mentioning a tale about a graveyard hidden away in the woods.
Many years ago, when nightfall came, residents of Delhi reported mysterious lights and the eerie tune of a fiddler coming from the graveyard. So scared were the residents that no one dared go to the cemetery. Was this a ghost? No one knew. Would anyone ever know?
In the 1960’s, a Mount St. Joseph professor, Cecil Hale, appeared to have found the answer. Henry Darby (1781-1852), a prominent abolitionist, lived right near the site of the graveyard.
Hale found out the ghost reports started during the time of the Underground Railroad. This was the secret network that guided slaves to freedom, and was extremely active in the years leading up to the Civil War.
Hale believed the strange lights and music at the graveyard were signals to slaves across the river in Kentucky that it was safe to cross. He wrote a play called The Legend of Fiddler’s Green which tells this story.
The Ohio River was indeed a major route on the Underground Railroad. So active was the area that the Underground Railroad Freedom Center was eventually located in Cincinnati.
Was this ghostly legend one way that residents of Delhi were secretly working to help operate the Underground Railroad? It appears reasonable that the ghostly mystery is indeed solved. Wait! There are some lights coming from over the hill from the direction of the college. And a strange eerie tune. Oh Great!
The global hunger relief fundraiser is to benefit the Catholic Relief Services school feeding program in Sudan, the Aschiana Foundation, and Edesia, a non-profit organization which produces plumpy’nut. For more information please write here.