July 29, 2014

Elyria
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Every tombstone has a story: Here are three

When your children pass through the night this Halloween in their quest for candy, you’ll tell them what houses to avoid and what time to return.

But it’s likely you’ll not have to warn them to stay out of the cemeteries.

Dozens of tombstone-laden grounds are spread all over the county, and most of the year they are places of refuge where families and friends pay their respects to loved ones.

But at night, when the eerie moonlight is obscured by the leafless branches of crooked trees, an eerie chill creeps up on us all when we pass by cemeteries at night.

They spook us as living beings.

So … if you scare easily, it might be best if you don’t read on.

Mysterious murder

One of the first graves you’ll find inside Lorain’s Cavalry Cemetery is that of Agatha Reichlin, victim of one of the city’s most mysterious unsolved murders.

CARL SULLENBERGER/CHRONICLE
The grave marker of Agatha Reichlin, killed by a man in Lorain in the early 1900s.

According to the Black River Historical Society and John Stark Bellamy’s book, “The Killer in the Attic,” the 34-year-old Reichlin was a devout Catholic housekeeper who was unmarried and lived with her two older brothers. Neighbors loved the family, especially Agatha, who had no known enemies and a saintly reputation.

The accused, the Rev. Ferdinand Walser, was a middle-aged Catholic priest who was staying in the home temporarily while Reichlin’s brother, the Rev. Charles Reichlin, was preaching on Kelleys Island.

Walser told police that on May 1, 1903, he went to sleep about 10 p.m. but was awakened by the sounds of sobbing and moaning coming from Agatha’s room. He walked toward the room and saw a man wearing a slouch hat and mustache carrying what appeared to be a dark lantern in his hand.

Walser frightened the man away and woke up Agatha’s other brother, Casimir, before running into the woman’s room. They attempted to awaken her, but it was no use. She had been strangled and bludgeoned to death.

Walser was arrested and tried, but a botched police investigation, which included several exhumations of Agatha’s body, forced an acquittal.

Today, Agatha’s grave is surrounded by the graves of her family, but bears no mention of her grisly fate.

Four below

There are four small bodies resting under a tombstone with only two names at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Avon.

Twins Raymond and Ralph Smith died in the early 1900s, one shortly after birth and the other when he was about 8 years old.

Years later, their brother, Carl, must have thought it miraculous when he had his own set of twins that he chose to pay respect to his brothers by naming his children after them. But the new twins died shortly after birth, according to Jack Smith, president of the Avon Historical Society.

Carl chose to bury his boys in the same grave as his brothers, but chose not to add their names to the tombstone.

Broken angel

Don’t speak too loudly about the broken pedestal at Maple Grove Cemetery in Vermilion. You might spark the ire of the townspeople.

There was once a statue of an angel atop that concrete block, placed there in honor of young Alice Fischer, who was allegedly killed in the late 1800s by her mother, Lydia.

Lydia Fischer was so distraught about what she had done that she had the angel placed over her daughter’s buried remains before dying from grief a short while later, according to www.deadohio.com and various city officials.

Legend has it that after Lydia died, cows began to mysteriously die and other strange occurrences began sprouting up all over town.

CARL SULLENBERGER/CHRONICLE
The remains of a memorial to Alice Fischer Humphreys, who was allegedly killed by her mother, are in Vermilion’s Maple Grove Cemetery.

People started to suspect that Lydia’s ghost had come back to haunt the town, so an angry mob clipped the angel’s wings and chopped off its hands.

The angel has since been removed by Riddle Funeral Home, which now takes care of the cemetery, according to Judy Riddle of the funeral home.

But recently, a cross was etched into the pedestal.

Is it Lydia come back to exact revenge? Shh — don’t scare the townspeople.

Contact Adam Wright at 653-6257 or awright@chroniclet.com.