A tale of two cities – or something like it
In researching ghost towns of the Mohican River, I discovered that there had been two Helltowns.
I set out to find information on the Native American settlement known as Helltown. From what I could learn, it had been on a bluff overlooking Clear Fork of the Mohican River, opposite the Switzer Creek confluence.
(For those interested in the big picture, that’s somewhere between Butler and Perrysville. Or, if you’re not familiar with either of those places, it’s in the middle of nowhere, halfway between Cleveland and Columbus.)
The natives abandoned Helltown in 1782 after they learned that members of Ohio’s militia had massacred more than 100 Native Americans whom they had converted to Christianity. That occurred in Gnaddenhutton, along the Tuscarawas River. So strong was the faith of these converts that most allowed themselves to be bludgeoned to death, believing that they would awaken in Heaven.
Adding insult to injury, the settlers later looted their burial grounds and plowed them under to grow crops.
A Google search of Helltown and Ohio turned up links to another Hell Town in the state. In fact, the search yielded more links to that Hell Town than the one I was looking for.
Like Helltown the Native American village, the other Hell Town was also a ghost town. The latter by virtue of eminent domain for the establishment of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
The other Hell Town, in portions of Boston Township, Summit County, lies on land taken by eminent domain for Cuyahoga Valley National Park — spawning folklore that it was haunted or a haven for Satanic practices. The government purchased the homes in 1974 and they were left intact for many years, giving rise to the folklore.
That includes stories about the site being closed by the government in connection with chemical contamination — complete with obligatory cover-up mythology. There may be something to that as, in 1985, a hiker became ill after coming into contact with the contents of a drum at the Krejci Dump Site.
This year it was reported that $60 million site remediation has been a big success. It was a typical American success story in which someone profits from pollution and the taxpayers are stuck with the bill for mitigating the damage.
Ironically, a researcher named Jim Willis found graffiti inside one of the abandoned houses equating eminent domain with genocide.
These illustrations are part of my PowerPoint presentation entitled Ghost Towns of the Mohican River. I plan to research them further and expand on that.