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The Peddler

Ohio, USA
October 1997

This is a true story (well at least according to my grandfather,uncle and father it is). They say that what they told me they saw is absolutely true.

The story doesn't begin with them though, it begins about a hundred years ago on a little farm out in the hills east of Chillicothe where my family had lived for generations. This relative of mine, Gerald Barnhart, was a poor man with a huge family of five kids or so. One evening in the early fall, just when the leaves were beginning to turn, his family went to visit some relatives up around the Kingston area. Gerald decided however to stay at home and mend a loose board in the barn floor. About suppertime Gerald heard whistling along the road, looking out he saw an old peddler coming up the road towards his house loaded down with goods. Now Gerald being a somewhat greedy man looked up at the slightly chilly weather and formed a plan. When the peddler reached the house Gerald offered him a place to stay for the night. While the peddler slept Gerald would murder him and steal all his goods. He proceeded with his plan and afterwards he took the peddlers body and buried it on top of the hill under a huge pile of rocks. When his family returned they discovered the peddlers goods, Gerald made up a story and the family let it drop because they didn't want anyone to question where they'd gotten all the new things.

Eventually as the years went by and Gerald had been long gone, strange things began to happen on the hill where the peddler had been hastily buried. Strange absences of wildlife, strange weather patterns totally against that of the surrounding area and stories of hunters being followed by no one. Stories began to travel around the area about a murdered peddler and his vengeful ghost but that had been years ago and no one really knew who had done it or where the peddler was buried, everyone only half believed the stories.

Well the strange happenings continued and everyone continued to wonder why they were going on. No one wanted to go up on the hill because it was always the same, you would begin hunting then you would get this eerie sensation of being followed. You would hear the crunching of leaves behind you as if someone was following, you would then turn and no one was there.

My grandfather, uncle and father decided to go up on the hill to the place where the grave was estimated to be at and see if they could find it. Once again it was in the fall and the leaves were crunching under their feet and the skeletal trees made an eerie sound as the three men approached the area of the hill where the grave was rumoured to be. Sure enough, there before them was a huge pile of rocks heaped in what appeared to be a makeshift grave. Gathering up all their courage they approached the pile and began to pull the rocks off, layer by layer. The men didn't notice but as the layers of rocks were removed from the grave the sky got dark and the wind began to blow fiercely. They noticed the change in weather when the lightning struck the ground beside the grave as they reached the last layer. Suddenly as they lifted the first rock of the last layer all hell broke loose, the wind moaned and the ground shook as the elements whipped the trees and created a scene fit for any horror movie. Out of the pile shone a brilliant light. The three men were apparently so terrified of the light and the change in weather that they threw the rocks back onto the pile and began to run back down the hill. What they didn't realize until they reached the bottom is that the moment they had begun putting the rocks back on the pile the weather cleared up. From that moment on none of the men who were there that day have been able to go back on that hill and it is still said that the peddlers ghost still roams the hill looking for Gerald Barnhart and following hunters in the fall.

Ohio, USA
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