Like so many stories on this website, this one began with an e-mail. In May of 2017, Jeff Roberts sent me an e-mail telling me that his cousins had grown up in a haunted house out on Mason Road, which is near Caledonia. Was I interested in hearing their story?
Of course I was.
Jeff got in touch with two of his cousins, Angie and Marty, and they agreed to meet me at Jeff’s shop, Lobo Awards and Graphix, last August to talk about their experiences growing up in the house. What follows is drawn directly from that interview.
Like a lot families in Marion County, the Roberts family has roots in Appalachia – in this case just across the Ohio River in Greenup County, Kentucky. In 1964 Mr. and Mrs. Roberts came up to Marion with the hope that Mr. Roberts could find work here.
Eventually Mr. Roberts settled into a job at Eaton, and in 1972 the Roberts family, which by then had grown to include six children, bought the house, located at 3834 Mason Road.
It was an isolated property, situated on five acres of land and surrounded by corn and soybean fields.
Initially the family lived in a trailer next to the house while Mr. Roberts renovated it. By the next year, the house was livable and the family moved in. A few years later in 1978, the last Roberts child – number seven – was born.
Even before the family moved into the house, there was a hint of things to come. The house’s previous owner warned the Roberts family that the house was haunted, but added, “Don’t worry. They’re good ghosts.”
According to family lore, there was a soldier who hanged himself in the tree next to the driveway. Marty told me that Mr. Roberts found a few boxes of old army gear – boots, jackets, hats – in the attic, suggesting that an ex-soldier had lived in the house at some point. However, the origin of the hanging story or whether there’s any truth to it is unclear.
The Lights Were on but Nobody Was Home
One of the most vivid recollections Marty and Angie shared with me was an incident that occurred one night as the family was arriving home after church. From the road, they saw that a light was on in their sister Lois’ bedroom. Their dad, irritated at this waste of electricity, asked who had left the light on, but none of the kids would admit to it. As the family got closer to the house, the light went out. Suddenly (and for obvious reasons), everyone was on edge.
“Listen, we’re going inside,” their dad told them, “and when we do, act normal.”
After they went inside, their dad got a shotgun. He went upstairs and started going from room to room. In Lois’ room, the bulb was still warm to the touch, but no one was in the house.
Things That Go Bump in the Night
The day-to-day phenomena that led Marty and Angie to believe their house was haunted was far less dramatic than the light bulb incident.
More than anything, they both said they constantly heard what sounded like people going up and down the stairs. Angie shared a room with her older sister, Diana, and her younger sister, Julie, and sometimes they would hear footsteps on the stairs. When they would look out into the hallway to see who it was, no one was there. At other times, she said, the ghosts were so loud that the kids would actually say out loud, “Would you just be quiet so we can sleep?” Sometimes it even worked, she said, laughing.
But there were other noises as well. Angie said her closet door opened and shut on its own so often that their dad eventually took it off the hinges.
Marty recalled coming down the stairs one morning hearing kitchen sounds: banging pots and clanging silverware. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘What is going on in there?’” he told me. When he got to the kitchen, however, no one was in there. He peeked in on his mom and dad in their downstairs bedroom, and they were sleeping.
When the kids would complain about the noises, their parents would try to calm them down by telling them, “They won’t hurt you. They just want you to know they’re there.”
The Red Eyes
The unsettling incidents weren’t confined to just the house, either. Marty described an experience he and his father had while they were coon hunting one night in the woods near the house.
The dog treed a coon in an area that was hard to get to from where we were. We decided it would be easier to go back to the house, get the car, and drive to the next road over and approach the coon from that side. So we started walking back to the house. There was a cornfield on one side and a creek on the other. Dad had the light and it started to go dim. In the distance, from the direction of the house, we saw something with red eyes approaching us. Dad said, “Here comes the dog.” But then we realized the eyes were too high off the ground. Dad hollered at it, but it didn’t react. Whatever it was just kept coming closer and closer. By now we were getting scared. Dad hollered, “I’m gonna shoot if you don’t say anything.” Then whatever it was disappeared. We walked up to the spot where it had just been, but we didn’t see anything. And then I turned around, and it was behind us! Dad looked at me and said, “Well, now it’s time to run!” We ran all the way back to the house.
Every Room and Every Closet
I asked Angie and Marty if people outside of the immediate family knew about the house, and they both said yes without hesitation. While they occasionally had creepy experiences on the property, they both said they seldom felt truly scared.
The same couldn’t be said for other people, however.
Both Marty and Angie said that they would have to warn friends who were spending the night that they might hear or even see some strange doings in the house.
Jeff recalled that after his brother Jason would spend the night at the Roberts house, he would come home so troubled that he would search through every room and look in every closet to make sure nothing was there.
Angie mentioned that one of her sister’s boyfriends came over and got so spooked that he drove all the way back home to Plain City with his dome light on.
“Let’s Go Look at Some Haunted Houses”
The house eventually acquired a certain notoriety in that part of the county.
Marty said he would sometimes hear people talking about a haunted house out on Mason Road, and he would tell them, “Well, that’s my house.”
Angie added, “We were hanging out uptown one night and someone was like, ‘Let’s go look at some haunted houses. There’s one on Mason Road.’” Angie laughed and told them, “I can take you inside that one – give you a tour.”
Halloween and Hay Rides
Once the Roberts kids reached their teens, they began throwing Halloween parties out on the property.
“We had a hayride that would take everybody out near an old cemetery,” Marty told me. “The wagon would stop and everyone would hop out and go through a trail in the woods to a clearing where the cemetery was. Usually I would be hiding back there waiting to jump out and scare everyone else.”
Angie said that after the parties would die down, the remaining kids would gather around the fire and listen as the Roberts kids told stories about their house. “Some of the kids,” she said, “would get so scared, they wouldn’t even go into the house to pee!”
Marty laughed and added, “The thing is, we weren’t even making up the stories.”
Different Rooms, Different Stories
Angie and Marty said that certain rooms of the house spooked them more than others.
For example, they both disliked the furnace room, which was a small, windowless room – a closet really – on the ground floor beneath the stairs. Angie said that no one liked going in there. Marty added that when the furnace kicked on, “It sounded just awful.”
There were seven kids but only four bedrooms in the upstairs of the house. Of these four bedrooms, the kids only used three. For reasons neither Marty nor Angie could really articulate, none of the kids ever moved into the “back bedroom” (as they referred to it), which is especially strange considering it was the biggest bedroom.
However, in the mid 70s their cousin Stanley and his wife Linda came to stay with the family, and they used the back bedroom. But not for long. When they moved back out a short time later, Linda told the family, “I’ll never walk into this house again.” Marty said that, to this day, he doesn’t know what she saw or heard in the back bedroom but that it scared her profoundly.
The room they talked about the most, however, was the “pink” room. They called it that simply because it had pink curtains. Angie told me that when the family bought the house, the room contained a wardrobe and a hospital bed. Old syringes and pill bottles lay scattered around. They kept the wardrobe but threw everything else out.
This room became their older sister Lois’ bedroom.
Although Marty never spent a night in there, Angie said she did. But only once.
“I slept in there one time when I was little,” she said. “I remember how unsettled that room made me feel. And that wardrobe creeped me out. The doors would open and close by themselves, and I remember waiting all night for that to start.”
Marty also heard the wardrobe doors opening and closing at times when he knew no one was in the room.
The most disconcerting aspect of the room seemed to be the effect it had on their teenaged sister, Lois. She began having night terrors.
As Marty put it:
When she’d wake up in the middle of the night screaming? It was like nothing you’ve ever heard. I mean, somebody getting murdered couldn’t have sounded any worse. And it would wake the whole house up. I mean, they were gut-wrenching screams. It scared me to death.
I’d like to know what she saw in that room. Because she actually saw it. She didn’t just hear it. She saw it. “It’s right there behind my headboard! It’s right there!” she’d be screaming, and she wouldn’t go back to sleep in the room. This happened a lot. Once a week or more.
Later he reflected:
Here’s what was weird: She’d have these nightmares in the night and then get up and go to school the next day. When it got to be bedtime, she’s go to sleep in that room. She was never afraid to go to bed.
After Lois left home, these episodes ceased. Unsurprisingly, after Lois moved out, none of the other kids moved into the room.
The house is gone now. As their kids began leaving home, Mr. and Mrs. Roberts decided they didn’t need such a big place anymore, and they sold the house in 1998. When the day came to move out, their dad told the family that the ghosts were “probably sad to see them go.”
Apparently the new owners also had some spooky experiences at the house. Marty told me that their dad ran into the new owner some time after the sale, and the new owner said, “I can’t believe you sold me a haunted house!”
Owl Creek Trails Farms bought the land in 2013, but by then the house was already gone. Angie and Marty don’t know who decided to tear the house down or why.
Both Marty and Angie looked back on their childhoods fondly. To them the place on Mason Road was always just home, albeit one that could freak them out from time to time. As Angie told me, “To all of us, the weird stuff was part of our day to day life. To us it was normal.”
After they moved out, neither of them ever again experienced anything they would term supernatural.
I was struck by how unselfconscious both Marty and Angie were about discussing the house. When I asked them if the Roberts kids ever talk about their experiences in the house when they get together, they both replied instantly: “All the time.”
– Josh Simpkins