WILMINGTON — Just about every place in the world has a spooky legend or tale. Wilmington College has been known to hear some haunted hooves in its academic halls.
Over the years, students and faculty a like have reportedly been hearing the eerie clip-clops of two ghost horses in College Hall.
According to ohioexploration.com, the first horse belonged to Azariah Doan, a Civil War officer, judge, and prominent local Quaker.
Ole Bill — Doan’s horse — was apparently entombed between the second and third floors of the building. The horse’s skull was found in 1956 when renovations were being completed. Ole Bill’s skull would be put on display in the hall for a time.
Sadly though, Ole Bill is no longer on display. Randy Sarvis, WC’s Senior Director of Public Relations, told the News Journals that no one has seen the skull since the 1950s.
“I read years ago that the skull was displayed during an Alumni Day in the ‘50s, and that was confirmed by an alumna I asked,” said Sarvis. “That was the last reference to the skull I’ve been able to find. It’s probably in some unmarked box stored somewhere at the College.”
According to Sarvis, in a 2003 write-up for “Haunted Ohio V”, the legend of Ole Bill’s ghost took a new twist after World War II. Students who were walking around the campus grounds late at night could hear the sounds of a horse on the top floor of one of the buildings.
Sarvis said the students were unaware of the legend of Ole Bill, but a second, and more tragic ghost story developed — an equine spirit believed to be a horse that died in a college prank gone wrong.
According to ohioexploration.com, some students put farm animals in College Hall with the horse being put on the top floor. The horse “went crazy” and injured itself, according to the website. This resulted in the horse having to be put down.
According to Sarvis in his write-up, this type of prank began in the 1920s.
Apparently, horses “can go upstairs with little trouble, but they have a mental block when it comes to descending steps,” said Sarvis.
There was another occasion before when a horse was led up to the top floor and had to be given chloroform to calm down.
According to Sarvis, the ghost horse was left on the top floor “in no mood to spend the night in Wilmington’s halls of learning. It bolted down the hallway eyeing its only path to freedom as the stairwell on the other side of the building.”
The horse slipped on the steps, ending up on the landing between the second and third floors. This was also the area where Ole Bill was previously interred.
Because of the injuries, the horse had to be put down. This would be the last time this prank would be pulled.
While the horse’s physical form was removed, his angered spirit seemed to remain.
According to Sarvis, one of the encounters came in 1964 when three seniors from the WC football team climbed the bell tower to ring them in celebration.
“Upon the final strike of the bell, they reportedly heard the unmistakable neigh of a horse and clip-clop of horses’ hooves running on the tile hallway — all within feet of their position in the tower,” said Sarvis.
Whether there are eerie equines on campus grounds or not, the Fighting Quakers can claim to have some unique ghost stories.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574