XENIA — As Elmer Moore bumped along the road in his carriage, riding out of Yellow Springs late one night, he noticed a couple walking on Dayton-Yellow Springs Road. Being the courteous old soul that he was, he pulled up next to them and stopped to offer them a ride.
“Where are you headed?” he asked.
“The Mercer estate,” the man replied, offering nothing more.
“That’s a bit of a walk,” Moore said in return. “Jump in, both of you, I’m headed that way myself.”
And so the two walkers thanked Moore and climbed past him into the carriage. Soon the three were off and Moore was carrying on about this and that. Being a local farmer, Moore was well connected in the community and had much to chat about, even with these complete strangers.
The three carried on polite conversation for the six-mile journey until the carriage drew close to the destination. The couple became quiet in the back seat, but Moore thought nothing of it and filled in the silence with his own thoughts.
Eventually Moore pulled to a halt in front of the old stone house and began to address his passengers, “Well, here we are,” he said as he began to turn around.
“Glad I cou–,” he stopped mid-sentence. A a chill far deeper than the cool night air ran down his spine as he got a full view of the backseat of his carriage.
It was empty. His passengers had vanished into thin air.
Frightened by the strange happening, Moore quickly left the area and never quite looked at the Mercer estate quite the same again.
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As the legend of “The Senator Walks at Midnight” goes in Harold Igo’s book “Haunted House: Spooky Tales of Yellow Springs,” which was written in the 1940s, the vanishing couple was thought to have been a senator by the name of Arthur Brown, and a woman by the name of Catherine Bradley. Brown was said to have been an Antioch graduate.
According to legend, ten years before Moore met the ghostly couple, Bradley had murdered Brown after she had discovered he had a family of his own elsewhere.
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Greene County Archivist Robin Heise recently dug into the legend to see how much truth was behind Igo’s story and found a tale worthy of its own soap opera.
She found that Brown was an 1862 Antioch graduate and that while married, fell in love with a woman named Isabel Cameron. Brown divorced his first wife after she tried to shoot him and married Cameron. Brown eventually met another woman named Anne Bradley and filed for divorce with Cameron, who retaliated by having Brown and Bradley arrested for adultery, Heise said.
“Isabel dies of cancer in 1905, so you figure now the two, Annie and Arthur can be together,” Heise said. “However Arthur won’t agree on a wedding date, he keeps postponing having a discussion about plans.”
Brown, a lawyer, went to Washington D.C. in 1906 to argue a case before the Supreme Court. According to Heise, Bradley heard that Brown was going to the nation’s capital to marry another woman and followed him there.
“She confronts him in his room in a rage, because she’s heard this story that he’s there to marry another woman,” Heise said. “He doesn’t respond and instead he turns to walk out and put his coat on and as he turns to leave, Annie pulls out the gun — fires it — shoots him in the abdomen.”
That shot would kill Brown.
Heise said Bradley told a newspaper that she felt justified in the shooting and said she didn’t have anything to regret. Bradley was later acquitted on charges related to the shooting due to “temporary insanity.”
Heise also said that later one of Bradley’s sons by another man shot and killed one of Bradley’s sons by Brown.
“So now poor Annie has to go visit the grave of the child of the love of her life while visiting her other child in jail,” she said.
In relation to the mysterious side of the story, Heise said she could not find a record of Elmer Moore in the federal census.
“I don’t know if there was a local farmer who picked up a couple to drop them off at the old stone house,” she said. “But it does make a good ghost story….”
The narrative at the beginning of this story was a dramatization of Igo’s legend as imagined by this writer.
Reach Nathan Pilling at 937-502-4498 or on Twitter @XDGNatePilling.