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A Halloween story with a Bluffton twist

By Fred Steiner

Want to hear a good Halloween story? Here’s one. And, it’s true.

Most of us have forgotten that the bend in the road on State Route 235 north of Ada was originally laid out as a 90-degree angle. If you head north, you can see a remnant of that angle – but look closely.

Most of us have also forgotten that the 90-degree angle once had a name: Dead Man’s Jog. 

I know how the name came to be. My grandfather told me. He told me the story over a half century ago. It was a story that took place, well, I’ll put it this way - several generations ago.

My grandfather was Fred Hahn. He grew up in Ada and was a teenager in the 1890s. He told me this story the before he died in 1960. Ready? I’ll put the story in his words. It sounds better that way:

I was 18 years old in the winter of 1896. I lived with my parents in Ada. They owned a bakery on Main Street. Like most young men at the time, I hung out at a pool hall located on the second floor of a livery barn in Ada. Lots of the young men hung out there too. They were students at Ohio Normal University.

Anyway, it was a common thing for people who didn’t own a horse to rent one from the owner of the livery. Sometimes someone might need a team of horses and a wagon. The livery owner would invite one of the young men playing pool to deliver the team. So, if you hung around at the right time you might earn some money.

L. O. Ream was the Ada undertaker. He also owned a furniture store. He came to the livery one afternoon when I was there. He needed a horse team and wagon for an emergency job. An old bachelor farmer, who lived by himself on a farm about three miles north of town, died.

Mr. Ream wanted to hire a couple young men to go out and bring the body into town.

I volunteered to go get the body along with one other Ada fellow. Now, you need to know something about the weather conditions the day we took the job. You also need to know something about horses.

It was winter. A storm was developing. We knew we had to work fast. We chose two particular horses for this task.

One was a feisty animal. We picked it because we thought it might come in handy if the snow, which started to fall, became really deep. We also picked a large, strong mare that we knew was a steady animal. The combination of the two would keep us from getting stuck in a snowdrift, so we thought.

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