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Phoebe Wise Walks Reformatory Road

Every town in the United States has their very own eccentric. And in Mansfield, Ohio in the late 1800s, that eccentric was Phoebe Wise. The first thing people noticed about Phoebe was her taste in clothing; bright, gaudy, and out of fashion. The fact the Phoebe's favorite mode of transportation was her own two feet made it so that everyone had plenty of opportunities to catch a glimpse of her. Of course, the reports that she stood over six foot tall, if true, would have certainly made Phoebe stand out among a crowd even without the bright clothes.

But all things considered, what really made Phoebe different from all the other women of her time was that Phoebe was outspoken and thought nothing of saying exactly what was on her mind, even if that meant going toe to toe with a man.

The Wise family owed an enormous parcel of land along what is now SR 545 in Mansfield. It was on this piece of land that Phoebe chose to live in an old, ramshackle shack, isolated from everyone. So aside from her occasionally being spotted walking along the road from time to time, Phoebe pretty much kept to herself. That is, until the late 1880s, when she began dating Jake Kastanowitz. By all accounts, the relationship was tumultuous from the very beginning and violent arguments were not uncommon. The violence culminated on May 22nd, 1898, when Phoebe shot and killed Jake. Though it was later found that Phoebe had not meant to shoot Kastanowitz, the incident further served to support the notion that Phoebe was not a woman to be trifled with.

The Ohio State Reformatory owned the property next to the Wise family plot and when the state was looking to extend the prison, they approached the family. Since the state had money to spare, after the sale was complete, townspeople just assumed that the family had become very, very rich. But when Phoebe continued to essentially live in a state of squalor, the rumor started that she had chosen to take her share of the family's earnings and hide it inside her shack. It was only a matter of time before a group of local thugs came calling. After muscling their way into Phoebe's home, they assaulted her and began ripping the place apart in search of the hidden loot. When none was found, the men took what little money they found along with some of Phoebe's jewelry. On the way out, they paused only long enough to brutally murder Phoebe.

But the story doesn't end there. As a result of the violent death, Phoebe's ghost was unable to rest in peace and is rumored to walk up and down Reformatory Road. If you go looking for her, she's pretty easy to spot. Just look for the giant woman dressed in bright gaudy clothes. 

Weird Ohio


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