Magee Park: J. Buckley

Another urban legend from Ohio’s Sleepy Hollow.

As the urban legend goes, John (also sometimes listed as James) Buckley was a rich man living along the banks of Possum Run Creek (now Little Sugar Creek). One night, his cabin was broken into and he was decapitated as thieves tried to find his buried treasure, and his ghost still haunts the creek looking for his head.

Is this story true? Did this really happen?

Well, yes and no.

In the summer of 1828, John Buckley came from London, England and bought a sawmill along Possum Run Creek, near the present-day Magee Park. He was a hard worker, and ran his mill night and day. As he was the first sawmill in the Bellbrook area, he was very successful. Neighbors described him as a good and cheerful man, ready to do a kindness for anyone. Buckley was a widower who lived in a two story log cabin with his three children; John, William, and Mary.

According to a newspaper article published April 24, 1901, one night, his neighbors had a chat with Mr. Buckley after dinner as they were heading to Bellbrook. When they journeyed home later that evening, they discovered Buckley lying along the side of a log, his scalp split open. He was already dead. Not knowing what to do with his body, neighbors carried him to his front porch and laid him down. He was later buried in the old graveyard on Possum Run Road. Neighbors dug up his cellar in an attempt to find his gold/silver, but nothing was ever found.

The cabin stood empty for a while after, and when a tenant finally moved in, they reported hearing noises both upstairs and in the cellar. The reports culminated with the wife reporting seeing the ghost of Buckley standing in the cellar with his head cut open, bleeding. They moved out shortly after. The next tenant to move in heard noises in the attic and investigated, finding rats. After he cleared up that mess, he reported never hearing any noises again. He also said he never saw a ghost or experienced any hauntings.

It’s important to note that in the course of researching “Ohio’s Sleepy Hollow,” most ghost and haunting stories are blamed on a culture of people living in the woods with no TV, who would often pass the time by telling each other stories. Hoot and Screech owls are also blamed for the noises and things going ‘bump’ in the night.

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