The Swamp Road Chronicles


"Jacob's Ladder"

Dear Friends,

Per our conversation at the Pataskala Street Fair last August, I am sending this story to you. I call it 'Jacob's Ladder'.

Though I can't prove any of it, this story comes from a very reliable source. My cousin was an historian for Licking County for many years and recounted this tale to me more than once. He knew a lot about the county's past, but this incident really stuck with him.


A couple of miles from Swamp Road is Cherry Lane. In 1865 a man named Jacob Linville purchased 120 acres of land there and built a small house and a very large barn. Jacob had come from Pennsylvania with his wife Melanie and his son Josef. Jacob had intended to make a life for his family by growing apples. Licking County is remarkably well-suited for apple growing.

Jacob's father had been a successful farmer and had funded Jacob's venture. There was little doubt that the hard-working Jacob would be successful.


Four years after settling on Cherry Lane, Jacob enjoyed his first harvest. He had thousands and thousands of the sweetest, most delicious apples you could ask for. He shipped them back east to merchants and sold them locally as well. The bruised apples, or ones that had even the smallest blemish went straight to the cider mill. Jacob sold several hundred gallons of apple cider that year as well.


Jacob's barn was very large; a large barn was a sign of prosperity back then and Jacob's barn was impressive. It was 100 feet long and 40 feet wide and had 3 floors. Unfortunately, Jacob's barn would be his undoing. During a severe winter storm in January of 1870 a large section of the barn's roof was blown off by the wind. Jacob and his hired man were inside the barn repairing it. Jacob had climbed up a 40 foot ladder to reach the highest part that needed repaired. While the hired man had stepped away to get more nails, Jacob lost his footing and fell nearly forty feet to the hardwood floor. The hired man was on the first floor when he heard a huge "thump" overhead, he hurried back up to the second floor where he found Jacob lying on his back, his lifeless eyes staring upward, with a large amount of blood pooling around his head.


Jacob's wife Melanie took her son and moved back to Pennsylvania. The farm was sold to a local family. The little home is gone now, but the barn remains. You can still see where the blood stains the oaken floorboards and the new owners often tell their friends and family of going up to the barn in the middle of the day and hearing a loud "thump" overhead. Upon searching, no cause for the sound can ever be found. They believe that it's just the barn itself replaying its memory of the tragedy that cut short the life of a promising young farmer. Structures like barns and homes do have memories, and that explains many, but not all, tales of haunted homes and haunted barns as well. What memories does your home have? Hmmm?


As submitted by James Franklin 6-6-23 Hebron, Ohio


Copyright 1992-2023, Randal Lenn Hall, All Rights Reserved.