‘Haunted Hamilton’ explores the spooky parts of Dayton Lane and downtown

A new book by Shi O'Neill looks at hauntings in Hamilton. PROVIDED
A new book by Shi O'Neill looks at hauntings in Hamilton. PROVIDED

Book details paranormal encounters of those who experienced them, dives into local history.

Butler County author Shi O’Neill has a book for those interested in ghosts and the paranormal. Her Haunted Hamilton, Ohio, which focuses largely on hauntings in the city’s Dayton Lane neighborhood and downtown, is available from several stores and websites.

O’Neill is on the fence about the presence of ghosts, although she says she has experienced some unexplained things herself. One of those is described in the book, an experience she had at the Butler County Historical Society, which is the former home of John and Wilhelmina Benninghofen.

Kathy Creighton of the historical society allowed O’Neill to hold two copper dowsing rods, one in each hand, to ask the spirit of Wilhelmina questions. To her surprise, at her request, the rods slowly crossed over each other, indicating an answer from Wilhelmina, she said, adding it happened without any assistance from her.

“The intention of this book is to describe paranormal encounters as told by the people who experienced them,” O’Neill said. Haunted Hamilton “presents corroborating history as a potential explanation for sometimes unbelievable phenomena.”

“If you have any interest in pursuing the mysterious and supernatural yourself, this book will provide some details about where you can get personally involved,” O’Neill added.

Rather than creating a more fictional work with oohs and aahs of spookiness, she uses more of a distanced approach to Hamilton hauntings, featuring interviews with spiritual consultant Victor Paruta, who visited the Hamilton locations and offered his insights and impressions of spiritual activity in those places.

Some of the events in the book depict tragic deaths of people some think have spirits still within certain buildings, or places like Campbell Avenue Park.

For those interested in such happenings, the 18th Annual Dayton Lane Ghost Walk happens Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m., starting at 900 Campbell Ave. and will happen regardless of the weather. Tickets cost $20 in advance or $25 at the door, if any are still available. Registration is at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ghost-walk-of-dayton-lane-historic-district-2021-tickets-171952543687?aff=ebdssbeac .

“Hear ghost tales from residents past and present,” according to an ad for the event. “Feel the presence of the dearly departed that still linger in one of Hamilton’s oldest neighborhoods.”

Shi O'Neill is the author of Haunted Hamilton, Ohio. PROVIDED
Shi O'Neill is the author of Haunted Hamilton, Ohio. PROVIDED

The book may not change readers’ minds about whether ghosts do or don’t inhabit Hamilton homes and businesses, but it may spark more interest in the city’s history, including at various times such as the Great Depression, the Civil War and Prohibition.

O’Neill said her book came about because of the ghost tour. Her book cover features an artist’s rendering of the Butler County Courthouse that was created based on a photograph by Hannah Faulkner.

The book is available in Hamilton at the ghost walk, the historical society, Front Room on 7th, and through @shioneill-author on Facebook. It also is available through online retailers and at Walgreens stores in West Chester and Liberty townships, Oxford, Middletown and Fairfield; CVS in Middletown; and Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati.

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