A stone in Gilboa’s Cholera cemetery lists “other children” on the stone. Putnam County-born Melissa Davies recently began investigating Gilboa’s Cholera Cemetery, and rumors of otherworldly phenomena said to occur there.
A stone in Gilboa’s Cholera cemetery lists “other children” on the stone. Putnam County-born Melissa Davies recently began investigating Gilboa’s Cholera Cemetery, and rumors of otherworldly phenomena said to occur there.
PUTNAM COUNTY — Born and raised in Putnam County, Melissa (Luersman) Davies has always enjoyed folklore. She is intrigued by unexplained phenomena. Since 2018 she has pursued that interest by researching and airing podcasts about nearly 40 locations in Ohio, including her most recent site, the Gilboa Cholera Cemetery.

“I spent a couple of months learning all I could, which was considerable,” said Davies about her decision to do podcasts. Now residing in Napoleon, the Kalida graduate, said she always has a genuine desire to learn how a story about a location originated, and why it has had staying power over the years.

Davies has done podcasts on a wide variety of topics including The Ohio State Reformatory, Serpent Mound, Ghosts of McClure, and Ohioans Lost on the Edmund Fitzgerald.

“I’ve discovered that when I take the time to look deeper, these stories reveal truths I never expected,” she said. “For the Gilboa episode, the tragedy of the Cholera epidemic swept through the village nearly 170 years ago. Even though all the people of that time are long gone, the gravity of what they went through was passed down through generations.”

Davies said most of her research comes from historical newspaper accounts. “The news articles offer a nice overview of how the public at large grapples with strange claims like UFO sightings, haunted locations, and weird events.”

Davies said newspaper articles, especially those written when these events occurred, offer a glimpse about how such stories take root. She also tries to find someone with a personal connection to the topic, or a local who knows the story well.

Two of her favorite topics for her series of podcasts include a two-part series about a faceless hitchhiker in Clermont County, and the podcast on the Ripley Terminus of the Underground Railroad. The Ripley Terminus podcast includes an account of a former slave, John Parker, risking his life many times to lead freedom seekers onward.

She found writing that story to be a humbling experience.

One of her most difficult stories to research was the 1973 account of a UFO encounter by multiple Army staff members in a helicopter over Mansfield.

“I wasn’t able to find the depth of information that I normally can dig up,” she said. She does not know if this was due to the military’s effort to keep the details under wraps. Davies also said she could not find anyone willing to be interviewed.

Once Davies finds a solid base of sources to work with, she starts to write the episode for her podcast.

“When I am finished writing, I read it aloud to myself,” she said. Davies finds that writing for a listener is a bit different from writing for a reader. The words need to sound good.

While researching and writing about the Gilboa Cholera epidemic Davies discovered the story of the sacrifice of an immigrant doctor who resided in Gilboa at the time of the epidemic, Dr. Gustavus Thatye.

A native Hungarian, Dr. Thatye was exited to the U.S. when his native Hungary fell to the Austrian Empire. He came to this country and resided with friends, the Kisseberths, in Gilboa.

When the cholera epidemic swept through Gilboa, Dr. Thatye was the only local physician who had any experience fighting the deadly disease. When many locals, including three of his colleagues, fled for safety, Dr. Thatye stayed to treat those who had no means to leave.

He treated those who contracted the mysterious disease until he himself succumbed to the infectious disease.

Dr. Thatye’s partial name is found on one small corner piece of a broken stone, leaning against the tombstones of his friends, the Kisseberths, in nearby Harmon Cemetery.

Davies has started a Go Fund Me account to purchase a tombstone to pay tribute to Dr. Thatye’s sacrifice.

Her podcasts can be found online under Ohio Folklore, Tales Untold at the following link: https://ohiofolklore.com/