by Constance Mroczkowski for Porch Stories™ Ghost Tour 2009, Hudson, Ohio
On a crisp December eve, 1806, in the light of a cold winter moon, evil stained Hudson’s heritage with blood spilled in a tale of fear, hatred and revenge that still haunts the city to this day.
It started in Streetsboro, when a Seneca Indian named John Nickshaw felt cheated after trading his pony with John Diver from Hudson. Nickshaw wanted to trade back but was told the deal was final.
So, an angry Nickshaw and his brother-in-law, John Mohawk, sought out Diver for their own brand of justice, but Mohawk mistakenly shot John Diver’s brother Daniel, temporarily blinding the man. Nickshaw and Mohawk ran, thinking they had killed Diver, but Diver managed to escape back to town.
A posse of Streetsboro townsfolk trailed the Indians across the Cuyahoga River and through what are now Kent, Peninsula and Boston Township.
The tracks in the new fallen snow led the posse to Christian Cackler’s cabin in Hudson. Frozen to the bone from the bitter cold, many of the men dropped out of the posse, but a reputed Indian killer named Jonathan Williams and a man named George Darrow from Hudson, joined in the hunt.
Near Richfield, the Indians built a fire and pulled off their moccasins to dry them. When the posse approached, Nickshaw and Mohawk sprang up and ran off barefoot with Williams and Darrow in hot pursuit. The Indians’ feet began to bleed from tramping over fallen pine cones and twigs in the woods. They soon split up, taking separate trails.
Both Darrow and Williams followed Nickshaw, chasing him like hounds on a fox. They finally overtook him, and Nickshaw charged at them with his hand under his blanket as if he had a knife. Darrow tried to club him with a small tree branch. Williams fired a warning shot over Nickshaw’s head, but the Indian did not stop. Williams reloaded and shot the Indian dead. The two men hid Nickshaw’s body under a log and came back to Hudson with their story of self-defense.
It is said that David Hudson, Heman Oviatt and Owen Brown mounted their horses and brought the body of the dead Indian to Hudson where it was discovered that Nickshaw had been shot in the back of the head. The townsfolk brought the matter before the proper legal authorities, but the investigation came to no conclusion and it was rumored to end in a “hoedown,” where they enjoyed plenty of whiskey and collected $5 for Williams as reward for the deed.
Nickshaw’s body vanished. Some believe Williams dumped it in the ghost-laden Pine Swamp on Rt. 303 near Terex Road. Williams disappeared, too. Now, when the sky is dark and a cold moon raises, bloody footprints trail through downtown Hudson, especially on Darrow Road. And spine-chilling howls, like Indian war cries, can be heard in the night.
by Constance Mroczkowski