Billy Ludwig

Lady in Black (The Mistress of Franklin Castle)
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11in. x 17in. print on 100lb card stock

Lady in Black (The Mistress of Franklin Castle)

The legend tells us haunting tales of... strange voices coming from empty rooms and behind the walls, sounds of children crying, faces that suddenly materialize in the woodwork, spinning chandeliers, cold spots, and mysterious ectoplasm... these are but a few of the bizarre occurrences witnessed by those who have entered Franklin Castle, one of Ohio's most notorious haunted landmarks.

Built in 1865, this Gothic mansion located on Franklin Avenue in Ohio City was home to German immigrant Hannes Tiedemann, his wife, mother, and several children. Hannes Tiedemann was a grocer and investment banker who had a reputation as a loud, harsh man. Because of his personality, many in the community believed that he was also abusive toward his family and ran his household like a tyrant.  These rumors only intensified following the deaths of his children, wife and mother, who all died within a short period of time under "mysterious" circumstances.

Stories of affairs and sexual encounters within the vast confines of the house that were only whispered about. Tangled in the distasteful stories were also rumors of murder, the most prominent of which is the "Lady in Black." In life her name was Rachel, a serving girl in the Tiedemann household and, rumor had it, Hannes' mistress. On the day she was to be married, Hannes flew into a jealous rage, strangled her, and then hacked her into pieces with an axe in the ballroom. He then stashed her remains in one of the secret passages of the castle.

Since Rachel’s gruesome and untimely death, her ghost, described as a young woman, garbed in black, tall, thin and eerie, is often seen by people in the neighborhood either lurking around the old tower or walking down the sidewalk out front of the castle. She has been sighted by occupants dancing through the fourth floor ballroom.

Hannes Tiedemann left the castle in 1895 shortly after his wife died.  Yet, the legends and legacy of the castle continued, leading some to conclude that the castle itself is cursed.

Visual translations...

• It is said that after some of the skeletal remains were discovered in the castle, the Lady in Black seized to stroll the sidewalk out front of the property. The childlike skeleton that accompanies her, represents those remains.

• Occupants described faces presenting themselves in the woodwork, and "little girl in the attic", most likely Emma- Hannes daughter, who did nothing but cry in a dusty corner. The ghostly image of a little girl in the grand piano depicts these findings.

• Casting no shadow, as spirits do not, the ghost of Hannes Tiedemann stands in the back doorway. • The 3 pillar candles standing close by represent the love triangle between Hannes, Rachel and her fiance. The wine glasses represent Hannes and Rachel, with Rachel’s glass being shattered. The broken wine bottle represents the blood that was spilled, where to this day is said to be that of a large blood stain that still appears on the ballroom floor, even though the floor was replaced over 30 years ago.

• The Lady in Black’s arms- one skeletal, and the other is an early version of a prosthetic arm. The prosthetic had been left at the castle by a later occupant said to have conducted questionable medical practices, and the skeleton arm can be that of her own remains or another victim left to rot in the castle’s confines. This was a means of Rachel, literally, piecing herself back together.

The rest of this piece by Billy Ludwig will be left for your own interpretation. Enjoy.

Billy Ludwig’s “Lady in Black • The Mistress of Franklin Castle” is based on historical facts, legends and various theories


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