Simon James, ghost wrestler

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Granville, Licking, Ohio, United States

Hannah Caroline Thrall Campbell wrote this story in a letter probably written in the early 1900s, roughly a century after the happening. It was quoted by Rosalie Thrall Carmichael in her typescript Thrall genealogy. Hannah Caroline heard it from her mother, Hannah James Thrall, and the main character was Hannah James’s father, Welsh immigrant and one-time Baptist preacher Simon James:

“I just recall one [incident] that mother [i.e., Hannah James] used to tell me and laugh over. At one time the little town was terribly rent and torn by a so-called ghost that appeared frequently in some most ghostly attire scaring the women and children nearly to death. One night he knocked at grandfather’s [Simon’s] home and one of the children opened the door and ran back giving a terrible scream, but her father happened to be there and he jumped and caught the fellow, threw him on the floor and began pounding him with all his strength.

“The ghost got scared and yelled for mercy but grandfather, without speaking a word, just kept pounding away till at last the ghost cried out, ‘Who in hell has got me anyway?’ Then grandfather spoke. ‘Simon James has you. No, you are not in hell yet but soon will be for if you are a man I’ll kill you and if you are the devil I’ll keep whacking away.’ At last he told the ghost that if he would throw off his rig, show his face, tell his name and promise to quit the dirty business he would let up on him but just as sure as any more of this was heard of the officers should have him right away. When he threw off his mask grandad knew him at once as a man living just out on the edge of town. That ended the Granville ghost.”


born between 1755 and 1774

married Elizabeth ______ in Wales ~1794?

died between 1820 and 1830


COUSINS: No siblings known.

DESCENDANTS: Lots. Simon and Elizabeth are believed to have had five children. Those with known descendants are Daniel James, Mary James Aye, and ancestor Hannah James Thrall.

This is the story that made me think how oddly posterity can treat people in leaving just one well-remembered story about them. Simon’s life story, as much as we know, is at Simon James 1770s-1820s.