Photo By Mike Schenk photo illustration/www.buydrphotos.comDouglas Myers is an avid researcher of local history and the paranormal, also known as ghost hunting. He and his son, Daniel, take trips to battlefields and historical sites to do night photography to see if orbs — or spirits — appear. He takes a break at Wooster Cemetery for a photo, and his late great-great-uncle Josiah B. Myers, buried at the cemetery, “appeared” in the photo.
By CHRIS LEONARD
WOOSTER -- Whether it's in his quest to learn more about the city he grew up in and its people, or learn more about spirits lurking around, Douglas Myers is sure of one thing: Don't believe it until you see it.
It's what propels him in his hobby as a lover of history and a researcher of the paranormal -- otherwise known as ghost hunting -- outside of his day job as the sole civilian employee of the Wooster Fire Department.
"Like the elephant's child, I'm just full of insatiable curiosity," Myers said of his love of history. "I grew up with a family that never threw away anything, so we were surrounded by family antiques and collectibles, so it's just part of my nature."
A Wooster history buff, Myers has a fascination for the unusual, like his research of Ralph Henderson, the first Wooster police officer killed in the line of duty. Harry Glick, who while in prison for the crime, went on to build Ohio's first electric chair.
"When it comes to local history I have a fascination for the unusual, the everyday man versus the noble pioneer and Founding Father, because there's lots more everyday men and women in our 200-plus-year history than noble pioneers," Myers said.
He said he researches the everyday man in hopes of "giving him credit for his sacrifice, that's a real satisfaction in bringing these people to light, and their stories."
Wayne County Probate Court Judge Ray Leisy said Myers' attention to detail and love of research makes him a great historian.
"When you discuss history you sometimes fall into the habit of repeating not rumors, but popular history about what people say actually took place, but when you start checking the detail at that time, it's been embellished," he said. "Doug never falls into the trap. He spends a lot of time going back and checking his sources."
When writing "Broken Banks of the Wayne County Frontier," Leisy passed it on to Myers for a quick review to make sure nothing was amiss.
"I'm glad to say I had it right, I try to do the research he does," Leisy said.
In addition to local history, Myers is a Civil War history fan. On one notable trip, he and his son, Daniel, went to Gettysburg, Pa., to view battlefields, but also to try and see what they could find at night.
"I kept a very open mind, I didn't particularly believe in ghosts. I kept a skeptical mind. You needed to show me for me to believe it," he said.
But walking the field one night with his son, he said they heard a replay of part of the battle, cannons and all.
"In the middle of the field, in the middle of the night, as clear to our ears as it could be -- Fire! and boom-boom, boom-boom -- and dead silence," Myers said.
It was one of the more "awkward, bizarre and surreal moments of my life," Daniel Myers said, but helped to give him "new perspective on things."
"He is a good person, a wonderful father, as a friend he's there when you need him," he said of his father. "He'll help anyone out."
So that sparked his interest, and now Myers researches sites of hauntings, even local spots, to see what he can find. He said photographing "death curve," the 90-degree curve near Wooster Memorial Park, produced three orbs in his photo -- signs of possible spirits.
Coincidentally, he said, he came across information about a crash there and three out of four family members died at that site.
Some day, Myers said, he'd love to set up a ghost tour in Wooster. "There's enough stories to really fill an evening of haunted Wooster as there is in Gettsyburg."
A lover of theater, Myers has performed in local plays and dinner theaters, including a performance of "The Philadelphia Story," where he met his wife, Shelly.
"She played the upstairs maid and I just couldn't resist a woman in uniform," Myers said.
Both had auditioned for the play at the insistence of two friends.
"It was just one of those things," she said. "We met and just kind of clicked I guess you could say."
Myers said his wife of more than 13 years is "very supportive of all my interests ... tolerates my collection, is extremely, mercifully tolerant of my collections and my outings."
"He's just eclectic," Shelly Myers said with a laugh. "He likes whatever he can find."
That would include collections like "Death Dirt" -- soil samples he collected from historical sites, like the ambush site of Bonnie and Clyde, the area of East Liverpool where Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd was killed, or the site of the wreck of the USS Shenandoah.
"I always wanted to see that site," he said of where Bonnie and Clyde died.
"And what a thrill, it really was. I got there and I am there all by myself, and this abused memorial people had chipped souvenirs off of. I go, I have to bring a souvenir home with me. I thought, oh, how about some dirt?"
Sometimes those collections will be turned into gifts. Like the sample of sand in a Smucker's jar from Ponte Verda Beach, Fla., where a German sub came to shore given to his daughter, Lauren Chitty.
"He's all over the place. He likes being funny ... He's quirky, I'm just lucky he's the way he is," Chitty said.
Reporter Chris Leonard can be reached at 330-287-1643 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.