Put in Bay: Trio of Terror

Put in Bay

Park Hotel : Doller House : Crews Nest

Aerial view of South Bass island Put in Bay

Put in Bay is said to play host to visitors both living and dead.  Hotels and other gathering places that teem with life in the light of day may be just as active under the dark cloak of night.  Have some poor souls found safe harbor on South Bass Island or are they doomed to sail the stormy seas of despair?  Fringe Paranormal journeyed to several island hot spots to search for answers and came back with more questions.

Investigation Date:   November 2-3, 2012

Location:  South Bass Island, Put in Bay

Agents Present

  • Don
  • Kelly
  • David T.
  • LeeAnn
  • Chad -Weston Paranormal
  • Matt – Weston Paranormal
  • Andy – Weston Paranormal
  • Tony – Weston Paranormal


Investigation Conditions
 Friday Nov 2 Saturday Nov 3
Avg. Temperature  Avg  41 °F  Avg  40 °F
Avg. Humidity  Avg  67%  Avg  71%
Barometric Pressure  (in.)  High  29.99  Low  29.72  High  30.11  Low  29.99
Wind  (mph)  Avg  8         Gust  24  Avg  5         Gust  15
Precipitation  0.0 inches  0.0 inches
Dew Point  Avg  31 °F  Avg  32 °F
Geomagnetic Field  Quiet  Quiet
Solar X-Rays  Normal  Normal

 Waning gibbous  85% of full

 Age 63%   N. Hemisphere

History and Claims

Put-in-Bay is a village located on South Bass Island in Put-in-Bay Township, Ottawa County, Ohio. The island is located 15 miles northwest of Sandusky, Ohio and has a total area of .6 square miles.  As can be surmised by the size of the island the population is sparse.  According to census information about 200 people reside at this location.  (The following history comes from http://www.ohio-put-in-bay.com/history.php) Put-in-Bay has several theories as to the origin of its name. According to an 1879 journal, the Harbor on South Bass Island was “shaped like a pudding bag with a soft bottom”. However, the origin most likely came around because the excellent refuge the bay provided in its protected harbor, and according to history, “put in the bay” is what sailors would do when it was too rough to sail on the lake’s waters.

The first people to use the island known as Put-in-Bay were the Indians. The Indians used the island to protect themselves while crossing Lake Erie as they provided shelter from sudden squalls. Records from early historic times show relics of Mound Builders, pre-historic people. The pre-historians inhabited North America and their remains were uncovered when the soil was turned by plows. The Senecas, Eries, Shawnee, Iriquois, Miamis and Ottawas were among the mainland tribes coming to the Lake Erie Islands. In Indian, Ottawa is translated into the English word “trader”.

The first large vessel to ply the great lakes, the Griffon, was sailed by Robert LaSalle and his thirty-two men in 1679. Just to bring back furs, they sailed in route from Queensland, Ontario to Green Bay, Wisconsin. Stopping at Middle Bass Island, Lasalle and the Belgian missionary Friar Hennepin, celebrated the first Mass in the Mid West. The island was named, Isle des Fleurs, due to all the flowers he found while there. History was made, and for the next 200 years, this name was kept.

In 1803, Pierpont Edwards, a Connecticut U.S. District Judge and businessman, bought a part of the Connecticut Western Reserve tract that included Middle Bass, South Bass (Put-in-Bay), and the Sugar Islands. Becoming a shareholder in the Connecticut Land Company, Edwards was entitled to a tract comprising Lorain County. However, the irregular shoreline did not provide the amount of land to which he was entitled to, so he was also given the Lake Erie Islands to offset the deficiency.

The Islands stayed in the Edwards family for over 50 years and saw much history. However, Pierpont himself never saw them. Edward’s agent, Seth Done, who organized many French Canadian squatters to clear and improve the land was sent to the islands in 1811. One hundred acres of wheat had been planted but then destroyed when the Indians, supported by the British, ran them out in the War of 1812.

The only time a British fleet had ever been defeated in history was Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory against the British on September 10, 1813. The 352 foot high Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial erected at Put-in-Bay commemorated the victory. Between 1913 and 1916, the massive Doric column was constructed for the centennial celebration. Three British and three American officers killed during the battle lie beneath the floor of the rotunda in the center of the monument on this Lake Erie Island.

Jose De Rivera St. Jurgo, a wealthy Spaniard, bought South Bass, known as Put-in-Bay, and Middle Bass in 1854 from Edwards. De Rivera built a sawmill, brought in hundreds of sheep, and had Put-in-Bay surveyed into 10 acre plots. In 1860, De Rivera introduced grapes as a crop for making wine. By then, German Rhine-landers had arrived bringing Catawba, Niagara, Concord, and Reisling grapevines. Land prices raised from $10 to $1500 an acre within ten years of the wine proliferation.

William Rehburg, a German Count, later bought Middle Bass from DeRivera and brought experts in winemaking from Germany to help with the industry. The Golden Eagle winery was the largest wine producer in the U.S. by 1875. In 1844, The Lonz family acquired the winery and would make history many times in the coming years. After a disastrous fire, George Lonz built a two-story castle-like building with the addition of a marina. This building is still easily viewed from the Put-in-Bay harbor.

On North Bass Island, winemaking was also a big money maker. French Canadians Simon and Peter Fox bought 500 acres for grapes from island owner Horace Kelly in 1853. With two large wineries and ships to Detroit, Cleveland, and Toledo, success peaked in 1890. The island is virtually controlled by Meier Wine Company of Cincinnati, Ohio; wine is the main industry. North Bass Island’s first inhabitant, a hermit named George, was honored with being the reason North Bass was once called Isle St. George. More recently, the island was purchased by the State of Ohio for a future state park.

Five luxury hotels were built along the beautiful shores of South Bass Island Put-in-Bay by 1888. Opening July 4, 1892, The Hotel Victory symbolized the pinnacle of the luxurious 1890’s. It was the largest summer resort in U.S. history at the time, and it operated 27 years prior to being destroyed by a fire on August 14, 1919. If you visit the South Bass Island State Park today, you can see that the remains of some of the foundation and its swimming pool are still visible.

South Bass Island soon became a port where cedar logs could be taken on as fuel for the vessels with the introduction of steamboats. Although Cedar trees once covered the Island, only a few can be found today. Tour boats from Detroit, Toledo, and Port Clinton brought tourists for daily outings of wine and sunshine in the early 1900’s. The Put-in-Bay steamer, served Detroit, Put-in-Bay, and Cedar Point and carried approximately 150,000 passengers a season. The steamer operated from 1911 to 1950, and at one time twelve steamers stopped at Put-in-Bay a day. Steamers are now history on the Great Lakes.

1918 was an affluent year on South Bass Island with the great arrivals of new people. However, the following year prohibition took effect, and the Lake Erie Island economy took a plunge. The Great Depression followed, tour boats stopped, and the Lake Erie Islands remained inactive.

The prohibition was repealed in 1933 and in 1939 World War II was just starting. The war helped deflect the grasp of the depression, labor was scarce, and more money became available. After the war, people started to travel and spend money more freely, private boats began to visit the Lake Erie Islands like no time before in history, and real estate started to move. The area near the state park on South Bass Island was developed as the Saunder’s Resort with cottages, a motel, swimming pool and golf course in the mid fifties.

During the 1960s and early 1970s, harsh lake pollution kept many people away from Put-in-Bay. However, college students and adolescents were persistent visitors. By the late 1970s, water quality had improved dramatically and sport fishing became a strong attraction. To this day, Put-in-Bay attracts and draws avid fishermen for some of the best Perch and Walleye fishing in the world. (end source material)

As it is surrounded by Lake Erie there are only two ways onto and off of the island: by watercraft and by aircraft.  Put in Bay has prospered as a tourist destination since 1864. During the winter months tourism dwindles and many residents live elsewhere until spring returns. Several locations on the island are said to host unexplained activity.  Each building has its own unique history.

Park Hotel

The historic Park Hotel on south Bass island at Puy in Bay

The Park Hotel, formerly known as the Deutsches Hotel, , was built in the 1870s and consists of 26 guest rooms. The hotel was the first one on the island to offer beds with spring mattresses rather than traditional straw filled beds; quite a luxury during this era. Local historians believe that the hotel was built by George F. Schmidt. Mr. Schmidt was also an early owner of the Roundhouse Bar which is adjacent to the hotel. An 1888 newspaper article named one of the first owners as both Smith and Schmidt in the same paragraph. It is theorized that this is the self same person previously mentioned. The Round House opened for business as the Columbia Restaurant in June of 1873.  It is believed that the building was actually built in Toledo, Ohio and shipped to the island where it stands to this day. Why was it renamed  the Roundhouse?  It may be because the owner’s nickname was “Roundhouse” Smith. It may also be that “Roundhouse” Smith got the nickname because the bar was round. In the 1950s, the McCann family purchased the Roundhouse Bar. This same family presently owns the Park Hotel.

It is claimed that a woman, nicknamed the “governess” by the proprietors, met her death in the Park Hotel.  The woman is purported to have fallen down the stairs leading from the second floor down to the lobby. Certain residents who frequented the hotel as children report having been watched over by the Governess as they played at the bottom of the lobby stairway.  She has also been sighted in room 14.  Another belief among residents in the area is that one of the early owners of  the hotel committed suicide at this location. Legend has it the man hanged himself from the third floor stairway rail. His body was supposedly found dangling on the second floor between the third and second floor stair rails. Visitors report waking to find the man staring down at them in their bed.  He is also reported to be seen gazing out the window of room 17.  This same entity has also been sighted in the winter bar adjacent to the hotel lobby.  A somewhat whimsical and odd occurrence was reported by an employee at the front desk one evening.  It seems that the head piece of a costume, a foam chicken head, sailed across the room of its own accord. This turns out to be a distance of 6 to 8 feet. The employee was understandably spooked to say the least and refuses to speak about the incident to this day. There have also been appearances by someone or something on the couch in the lobby.

Doller House

The Doller House on South Bass island at Put in Bay

The historic Doller house is a Victorian Italianate mansion  built sometime between 1866 and 1885 by Valentine Doller.  Valentine Doller was born in 1834 in Bammenthal, Germany. He immigrated to Sandusky, Ohio in 1851 and lived there until 1859 after which he moved to Put-in-Bay. Valentine built a number of buildings on the island. He also owned many of these as well as land and vineyards. He was the principal owner of the Put-in-Bay Telegraph and was also the owner of a general store.  Doller also ran the island’s only public dock and started an ice business, the Beebe ice house.  He would later go on to become its first postmaster and, eventually, its mayor from 1880 through 1889.  Valentine and his wife Catherine bore six daughters.  One evening in the late 1800s one of the daughters, Olga Doller, snuck out to go dancing at the Put in Bay Colonial Hotel, which was her frequent habit.  Bad luck overtook her and she fell into a stream near the family home and called out for help.  She was saved but the jig was up.  Her father, in a fit of anger, forbade her and her sisters from marrying.  Eventually Daisy Doller could take no more and moved into her own home next door.  Fanny, the oldest Doller sister, rebelled against her father’s wishes and married a local boy.  Contrary to what one may think, her father apparently supported her decision.  A big wedding was held to mark the occasion and was reported in the local paper. The Doller family spent the remainder of their lives on the island and now rest in eternal slumber in the Crown Hill Cemetery in a family mausoleum.

Crew’s Nest 

Crews Nest on South Bass island at Put in Bay

The Crew’s Nest is located on South Bass island, Put in Bay, about three miles off shore.  This structure, originally named “The Eagle Cottage”,  was built near the turn of the century in 1875 by Captain F.J. Magle who ran the steamboat “The American Eagle”.  The cottage was sold in 1946 and turned into the Friendly Inn rooming house.  Guests were provided with home cooked meals.  While there was no central heating, the caretakers took in ice fishermen during the winter months and managed to keep warm with the aid of fuel oil space heaters.  The Crew’s Nest  came into being in 1968 when the Friendly Inn was purchased by two entrepreneurs.  Additions to the structure throughout the years, such as a swimming pool in 1973 and a fitness center in 1991,  made this a popular gathering spot for many on the island.  It is interesting to note that the front windows of the dining room were originally in the “Colonial” dance hall which burned down in 1988.

Caretakers at the Crew’s Nest report hearing unexplained noises in the attic area.  It is also claimed that objects thrown up the attic stairwell are sometimes thrown back down by some unseen force.  Those people associated with the location have nick named this invisible inhabitant “Spencer”.


Our two night investigation was set to encompass the three properties mentioned above: the Park Hotel, Crew’s Nest, and the Doller House.  The Fringe team split into two groups and rotated among the locations throughout the evening. We opted to use all eight of our video cameras and were able to capture a significant portion of the Park Hotel.  Cameras were positioned in the main floor lobby and second floor hallways and the main staircase  between floors.  Cams were also focused on Rooms 14 and 17 which are claimed to host activity.  On this investigation we had access to the previously inaccessible Round Bar which connects to the hotel.  We captured a vast majority of this area with a strategically placed camera.
Over at the Doller House cams were set up in key spots as well giving us ample coverage.  No cameras were stationed in the Crew’s Nest.  As per Fringe Paranormal’s usual procedure we placed several stationary audio recorders around the locations and carried roaming recorders with us as well; not only to capture audio evidence but also to document the evening’s events.  Around the beginning of the evening at the Park Hotel agents heard what sounded like a piece of metal bang in the kitchen area.  No one was in that area.  Over at the Doller House our guest investigators from Weston Paranormal reported hearing female voices near the stairway.  There was no one else in the location other than the four male Weston agents. The Doller House team also reported an odd incident.  Matt came across a purple plastic spider on the floor by the radiator in the foyer.  Matt picked it up and placed it in another room (“the green room”)while continuing proceeded to investigate the area.  A while later the object reappeared in the foyer.  Andy placed it back in the “green room”.  Again, the object reappeared in a different spot.  They experimented with this for some time. Every time they would throw it in a particular spot it would seem to appear in a different spot.  Chad had a personal experience at the Doller House.. Matt, Andy, Tony and Chad were doing an EVP session in the foyer by the stairs. Chad was sitting on the floor with his back to the wall. Andy, Matt, and Tony took different spots throughout out the room. Chad felt something grab the back of his neck. Upon checking his neck, there appeared to be a red mark on his. None of the others were sitting beside him.  The Crew’s Nest played host to a personal experience as well.  This was captured on tape with a roaming video camera.  Agent David T. felt something shove him hard.  No one was near him and there was no furniture or structure directly behind him at the time of the experience.  Throughout the weekend the Fringe team continued in their pursuit to capture audio and video evidence at all three locations.


Our investigation on Put in Bay’s South Bass island was interesting to say the least.  As mentioned earlier several agents had some personal experiences, one of which was captured on video.  We categorize these as personal experiences rather than evidence as the events are not measurable and no actual quantifiable activity was captured.  The Fringe team was able to capture some audio evidence however.  One audio clip captured a soft voice in response to a question.  The other clip captures what sounds like a loud unintelligible  voice.  At first we thought the voice belonged to one of our agents but he insists it is not him.  Preliminary analysis from an independent consultant indicates that the voice on the audio may, in fact, be German.  We will need to look into this matter further as the audio was captured in the Doller House, a home which was occupied by people of German ancestry .


The Fringe team had some personal experiences that we can not explain.  We were fortunate to capture some anomalous audio.  The Park Hotel and the Crew’s Nest proved to be interesting locations during this two night investigation. Our most active location during this investigation was the Doller House. As we continue to explore these locations we will stay alert to any patterns that may present themselves. Put in Bay is an area full of rich and intriguing history.  That history, together with the uncanny claims associated with some locations, makes Catawba Island a necessary stop for anyone pursuing research into paranormal activity.  Fringe Paranormal will continue to explore the island for evidence of the unexplained.

Prepared for Fringe Paranormal by Don C

Park Hotel Audio
At the 8.5 sec mark we hear what sounds like a faint moan

Doller House Audio
Chad asks a question and receives a faint response at about the 7 second mark, just before he asks his next question

Crew’s Nest Personal Experience Video

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